The German–born Hermann Weissenborn was one of many American instrument builders to capitalise on the tidal wave of Hawaiian music’s popularity that began in the mid–1910s.
Though previously a violinmaker and piano repairman, Weissenborn reinvented himself building Hawaiian guitars. Like with violins, Weissenborn’s early guitars were crafted from maple. After a few years, Weissenborn switched to the prized koa wood that would become a signature of his instruments.
For a stronger and more resonant guitar, he decreased the width of the bridge and increased the size of the bridge’s inner plate. An early design hallmark of Weissenborn’s guitars was a hollow neck.
By about 1923, Weissenborn lap steel guitars came in Style One, Style Two, Style Three, and Style Four. All four styles had a 3–inch deep body, a bat–wing bridge with aluminium saddle, X-bracing, flush frets and Waverly tuners.
Like other manufacturers of that era, including Gibson and Martin, Weissenborn made guitars were sold under other brand names for certain stores and distributors. The most common brand seems to be Kona. The most fundamental difference between the two is that Konas have solid necks instead of hollow ones. Konas have raised frets and deeper bodies, making up for some of the volume lost with a solid neck.
Style One was the simplest and least expensive, with no binding and limited ornamentation. Style Two and Three increased in appointments and price right up to Style Four, which featured rope binding on the front, back, neck, soundhole and peghead.
This particular Kona branded Weissenborn is a Series 3 built in 1926, featuring solid figured Hawaiian Koa top, back and sides. It has a solid "V" neck with metal frets and exquisite abalone fingerboard inlays.
This beautiful and rare instrument is in perfect condition with the original finish intact. There are very minor surface finish blemishes as expected from an instrument this age.
The owner states that there have been no modifications or repairs carried out as there were none required. The original Waverly tuners work well and hold tuning perfectly.
The sound is unique with the full tonal range typically expected from a vintage solid Koa instrument. It is bright and lively with excellent projection and natural sustain for days. It is a 100% acoustic instrument - no pickup installed in this one.
The current owner has played and enjoyed this guitar for 14 years and has looked after it with meticulous care.
Comes with a newer fitted hard shell case in good condition.
History of Weissenborn - https://reverb.com/news/the-history-of-weissenborn-hawaiian-style-guitars
Ben Harper playing his Weissenborn - https://youtu.be/d5xZmgFOuRA