Encyclopedia of Harp Guitar Players of the Past

"Notable" Historical Players of Harp Guitars and Related Instruments

Compiled and Edited by Gregg Miner

Updated January, 2014

A B C D F G H L M N P R S T

I of course have to preface this section by acknowledging that few, if any of these historical players were ever considered "harp guitarists," and in nearly every case, the instruments they played were not at the time called "harp guitars."  In fact, the majority of these early instruments were simply called "7-, 8-, 10- or 14-string guitars" (i.e: simply by the number of strings).  Many of these players were, for the most part, predominantly six-string guitarists, and many were considered guitar virtuosos.  The fact that they occasionally added an extra floating bass or two (or more) to their otherwise normal guitar did not cause them to think of themselves, their instrument, or their music much differently - they were simply filling in a missing low note or two in a practical way.  They were still playing "guitars."  As it suited them (or occurred to a reviewer) they might call attention to their specialized instrument by pointing out the number of strings with the simple clarification of "ten-string guitar" for example.  Eventually, sometime during the 1850's (with more and more floating strings being added), some Viennese builders or players got the bright idea of calling them "bass-guitars" (and later "kontraguitarres") - after all, they had extra bass strings, did they not?  Unfortunately, this term was, and remains, musically inaccurate (more to the point, illogical and misleading) - for a "bass" guitar should properly be a guitar tuned substantially lower, to a lower key, or an entire octave, as in today's bass and contra guitars (of 4, 5 or 6 strings).  Nevertheless, these terms stuck, with a few other names being applied over the decades, including "harp guitar," which became relatively common in America by the turn of the previous century and again in the current worldwide resurgence.  See What is a Harp Guitar? for much more on the organology and nomenclature conundrum. 

This listing, then, contains entries for those who played - to a more than casual amount - guitars with extra bass strings, be it one extra or twelve extra, and everywhere in between (other than perhaps Chris Knutsen, or Sor with his "close cousin" harpolyre, mid- or treble-range harp strings were not utilized).  It also contains a few entries of players of the basslaute, or "Swedish lute" - various configurations of the popular instrument that duplicates the harp guitar in tuning and technique, though not precisely in "guitar" form.

In compiling this work-in-progress list over many years, I continually find it strange (and a little disappointing!) how most biographical information contains only brief - and sometimes zero - reference to these players' multi-string floating bass instruments (harp guitars), with little information (and seeming interest) on the serious use of these specific instruments, their repertoire, etc.  And this list is by no means complete.  I hope we can continue to convince today's researchers and scholars of these composers and players to dig further into this area and share their findings with us.

Players are listed  in alphabetical order, rather than by era, or region, as many traveled extensively, or relocated during their lives to best pursue their guitar activities.  I make absolutely no distinction between "serious," "classical" or "popular" performers, and in many cases the player himself has blurred the lines.  If the reader feels a need to do so, that is their personal bias, not necessarily an artistic one.  As always, I welcome help with additional biographical material, inaccuracies, dates, repertoire (utilizing floating strings), instruments used and images.

Note: Entries are intended as a snapshot of the performer and additionally and specifically, the harp guitars played (as this directory is a feature of Harpguitars.net and not a generic "guitar composer" site).  Nevertheless. the goal is to catalog known works for these instruments and any additional information related to the performer's life, career and music as relates to the topic of these instruments.  Some entries are deliberately brief, as there is readily accessible information on the artist, while some are brief due to a lack of information. Longer entries are provided when there is significant information that may not be available from other sources.  Captions by myself, unless otherwise noted.  -Gregg Miner

Name / Dates / Location Comments Instrument(s) Repertoire
Andrini, Frank
(1906-1969)
Livorno, Italy > Marseilles, France > San Francisco, U.S.A.

Frank Andrini (born Francesco Andreini), like three of the five brothers, played guitar, banjo and mandolin.  He played harp guitar in various acts with his brothers ("The Andreinni Troubadours," "Los Andrinis," "The String Wizards").  For the majority of their career, the brothers were a "novelty" trio full of musical tricks and pyrotechnical virtuoisty.  This trio comprised Frank (guitar, harp-guitar), Lawrence (mandolira) and Fred (liuto cantible).  As a duo, Frank and Lawrence achieved "world famous" status, touring the top nightclubs worldwide, and appearing on television, culminating in the Ed Sullivan show in 1955. - from Mandolins, Like Salami by Sheri Mignano Crawford Gibson (2 different)  
Andrini, Lou
(1900-?)
Livorno, Italy > Marseilles, France > San Francisco, U.S.A.

