Knutsen "Petite" 3/4-Size
Double-Point Harp Guitar, c.1906
Restored, playable and stinkin' cute
SOLD

 

Of Knutsen's 160 harp guitars so far cataloged, the rarest - and certainly most unusual - are the "Double-Points," of which only a handful have been found.  They seem to be either full-size, 12-strings-on-the-neck instruments, or more typically, the 3/4 scale instruments, like this one here.  There are only 4 of these currently known to be surviving (see the Knutsen Archives; one remains to be listed). 

More than any other guitar maker, Knutsen made almost as many 3/4 size instruments in his Seattle period as he did full size.  We don't quite know why.

My feeling is that they were intended for children (of which Knutsen had three), young adults, or just anyone with smaller hands.  The sub-bass length and instrument are close to normal size, but the scale length is 19-1/4".  This begs the question, how were they tuned? 

Again, my guess is that they were usually just tuned to standard pitch.  In fact, the original owner of this even scratched into the wood above the nut "E A D G B E".  Using normal tension strings, they are light and more slack or course, so either heavier strings could be used, or the strings could be tuned up a couple of steps for a higher-pitched harp guitar!  In fact, that's what I was about to try.

Yes, this was my personal instrument.  No sooner did I get it back from restoration, than that very week I was able to obtain another (which I am keeping).  I'm auctioning this with a reserve $500 less than my actual cost, which includes nearly $1000 in restoration.  Work was done by Rufie Barnes of the Claremont Folk Music Center, who does repairs for Ben Harper, David Lindley and that gang. 

Every one of these specimens is found with the soundhole very warped and caved in.  Rufie was able to flatten this out about 90% - there is still a slight bend and unevenness.  He reset the neck, but due to workload and expense, didn't finish the set-up.  I would probably lower the bridge a hair and put a new, compensated bone saddle behind the original wire one - both to level the action (due to neck twist common to most Knutsens) and intonate it properly.  And/or one could shim the neck joint and move it back a bit.  Or just play in first position (But why?  You can reach the 23rd fret with that cutaway!).

Other issues: Someone did a terrible glue / re-finish slop job around the bridge.  Rufie reduced this significantly, and I opted not to refinish it.  You might choose to.  At some angles, it's not noticeable, at others, it's pretty obvious (see photos).  The arm had a healthy warped split jutting out.  We determined that this was from being stored in an attic on its side, where a family of mice lived in the guitar, using the arm for their bathroom.  Staining and warping, then splitting was the result (Yes - only Harp Guitar Music discloses all evidence of rodent infestation!).  The photo shows that Rufie was able to work his magnet magic and get this back to an acceptable appearance.  There are the typical repaired cracks and wear, and a long finish mar down the back.  Tuners are all original and work.  The G button is a bit loose, and a couple of the subs are broken (one glued).

Let's talk about some more good stuff...
Top is bound with a sort of rectangular checkerboard marquetry.  Tiny label remnant shows this to be one of the very first of these made - c. 1906, and possibly even in Tacoma.

 

 

Tone: Pretty darn cool for a "small bodied" harp guitar.  I haven't re-strung it, but Rufie threw on a set of light strings.  Tuned to standard, it sounds great (strings a bit too light); tuned up to F#, it's chime-y and lovely.  The subs haven't been changed, but tested at standard G-to-D, they will be great - or you could gauge them higher to match a higher-pitched neck.  Either way, they will be about as loud as a full size Knutsen!  How do I know all this?  Because I finally received my new one, fully restored by Kerry Char and I love it!  I opted for a full re-fret, nut and saddle - everything to play like an "almost new" instrument.  It is very cool (at right I'm showing it at HGG6, along with Bob Hartman and his also-just-acquired Dyer Style 3 short-scale.  The 3/4 scale wave is coming....!).

- Gregg Miner, the "harp guitar pope"

Specifications: 

  • Knutsen Archives Inventory # HGS47
  • Original label remnants, Knutsen Archives code TA4
  • All original, except for repairs (1 bridge pin missing)
  • Spruce top
  • Mahogany back & sides, fir neck
  • Five sub-bass strings (originally tuned descending D-C-B-A-G)
  • 19-1/4" scale
  • ~1-7/8" nut width
  • Dimensions: 14-1/2" lower bout, 3-15/16" depth at tail block (no end pin), ~37" total length
  • No case
  • Strings: Most harp guitars offered have temporary sub-bass strings (whether new or used) in various tunings.  New strings are available here.  If you need help calculating gauges for your tuning on this instrument (or if you would like help with tuning suggestions), just ask the pope!
 

Price: $2750 SOLD


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