Knutsen Symphony Harp Guitar, c.1901
Great, original condition, fully restored to perfect playability

This terrific Tacoma-period instrument has been played and enjoyed for years by performer Joe Giacoio.  It has replacement frets and tuners (Stew-mac 5-stars for the subs and Waverlys on the neck), and a custom Highlander under-the-saddle pickup.

It plays great, and tone (very balanced) is at least an 8 out of 10 (basis for comparison is my own Knutsen Symphony, which is an 11).  Yes, Knutsens can sound that good.  Often better than Dyers (shhh.... this is a Knutsen owner's secret).

Condition is overall around an 8 out of 10 - which is really saying something, as Knutsens are often found as a 2 or 3!). 

Light normal wear and tear, and the top is nice and sound - not at all bellied or caved (see profile image below).  One repair on the upper treble bout (cleated on the inside) shows a crease, but nothing too horrible.  That slightly darker area of the lower left corner of the back is not the photo - it is a darker stain.

It has very nice colored purfling with a more rope-like soundhole rosette.

If you've noticed something wrong with the perspective, pat yourself on the back!  This specimen has Knutsen's famous slanted frets.  Strangely, we've yet to uncover any historical material that explains why he did this - only that he put on his labels "This is the only GUITAR with the slanted fret."  As you can see, the nut is slanted, and each frets slants to match.  It is not a "fan fret" or biased scale.  Presumably Knutsen thought it made it easier to finger - in practice, it's hardly noticeable.  It all intonates very accurately.  Interestingly, the necks of Knutsen Symphs join the body at around the 14th fret - unlike the Dyer, which joins at the 12th. 

The "slanted fret" labels are all featured on instruments in the 1900 to 1902 period.  However, this partial label (only the second known) is the same as my own 1898-1900 specimen.  Thus, this one is probably right at a c.1900 transition.

All original except as discussed, plus the neck-joining bracket is a replacement, and relocated, and the original slotted screw "nut posts" for the subs are replacements.

If you wanted to make it look slightly more "authentic" you could always buy replacement ivoroid Waverly replacement buttons for the 5-stars.

Of course, the end pin has been replaced with an electronics jack for the custom Highlander under-the-saddle pickup, which spans the entire saddle, to cover both the guitar and the harp strings.  This is an iP-2 Dual System with an extra jack for an internal mic or other pickup.

No case, but here's a complete coincidence: it fits perfectly in the new HGM gig bag and flight case! - Gregg Miner, the "harp guitar pope"



  • Knutsen Archives Inventory # HGT24
  • Original label remnant, Knutsen Archives code PT8
  • All original, except for repairs, bracket, new frets, upgraded tuners (Waverly for neck and Stew-Mac 5-Star sub-basses) and Highlander iP-2 pickup (under-saddle only).
  • Spruce top
  • Mahogany back & sides, fir neck
  • Five sub-bass strings (originally tuned descending D-C-B-A-G)
  • ~25-1/2" scale
  • ~1-3/4" nut width
  • Dimensions: 15-3/16" lower bout, 4-3/4" depth at tail block, ~39-3/4" total length
  • No case (Harp Guitar Music gig bags and flight case available here)
  • Price: $5,000 (Paypal)
    (cash or check discount price $4,850)

CDs & DVDs by Stephen Bennett, John Doan, Muriel Anderson, Andy McKee, Stacy Hobbs, Tom Shinness, Dan LaVoie, James Kline, Larry Berwald, Bill Dutcher, Gregg Miner, Pasquale Taraffo
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