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20th Century Guitar
Rara Avis -- 1930 Larson Apollo Archtop Guitar : Swingin' with the Rhythms of Jazz in Harlem

June 1998
by Bianca Soros



Link to 20th Century Guitar Magazine

n Greek mythology, Apollo was the god of poetic and musical inspiration. The Larson Brothers honored this deity about 2,500 years later by creating the Larson Apollo archtop, built around 1930. The maple top and back are pressed under tension, a Larson innovation used to create responsive, balanced instruments. It is thought that this guitar may have been an experimental design, for no other models are known to exist. The bound nitrocellulose tortoise pickguard was designed with the f-hole cut out to optimize sound and clarity. The placement of the f-holes gives the guitar a rich vibrato tone with sustaining power for the lively, propulsive rhythms of jazz. The bridge is cast from Bakelite, an excellent sound transducer thanks to its strength, weight, and density. New materials like Bakelite were products of America's sophisticated manufacturing processes and implementation of scientific achievements. The instrument may have been used at the famous Apollo nightclub located in Harlem, one of the birthplaces of the syncopated rhythms of modern jazz. End

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