The Harp Ukuleles of Chris Knutsen 

by Gregg Miner, as part of

Jump to: Ukulele Gallery Taropatch Gallery The Family Ukes Comparing the Ukes

Harp ukuleles are defined by having a hollow arm extending from the sound chamber.
None of Knutsen’s have extra bass "harp" strings, with the exception of HU15 (and its originality is suspect).

35 Knutsen Harp Ukuleles now known! *
(* = known to have been built. Only 29 survive)

Update, February, 2011: "Smoking Gun" provenance found on Ukulele "Patent Applied For" labels!

   Harp Ukuleles

I've arranged the harp ukes and taropatches into 9 groups based on style of wood and trim (Knutsen himself never used Style or Model names or numbers).

Koa, rope-bound top, fretboard, headstock and back 

Koa, rope-bound top, fretboard and headstock 

Koa, rope-bound top and fretboard
HU16 HU4 HU22 HU24 HU6 HU15
Koa, rope-bound top
HU1 HU12 HU18 HU20 HU25 HU3 HU5

Koa, no binding

Unidentified wood
HU7 HU2 HU19 HU21 HU27 HU30 HU29
Mahogany, 3-ply binding Mahogany, no binding Black-painted birch, no binding
HU23 HU10 HU17 HU26 HU11

   Harp Taropatches

These fascinating instruments come in unusual sizes and scale lengths.  The first two actually have the scale of a tenor uke, and the body of a baritone uke - and predate both forms of those later-established ukulele forms!

Koa, 3-ply binding

Koa, rope-bound top

HT1

HT3

HT4

HT5

  The Family Ukes

girlscloseup.jpg (34783 bytes)

3ukes.jpg (24564 bytes)

This unbelievably rare photograph includes (l-r) Chris' previously-unknown third daughter, Myrtle (b.1906), his niece Margaret, and his granddaughter Lacretia (b.1907 to Evalda, Chris' middle daughter).
They in turn are holding what I believe are a standard-size ukulele, a large taropatch, and a larger ukulele. 
The photo is from about 1916-1917, judging by the ages of the girls.

(image copyright and courtesy of Linda Cameron, Chris' great-great niece)

Here are the three instruments (#HU13, HT2 & HU14) in scale to each other. The sizes are something of a puzzle. The center instrument is a taropatch while the two outer instruments are 4-string ukuleles.
Working from theoretical heights of the young girls at 10-11 years of age, I estimated the scale length of the small uke at around 14" - conforming to Knutsen's typical uke scale.
The right ukulele scale would then be between 15 and 16" - equivalent to a larger concert uke (or taropatch of the time). 
The taropatch is much larger - it comes out right around 16-1/2" - the exact scale of the known specimen(s) above. 
Do the three different sizes merely reflect three custom instruments for the children?

   Additional ukuleles without images are listed in the Inventory.


Comparing the Ukes 

Update, February, 2011:

"Smoking Gun" provenance found on Ukulele "Patent Applied For" labels!


If you enjoyed this article, or found it useful for research, please consider supporting Harpguitars.net so that this information will be available for others like you and to future generations. Thanks!

 

To Instruments

Home

[Biographical] [Instruments] [Historical Photos]
[
Credits] [FAQ] [Bibliography] [Updates] [Links] [Contact]
[
Home (Knutsen Archives)] [Home (Harpguitars.net)

All Site Contents Copyright © Gregg Miner, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005,2006,2007,2008,2009. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright and Fair Use of material and use of images: See Copyright and Fair Use policy.