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 Harpguitars.net.
||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!
22: MORE ADDED!
March, 2002: Lots of new info on
|Both Howe-Orme details:
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)
2000: NEW INFO
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
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:
I didn't mean to put in yet another picture of me, but my mom's waited
thirty years for this haircut.
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.
|| 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), 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.