Lou Andrini (born Luigi Andreini) played all the fretted instruments, including harp guitar, like his brother Frank (above), and appeared with the brothers in many of their early acts.  As they became more famous, he chose to stay close to home, playing his harp guitar in various San Francisco mandolin orchestras. - from Mandolins, Like Salami by Sheri Mignano Crawford Gazzo

See The Harp Guitars of Settimio Gazzo
and Other Genovese Luthiers

 

Albano, Attilio
(1903-1991)
Genoa

One of many Genoese guitar players who followed in the footsteps of the great Taraffo.

Gazzo (or copy)

See The Harp Guitars of Settimio Gazzo
and Other Genovese Luthiers

 

Ahnfelt, Oscar 
(1813-1882)
Sweden

Sweden’s “Spiritual Troubadour,” Ahnfelt composed or arranged the music for all of Lina Sandell’s hymns.  Like Sandell, he was a Pietist and traveled throughout Scandinavia singing her hymns, accompanying himself with a 10-string guitar.  The state church opposed pietistic hymns and ordered Ahnfelt to sing them before King Karl XV.  After hearing them, the king said, “You may sing as much as you desire in both of my kingdoms.”  He sang them so much that Sandell wrote, “Ahnfelt has sung my songs into the hearts of the people.”  Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale, also a Pietist, financed the first edition of Ahnfelt’s songs, consisting mostly of Sandell’s hymns. - from Cyberhymnal.org

Otto F. Selling 10-string Partial listing of printed works on Kenneth Spar's site here.
Albert, Heinrich
(1870-1950)
Munich, Germany

Albert was the founder of the Munich Guitar Quartette.  Andreas Stevens has published the most extensive biography on Albert (in German)

See: Featured Player of the Month, 7-04

9-string Schenk terzgitarre, c.1848

See Featured Player of the Month, 7-04

 

Bayer, Eduard
(1822-1908)
Augsburg, Bavaria

Bayer worked with "pedalgitarre" inventor Johann Knaffl-Lenz to improve the instrument and include 2 bass strings.  The foot pedals enabled one to move a capatasto along the fingerboard to play in any key.  The wappen-shaped instrument was played standing up. (Source: Alex Timmerman's chapter on Bassgitarres in Ivan Padovec

8-string pedal-guitar by Johann Knaffl-Lenz (1848)  

Beccuti, Roberto
(1910-?)
Genoa

Beccuti played standard guitar and a one-arm Mozzani chitarra lyra ("lyre" harp guitar) - as seen in this 1936 photo from Mozzani: Un liutaio e la sua arte by Giovanni Intelisano.

Mozzani chitarra lyra

See Mozzani Harp Guitars

 
Bo, César
(1916-?)
Argentina

César Antonio Bo Puente was born in Villa Maria, in the province of Cordoba, Argentina on August 16, 1916.  He began to play the violin and later guitar as a child, studying with his father, Emilio Bo.  Emilio, a concert guitarist, was a student of Antonio Jiménez Manjon, the blind virtuoso from Spain, who played an 11-string guitar.  César was a child prodigy, who at 11 years of age performed in the Salon “La Argentina,” on the same stage that Miguel Llobet & Regino Sainz de la Maza would perform for their Buenos Aires audiences. - from Fine Fretted String Instruments Unknown 11-string The works performed were by Fernando Sor, Fréderic Chopin, Julian Arcas, Antonio Jiménez Manjon, Gottschalk, Francisco Tarrega, Julio Sagreras & Juan Alais. -FFSI
Boehm, Walter
(?-1956/57)
Buffalo, NY

Boehm is known as the harp guitarist who suggested the sub-bass configuration that Gibson adopted around 1906: 10 strings covering a low A# up to G# (matching the 4th fret on the low string) - the E being omitted, as the open 5th and 6th strings filled in the full chromatic scale. Gibson (various)  
Bream, Julian
England

Other than the Renaissance lute, the adult Bream never utilized anything other than a 6-string guitar.  However, he started out as a youngster on a Maccaferri harp guitar! Maccaferri

See Harp Guitar of the Month,5-07

 
Buek, Fritz
Munich, Germany

Buek was an amateur guitarist, member (apparently not founder as he claimed) of Heinrich Albert's Munich Guitar Quartet, publisher of Der Gitarrefreund periodical and author of Die Gitarre und ihre Meister.

See: Featured Player of the Month, 7-04

Schenk 10-string "lyra" Terzgitarre, 1839

See Featured Player of the Month, 7-04

 
Bürow, Wilhelm
(1850-1900)
Poland
The blind Polish singer and guitarist...gave concerts in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Uppsala during the period 1825-1826 accompanying himself on a 9-string guitar. - from Alex Timmerman's chapter on Bassgitarres in Ivan Padovec

Unknown

 
Butin, Roy
(1877-1843)
New York

In the early 1900's, Butin was probably the best known guitar player in America. As the partner of mandolin virtuosos Samuel Siegel and Valentine Abt, he made some of the earliest American harp guitar recordings.   In vaudeville, he and violinist Michael Banner were well known as The Olivotti Troubadours.

