Up for sale, a circa 1925 Kona/Weissenborn Style 3 Hawaiian acoustic lap steel in crack-free, collector-grade condition. 100% original and stunningly clean with highly figured bookmatched koa construction framed by rope binding, this Kona has been exceedingly well preserved for nearly a century.
The Kona trademark is accredited to C. S. Delano, one of the first Hawaiian guitar instructors in the continental USA. Delano commissioned Herman Weissenborn to make Kona-branded instruments beginning in the early 1920s, and the Kona guitars were crafted alongside their Weissenborn brethren in the same Los Angeles, CA factory. While even official Weissenborn production totals are notably small, the Kona brand is ostensibly rarer by a wide margin, as these instruments were only offered directly through Delano's teaching studio.
This instrument is a Style 3, the second from the highest Kona offered through Weissenborn, differentiated by its ornate marquetry and select flame koa. With rich, natural projection, complex overtones, and the midrange detail and warmth of koa, the Kona instruments are set apart from Weissenborn-branded guitars given their solid (un-chambered) mahogany necks. To counterbalance the lack of a hollow neck chamber, the Kona models have a deeper body, resulting in a darker overall tonal character while still being particularly expressive, lively and responsive to user inputs. Featherweight at 3lbs 2oz, this Kona has been freshly restrung here at Mike & Mike’s Guitar Bar with 12-53 bronze roundwound strings.
The koa playing surface caps a V-shaped mahogany neck, framed by rope binding and featuring diamond/dot inlaid shell position markers. Given the Spanish-style neck carve, it is essentially possible to play this steel in either Spanish or Hawaiian styles, as the playing surface is fretted with a 25" scale length. The original nut is set at a height for Hawaiian playing, measuring 1 7/8“ in width. On the headstock, the original open-gear strip tuners are present and notably clean, holding pitch as intended and turning smoothly, with the original white buttons intact.
The bridge sits flush with the bookmatched koa top on all edges, and the original bridge pins are present, along with the aluminum saddle. There is no untoward deflection of the top, and all braces are secure. Through the soundhole, the practically pristine “Kona Hawaiian Guitars” label is visible, and this label design was used from 1923-25.
The guitar is finished in a combination of oil and shellac (used by Weissenborn from 1916-1926), highlighting the highly dimensional flame figuring that extends liberally across the koa top and back. The finish exhibits subtle spiderweb checking, with a bit of isolated texturing in the top coat on the lower bout on the back and just beneath the neck heel from extended contact with a case lining. Crack-free, cosmetic wear is otherwise limited to just a few minor marks and scuffs, largely concentrated along the rims.
A modern hardshell case is included, larger than the Kona, yet providing a sturdy tote.