Monsieur Platini: Crazy Instruments, Crazier Shirt

This wonderful postcard shows French steel guitarist P. Platini (previously unknown to me), in all his sartorial splendor.  His tastes gravitate to the flashy and unusual in his choice of instruments as well.

He’s playing an unusual Gelas-style (French) Hawaiian guitar (an instrument with a distinctive double-top, the lower portion cantilevered upwards).

Hidden under the table at right is a hollow-arm harp mandolin (Italian-style, though could be a French copy?) with a strange shape at the end of its arm; this is an unknown model and probably maker of harp-mandos.

Note the rope binding on the harp mandolin.  Similarly rope-bound is the strange double-neck instrument on the left?  What in the world is it?!  Well, I think it’s the first known double guitar and ukulele.  It’s not a harp guitar in any way, and yet it’s not your standard doubleneck.  The design logistics required that the uke neck and its required soundhole sprout from the beginnings of what amounts to a hollow arm.  So the uke’s soundhole ends up just about where Knutsen would have put it on his harp guitars.  Pretty wacky!

This scan came courtesy of recent Internet pal and fan, Les Cook, from the UK.  Les is methodically hoping to create new CD releases of rare steel guitar music.  He and cohorts hunt down rare recordings (and accompanying photos and stories) to release first-time offerings of important and otherwise lost steel guitarists from all over the world on his Grass Skirt label.  I actually have a larger post to do on his last CD, the booklet of which features some incredible new harp guitar images.  Look for that shortly.

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