See: Featured Player of the Month, 8-13

 

Regal

 
Cagnacci, Alfredo
(1882-?)
Pisa
Cagnacci played standard guitar and a one-arm Mozzani chitarra lyra (source: Dizionario dei Chitarristi e Liutai Italiani

Mozzani chitarra lyra

See Mozzani Harp Guitars

 
Calamara, Emilio
Chicago

Local Chicago soloist and ensemble player Calamara was featured in Bohmann catalogs and other testimonials on a variety of harp guitars with up to 12 sub-basses.

See The Harp Guitars of Joseph Bohmann

Bohmann "Contra Bass Harp Guitar"

 MayFlower?

 unknown Italian instrument

 
Cammarata, Gaspare Eugenio
(1883-?)
Genoa
Cammarata played a Gazzo guitar, which more than likely was a harp guitar (source: Dizionario dei Chitarristi e Liutai Italiani

Gazzo

See The Harp Guitars of Settimio Gazzo
and Other Genovese Luthiers

 
Carrara, Armando
(1904-2006)
Genoa

Carrara owned or played at least two Gazzo harp guitars, and, having close connections with the extended Taraffo family, had other Gazzo guitars in his possession through the years. 

Gazzo (several)

See The Harp Guitars of Settimio Gazzo
and Other Genovese Luthiers

 

Carulli, Ferdinando
(1770-1841)
Naples, Italy > Paris, France

Ferdinando Carulli was born in Naples, Italy but relocated to Paris around 1808.  About 1826 Carulli, then regarded as one of the finest guitarists in Europe, and French luthier Rene Lacôte developed the decacorde, a ten-string guitar with (nominally) five regular strings and five diatonically descending floating sub-basses.

Additional article from Etude magazine, 1942

Lacôte decacorde

See The Lacôte Harp Guitars

 
Casale, Silvio
Italy

Nothing known other than from a single postcard announcing Casale and Mario Bosio as Italian "concert virtuosos."  The names may also be reversed.  The harp guitar resembles most closely a known instrument by Tullio Giulietti, sold through the Monzino shop.

Unknown 9-string

 

Coste, Napoleon
(1805-1883)
Paris, France

Napoléon Coste was born in France in 1805.  At the age of 24 he moved to Paris where he quickly established himself as the leading French virtuoso guitarist.  He played guitars with a floating seventh string made for him by Lacôte, which he further "customized."  Other unusual instruments he owned included an oversize 6-string guitar tuned a fifth lower, and a Renault-style arch-cittern ("false arch-cittern").

Additional article from Etude magazine, 1942
See also The Lacote Harp Guitars

Lacôte heptacorde (several, which he modified himself with new bridges and finger rest)

See The Lacôte Harp Guitars

 
Dalgas, Andonis Diamandis
(1892-?)
Istanbul > Athens

Dalgas was a well known Greek singer who also played guitar, oud and a 9-string harp guitar (seen in c.1930 recording session photo).  Thanks to Tony Klein at Arko Records.

From www.falireas.com: Andonis Diamandis, a.k.a. Dalgas, which means sorrow, was born in Istanbul in 1892. He is one of the great singers who settled in Athens after the 1922 Asia Minor Catastrophe and performed in the Smyrneiko Style. His songs are mostly amanedes, slow mournful songs based on two verses, in which the singer improvises in an elaborate style using the arab-persian modes called macam (such as hedjaz, kiourdini, etc.). The bands he played with were mostly smyrneiko bands, with violin, sandouri or kanonaki, saz, accordion and/or piano. During his career he recorded in all major Greek and foreign record companies both as a singer and composer.

Unknown

 
Darr, Adam
(1811-1866)
Germany > travel

His talents in composing and performing on the guitar are well documented but his abilities in singing and on the zither are little known to present day music fans of the guitar. Darr was born at Schweinfurt, Germany, 1811 and died at Augsburg, in 1866. At the age of eighteen he began his musical activities in performance and traveled throughout Europe performing before royal courts. At the end of his tour in Russia, he remained in St. Petersburg to teach and perform and after three years returned to a position in Wurzburg. At this time he teamed-up with Frederick Brand and began a relationship as a guitar duet performing throughout Germany until his death October 22, 1866. - from the International Guitar Research Archives

Unknown

See below

Much has been made of Darr's use of guitars with floating strings, though his real claim to fame was the concert zither.  His biographer, Joseph Costello, lists a possible four pieces - all for ensemble with "bass-guitar."  Joseph writes:

