Circa 1915 Bohmann Harp Guitar

Bohmann harp guitar
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Circa 1915 Bohmann Harp Guitar

This Bohmann harp guitar was made around 1915 and it features many of Joseph Bohmann’s  patented ideas. Perhaps the most famous of these are the sympathetic tone rods, a tunable set of resonating metal rods he patented in 1915. The rods are tuned with nuts to specific pitches just like a string. There is also a damping bar, activated via a push button in the guitar top. This Bohmann guitar also features a double cutaway body, an innovation that Bohmann patented in 1916 and a thick convex top and back, another one of his patents. It has a six string fretted section and two sub-bass strings.

Joseph Bohmann was no stranger to flamboyant marketing prose and at various times he laid claim to being the The World’s Greatest Musical Instrument Manufacturer and the The World’s Fastest Violin Maker, the latter being one of the stranger boasts from any violin, mandolin or guitar maker.

In the 1870s, Bohmann emigrated to America from Bohemia, where we presume he trained as a luthier. (Next to nothing is known about his early life.) In 1878 he established himself in his new home as an instrument maker when he formed the oddly named Bohmann’s American Musical Industry. Bohmann is an important figure in fretted instrument history as he was perhaps the first builder to make mandolins in the United States and by the early 1890s he was supplying mandolins to Mongtomery Ward’s and Sears. Bohmann was also one of the first guitar makers to build and brace guitars for steel strings.

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