Wednesday, 7 April 2010

August Carlstedt Ideal Harp Guitar

This harp guitar by August Carlstedt is not the kind of instrument that turns up very often on eBay. The seller has listed it as a "double neck" and I suppose that is not an innaccurate description of it, but you'll notice from the closeness of the upper neck carrying the sub-bass strings to the main neck that the sub-bass strings are not meant to be fingered (I won't say "fretted" for obvious reasons). The sub-basses are intended to be plucked as open strings - the neck is there merely to support these strings. The designs of harp guitar vary wildly; many other brands employed winged extensions to the body where this guitar has the extra neck. I assume that the fretless fingerboard on this example is there for aesthetic purpose only.

I note that currently the guitar has only two of its four sub-bass strings present. Possibly, in its current condition with cracked body top it would not be wise to string it up with the full complement of strings. I am curious as to the presence of four additional bridge pins on the treble-side of the guitar's bridge, which would suggest that the guitar may have had even more extra strings. However, there are no tuners present on the treble side of the body, nor marks to indicate where they may once have been. Could the four extra bridge pins be merely an aesthetic touch so as give provide visual balance to the whole bridge design?

August Carlstedt, by the way, lived from 1861 to 1928 and was a Swedish immigrant who ran a shop in Chicago during the early 20th century, building instruments under the Ideal brand.

This beautiful antique guitar is, as already mentioned, in need of some restoration. No doubt it will appeal to a collector of harp guitars; hopefully someone who will lavish some attention on it.

For more on harp guitars, see the excellent website.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

1 comment:

  1. This looks like it might be an Austrian Schrammel guitar?



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