 "Dating Darr's works is not very easy. The best we know is that they were composed between 1830 and 1866 (his death). To date, I have not found a guitar work that was published in his lifetime. Of his works published by the early 20th century German guitar societies, It is plain that several of these works were for guitars with added bass strings. I have copies of three manuscripts that state that a "bass-guitar" is to be used. Defining this term, however, is a little tricky. "Erinnerung an St.Petersburg Walzer fuer Terz & Bass Guitarre" uses two guitars that are tuned a minor third apart from one another, likely a standard tuned guitar is paired with a terz guitar. The Bass guitar part utilizes a low "C" and a low "D," likely for at least an eight-string guitar. This work was composed sometime between c.1829 and 1866. Darr has a piece called "Grosse Adagio & Rondo for the guitar with accompaniment of a bass-guitar or a string-quartette." Like the guitar duo above the bass-guitar part has a low "C" and a low "D." Also like the above duo the two guitar parts are a minor third apart, but no terz-guitar part is indicated. Also, the higher guitar is the same key (A Major) as the string parts. So is it possible that the bass-guitar part is actually tuned a minor third lower? Probably not but the score does not indicate otherwise. The third piece is Darr's arrangement of Mertz's "Mazurka" arranged for 3 guitars. Only one part is labeled (Bass-Guitarre), the other parts don't specify what kind of guitar is used. In another hand, someone labels the 2nd guitar part with "II Terz." Here's the strange thing, The two higher guitar parts are in the key of D major, while the bass-guitar is in the key of G major. So is the bass-guitar part tuned a fourth lower, or were the upper parts played on terz-guitars and the Bass-guitar is tuned a whole step lower? The later seems unlikely, but the former is new to me as well. None of the parts have lower notes that would indicate the use of a harp guitar. There is one other piece that is in several hands. "Serenade" was originally published by the Augsburg guitar as a guitar duo. I have copies that have four parts. The III guitar part has low D. The IV guitar part has low A, C#, and D, so harp guitar? I would say yes. Basically, Darr has several pieces for guitars with notes lower than the standard tuning. All of them are ensemble works. What we know Darr's usage of harp guitars is from his music.

Decker-Schenk, Johann
(1826-1899)
Vienna

Decker-Schenk was born in Vienna, but moved to St. Petersburg in 1861, where he established himself as the premier virtuoso and teacher of guitar.  He was the son of Friedrich Schenk, who created the spectacular single and dual arm harp guitars, copied by many luthiers, including Mozzani.  As he learned the guitar from his father, it is likely that Decker-Schenk utilized such instruments during his career.  Other clues include a Russian guitar catalog which lists the wappen-shaped harp guitar as the "Decker-Schenk model" - though this could have been simply referring to the shape.  One his students, Fritz Buek (see above) also later played a lyra-shape harp guitar by Johann's father

Unknown

 
Degen, Søffren
Denmark
(1816-1885)

Degen patented a "Heptacordeguitar" in 1845 with a floating 7th string.  Friendly with Coste, whom he visited in Paris a number of times, Degen was almost certainly inspired by Coste's 7-string Lacôte instruments, though a Staufer 7-string appears to have been the design inspiration. (Sources: Alex Timmerman's chapter on Bassgitarres in Ivan Padovec, The Guitar, an exotic instrument in Danish Music by Erling Møldrup)

Carl Knudsen Heptacordeguitar

 
Del Corso, Arturo
(1908-1980)
Genoa

One of many Genoese guitar players who followed in the footsteps of the great Taraffo.  Sometimes partnered with Mario Schenone.

Gazzo copy

See The Harp Guitars of Settimio Gazzo
and Other Genovese Luthiers

 
Di Ponio, Benedetto
(1898-?)
Rome

Benedetto played standard guitar and a harp guitar of unknown manufacture.

Unknown

 
Dubez, Johann
(1828-1891)
Vienna

Dubez was a Viennese guitarist who studied with Mertz and became a virtuoso concert guitarist.  His compositions make extensive use of the 10-string guitar, and it is nearly fruitless to attempt these pieces with less than an 8-string instrument.  It also requires 22-24 frets on some pieces, clearly for the Staufer-style guitar.  Most of the works are extremely difficult, with fast note flourishes, and clearly written for virtuoso players.  In the later 19th century, as the romantic period flourished, instrumental virtuosity and sentiment were prevalent and sometimes overdone.  The Fantaisie Hongrois stands out as probably the best work, and Robert Trent has included this in concert programs.  It borrows from the Mertz piece of the same title but is a new composition.  While challenging, it is not impossible to play.  Michael Sieberichs-Nau has researched Dubez, and points out that these works are elaborate, only for professionals (like Liszt).  Apparently, only 2 works by Dubez were published, and probably due to the technical requirements, other pieces were probably sold as hand-copied manuscripts individually by the composer, a practice which is well-documented during this time period and done by Mertz. -from www.earlyromanticguitar.com

See my blog on Dubez' Schenk harp guitar

Various

 
Dudley, George N.
(1875-1963)
New York

Perhaps the first American harp guitarist to record (with the Ossman-Dudley Trio), and unlike most American harp guitar recordings, we can clearly hear the use of the sub-basses.

