(And "Miraculous Achievements" down below)
assortment of Strange and Obscure Instruments that may only find homes with Odd,
Strange and Obscure Eccentric People!
YOU may be one of them.
currently available down below....
In order of appearance from top to bottom:
Grecian Pedal Harp
Banjo in a Bag
The Mouse Fiddle
Silvertone Jumbo Acoustic Guitar
Probably made in the early 60's I bought it used in 1977
at a music store in Sioux Falls, South dakota and paid a whopping $55
for it! It was my guitar all thru my college days, then it fell into
years of being kicked around and ignored.
Not really sure what kind of wood its made of, but the neck, back and sides are all stained a reddish brown.
I haven't been able to find many images on Google, but this simpler peghead design hasn't turned up yet.
Bone nut. The fretboard inlay is rectangular mother if pearl.
The soundboard appears to be Spruce. It actually
looks like its been stained too, but thats just from natural exposure
to light. And the body is HUGE!!! (Thats why they call it a JUMBO)
Its almost too big for me and my long Monkey arms!
Its a real collectors item too, as it is an
example of my first attempt at instrument repair. Unfortunately I had no
idea what I was doing and I made an awful mess of it! (I tried to
re-angle the neck with less then positive results) Years later I
repaired the damage by adding in a wedge of hardwood under the
fretboard and 2 Ebony strips on the heel to cover up my original
atrocity (I tried to saw off the neck and hit this mysterious metal rod
under the fretboard) (?) Its embarrassing to think back on it now.
Original frets are all still good.
The fretboard position markers are pretty thin and you can see thru a couple of them. Some are slightly worn and damaged.
Some wear and tear on the neck.
The neck is securely attached to the body with a nut and bolt.
Ebony and Rosewood bridge.
The serial number inside.
(Again... No info on when it was made, but I'll keep looking.)
Over the years the peghead has gradually warped into a
Smily Face :) This has no effect on the tuning. All original tuning machines still work quite well.
Several years ago I made a custom fit case for it
too. All made of swirly plywood for the top and back and 2X4's for the
Inside is padded with foam and lined with blue felt.
A padded compartment case can be seen down below.
I have no idea how much of a price tag to put on it for now. The sound is good, but of course the string action is a bit high.
If you're interested, make an offer.
Restored Grecian Pedal Harp
made by: Jacob Erat and Sons
A friend of mine bought this old Harp from a lady that said "Get that old piece
of furniture out of here!" When he brought it to me, the sound board had been
ripped up by a set of metal strings that
were installed ages ago. It appeared to have been seriously damaged for a very
I rebuilt the sound board and installed a complete set of Vanderbilt Classic
Natural Gut strings.
After I tightened the string pressure and tuned it up everything seemed
It looked and sounded good.
However...After a while I began to hear that sickening sound of wood
creaking and groaning. The soundboard still looked OK so I
wasn't really sure what was happening. After closer examination I soon realized
that the entire body was pulling up and away from the pedestal! I quickly
de-tuned the harp until there was almost no string pressure remaining...but too
late. The damage had been done (Again!) I informed the owner that the poor old
Harp had indeed passed away (again) and that it might possibly be restored
enough to be a museum piece or at the very least, a theatre stage prop. Sad to
say...It would Never be
playable again. (There was even a brief thought that it would be fed into the
What caused the problem This time was the fact that a couple thousand
pounds of string pressure was being held together by nothing more than 4 old
wooden dowel rods and a thin layer of ancient crystallized glue. This was kind
of like expecting a 95 year old man to bench press a thousand pounds up over his
head! The poor old dried out bones just couldn't take it.
I had put in so much time on this project that I tried again and with a
great deal of difficulty I managed to get the body back into the original
grooves of the pedestal and heavily reinforced it with metal brackets. I then
tuned it up only as far as to keep the pillar on the pedestal and That is as far
as I will ever go with! There may be a possibility that this old Harp might yet
be able to be tuned up to full string pressure and played...but I would Heavily
recommend that the poor old thing be permanently retired from performing and
simply be allowed to stand at attention and look good. (It really does look
So...the question is: Would anyone like to have a nice old and rare collectible
in their home? All the time I was doing research on the the origins of this
thing I mistakenly believed the carved inscription to read:
"J. Prat and Sons".
Of course I could find no information with that
name so I thought I hit a dead end...until I realized that the outrageously
intricately carved letters in the pin-block read:
"J. Erat and Sons..." !!! Then I began to find some information:
Apparently...Jacob Erat was a harp builder in London who died in 1821. His 2
sons took over the harp building business...so it would seem we have an original
built by the old man which would put the construction date at least before 1820!
J. Erat and Sons Patent 23 Berners Street London 1499
This amazingly detailed carving of a Lion, a crown and a Unicorn is only about 2
inches across. The words in the top part read:
HONI SOIT QUI MAI.
The words in the banner on the bottom read:
DIEU ET MON DROIT.
I asked a friend of mine to translate and this is what he came up with:
The inscription in part is actually two, I perceive, and the 1st one
is French, early modern or late-mediaeval, take your pick.
Honi soit qui mal y pense:
'Shame to him who thinks it Evil.'
And the other also is the same, in French:
Dieu et mon droit:
'God and my right.'
A tentative price of $1100
has been put on the harp for now, but I have to double check with the
owner. And because it's so heavy and there would have to be a shipping
crate constructed for it, it will have to be for "pick up only".
help you carry it out to your vehicle on the street, but I'm afraid
that's about as much additional time as I can put into this project)
The Harp currently resides in Madelia, Minnesota.
(South-central part of the state)
Banjo in a Bag
One afternoon one of the guys from Music Mart called and said…“Uh, TJ,
we got something here for you to look at.” When I arrived at the store I was
handed a plastic bag with THIS thing inside it. He said a lady with Blue Hair
walked in and asked if this could be put back together. It was such a curious
looking pile of wreckage that I agreed…if only to find out what it had once
When I called the lady later that day…she informed me that it had once
belonged to a long since deceased relative and that she had remembered him
playing it when she was very young. I’m a chronic sucker for nostalgia…so I got
right to it. And…believe it or not… nearly every single tiny part had been saved
and was used again. I think the only parts I had to add were the strings and the
skin head. It looks as if the poor old thing had spent at least some time under
water and then baked in an attic for several decades. It’s a Banjo/Ukulele… and
they were pretty common around the turn of the (last) century.
I never met the Lady with the Blue Hair…but later reports indicate that
she was very pleased with the results.
The Mouse Fiddle
A friend of mine used to play this nice old Violin. It sounded pretty
good but certainly wasn’t a Stradivarius. And its condition and tone did not
improve when he accidentally backed over it with his pick-up truck! He brought
it home to his shack in the country… put it up on a shelf for the rest of the
Winter and the next Spring he donated it to me for the parts.
When I popped off
the back…there inside was the coziest little Mouse Nest…made of the finest
English Wool…for his old wool sweater had been next to the Violin on the shelf
and this Mouse had made out of it quite possibly the warmest Mouse Nest in all
of Southern Minnesota!
You can still see the remains of tiny seeds that were
eaten. Tiny turds and urine are not visible…though quite evident! And despite
the fact that a little bit of the F-hole had been nibbled on…the Violin was
easily repaired. And the following Autumn it’s new owner didn’t mind at all the
ever so slight “Mousy Aroma” that wafted out of the sound holes…for the old
Violin actually sounded better after it had been Run Over and Moused On!