Weissenborn | Kona Style 4 | 1920’s | 1 (our database)
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- Model: Kona Style 4
- Year: 1920’s
- Top: Koa
- Back and sides: Koa
- Body Length:10.5″
- Upper Bout: 9.5″
- Lower Bout: 13.5″
- Body Depth Neck Heel: 3 2/16″
- Body Depth Tail Block: 4″
- Scale Length: 25″
- Nut Width: 1 7/8″
- String Spacing: 2.5″
- Bridge: Non-original
- Binding: Rope
- Rosette: Rope
Kona guitars were built for a Mr Charles S. DeLano from approximately 1915. He was a self styled “instructor of Hawaiian steel guitar” and like the other slide guitar purveyors, likely sold instruments alongside his instructional material. Although initially built by 2 seperate luthiers: Norwegian born Chris Knutsen and German born Hermann Weissenborn. Knutsen, the older luthier was born in 1856 and moved from Seattle to Los Angeles in 1916. Weissenborn was 7 years junior and initially started in New York but also ended up in Los Angeles around 1910.
Knutsen was born Johan Christian Kammen June 24, 1856 in Norway and is best known was an innovator, building most of his guitars with spruce tops, lateral bracing and cruder building techniques such as his use of screws, brackets and unusual shaped nuts. He is best known for his harp guitars which feature a large hollow arm for sub-bass strings.
German born Weissenborn had a more standardised, refined building philosophy and his guitars featured mostly x braced koa tops and several different “styles” with increasing levels of ornamentation. After around 1923, Kona guitars were built exclusively by Weissenborn.
The levels of ornamentation in 1930 were:
Style 1: Plain (retail price $40)
Style 2: Above plus rope purfling around the soundhole. (retail price $56)
Style 3: Above plus rope purfling along the fingerboard. (retail price $67.50)
Style 4: Rope purfling around the soundhole, top, back, fingerboard and headstock and fancy fretboard inlays. (retail price $79)
In general, increasing figure in the Koa with increasing style numbers.
Kona guitars differ from the more common “Weissenborn” style in that the neck in a Kona is partially built in the spanish style and partially hollow, whereas the “Weissenborn” guitars have an entirely hollow neck. Additionally, they had slightly deeper bodies, narrower bouts and the short solid neck had bone nuts and wire frets.
This Weissenborn built Style 4 Kona guitar was the top of the line but has had some repairs to it over it’s long life.
The prior owner Benoit Debroize has this to say about this guitar “issues it may have : The back as been rebraced I guess, done professionaly most likely, but you can still see that the braces are whiter than the rest of the inside. Then you can see on the pictures most of the details. A mother of pearl inlay missing ( not a big deal). It is a really surprisingly loud guitar. very light. Got a lot of bass for a slide guitar I feel. I mean it is a really great slide guitar. Very beautiful flamed koa. Original case included”
Classic Instruments, Weissenborn Style#4, By: George Gruhn and Walter Carter, vintage guitar magazine, 3/13/2009
Christiaan Oyens, Weissenborn Knutsen the Hawaiian Steeel Guitar
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