See George Dudley, America’s Most Famous Unknown Harp Guitarist

Holzapfel (attributed) 36-string (18-course)

 
Fahrbach, Josef
(1804-1883)
Vienna
Fahrbach wrote studies for 6 and 12-string guitar (12-course harp guitar with 6 sub-basses).

Unknown

 
Favelli, Danilo
(1916-?)
Ferrara, Italy
Favelli played a Poggi harp guitar with 8 sub-basses (source: Dizionario dei Chitarristi e Liutai Italiani

Poggi

See The Harp Guitars of Settimio Gazzo
and Other Genovese Luthiers

 
Ferrari, Romolo
(1894-?)
Modena, Italy
Ferrari played standard guitar and a Mozzani chitarra lyra (source: Dizionario dei Chitarristi e Liutai Italiani

Mozzani chitarra lyra

See Mozzani Harp Guitars

 
Gaddi, Andrea 
Genoa

One of many Genoese guitar players who followed in the footsteps of the great Taraffo.

Gazzo (or copy)

See The Harp Guitars of Settimio Gazzo
and Other Genovese Luthiers

 

Galimberti, Federico
(1887-?)
Milan, Italy

Galimberti played a Luigi Mozzani double-arm chitarra lyra. - from Mozzani: Un liutaio e la sua arte by Giovanni Intelisano.

Mozzani chitarra lyra

See Mozzani Harp Guitars

Three of his recordings have been preserved (see Music page).
Gardana, Enea
Italy
According to Dr. Stefan Hackl, Gardana was an important figure for the eighth string guitar.  I have found no biographical material, only a few references to pieces for 9-string guitar (listed at right). (Sources: Hackl, earlyromanticguitar.com)

Unknown

Barcarola di Giovanni Rinaldi

Introduzione e Quartettino nei Puritani

Op. 8. Bolero nell’ Opera Giovanna de Gusman, Vespri Siciliani

Op. 10. Souvenir di Chopin. Mazurka

Gardie, Paul

See my blog on Paul Gardie, blind inventor of the "Orchestral Harp Guitar."  Gardie was well reviewed by the Guild and even subbed for Roy Smeck on an important gig

Harmony (patented) Orchestral Harp Guitar

 
Giuliani, Mauro
(1780/81-1829)
Bologna, Italy > Vienna

Born in Bologna, Giuliani became a virtuoso by age 20, and after settling in Vienna about 1806, became one of the most famous and widely regarded virtuosos ever. Some say he was the first to introduce the terz guitar (tuned a 3rd higher than normal).

According to Bone (1914), Giuliani advocated the use of a 7th sub-bass D string.  So far, this appears to be a red herring.  Len Verrett (earlyromanticguitar.com), who has analyzed the works of Giuliani tells me that ""None of the extant published complete works of Giuliani utilize notes beyond the standard 6-string guitar range.  If Giuliani used an extended range instrument (and no credible evidence exists to suggest that he did), he would have transposed octaves but not written these out.  Padovec for example wrote out no extended basses in the published compositions but played such an instrument, which means he probably altered the score in an undocumented fashion."

There is also a mysterious record of a concert notice where Giuliani was to play some type of 24-string "guitar-with-harp" (roughly translated) - but this is also unresolved.

Unknown

 
Giulietti, Giulio
(1913-?)
Giulio, like his father Tullio, played a harp guitar built by his older brother Armando.  He recorded a few 78s, which have yet to turn up. (source: Roger Belloni [family friend])

Update, April, 2010: Recording discovered!  See Members Only Section to listen!

Armando Giulietti

 
Giulietti, Tullio
(1873-1933)
Rome > Milan

 

Giulietti taught himself lutherie and guitar and by the age of 30, became both a professional luthier and widely-traveled concertizing guitarist.  Like the more famous Taraffo, he specialized in extended "fantasias" based on operatic themes - performing in venues both vaudevillain and sophisticated.  He played a harp guitar built in conjunction with his young son Armando.  No recordings were completed. (source: Roger Belloni [family friend])

See: Featured Player of the Month, 5-09

Tullio & Armando Giulietti, c.1918

 
Hallberg, Adolf
(?-?)
Sölvesborg, Sweden
According to Kenneth Sparr, Swedes Hallberg and Schultz (below) were great guitar lovers and kept contact with Coste, who dedicated works to each of them.

Unknown

 
Hammerer, Otto
(1834-1905)
Augsburg, Bavaria

A student of Eduard Bayer, Hammerer later played Bayers' pedalgitar with its table in concert in Munich in 1902 & 1903.  It is Hammerer's collection (which contained four harp guitars, including three Schenk bogengitarres), bequeathed to Dr,. Hermann Rensch that appeared in the well-known photograph in the book Mozzani: Un liutaio e la sua arte. (Source: Alex Timmerman's chapter on Bassgitarres in Ivan Padovec)

Pedalgitar (see Eduard Bayer)

9-string Schenk bogengitarre

10-string Schenk bogengitarre (2)

Hans Raab Scherzer-style 10-string

 
Kern, Karl
 

Kern, an amateur guitarist, was a member of the Heinrich Albert's Munich Guitar Quartet.

