Harp Guitar from 1916 - what IS this creation?

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David Norton
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Harp Guitar from 1916 - what IS this creation?

Post by David Norton » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:02 pm

A work colleague just brought this in to me, "you can have it." It's been in his grandparents' garage for a VERY long time. The bill of sale is dated June 22, 1916.

Anyone have any idea what this is, other than (obviously) a "Harp Guitar", as stated on the label? There's zero tension on the strings at this point. Oddly, none are broken.
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pogmoor
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Re: Harp Guitar fron 1916 - what IS this creation?

Post by pogmoor » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:07 pm

David_Norton wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:02 pm
Anyone have any idea what this is, other than (obviously) a "Harp Guitar", as stated on the label?
A misnomer? I can't see anything guitar-like about it :?
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Paul Janssen
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Re: Harp Guitar from 1916 - what IS this creation?

Post by Paul Janssen » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:16 pm

It looks a little like the autoharp that we used to have in my family when i was growing up. I don't know what ever happened to it (nor do I really care - I seem to recall it sounded pretty ordinary).

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Jacek A. Rochacki
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Re: Harp Guitar from 1916 - what IS this creation?

Post by Jacek A. Rochacki » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:17 pm

It reminds me an instrument named (from German) Zither; from Greek - kitara. Maybe in some versions of an older English language the Zither was named Harp Guitar ?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zither
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Michael.N.
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Re: Harp Guitar from 1916 - what IS this creation?

Post by Michael.N. » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:17 pm

Looks more like a zither to me, so if you google harp guitar zither you'll get some hits.
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lagartija
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Re: Harp Guitar from 1916 - what IS this creation?

Post by lagartija » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:20 pm

It looks kind of like an autoharp without the keys. Maybe it was the forerunner of an autoharp?

Harp Guitar is defined as at least one open harp like string free of the fretboard. From the picture, it looks like all of the strings are open. Is there any way to change any of them? It looks like it has a bar you can raise to sharp everything? In that, it seems closer to harp configuration. So why bother call it a "harp guitar" when it is just a harp? Good mystery!
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Re: Harp Guitar from 1916 - what IS this creation?

Post by lagartija » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:24 pm

Michael.N. wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:17 pm
Looks more like a zither to me, so if you google harp guitar zither you'll get some hits.
Yes! Looks just like that instrument, doesn't it? :-)
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David Norton
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Re: Harp Guitar from 1916 - what IS this creation?

Post by David Norton » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:44 pm

Yes, clearly a zither of some sort.

The two horizontal rods (photo #1) have little handles at the end. This rotates the rods so that some strings are "damped" and others are "open".

The label at the lower part of photo #1 has a list of string pitch names, but not notation. There's a 40+ page instruction manual as well, with various songs-of-the-era set out in a rather bizarre tablature-like notation.
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Kent
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Re: Harp Guitar from 1916 - what IS this creation?

Post by Kent » Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:00 pm

David,
I thought you where looking for a 20 string guitar.

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Re: Harp Guitar from 1916 - what IS this creation?

Post by jamma » Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:16 pm

A zither, huh? Learned a new word today. And I wonder what that thing sounds like, would love to hear one of those in real life.

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Re: Harp Guitar from 1916 - what IS this creation?

Post by kloeten » Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:48 pm

Looks like a cymbal to me - but having Googled 'zither' I understand cymbals and zithers are similar instruments.
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