Dyer Style 3 Harp Guitar & "backwards" Harp Mandolin
ultra-rare Larson Brothers harp set in fantastic condition!
This may be the first time I've ever seen one of these offered for sale. Larson Brothers collectors and Dyer fans, take note! This is Bob Hartman's personal instrument, which he finally obtained after a couple decades of searching. He probably got the nicest example surviving. I won't go quite as far as saying that this is "a once in a lifetime opportunity," but...well - you do not want to pass this one up!
For the complete scoop on this unusual Dyer, you'll want to see my recent complete re-write on the Dyer harp guitars here. If you really want to know the date of it, you'll have to wade through my rather wordy treatise on the subject here. In a nutshell: In the books, #608 (the second lowest number found in the 600 series) would be dated c.1912. Bob is now leaning towards my new hypothesis of it being 1906-1908.
For those of you new to this model, in this case, the "Style 3" refers not to level of appointments, as in the common Dyer harp guitars, but to the physical design and dimensions.
Specifically, this is a "short-scale" harp guitar, with a 22-5/16" scale. Perfect for those with smaller hands! Undoubtedly, that's why it was created, and almost certainly inspired by Knutsen's own 3/4 size harp guitars of 19-20" scale. The Larsons also duplicated Knutsen's 1906-introduced "Lower Bass Point" Seattle instruments design, with the distinctive flare (which adds its own flair, don't you think?). The Larsons gave theirs a bit more of a "cutaway" (15 frets clear of the body) by bringing down the portion of the upper bout next to the neck - almost as if they were splitting the difference between Knutsen's standard Lower Bass Point and his Double Point model (also 1906). Sorry, I'm just geeking out as I always do about this stuff.
Regardless of all the history and conjecture, what we can probably all agree on is that the Dyer is a substantially better instrument than a comparable Knutsen. We all got to play and hear this one at HGG6 in Portland, and I can safely say you'll love it. As far as condition and other details, I'll let Bob speak:
This was appraised by George Gruhn in September, 2008 for $12,500 (appraisal letter included). While that may be a realistic market value, Bob and I think that's low - as in "try and find another." There are just five confirmed specimens known, and this one may well be in the nicest condition. Nevertheless, I never list anything at "appraisal value," and Bob wants this to find a good home.
It obviously belongs in my collection (or so I am telling Bob and my wife both), but I can't buy them all. Don't you let this rare opportunity pass!
- Gregg Miner
Specifications (harp guitar):
information from owner Bob Hartman:
Style 3 Harp Guitar, SN 608
This is a wonderfully preserved, Larson Brothers-built specimen of the rarest of the Dyer harp guitar models. This is one-of- six confirmed examples of the Style 3 to date, and by the way, the nicest one!
The 608 serial number is the second lowest known-to-date in the 600 series which began somewhere between 1906 and 1908 (see other examples and new serial number charts at www.harpguitars.net ) and this example is the only one found with a readable label. The body shape is similar to Knutsen’s 1908 (or earlier) model, which has a similar body point, bass peghead shape and semi-cutaway upper bout. That year, Knutsen’s version had 13 frets clear of the body and a 24.5" scale-length; whereas, the Larson version has 15 frets clear of the body and a scale length of 22 5/16". (Knutsen’s shortscale harp guitars were 19-20” – GM)
The woods used comply with the standard Styles 4-8 and the craftsmanship and quality is comparable. The body size is smaller than its counterpart Dyer styles, which have a 16" lower bout.
The neck has been beautifully reset. The joint looks original. The spruce top has three repaired small hairline cracks and the mahogany back has many small to medium old hairline repaired cracks, while the sides are crack-free. It appears that the top has been partially over-sprayed. This little gem was found with aluminum nuts below the sub-bass tuners. They did not work well so I had ebony ones installed to better hold the tuning of the bass strings. Now the strings wind better also. These are the only un-original parts on this beautiful, fine sounding Larson Creation. It plays like a dream and needs no work. Recent repairs by Tony Klassen.
The bracing pattern is different from the standard Larson styles, not an X pattern and not ladder or Z patterns either. It looks more like a complicated H. The fingerboard is radiused for steel strings.
New custom wood case.
makes a perfect companion to a full-sized Dyer, the 1908 style Symphony
Harp Mandolin, or to a player that needs a smaller scale instrument.
Symphony Harp Mandolin, Style 20, c. 1908
Extremely rare Larson brothers made Dyer with a label that states, Style 20 and serial number 121. This model is different from the ones made circa 1910, in that it represents the one shown in a 1908 ad in The Cadenza magazine depicting a point formed in the lower bass side section of the body, in contrast to the later models that have a similar corresponding point in the lower treble side of the body. The body is generally wider but thinner than its later counterparts, while maintaining the same general appearance. To this date there are but two of this type of Dyer Symphony Harp Mandolins in existence, the other one is lacking a label.
The condition is
remarkably good for its age. There are no cracks in the top and one 2”
back crack at the butt end. The finish shows normal play wear one would
expect in an instrument much newer than this one. The back and sides are
in excellent condition with light crazing in the original finish equally
on the entire instrument. It is all original and very playable and with
lovely tone and more than adequate volume, as attested by many players
at the 2012 Harp Guitar Gathering in
Un-original hard case
DVDs by Stephen Bennett, John Doan, Muriel Anderson, Andy McKee,
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Berwald, Bill Dutcher, Gregg Miner, Pasquale Taraffo
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