See: Featured Player of the Month, 7-04

Scherzer Wappenform

See Featured Player of the Month, 7-04

 

Lebedev (Lebedeff, Lebedew), Vassilj Petrowitsch
(1867-1907)
Saratova > St. Petersburg

Born at Capiatovski, Saratova, Lebedeff centered his teaching and performing career in St. Petersburg after study with guitarist/composer Decker-Schenk.

Scherzer 10-string

unknown wappen-shaped 15-string

 
Legnani, Luigi
(1790-1877)
 Italy > Vienna

Guitar virtuoso who played an eight-string guitar (low C and D-string), which he called "nuova chitarra A petrol chorde." - GM, MS

Article from Etude magazine, 1941

 

Stauffer

Legnani's published music could be played on 8 or 6 string guitar. 3 pieces are known:

Fantasy on  "Norma" (201)
Fantasy on William Tell (202)
Melodies National Hongroises (203)

Lombardini, Aldo
(1900-?)
Forli, Italy
Lombardini played several Mozzani guitars including a chitarra lyra.  (source: Dizionario dei Chitarristi e Liutai Italiani)

Mozzani chitarra lyra

See Mozzani Harp Guitars

 
Maccaferri, Mario
(1900-1993)
Italy

The virtuoso harp guitarist was a student of luthier Luigi Mozzani, and became best known for the guitars he designed for Selmer, which were played by Gypsy swing guitarist Django Reinhardt.  In his prime, he was considered a serious rival to Segovia.

SEE: Featured Player of the Month, 5-07

Various Mozzani and Maccaferri models

See Maccaferri Harp Guitars

 
Makarov (Makaroff), Nicholas (1810-1890)
Russia > travel

Russian noble and virtuoso guitarist, Makaroff left behind his fascinating Memoirs of Makaroff which are essential reading for anyone studying 19th century guitar.  His music was said to be extraordinarily demanding - nearly unplayable.  Makaroff played an 8-string Stauffer, and later, 10-string Scherzer guitar. He is most famous for holding a composer and luthier contest, at which Mertz was awarded first prize post-humously, and Coste second prize.  A 10-string Scherzer won first instrument prize. - Len Verrett, GM

Staufer 8-string

Scherzer 10-string

 
Manjon, Antonio Jiménez
(1866-1919)
Spain

The blind Spanish virtuoso is reported to have given a concert on a 9-string guitar.  He also owned at least one Torres 11-string guitar.  He wrote a method for 6 and 11-string guitar.  An 11-string he commissioned from Manuel Ramirez in 1912 was not purchased, and was subsequently converted to a 6-string and sold to Andres Segovia. (source: Stephen Sedgwock, Alex Timmerman, Antonio de Torres: Guitar Maker-His Life and Work by Jose L. Romanillos)

1885 Torres 11-string

 
Manno, Carlo Maria
(1892-?)
Savona, Italy
Manno played several standard guitars and a Giulietti chitarpa (source and term: Dizionario dei Chitarristi e Liutai Italiani)

Giulietti

 
Meier Georg
(1865-1942)

Georg, like his son Willy Meier-Pauselius, continued the Coste tradition of the floating 7th-string guitar.

Lacôte heptacorde

 
Meier-Pauselius, Willi
(1895-1965)

Der Gitarrefreund mentions an announcement by Meier-Pauselius of an "instrument he had created."  This unusual instrument seems to have been modeled after this obscure 1840 J.G. Staufer 8-string. (thanks to Andreas Stevens)

Custom oval-shaped 8-string

Lacôte heptacorde

 

Mertz, Johann Kaspar
(1806-1856)
Hungary > Vienna

Born in Pressburg, Hungary, and settling in Vienna,  Mertz is now considered one of the finest guitarist-composers of the nineteenth century.  One of his outstanding pupils was Dubetz.  He played eight, then ten-string instruments. - GM, MS

Additional article from Etude magazine, 1940

8-string Staufer?

10-string Scherzer

 

Meschi, Italo
(1887-1967)
Lucca, Tuscany

A popular and wide-traveling singer-harp guitarist virtually forgotten outside of his home town until 2005, when a distant cousin shared his story on this site.

See: Featured Player of the Month, 10-05

Bruno Mattei (2)

Mozzani Aquila

See: Featured Player of the Month, 10-05

See Mozzani Harp Guitars

See: Featured Player of the Month, 10-05

Molitor, Simon J.
(1766-1848)
Germany > Italy > Vienna

According to Alex Timmerman, Molitor may have been the first important guitarist proponent of extra floating strings.  In 1806 he stated a preference for using 2 or 3 bass strings.

