In 1927 the Weissenborn Hawaiian Steel guitar was offered in four specific styles (1 through 4). The naming of the style was determined by the decorative features of the instrument along with the grade and quality of the Koa wood used in its construction. Our Authentic Series recreates these four styles exactly as they would have been in every detail.
Originally it was the ornamentation to the instrument and the build hours involved in creating it that determined the price of the model (or Style as Herman used)
The most basic model, and most common, was the Style 1. This model was characterised by its simple features. Normally a plain or simple grained “Select” Koa wood was used for the Top, back and sides. The Style 1 has no binding what so ever and only 5 round pearl dots for fret marks (on the 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th and 17th frets). The Rosette features 3 rings of Holly. Although plainer looking in appearance, exactly the same amount of attention to detail and construction goes in to the Style 1 as in all of the Styles. There was no scrimping in production quality or materials used throughout the build with the cheaper models.
The Style 2 is the oddball of the four styles, a kind of throwback to Weissenborn’s earlier years when the only model he was offering was a plain grained instrument with a black plastic binding around the body and white maple binding to the fretboard. There is also a unique feature on the Style 2’s fretboard that’s not found anywhere else, a curve or wave in to the soundhole. The Style 2 is also the first of the Styles where the diamond inlay appears at the 12th fret and also the Rope marqueterie of Holly and Rosewood shows itself on the Rosette alongside a single outer holly ring. There is also the added end inlay of Maple and Rosewood purfling.
As we move up in price to the Style 3 we first see the “Rope” Marqueterie binding of Rosewood and Holly appear. The Style 3 features the “rope” binding only on the top of the instrument, the back remains binding free. Weissenborn would also include a higher grade of Koa on these more ornate models. It’s common place to find beautifully figured wood used throughout these builds. There is more fret inlay here, with an added round pearl dot marker on the 3rd fret, double dots on the 5th and 9th alongside the diamond on the 12th. Also present is the “Rope” marqueterie and single holly ring rosette, and the purfling end inlay.
We come now to the jewel in Weissenborn’s crown, the Style 4. There really is no expense spared here. The finest and most resplendent Koa wood is used for the top, back and sides, figured Koa used for the Fretboard and headstock. The intensely detailed “rope” marqueterie covers the body in the form of binding top and bottom, as well as around the top side of the headstock, the “rope” and single holly ring rosette, and then finished with the maple and rosette purfling end inlay. The style 4 also features the most fret inlay of any of the styles in the form of an abalone triangle on the first, dots on the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th, an abalone diamond on the 12th and the finale dot on the 17th.
It’s important to note that the differences between the Style 1 through to the style 4 were just decorative, the construction materials, techniques and finishes remained the same irrespective of price.