Dyer Style 7 Harp Guitar
Early Example, ex-Hartman
This one has a very cool vibe. Pictured on page 149 of The Larsonsí Creations, the latest edition by Bob Hartman, it is a restored Style 7 from the early period. Iíd put it at circa 1907, though as you know, weíre still working on better dating these famous instruments. It has the Knutsen-signed label (non-notarized), though the signature is completely faded. Frustratingly, the serial number is also non-existent, even though we tried black light and every light source we could find on the label. Being an earlier specimen, it naturally has 5, rather than 6, sub-basses. The soundhole purfling is a quite different on this early version, and it has a different mix of fingerboard inlays. Thereís also interesting several-ply red/white/black on the back, and a different curlicue under the star in the bass head. Note comparisons with a later, more typical Style 7 in these photos from Bob (the instrument for sale is on the right).
It was sold by Bob to L.A. musician Bruno Coon. Bruno, whose main gig is music editor for Randy Newman (what fun!), dabbles in many esoteric projects, and made the difficult decision to sell this well-loved instrument to help fund his latest project, Bruno Goes to Guinea. You can read about it at Kickstarter here (I made a small donation to this worthy cause myself, which is what prompted Bruno to pay me a visit with instrument in tow).
Itís just as Bruno got it in 2006, after restoration by Harry Eibert. The book describes some of this; I canít tell what may be old repairs versus new. It was well played once upon a time, as clear by the pick/nail wear under the high strings. This remains bare, though Harry touched up the original finish elsewhere (adding a bit and blending with the old). This now covers other wear and scratches, but still looks pretty authentic. The repaired cracks in the top and back can be plainly seen, and in hand, youíll see more-than-typical warping of the top and arm, though none of this gets in the way of playing (and enjoying) or sound. Other obvious age-related issues are the wear and cracks in the headstock veneer and a small bit of replaced purfling by persons unknown (shown). There is also a small area of ivoroid binding on the back that needs to be glued down.
Harry expertly re-created the bridge, placing it in the original location, with a new bone saddle installed toward the pins for near-perfect intonation. He also did a neck reset and a re-fret. Playability is fine, with a slight neck relief that peaks around the 12th fret, then tapers down beyond that, as all Dyers do. Neck tuners are original and sub-bass tuners are new Waverlys. I have no idea where those big black nut posts came from, but they seem to work.
It appears to be the deepest specimen we have so far encountered: 4-7/16Ē at the endpin Ė and one can easily imagine that they are hearing that extra air. Bob quotes past players of it as saying, "it is the best sounding one I have played," and "I just died and went to heaven" (which I take with a grain of salt, as thatís what is said about nearly every Dyer). Yes, tone is typically Dyer-fantastic; loud and open and balanced from top to bottom. With a complex and robust, almost unctuous boominess with lingering grand piano notes (sorry, I just came back from a wine-tasting).
Comes with a Blue Heron gig bag (similar to and almost as nice as the Colorado I sell).
Bottom line: Historical, musical, full of life, and priced to sell.
- Gregg Miner, the "harp guitar pope"
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