Here's my page for those of you who may or may not care about my music or career and just want to see cool instruments - and who can blame you?!

by Gregg Miner, as part of


Since completing the CD project in 1995, I've continued to add instruments to the collection - some vintage, some exotic, and many, of course, just plain unusual.  Many are one-of-a-kind or incredibly rare. I don't want to give it all away, but will try to show some of them from time to time. I've also become an actual scholar - prying myself out of my armchair and doing some real musicology work on many types of instruments. In addition to these instruments (below), I continue to focus on harp guitars in my key role in that community.  You'll find many of my personal harp guitars presented as Harp Guitars of the Month there. 

August, 2021: I finally assemble a basic set of "Plucked Fretted Stringed Instruments in Lyre Form." Yes, it's more complicated than you think! Read Some Truths About Lyres and be amazed!

7/1/04: I've got a few new harp guitars and related instruments over the years,
which are showing up on The Knutsen Archives, and now the new site 

Sept, 2000: I commissioned master engraver David Giulietti to custom engrave new gold-plated hardware for my Char resophonic guitar. Stunning against the koa!

5/5/03: NEW! The Dolceola Pages! A detailed section in three parts: The rare Dolceola, the Washington Phillips connection, and a brand new treatise on fretless zithers!

June, 2002: The Knutsen Archives are online!

April, 2002: At long last...all about Altpeter! Plus: New info on Harwood harp guitars
June 22: MORE ADDED!
March, 2002: Lots of new info on mandolinettos!
Both Howe-Orme details:

and general:

Fall, 2001: Updated 03/20/02
A true piccolo mandolin! This is only the second one of these I've ever seen (the other was a one-of-a-kind Gibson featured in Frets magazine a long time back - but it's likely there were other maker's also). This is a Leland, circa 1911. (click on photo for more pics and info)

Winter, 2000: NEW INFO 03/20/02
Will I ever run out of strange, hybrid instruments to add to the collection? Luckily, I had a new German book on zithers with a chapter on these - the Stössel-lute. Otherwise, I wouldn't have had any idea what it was, or if, in fact, it was a real instrument! A combination of zither and lute, it was invented by one Georg Stössel in 1914, and available through the '20s. There were several sizes and configurations - this contrabass being the largest. I'm seen here demonstrating the playing technique (though I've yet to restore, string, tune, or actually learn to play it).
(3/20/02: Restoration done!)
I didn't mean to put in yet another picture of me, but my mom's waited thirty years for this haircut.

Feb., 2000:
Just arrived! My new custom resophonic guitar!
I don't mean to become the typical, pathetic Internet nerd showing off his personal stuff (become? OK, at least I don't want to broadcast it), but I want to show off the work of my master repairman and luthier, Kerry Char. He's been building "Dobros" for a couple years now, and when I saw his new koa version, and heard one with his special, custom internal baffling system, I knew I had to get one. 
I searched quite awhile for the fabled banjeaurine, which, it turned out, is a real instrument, not a musical fruit. This one (on the right) is a Stewart, with a 12-1/2" head but a short neck. It's tuned like a standard 5-string banjo capoed at the 4th fret, and was intended to play the lead parts in the banjo orchestras of the late 1880s. Gut strung, high pitched, and really sweet. The huge 5-string on the left is Stewart's bass banjo (playing the bass parts in the orchestra, as if you didn't know). It's also known as the cello banjo, because the low string is the same as the low C of a violin cello. Gut strung, and tuned an entire octave below the standard 5-string. Cool!

Here are two more harp-mandolins, ca. 1910-1920. The one on the right is the only "well-known" (but not exactly common)  harp-mando - a Larson-made Dyer Bros. - who made the incredible harp-guitar I'm holding on the "Artist" page. Collectors are paying five grand and up for the top-of-the-line versions. Unfortunately, they sound as lame as their harp-guitars sound incredible.

On the left is something I once could only wish existed. I knew that someone at some time must've at least tried a true harp-mandolin, with extra bass strings like the harp-guitars - and if anyone were to do it, surely Knutsen would. Well, he did! And I count myself unbelievably fortunate to have obtained this incredibly rare, one-of-a-kind instrument. A normal mandolin neck with four extra strings to play as open drones. And, unlike the Dyer, this sounds fantastic! I absolutely adore it.

harpmandos.jpg (57261 bytes)
Here's something I searched about 30 years for -  it's also the oldest thing in my collection: an 1815 Edward Light harp-lute. This model is also called the dital harp - ditals being these interesting plunger-button-things on the back of the instrument that pull the string back towards the body against a second bone nut to raise the pitch a half step. They lock in place so you can set different keys on the 19-string diatonic harp tuning. It's played sort of like a harp on the lap - the left thumb plucking a few lower notes from behind while the right plays chords or melody. The "harp-lute" name comes from the earliest version which had an actual fret board under the higher strings which would be fingered lute-style. This one has done away with all but 5 extra frets for the very last string - in case you need those last couple of notes! Like the above mandolins, this was fully restored by my luthier, Kerry Char (, into a decently playable instrument. Not a bad tone - as a matter of fact, it is said that these "parlor" instruments sounded better than most early guitars of the same period.


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