This is pretty cool…
The instrument above is clearly a Harwood parlor guitar that someone has added an unusual bass section to, wouldn’t you agree?
It sold on eBay in November 2005, and I went back and forth on deciding to include it on the site or not (I may have for a little while, I forget).
In early 2007, I heard from the buyer, who had just finished having it restored (replacement bridges, re-fret, pickups, and swapped out the ladder bracing for X-bracing…he didn’t think it was original either). Both he and the luthier agreed that the basses were an add-on, time frame unknown.
As it turns out, they are an add-on all right…but an original, as-built add-on!
Does this woodcut not look exactly like it?
Surprise! The low-priced eBay instrument was indeed an all-original c.1895 Harwood made by the J. W. Jenkins’ Sons Music Co. in Kansas City, Missouri.
Who coulda known? Only Bob Jenkins, who obtained the catalog awhile back (I blogged about Bob and the FJ article here). It was undated, but they found clues that point to 1895 or a little later.
As advertised, it is a new “Artists’ Grand with Sub-Bass Attachment” and “popularly known as the Harwood Harp Guitar.” Also interesting is that, prior to this discovery, we always thought it was Gibson who first coined the term “sub-bass” (in 1903).
Yes, I of course immediately emailed the owner (Rick Spencer) to tell him he had just doubled the value on his find (bet he’ll be sorry about changing all those braces now) – but the email bounced back. Hopefully, he’ll get wind of this blog eventually.
The catalog also has the 18″ double-soundhole model with 12 subs, which we had already recently learned went back to pre-1895.
Amazing that they already list 20 players who use it (include W. C. Stahl, himself)!
I’ve added this new information to my Harwood Harp Guitars page, as well.
Bob Jenkins has also started a new site for Harwood information here, including the guitars and mandolins from the catalog. A valuable resource – thanks for sharing this treasure, Bob!