This is the first vintage restoration on a customer’s old harp guitar we’ve done and documented some of the process. When a local client brought it in from Spokane, WA, he informed us his father was the original owner, and purchased it in the Seattle area, as we all know Chris
Knutsen had his shop set up in that vicinity, and this could have been purchased/commissioned directly from him.
There was no label inside which likely was deteriorated and came off possibly during one of the previous repairs, it looked like there had been several. First, it was hard not to notice the tailpiece that had been added behind the bridge to offset the extra tension from the grossly over gauged strings (you can see notches cut out of the bridge to allow the tailpiece to set low enough behind the strings to have enough break angle **facepalm**). There was a heavy flat wound jazz set of nickle strings on it, the low E was around a .060 !! This was evidence to us of what caused the bridge to lift and belly the top so much it was likely unplayable for a long time despite the tail piece modification. There were also several cracks in the top from being dropped and/or dehumidified over the years.
We kept the instrument for awhile to give us a chance to inspect the bracing inside and see what the restoration cost would be. We determined a lot of the bracing inside needed replaced and we needed to take the back off to do that. The back had been removed previously but we thought we’d
have luck getting it to re align. The back needed a graft to close the book match de-lamination anyways, so this was a good opportunity to get all that fixed.
You can see the condition of the main cross brace directly below the sound hole, it had been fixed with some sort of putty which made it impossible to properly clamp. That brace had to be replaced, as well as several others on the top that had come loose.
All the original braces on the back could get re-glued, but only after the book match crack had been fixed. Anthony added a new back stripe to reinforce the joint and glued the bracing back on. You can see some cleats where some de-humidification cracks were on the back.
Its all strung back up again and sings with a century old sound. Dave tuned it up and demo’d the lower guitar strings and harp strings, but still needs to do some setup on the guitar neck: