Elbern H "Eddie" Alkire Personal Papers and Music Instrument Collection

Overview

Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Subject Terms

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Instruments and inventions

Publications, compositions and teaching methods

Business materials

Professional materials

Personal materials

Recordings

Photographs



Contact us about this collection

Finding Aid for Elbern H "Eddie" Alkire Personal Papers and Music Instrument Collection, 1926-1997 | The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music

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Collection Overview

Title: Elbern H "Eddie" Alkire Personal Papers and Music Instrument Collection, 1926-1997Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

ID: 12/9/101

Primary Creator: Alkire, Elbern H. (1907-1981)

Extent: 71.5 cubic feet

Date Acquired: 02/25/2006. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: Music - United States, Photographs

Formats/Genres: Papers, Sheet music, Sound Recordings

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Consists of original and published music, business records, correspondence, instructional guides and music examinations, programs, sound recordings, photographs, electrical and mechanical diagrams for several prototype Hawaiian guitars, music instrument catalogs, four original prototype Hawaiian guitars including the first 15-string acoustic guitar, Cruiser, Mini Surfer, and the experimental "Superaxe" guitar with 20 strings, 3 Epiphone Eharp 10-string electric guitars, and Alkire's original acoustic Hawaiian guitar that was used for 1000 radio broadcasts as director and lead guitarist of the Oahu Serenaders during the early 1930s. In addition the collection includes an original Rickenbacker Electro "Frying Pan" guitar. The papers and instruments document Eddie Alkire's career as a musician, music teacher, businessman and inventor. The collection also documents the evolution of Hawaiian guitar performance in America during its height of popularity between 1929 and 1960.

For more Hawaiian guitar materials, see RS 12/9/50 and RS 12/9/150.

Biographical Note

Elbern Homer "Eddie" Alkire (1907-1981) was America's most recognized performer, teacher, and innovator of the twentieth-century Hawaiian guitar. Eddie Alkire, the son of Bessie Alkire, was born on December 6, 1907 in Hacker's Valley, West Virginia. When he was five months old, his father was killed in a railroad accident and he was subsequently adopted and raised by his maternal grandparents, David Lee Alkire and Arminta Alkire (nee Lake). At the age of 16, his grandfather died leaving Eddie to manage the family grocery store. Sometime around 1921, Eddie began practicing the guitar and enrolled in a correspondence course created by the First Hawaiian Conservatory of Music, which was based in New York and New Jersey. In 1925, Eddie began working at a coal mine operated by Standard Supply Co. in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Soon after, he enrolled in an electrical engineering correspondence course, which he completed in less than a year. During this same year, Alkire performed guitar and tenor banjo for the first time on a radio station, W.M.M.N., which was located in Fairmont, West Virginia.

In 1929, Alkire moved to Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania in order to attend a technical night school. During this time, he was employed by the Westinghouse Electrical Company, where he built switch gear apparatuses and intended to become an electrical engineer. By chance, the Westinghouse building where he worked was located across the street from a local Hawaiian Guitar Shop and School. Members of the School tried to persuade him to abandon his pursuit of electrical engineering and to teach and perform at the school. He soon began playing on the school's Sunday radio hour sponsored by radio station K.Q.V.

In 1930, Alkire was persuaded to move to Cleveland, Ohio where he became a teacher and composer for the Oahu Music Company. Between 1930 and 1934, Alkire acted as the music director for the Oahu Serenaders, which performed on over 1000 coast-to-coast, nationally syndocated radio broadcasts on both N.B.C. and C.B.S. As a performer, Alkire experimented with new tunings that enabled him to play four-part harmonies and rapid melodic passages and as a result the Oahu Serenaders fostered a deep fan base. In 1934, Alkire married Margaret Hanzel, who suggested that he find a more stable career. That year, Alkire and his wife moved to Easton, Pennsylvania. It was here that Alkire created his own music publishing company. Building upon his own educational experiences and the publishing experience he gained from Oahu, Alkire created a series of progressive correspondence lessons that taught beginning and intermediate players how to play Hawaiian and Spanish guitar. His correspondence course would continue publishing learn-by-mail lessons well into the 1960s.

In 1936, Alkire utilized his knowledge of electrical engineering to create an experimental 15-string electric Hawaiian guitar. By 1939, he had solicited renowned electric guitar maker George Beauchamp to help him cast the first 10-string Hawaiian Guitar, which he called the E-Harp (pronounced ay-harp) and which Alkire officially patented in 1950. Near the end of his life, Alkire designed several guitar pedals and several other Hawaiian guitars including: The Mighty Mo, the Super Axe, the Mini Surfer, the Cruiser, and the Islander. Alkire died on January 25, 1981. He was inducted in the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame two years later in 1983.

Subject/Index Terms

Music - United States
Photographs

Administrative Information

Repository: The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music

Accruals: Claude Brownell performance audiocassettes donated by Dick Alkire on February 21, 2018.

Access Restrictions: None.

Acquisition Source: Richard Alkire

Acquisition Method: Gift.

Other Note: Pages


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Instruments and inventions],
[Series 2: Publications, compositions and teaching methods],
[Series 3: Business materials],
[Series 4: Professional materials],
[Series 5: Personal materials],
[Series 6: Recordings],
[Series 7: Photographs],
[All]

Series 1: Instruments and inventionsAdd to your cart.
Music instruments and materials documenting Elbern H. Alkire's efforts at designing and inventing instruments and instrument accessories.  Included are two Alkire Eharps, a Rickenbacker "frying pan," and experimental guitars.  Also noteworthy is the Acoustic guitar, named "Sol" on which Alkire performed numerous radio broadcasts.
Sub-Series 1: Music instruments and accessoriesAdd to your cart.
Box 1: Hawaiian Guitar, nicknamed "Sol"Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
The guitar used by Elbern H. Alkire while a member of the Oahu Serenaders.  Used for more than 1000 radio broadcasts.
Accession number: 2006.1209101.05
Box 2: Oahu Jumbo 68B Hawaiian Guitar, ca. 1928Add to your cart.
Hawaiian guitar belonging to Mrs. Alkire
Accession number: 2006.1209101.09
Box 3: Epiphone Eharp - Lap model guitarAdd to your cart.View associated digital content.
Accession number: 2006.1209101.010
Box 4: Epiphone Eharp - Floor model guitarAdd to your cart.View associated digital content.
Accession number: 2006.1209101.06
Box 5: Experimental guitar "Superaxe"Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
Accession number: 2006.1209101.03
Box 6: Experimental guitar "Mini-surfer"Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
Accession number: 2006.1209101.07
Box 7: Rickenbacker Electro A-22 "Frying Pan" steel guitar, ca. 1932Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
Accession number: 2006.1209101.02
Box 8Add to your cart.
Item 1: Alkire and Oahu steelsAdd to your cart.
Item 2: Alkire Eharp stringsAdd to your cart.
Box 133: Epiphone Eharp - Prototype guitarAdd to your cart.View associated digital content.
Accession number: 2006.1209101.04
Box 134: 15 String Prototype guitarAdd to your cart.View associated digital content.
Accession number: 2006.1209101.01
Box 138: Alkire Guitar PedalAdd to your cart.
Box 139: Alkire Guitar Pedal and CordAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 2: Instrument documentation and tuningAdd to your cart.
Box 9Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Patent - Eharp, 1950Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Patent - Pedal control for rheostats, 1950Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Patent - Eharp design, 1950Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Patent - Pedal design, 1950Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Patent application - Electro Frying PanAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Trademark - Eharp (publications), 1949Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Trademark - Eharp (instrument), 1949Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Trademark - Technichord, 1949Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Electrical diagrams - "Mighty Mo", ca. 1957-70Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Electrical diagrams - "Mighty Mo", ca. 1957-70Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Electrical diagrams - "Mighty Mo", 1957Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Electrical diagrams - "Mighty Mo", 1957Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Electrical diagrams - "Superaxe", ca. 1972Add to your cart.
Folder 14: Electrical diagrams - "Superaxe", ca. 1972Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Electrical diagrams - "Superaxe", ca. 1972Add to your cart.
Folder 16: Electrical diagrams - "Superaxe", ca. 1972Add to your cart.
Folder 17: Electrical diagrams - "Superaxe", ca. 1972Add to your cart.
Folder 18: Electrical diagrams - "Superaxe", ca. 1972Add to your cart.
Folder 19: Electrical diagrams - "Superaxe", ca. 1972Add to your cart.
Folder 20: Electrical diagrams - "Cruiser", 1973Add to your cart.
Folder 21: Electrical diagrams - "Cruiser", 1973Add to your cart.
Folder 22: Electrical diagrams - "Cruiser", 1973Add to your cart.
Folder 23: Electrical diagrams - "Cruiser", 1973Add to your cart.
Folder 24: "Cruiser" plans and wire formulas, ca. 1973Add to your cart.
Folder 25: "Cruiser" charts, ca. 1973Add to your cart.
Folder 26: Electrical diagrams - "Mini-surfer", 1975Add to your cart.
Folder 27: Electrical diagrams - "The Islander", 1975Add to your cart.
Folder 28: Electrical diagrams - "The Islander", 1975Add to your cart.
Folder 29: Eharp pedal (Eharpedal) design sketches, 1971Add to your cart.
Folder 30: Epiphone Eharp Design Sketches, ca. 1948Add to your cart.
Folder 31: "New Eharp data"Add to your cart.
Box 10Add to your cart.
Folder 1: New Eharp, 1954Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Blueprints - FauerbachAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Wiring diagrams, 1970-72Add to your cart.
"Wiring diagrams for pre-amp modification for use with Alkire experimental guitars, 1960-72"--Control file
Folder 4: Tuning diagrams, 1965Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Eharp tuning instruction and salesAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Eharp tuning and temperamentAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Notes and diagrams of guitar tuning systems, 1970-80Add to your cart.
Box 133Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Alkire Volume Control Pedal - pedal casting, 1949Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Tuning schemes, sliding tuning diagramsAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Mini-surfer tuning diagrams (13-string)Add to your cart.
MapCabinet 3Add to your cart.
MapDrawer 1Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Schematic diagrams and blueprints; Tuning diagramsAdd to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Instruments and inventions],
[Series 2: Publications, compositions and teaching methods],
[Series 3: Business materials],
[Series 4: Professional materials],
[Series 5: Personal materials],
[Series 6: Recordings],
[Series 7: Photographs],
[All]

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