The Harp Ukuleles of Chris Knutsen
by Gregg Miner, as part of
Harp ukuleles are defined by having a hollow arm extending from the sound
None of Knutsen’s have extra bass "harp" strings, with the exception of HU15 (and its originality is suspect).
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!
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|
|Koa, rope-bound top|
Koa, no binding
|Mahogany, 3-ply binding||Mahogany, no binding||Black-painted birch, no binding|
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!
The Family Ukes
|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.
|Update, February, 2011:|
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