by Benoît Meulle-Stef

(edited by Gregg Miner)

Chapter 5. Conclusion

Today, the harp guitars of The Gibson Company are not really that popular but are considered some great wall hangers. Gibson made more than 400 of them in nearly thirty years of production. The fact is that it’s almost impossible to walk into a vintage guitar store and take one of them and play it because they are never properly tuned nor even have the proper strings on! I recommend having the sub-bass strings made by a string maker. I personally work with Newtone Strings in England. He produces round core metal strings with low tension for me, and with whatever sizes I need. The only commonly available strings are from Labella and they are absolutely not the right gauge, the right length, and the right ball ends (too big). Depending on your model it is best to have strings hand made - wound long enough for the scale, but with bare core for attaching them to the bass tuners. I have been personally experimenting with nylon bass for mine and a color code (sharps made of silver wound, naturals made of bronze). The 6-string neck can hold almost any strings up to .013-.056 but I have found that .012-.054 half wound from D’Addario are the best sounding strings I have tried for them.

The sound is in my opinion amazing and sweet, but powerful and punchy. The best ones are definitively the first models with the glued-on bridge. The fantastic thing about them is the reverb effect due to the harp strings and the availability of an entire bass octave. The other peculiar thing about Gibson’s harp guitars is the piano like frame inside the body that gives an amazing sustain (but makes the instrument quite heavy!). This is certainly not the most popular harp guitar, but it has its fans and lovers. I recommend that owners try to find the bass tuning that you are able to use. Try diatonic - it’s great: E, F G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G. Nowadays, with amplifying systems we are not so exigent on acoustic bass response quality. And if you still do not know what to do with your behemoth, give it to me, I will be very happy!

Appendices >

Article by Benoît Meulle-Stef with the help of:

Mr Gruhn for original catalogue material and help.

Gregg Miner for help with English, photos and formatting.

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