Harp Mandolin, Style 20, Serial #105
For all of you who missed this the first time...it's back!
This was my personal Dyer harp mandolin. I thought I priced it fairly, but since several people immediately tried to buy it, I guess it was a bit too low. Hopefully, it's now a bit more realistic (actually, I only bumped it up a measly 15%). It went to Stacy Hobbs, who loved it, but now - a year and a half - later, he's switching jobs, moving to Florida and having to streamline. The new price gets him his investment back, and you still get a bargain.
I also thought I honestly described the tone (as kinda so-so, as most of these seem to be), but again, Stacy loved it. This goes to show how on their own (without a way to directly compare), most instruments can sound just fine.
For those new to harp mandolins - no, it has no extra strings. They were named such due to the hollow-arm design, which emulated the harp guitars. Only a very few rare Knutsens have recently been found with extra strings.
This is a Style 20, the plainest of the four known Dyer harp mandolin styles. It is serial number 105, which almost certainly means it was the fourth or fifth Dyer harp mandolin built. Unfortunately, we still can't say exactly when that was - and, as it happens, I currently working on completely re-vamping the entire Dyer serial number system. This one will likely end up in a range from late 1908 to mid 1910 (check Bob Hartman's last Larson book for the current system).
In fact, I got this instrument from Bob, himself. He had it restored (very well) in Chicago, and it plays fine. The portion above the soundhole was pretty caved in and damaged, as can be seen in the photos. Note also the heavy playing wear throughout the top.
Tone? As I said above, nothing special. Frankly, I've only heard one great Dyer mandolin, and that is Bob's own, which was completely rebuilt with a new top. No others have sounded as good as the Knutsens I've played. And of course, archtop "bluegrass" mandolin players should know that flattops are a very different animal (not "worse," just different). This one actually sounds better and louder than the Style 35 I now have.
Stacy also mentioned how cool this looked hanging next to his Dyer - something I'd highly recommend to any of you other Dyer owners (Stephen Bennett, Bob Hartman, Ron Petit and I all swear by it!).
So there you have it. An extremely low price for a Larson brothers harp mandolin, due to the plain model, condition and non-sensational tone. $4000-25,000 is normal range for any of the others (and you never get an accurate tone appraisal, admit it!)...
- Gregg Miner, the "harp guitar pope"
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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