From International Guitar Research Archives: One of Vienna's most esteemed musicians, Molitor was born at Neckarsulum, Wurtemburg, November 3, 1766, and died in Vienna February 21, 1848. His musical education began with his father and eventually was passed on to Abbe Vogler. From 1796-97 he was orchestral conductor and the year following was employed in the war office of Vienna. He retired on pension and devoted the rest of his life to music.

Unknown

 
Moretti, Frederico
Naples, Italy > Spain
Moretti wrote one of the very first tutors for the six-string guitar in 1799.  According to Dr. Stefan Hackl, he also played a seven-string (floating bass) guitar.

 

Unknown

 

Mozzani, Luigi
(1869-1943)
Italy

Creator of some of the most strange and wonderful harp guitars the world has ever seen, Mozzani was also a premier performer and teacher.  The book Mozzani: Un liutaio e la sua arte by Giovanni Intelisano is the source for many photos and information on this site.  An updated Italian/English revision is in the works.

Various Mozzani models

See Mozzani Harp Guitars

 
Noceti, Gian Battista
(1874-1957)
Genoa > Rome

A March, 1903 New York Times article (from Paris) mentions a concert featuring Noceti on "an instrument of which he is the inventor and which is called the chitarpa.  This is a combination of the guitar and the harp, and possesses great sweetness of tone." (source: Wikipedia)  In April, 2010, a photo was kindly submitted that shows what may be the first in a series of floor-standing harp guitars built in Genoa by Cesare Candi (with brother Oreste, possibly) among others.  Curiously, Noceti's instrument has no sub-bass strings, so is simply an amazingly elaborate floor-stasnding 6-string guitar - so Noceti was not a true harp guitarist.  Noceti's top pupil, Massimo Gasbarroni (Conservatorio of Santa Cecilia in Rome), recalls that "In his house (Via Veneto n.10, Rome) during the lessons, a pleasant smell of old music scores and ancient instruments surrounded me, a boy of 15.  Noceti never spoke to me of his experience with the chitarpa, but as I remember, he had a lot of instruments hanging on the wall, all kinds and forms." (pers. comm)

NON-harp guitar "Chitarpa" attributed to the Candi brothers

 
Nunzi, Alpinolo 
(Italy)

Other than mention as a guitar composer, I have found no information on Nunzi.    

Padovec, Ivan 
(1800-1873)
Croatia

A Croatian guitar player / teacher who played a 10-course harp guitar (4 sub-bass strings). His instrument (pictured at left and in Form 2c Gallery) was made for him by Schenk in 1841. Padovec invented mechanisms to change the pitch of the sub-bass strings during performance.

Information supplied by Mirko Orlic, who has written the definitive Padovec dissertation here.

New biography for sale here

Schenk 10-string, fitted with unique "press bar" bass capotasto assembly

Padovec's Guitar Method contains exercises for both 6-string guitar and sub-bass string exercises for his preferred 10-string guitar.
Parga, Juan
(1843-1899)
Spain

Later in his career, Parga switched to a 9-string guitar (3 floating basses) built by Antonio Lorca of Malaga.

Antonio Lorca 9-string

 
Pavlistchev (Pavlistcheff), N. Pavlistcheff wrote for a 10-string guitar. (source: Matanya Ophee)

unknown

Nocturne pour la Basse-Guitare (for 10-string)
Grande Fantaisie on a theme from Auber's La Fiancée
. (For 10-string guitar playable on 6)
Peabody, Eddie
(1902-1970)
Reading, Massachusetts

Peabody was a famous plectrum banjo player - in fact, a plectrum anything player.  He played his Gibson harp guitar with quick strikes of the sub-basses in-between his fancy fretboard work.  He may be the best known of the last American harp guitar players of the "Historical Age." Post-1920's Gibson  
Perott, Boris
(1882-1958)
St. Petersburg, Russia > London, England

Perott was the president of the London Philharmonic Society of Guitarists and first guitar teacher of Julian Bream, and a strong advocate of extra bass strings.  The fascinating story of the "harp guitarist who almost was" can be read in the book Julian Bream: The Foundations of a Musical Career, by Stuart Button.

