|Carl and August Larson of Chicago have left a remarkable legacy of fine fretted instruments from a career extending from the mid-1890’s to the early 1940’s. Having emigrated from Sweden to the United States in the 1880’s, they produced a wide variety of different styles of guitars, harp guitars, mandolins, mandolas, mando-cellos, tiples, and ukes under a variety of trade names, such as Maurer, Prairie State, Euphonon, Dyer, and Stahl.|
Many of these instruments, such as Dyer and Stahl brands, were produced for distribution by others and were stamped as being made by these distributors when they were, in fact, made by the Larsons.
None of the Larsons’ instruments bore a Larson label or stamp. Representing just a two-man operation, the brothers kept their personal profile low, concentrating on the production of a remarkable variety and quantity of very finely crafted and innovatively designed instruments. The Larsons invented some unique design and construction features.
|The Larsons’ laminated bracing, metal support rods on Prairie State brand instruments, system of building tops and backs under tension, and a number of other design features set them apart from any other builders. The brothers had patents on a number of these features and may justifiably be considered some of the most innovative fretted instrument designers of the period.|
It would appear that the Larsons were among the first American manufacturers to concentrate on designing and producing steel-string flat-top guitars, while most American flat-top guitars made prior to the late 1920’s were designed for use with gut strings.
The Larsons’ work is unique among pre-World War II guitar manufacturers as it represents the only non-industrially produced range of flat-top steel-string instruments that are still widely recognized as being of high-quality and high monetary value and which continue to be sought after by musicians as well as collectors for their distinctive tonal quality.