In a '20s catalogue, Weissenborn's four Hawaiian styles were priced at $40, $56, $67.50, and $79 respectively (1933 prices were slightly lower). Martin koa models 0-18K and 0-28K covered a similar price range--$45 to $75--from 1926 to 1933. Today, Weissenborns' going rate can be 20 to 30 times original list, although their oddity and obscurity means that yard-sale bargains can occasionally be found for what grandpa paid for 'em new.
In 1923, the operation became a limited partnership called the Weissenborn Co. Ltd. The factory relocated, and ads and catalogues indicate that guitars were selling well in this heyday of Hawaiian music. Bob Brozman estimates that perhaps 80 percent of Weissenborn Hawaiians were sold before Nationals were introduced in 1927. A rough estimate of weissenborn instruments produced is under 5,000, assuming a small factory but one capable of supplying retail stores like Wurlitzer as well as wholesalers like Tonk Brothers and Stadlmair. Weissenborn also made tenor and plectrum guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, and Spanish-neck guitars--12-fret, Martin 0 size, with Styles A, B, C, and D paralleling Hawaiians 1 through 4.
Relative dates can be estimated by examining the finish, the headstock, and the bridge. Eventually, perhaps some weissenborn instruments with original bills of sale or provenance will make themselves known to help pinpoint actual dates. A very few instruments have a picture label of Weissenborn himself holding an early Style 2. Most Weissenborns have a 1-inch - by - 1/2-inch "shield" branded on the backstrip: H. Weissenborn, Los Angeles, Cal.
Weissenborn guitars are being rebuilt by an extensive range of luthiers and guitar makers all over the world. From Japan to the US, including Australia and Europe. And not only weissenborn acoustics. Some guitar builders are constructing electrics and semi-electric guitars, basing their designs on weissenborn style instruments shape.
Halua guitars in Norway are developing a carbon fiber Weissenborn. Same top shape as traditional Weissenborns, but with a deep bowled back and arched top with an integrated Sunrise pickup. They also build a teardrop shape model. We still didn´t have chance to try one of them, but we are tremendously curious about the carbon fiber sound. These new guitars wont let anyone indifferent for sure.
Bill Asher, in Los Angeles, is now basing his guitar construction business in weissenborns and weissenborn style electric guitars. At asherguitars.com, you may find a wide variety of his production, including some affordable high quality ones. They built the Ben Harper model, a limited edition that currently continues as the electro-hawaiian model. The guitar was purchased by many renowed artists such as Greg Leisz or Cindy Cashdollar and, obviusly, the very Ben Harper. He also plays an electro-hawaiian junior deluxe customized for his taste. Deluxes start at 1300$. The lower electro junior model is actually at a pretty reasonable price (starting at 754$). Lot more artists are also playing Asher´s.
Left picture shows Bill and Ben holding an Asher Dual Tone, the most elaborated of his guitars. It has hollow body, wich gives the instrument a little acoustic.
Bill recently featured the Ben Harper Model II avaliable for 2800 USD and designed for Ben Harper. The new lap steel is finished inspired on a Les Paul with the usual Asher-Weissenborn shape.
Cole & Clark, from Autralia, also developed a custom line for Ben Harper. The Cole Clark Violap AP and Violap VL2P, are semi-acoustic electric slide guitars weissenborn shaped. You may see their work at coleclarkguitars.com and recently started distribution in Europe. They also worked together with Ben Harper creating the Harper Guitar skateboard-lap steel. Cole Clark also makes the Lapdog purely electric lap steel models, both in humbucker and horseshoe pickup versions.
Some luthiers are also making pure weissenborn acoustic guitar copies. The most popular names are David Dart (Claremont, CA), Bill Asher (he also makes teardrops and acoustic weissenborns), Alfio Leone (musikalia.it), Bear Creek (from Hawaii)...
Gold Tone (FL), makes affordable weissenborn guitars in three different finishes. Also Chandler Guitars have an electro-hawaiian line of weissenborn shaped guitars. They are actually Asher style copies, but a little less quaility ( and a little less money).
On the right picture, Ben Harper checks his weissenborn teardrop based, David Dart guitar. It is close to a weissenborn teardrop, but with bowl-back. Harper ordered this to David Dart in order to have a unique instrument. The apex on the back is almost flat, so the guitar doesn´t roll of Harper´s lap. He plays it on "When its good" (Diamonds on the Inside). He also tours with it.
By the way, Bowl backs start at 8000 $ for straight Dart purchase. Dart, also made two weissenborn guitars Harper also plays.
These are more reachable.
For more weissenborn guitars builders, you may find a pretty complete list at Brads Pages of Steel. The list has grown up a lot last years, so we just couldn´t place here every builder, and more will come. But before leaving you, we´d like to show you the wonderful weissenborn style guitars made by Bear Creek. Though they look awesome, we haven´t got enough luck to catch one of these.
Luthier Bill Hardin, from Bear Creek in Hawaii makes these beauties. Bill works with many artists as well. The main one, Bob Brozman, wich plays some of his hollow neck models, weissenborn shaped guitars. He´s actually one of the few guitar makers, that we´ve found, rebuilding Konas.
Picture shows a Bear Creek Hollow Neck Artists/Collectors guitar. Prices of the A/C start at 3700$, though Bill Hardin makes more affrodable ones. The Bear Creek QD is not a weissenborn style guitar per se, but it is based on them. Looks like an squared weissenborn teardrop. They start at 1500$.
Bill is been in the weissenborn/guitars business for decades, but Bear Creek was founded and stablished a little more than ten years ago.