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chord-zithers
of
unusual
design
American art guitar
zitho-harp
lyreharp
harp-zither

 

fretless zithers >
plucked/hammer-struck instruments >
chord-zithers of unusual design

Through the years, a number of chord-zither types were produced in unconventional physical forms. Stringing configurations are usually borrowed from popular standard model chord-zithers, but some of the instruments do feature alternative twists on functionality, specifically in regard to the location of the player's hands. This page offers a look at a few of these chord-zither varieties of unusual design.

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chord-zithers
of unusual
design > American
art guitar

American art guitar

This chord-zither is configured into a guitar-like design and takes a linear approach to the positioning of the melody and accompaniment sections, aligning them end-to-end rather than the more usual side-by-side arrangement. It was named "American art guitar". Though disguised by the unusual form, its string configuration is that of a perfectly "normal" 4/30 chord-zither.

American art guitars, left to right

1. This appears to be an early one of these. The "Morse Code" sound hole decals and paper chord strings tuning label used on this instrument also appear on Bosstone ukelins, which would seem to suggest it to have been a product of the Phonoharp Company.

2. This one is a later model. The golden-brown finish of this model is like that of International Musical Corporation ukelins. The sound hole decals are of the "Marquetry" type, similar (if not identical) to those used on certain Hawaiian art violins.

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chord-zithers
of unusual
design > zitho-harp

zitho-harp

The zitho-harp takes a 90-degree turn from the "conventional" approach to playing the chord-zither. Despite its unusual appearance, its string configuration is an often-used one, that of a 5/21 chord-zither.

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chord-zithers
of unusual
design >
lyreharp

lyreharp

The Lyreharp is a 5/21 chord-zither that has the chords and melody strings situated at different levels of height, and the 21 melody strings spaced further apart than on the usual 5/21 chord-zither. These features make it a very user-friendly instrument. Its handsomely gaudy appearance is purely a bonus. The examples shown are in two different decal sets, the one on the left being the more usual of the two.

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chord-zithers
of unusual
design > harp-zither

harp-zither

The harp-zither was produced by the Harp-O-Chord Company of Columbus, Ohio. This early 20th century firm manufactured a small line of fretless zithers, all of which are unusual. Among them are the company's namesake, the Harp-O-Chord itself, the "Harp of David," and the "Little Joe." The harp-zither provides an attractive appearance and physical configuration for a 3/11 chord-zither. Kelly Williams covers this branch of the fretless zither family extensively at his website, the Guitar-Zither Clearinghouse. To view Kelly's great coverage of the company, click here.

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