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c.1920s Weissenborn Kona Style One
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Scale: 24 3/4" Width at Lower Bout: 13" Body Depth, Neck to Endpin: 3"- 4 1/4" Nut Width: 1 5/8" String Spacing at Bridge: 2 3/8" Weight: 2lb. 8oz.
Materials: Solid figured Koa body, neck and fingerboard; hardwood 'bat-wing' bridge with aluminum saddle; solid bone nut; original 3 on a plate open back tuners with ivoroid keys.
Notes: German born luthier Karl Weissenborn never set foot in the Islands, yet became one of the most renowned builders of acoustic Hawaiian lap style guitars. Setting up shop in Los Angeles before WWI, by 1923 he was producing instruments under both the Kona and Wissenborn labels, among others. His four models were all built of solid Koa, with combination X and ladder bracing, varnish finish, and varied chiefly in the details of their ornamentation, until production all but ended by the mid-30s.
This fine example of his Style One is simple and clean in design, with a solid Spanish style neck, pearl dot fingerboard inlays, and a three ring soundhole purfling. At a scant 2lb 8oz, the instrument is phenomenally light in weight and wonderfully resonant, with a brilliant, bell-like tone and excellent sustain. Well maintained, the instrument is notably free of pick or buckle wear, with its age showing principally in some weathering of its whisper-thin, hand rubbed varnish finish on the top, and a few incidental finish nicks on the side.
Hardware is all original as well, including the 3 on a plate open back tuners, and hardwood bridge (possibly walnut) with its thin anodized aluminum saddle. Remarkably, the body and neck show no apparent cracks, with the only repair being the reglued bridge, which is also secured with a tiny bolt under a pearl dot for added stability. The solid Koa body shows handsome bookmatched figure in the back, with a fingerboard graced with attractive curly woodgrain as well.
A pleasing alternative to the resonator steel guitars, the Wissenborns have a warmer tone, with shimmering harmonics, and have been embraced by players from David Lindley to Ben Harper. With Weissenborn style steels now widely reissued by a variety of contemporary luthiers, this rare original is a remarkable find, and a pioneering piece of fretted history. One only: call now.
Case: Newer black plush lined hardshell case.