Rare Larson Brothers guitar from around 1930 – made under the Maurer label.
When considering fine acoustic steel-string pre-World War II American guitars, names such as Gibson and Martin come immediately to mind. Each turned out thousands of instruments a year. In contrast to today, there were very few private makers whose work equalled the quality of the large companies. Some well-known private builders of exceptional instruments of that period were D’Angelico and Stromberg and definitely another distinguished name was the Larson brothers of Chicago.
Carl and August Larson were Swedish immigrants who went to work for the Robert Maurer Company just before the turn of the century. Maurer was a music teacher in Chicago who established the Maurer Instrument Company, but it is not known whether he actually built instruments himself. In 1901, August Larson took over the company as president, with himself and Carl as the only two employees. They kept the Maurer name, but built instruments under the names WLS, Dyer, Euphonon, Stahl, and Prairie State, as well. Their two-person shop produced an amazing number of instruments, although their total output was, of course, small in comparison to that of the big companies, so there are not many Larson brothers instruments available today. Most of these tend to turn up in the Chicago area.
Larson guitars were among the earliest actually designed for steel strings. The Larsons were quite innovative in design and construction, especially in bracing and reinforcement of their guitars. The larger top braces were often laminated for strength, and some had steel reinforcement tubes from the neck to the end block, as well as a “straining rod ” that ran from the end block through the neck block and outside to wrap over the heel!
This particular Larson brothers instrument was made around 1930 it shows the work of a fine craftsman. This model is quite large for the time, but not for Larson. Their steel-strings came in a wide variety of sizes. The top is spruce and the back and sides are fine rosewood. The neck is a two-piece mahogany laminate with rosewood/ spruce/ rosewood sandwiched in between for strength.
The guitar has a thick ebony fingerboard and a flat pyramid-end ebony bridge, with a bone nut and saddle.
Typical of Larson designs, the top is X-braced, with the “X” and one of the upperbout braces being a three-ply laminate of spruce/rosewood/spruce. A second upperbout brace, the soundhole reinforcement braces, and the tone bars are solid spruce and all are carved to taper at the ends. The small bridgeplate is maple, and there are six back braces. The overall result is a very strong guitar that is still not too heavy.
The ornamentation is typical of Larson instruments. The headstock is solid (denoting a later model) with a flower pattern inlay of pearl and abalone. On the fingerboard, a combination of dot inlay and engraved fancy inlay is very characteristic of Larson guitars. The open-back tuners are nickel-plated with bone buttons.
The heavier, laminated bracing produces a sound that is distinctly different from other pre-war flat tops – a bluesy, twangy tone with plenty of sustain.
We fell in love immediately, because the sound is elegant and immediately conveys a sense of depth. The richness of this guitar’s timbre is enormous and it captivates with a complex tone.
It is in good condition for its age. We could find some old repairs. All well done and stable. Our luthier has checked the guitar and it is ready to go.