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Larson guitar building characteristics:

there are a number of characteristics that indicate the origin of a Larsons made guitar:
1. The Larson fretboard is always ebony and thicker than most. If bound, a stripe of black fretboard wood is visible under the fretboard binding, when viewed from the side, as in the following photo.....and photo
2.the bridge is a characteristic "flattened pyramid", a style also used extensively by Lyon and Healy (Washburn) and other makers as well.
3. The top and back are slightly, but visibly arched, not flat, producing the deepest measurement in the center of the guitars body . See photo....
4. On 12 fret to the body guitars, the Larsons almost always marked the 10th fret instead of the ninth, as done by most other makers.
5. Inlays and bindings share characteristics if not exact details. see photo.....
6. The binding around the lip of the soundhole has a wooden ledge that it sits on , visible under the ring of binding, when viewed from a side perspective.
7.Only guitars by the Larsons have the rod and/or tube, characteristic of the prairie state instruments, occasionally found on guitars with other Larson imprints, but never found on any other makers instruments. see photo....


The Larsons experimented with bracing patterns to some extent.
Most guitars are x braced in a manner similar but not identical to the martin system. The Larsons often employed laminated braces for additional strength. As in all their work, there is a capricious willingness to experiment that surprisingly resulted in instruments that are remarkably consistent in sound.
The Larsons sometimes utilized a ladder style of bracing on their lower end instruments that is significantly different from that of other makers. Instead of the usual 3 large clumsy braces found in many inexpensive guitars, the Larsons used 4,5,or 6 slender lateral braces that restrict the movement of the top to a lesser degree.. We have a small pearl trimmed rosewood guitar with ladder braces and it sounds quite lovely.


We have seen back and sides made of oak, mahogany, hawaiian koa, maple, and rosewood, all in association with spruce tops and ebony fretboards and bridges, even on the least expensive models. The quality of the woods are quite exceptional in all cases. It is a mistake to dismiss lower end Larson guitars as unworthy of appreciation. I have a bottom of the line oak guitar that is lovely..and made with exceptionally fine, quarter sawn oak ...

Maurer size chart:

The 1932 Maurer/Prairie State Catalog lists the following dimensions for their 12 fret to the body models.

Model Body Length Width @ Bridge Scale Length
Standard Size 18" 12 3/4" 24 5?8"
Concert Size 18 7/8" 13 1/2" 25"
Grand Size 19 1/8" 14" 25 3/8"
Auditorium Size 20" 15" 25 5/8"

The labels:

The Larson name has not been well known to the general, guitar buying public. They manufactured a fair number of instruments from 1900 till 1944 with no manufacturers' imprint at all. They manufactured instruments under a wide variety of names, many of which referred to the distributor or store that ordered them.
Here is a list of names we have encountered on Larson made instruments. Many of these makers imprints can be found on instruments not made by the Larsons....some of them were always Larson made instruments, as noted.

Always manufactured by the Larsons:

Prairie State
Maurer ( Any instrument after 1900)

Often manufactured by the Larsons:

WM. Stahl

Sometimes ( sometimes rarely) manufactured by the Larsons:

Southern California Music Company

The larsons made a wide variety of instruments.....

Guitars: flat top steel strings and (rarely) arch top f hole guitars ( tops were not carved)
Harp guitars and related "harp mandolin family" instruments
Mandolins and other mandolin related instruments i.e.
Anybody ever seen a Larson made 12 string????

The variety of instruments the Larsons produced is impressive, considering that there were only two guys, and the overall build quality of the instruments is exceptional. Even within the category of 6 string flat tops, they produced an astounding variety of styles, sizes and ornamentation. They made guitars that seem small ( sometimes tiny) by today's standards, and guitars notably larger than a j200 or super 400.

Estimates of the Larsons total output varies. High side figures are based on one instrument per day and a total of 10,000 -12,000 instruments. My own guesstimate is substantially lower. Based on inquiries of major dealers as to numbers of Larsons ; D'angelico's and Sunburst Les pauls to have passed through their hands,as well as inquiries of currently active luthiers, I believe the total number of Larson instruments( of all types) is closer to 2500 and no more than 3500 instruments of all types.

The Larson guitars I've played have consistently had exceptionally detailed and filigreed voices. They have a richness of harmonic content that is notably different than any other manufacturer. Singing, with a sweet and shimmering tonality. They also exhibit outstanding power and clarity . They have a balance of sound from low to high strings that is rarely encountered in other makers' instruments. When properly set up, they play wonderfully.
Sometimes refered to as "fingerpicking" guitars, they actually respond as well to a pick . Ive found them to be great recording instruments,and they perform as well for "rock/pop" power chord flat picking, as they do arpeggioed single note work. In any case, they sound great and microphones love them.

Check out this Stahl catalog......click on it to open the pages....