Weissenborn Style-4 Guitar
Appraised Value: $4,000 - $4,500
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:57)
Vintage Instruments, Inc.
GUEST: It belonged to my great-aunt. She got it around 1915 to 1920, I believe. And my great-grandfather, who was her father, paid $100 for it.
APPRAISER: What kind of music did she play with it, do you think?
GUEST: I don't even know that. I just know that she was on the radio. She said she broadcasted...
APPRAISER: Well, these instruments were popular for Hawaiian music. In fact, this is made by the Weissenborn Company in California, and Weissenborn was active from about 1920 into about 1937. And Weissenborn was the first guy, I think, to produce guitars specifically designed to produce Hawaiian music. It was played with a slide.
APPRAISER: That's why it doesn't have raised frets. It has these individual wood inlaid markers. This is made out of flamey Hawaiian koa wood. That's "k-o-a."
APPRAISER: And I thin he was the tastiest-- the cleanest of the makers of this type of guitar. A lot of people were reproducing this sort of guitar in those days, but this guy made the most beautiful ones and used the nicest wood selection, which even today is expensive to buy. And Weissenborn made various grades of these guitars. This is a Grade 4, which is the highest grade they made. They made 1, 2, 3 and 4. The 1 would have been very plain koa wood with none of these rope bindings. These are individual alternating wood pieces, dark and light, and you'll see it goes all the way around the top and also around the back and up the fingerboard, around the head, and that's what makes it Grade 4. The 3 didn't have the rope binding on the fingerboard, the 2 just had black bindings, I think, and the 1 had no bindings.
APPRAISER: I imagine they leapt in grade from maybe $25 to $40 to $75... in this case, perhaps $100.
GUEST: A hundred dollars.
APPRAISER: And the Hawaiian craze was at its height in the mid-1920s. Everybody's producing Hawaiian instruments. Unfortunately, shortly after he made these-- I don't know if you've ever seen the metal resonating guitars--
GUEST: I have.
APPRAISER: --made by National and Dobro company?
APPRAISER: Well, they really replaced these guitars, so after a while, Weissenborn couldn't sell them.
APPRAISER: It would have had a metal slide with it. Right?
APPRAISER: And in order to play it, you'd have to sit down, either put it in your lap or put it on a table. And I've tuned it to what it would have had-- an open tuning.
GUEST: Okay. (strums guitar)
GUEST: It's beautiful.
APPRAISER: Well, it's a little out of tune right now. Well, I think this one is worth about... $4,500. Because the condition is so good, because the wood selection is so nice and flamey, because the oil varnish is in such beautiful condition with a little bit of this wonderful craquelure. So somewhere in that $4,000 range.
GUEST: That's great.
APPRAISER: And I appreciate your bringing it in. Thanks.
GUEST: Thank you.
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