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Jim Garber
Mar-09-2006, 9:06am
I was just surfing, looking for something else and came across this Martin harp mandolin (http://www.turtlehillbanjo.com/images/HarpMando/MartinHarpMandolin.html) at Turtle Hill Banjo.

Jim

JEStanek
Mar-09-2006, 9:15am
Jim,
I saw the website calls it a harp mandolin, as you do. #I thought a harp - anything had to have harp drone strings on it too. #Does this thing with a big open horn count as well? #If so what qualifies, an open horn with soundhole that is X as large-r than the body. #The Rigel CT and G110 models have open space in their bass side horn...

I'm just looking to understand these better. #Or is this model a 1 off from typical harp-instrument hybrids?

Thanks.
Jamie
edit- it is cool looking though...

Martin Jonas
Mar-09-2006, 9:45am
I think there were two different type of instruments that could reasonably be called "harp-"somethings. There's the harp-guitar, which did indeed have drone strings. However, an instrument called the mandolyra was very popular in Naples around 1900, and they were mandolins pure and simple, no additional strings, just with a silly body shape with two lyra-like arms parallel to the neck, joined to the headstock with metal rods. This Martin mandolin (and there were other makers, too) is similar, but more assymetric. The big horn arm makes it look somewhat like a harp guitar, even though it doesn't have the functionality of that instrument, and it appears to be a farily wide practice to call them "harp mandolins". Indeed, I'm not so sure whether actual harp-mandolins, i.e. mandolin type instruments with drone strings like a harp guitar, have ever been built in any significnat numbers.

Martin

manjitsu
Mar-09-2006, 10:44am
Seems like most of the vintage harp mandolins I've seen have been either Knutsens or Dyers, and it does seem very rare indeed to find one that has the additional strings. Rare to find one at all, actually.

I too can't imagine that these were ever produced in very large numbers.

There are some great pictures of some at the harpguitars.net forum, and in Gregg Miner's mind-boggling collection.

Chris Rorrer

Martin Jonas
Mar-09-2006, 11:08am
Oh, the mandolyra was built in significant numbers, but has always remained local to Naples. #I don't think too many made it to the US (although the Andrini Brothers did play one, see photo below from this (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=13;t=31541;hl=liuto) thread).

Martin

manjitsu
Mar-09-2006, 11:26am
Those two arms/horns look almost demonic! And be very certain not to rock your head back and forth too much when you're getting your groove on with one of those things. :-)

GREAT photo!

-Chris Rorrer

Jim Garber
Mar-09-2006, 12:26pm
Indeed, I'm not so sure whether actual harp-mandolins, i.e. mandolin type instruments with drone strings like a harp guitar, have ever been built in any significnat numbers.
I don't know about significant numbers but Chris Knutsen certainly did build ones with harp strings. Quite a few on this page (http://www.harpguitars.net/knutsen/mandolins.htm)(from Gregg Miner's harpguitars.net).

Jim

Paul Hostetter
Mar-09-2006, 12:44pm
I guess the term "harp" is approximately right since it's asymmetrical like harp guitars. Even if it has no sub-basses. I own a Knutsen mandolin a bit like it, with a big horn that could hold "harp" strings but doesnít. What cracks me up is the poetic phrase "Excessively Rare" in their description. Excessively?

I donít think the body shape on the mandolyras (like Andriniís, above) is silly. Itís just a body shaped like a lyre. Lots of guitars and mandolins have sported that body shape over the years. Mozzani built harp guitars with that shape that he called lyre guitars.

http://www.rotarymantovacastelli.it/img/str_music/chi_lyra.jpg

Ok, he called them chitarra lyra.

Paul Hostetter
Mar-09-2006, 12:55pm
Thinking further, Martin has a history of doing weird things with suggestions from people in the outer world. Someone once brought them a real South American tiple and Martin went ahead and ukulele-ized it into something with ten strings but little other resemblance to the sample they'd been brought. Their harp guitars were documented by Mike Longworth as having been inspired by a Mozzani that someone brought them to copy(!). Seeing this odd tubby mandolin makes me realize they probably saw something and decided to try their version of it, and this is what resulted. I wonder what the original of that was.

Someone should teach them to take decent photos:

http://www.turtlehillbanjo.com/images/HarpMando/JB-5.JPG


Here's another Martin one-off gem from the 60's:

http://www.lutherie.net/trapezoid.martin.jpg

manjitsu
Mar-09-2006, 12:58pm
Wow...looks like what Bo Diddley might have played on an acoustic number.

-Chris Rorrer

JEStanek
Mar-09-2006, 1:05pm
I thought it was Pablo's guitar! Thanks for the info guy. Silly me, I had seen the Miner/Knutsen collection (very nice by the way) on line before. My head got stuck on the Gibson O style harp-guitar.

Jamie

Bob A
Mar-09-2006, 1:26pm
I recall seeing a harp mandolin that I believe was a Martin at a luthier's a few decades ago. It looked more like a Larson/Dyer instrument than the one pictured here. It was an 8-string, with no extra sympathetic strings.

Jim Garber
Mar-09-2006, 2:53pm
I checked with Turtle Hill. If anyone is interested you can own this "excessively rare" harpo-mando for $7500 with home-made case.

Jim

Eugene
Mar-09-2006, 10:22pm
That is the most unfortunate looking Martin I've ever seen. It looks like the ill-fated hybrid of an early 20th-c. English "mandolinetto" and a Knutsen.

Some of the earliest 6-string guitars if not the earliest were actually lyre-guitars. They were initially efforts to resurrect a "classical" aesthetic in the late 18th-c. Many early 6-string guitar methods were published for "lyre or guitar." Not to my taste.

Harp-guitar is a bit over applied nowadays in being put on a number of instruments that weren't called "harp-guitar" by their contemporaries (the excellent 10-stringers by Scherzer, e.g.). Technically, I wouldn't call the sub-bass strings "drones." They are more often tuned to function as diatonically tuned open diapasons: a throwback to big baroque-era lutes...or even mid-18th-c. French "theroboed" guitars.

Martin Jonas
Mar-10-2006, 12:29pm
I've just added another harp mandolin to this (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=15;t=32921;st=0;r=1;&) thread.

Martin

Jim Garber
Mar-10-2006, 12:40pm
Here is the photo in which this Martin appeared. Evidentally it was made for C. H. Gaskins & Co. and they ordered two of them.

Photo from Gregg Miner's site:
http://www.harpguitars.net/iconography/OS-Dickenson-miner.jpg

Jim