Euphonon | Square Shoulder | 1930’s | SN:none
Tony Klassen of New Era guitars is the owner of this unusual and beautiful guitar. He credits it as being the impetus to collect and reproduce Larson Brothers guitars. Here’s what he says: “Prior to the summer of 1985 I had only been collecting for a bout 5 years, and most of those, if not all, were Martins and Gibson’s. Pretty plentiful then. My dream guitar was a pearly Martin. 12 fret or 14 fret, it really didn’t matter. By that summer, I’d finally saved up enough dough. With cash in hand and my 1929 000-28 in trade, I headed off to Gruhn Guitars in Nashville. George had a pearly 00-45 for sale, and I decided that was the one I would get. I was really excited. My first time in Nashville, and a chance to hang in one of the worlds premier vintage shops. That trip changed me forever…
I got to George’s shop shortly before closing, and his hospitality was amazing. He locked the doors. He called his wife (“I’ll be home later”), and he let me spend the next two hours playing guitar after guitar. I played Martins, Gibsons, and Washburns, and I admired them all. What stuck in my mind was something called a Euphonon. What is this!? Who made it? I wasn’t quite sure…
My immediate impression was the look. It hung among many guitars, but stood out and seemed to call to me. Very different then anything I was use to at that time. The pearl stars in the bridge, the wide band of abalone around the top, and the vine headstock inlay were stunning. The craftsmanship was equal to the best. The Brazilian was figured, and even had tiny knots in it. Something I think most builders at that time would pass on. One of the most visible characteristics was the guitars back was larger then the top! What was their intention! Nobody knew, but I couldn’t help but think these guys where not afraid to experiment, and push the limits.
George placed a mirror in side to show me the laminated braces. WOW! I just grew more and more intrigued. The fact that this came from a 2 man shop, and not a factory was very impressing to me. It truly felt like a hand made instrument. Something up until then I had never encountered. George was totally excited about it. I wasn’t quite sure… odd shape….. George had to leave and we would hook up the next morning, so I had some thinking to do.
That next day I spent 4 or more hours playing that Martin 00-45 I wanted, and the Euphonon that was getting more and more enchanting every time I picked it up. I was hidden away in a quite little listening room playing both for sound comparisons. Every time I picked up the Euphonon George would knock on the door, poke his head in and say “ I can here when your playing that one, right through the walls!” He was referring to of course, the Euphonon. So we talked more about the guitar, and it’s makers. George gave me the book Bob Hartman put together.
The book was full of interesting instruments. The Brothers made everything from mandolins to mandocellos, and guitars up to 21” wide! This Euphonon just had a vibe I didn’t feel in the others. As for the sound, it too was very different, and ultimately what helped make the sale. Bright, lively, loud and very well balanced. It was much more suited to my style of playing compared to the more delicate Martin. This was a true steel string guitar! The deal got better. George offered me more for the 000-28 then he originally quoted, so now had a pretty easy decision. I left the shop with the Euphonon, George said spread the word!
That was by far my best and most memorable guitar buying experience ever. It set in motion a quest to learn more about, and collect as many Larson made instruments I could find”
©2009 Terence Tan & Tony Klassen
Check out Tony’s great website: link
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