See Harp Guitar/Player of the Month, 1-14 and Harp Guitar of the Month,5-07  

Paserbsky wappen-shaped (4+6)

 
Polupayenko, Mikhail (1848-1902)
Russia, Ukraine

Mikhail Vassilyevich Polupayenko was born in Kharkov and died in Bakhmut (today known as Artyomovsk in the Donetsk region of the Ukraine). He graduated as a medical doctor from the St. Vladimir university in 1873. During his student years he took guitar lessons from a Kharkov guitar teacher named Biryukov, and later studied with the well-known guitar virtuoso Marek Sokolovski. Polupayenko began his concert career as a guitarist in the 1870s. During the 1890s he established a close relationship with the St. Petersburg Circle of Guitarists and Mandolinists, and particularly with the leader of that group, the Austrian born Johann Decker-Schenk, with whom he played annual concert tours in St. Petersburg, Voronezh, Kharkov, Yuzovka and neighboring cities. Polupayenko was one of the few Russian-Ukrainian guitarists who played both the six- and the seven-string guitars. He published a fair number of works for both instruments. (source: Matanya Ophee)

Unknown wappen-shaped 9-string (3+6)

Album for guitarists on the 6- or 9-string guitar
Prunner, Ermanno
(1897-?)
Merano, Italy
Prunner wrote several duos and trios that included parts for standard, terz, and quint-bass guitars.  He owned various Mozzani chitarra lyra harp guitars and a Mozzani quint-bass, so it might be presumed that floating basses were used on all the instruments, much like Heinrich Albert's Munich Guitar Quartet. (source: Dizionario dei Chitarristi e Liutai Italiani)

Various Mozzani models

See Mozzani Harp Guitars

See Featured Player of the Month, 7-04

 
Regondi, Giulio
(1822-1872)
England

Born in Geneva, Switzerland, 1822, the majority of his life was spent in London, England where he died, May 6, 1872, suffering from a painful and severe illness, cancer. Regondi learned to play the guitar from his father who in turn exploited his talent on stage at the tender age of five. By the age of nine he had played to every court in Europe except Madrid, Spain. Besides his talent on the guitar, Regondi also mastered the new invention of Wheatstone, the Concertina, an accordian- like instrument. Coming up through the age of Romanticism, the style of Regondi's music is steeped in this stylistic tradition. - from International Guitar Research Archives

Staufer 8-string

Roudhloff

(Timmerman)

 

Reguzzoni, Sergio
(1885-1974)
Italy > New York

A professional harp-guitarist who was born in Genova two years before the more well-known Pasquale Taraffo (below), and played a similar instrument (two similar specimens, likely also by Settimio Gazzo).  He relocated to New York, where, according to his nephew, "He was a teacher, who also gave private recitals and concerts in studios and private homes. My uncle also had a 15 minute radio program in New York City in the '30s on WOR. "Zio Sergio" learned to play the guitar in Genova in the "scuola chitarristica genovese."

(Thanks to Enrico Reguzzoni, Sergio's nephew, and Luigi Verrini, Enrico's cousin for information and photos)

Two instruments attributed to Settimio Gazzo

See The Harp Guitars of Settimio Gazzo
and Other Genovese Luthiers

 
Rensch, Hermann
Munich
 

Rensch, an amateur guitarist, was a member of the Heinrich Albert's Munich Guitar Quartet.

See: Featured Player of the Month, 7-04

Halbmeyer Quint bass, c. 1910?

See Featured Player of the Month, 7-04

 
Rojo y Cid, Jose
Toledo, Spain
Student of José Martinez Toboso, he owned and played one of the Torres 11-strings (SE71), as did Toboso.  (source: Stephen Sedgwock, Alex Timmerman, Antonio de Torres: Guitar Maker-His Life and Work by Jose L. Romanillos)

1884 Torres 11-string

 
Rung, Frederik
(1854-1914)
Denmark

Frederik Rung was the son of Henrik Rung, perhaps Denmark's most important 19th century guitar composer.  Like his father, Frederik composed for and performed on 6-string guitar, not harp guitar.  He is included here, however, due to his curious choice of an instrument - the unusual "Patent Harp-Guitar" created by his fellow countryman, Emilius Scherr in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the 1830's. 

Scherr Patent Harp-Guitar

See What is a Harp Guitar? to understand how two (or more) completely different instruments can have the same name.

 
Saint-Saëns, Charles Camille
(1835-1921)
Paris

The famous composer was a fan of the guitar and mandolin and owned an 9-string harp guitar which which appears to match the Tournier harp guitar in the Cite de la Musique Museum.  However, it doesn't appear to be known to what extent he played it or if he wrote for it. (source: The Guitar and Mandolin by Philip Bone)

Tournier 9-string

 
Schenone, Mario
(1904-1976)
Genoa

One of many Genoese guitar players who followed in the footsteps of the great Taraffo.  Sometimes partnered with Arturo Del Corso.

Gazzo copy

See The Harp Guitars of Settimio Gazzo
and Other Genovese Luthiers

 
Schmid-Kayser, Hans
Germany

Basslaute player who wrote a Schule des Lautenspiels. (source: Der Gitarrefreund)

Unknown

 
Scholander, Sven
(1860-1936)
Stockholm, Sweden

Composer and balladeer Scholander did more to popularize the "false" Swedish lute than anyone.  Some people still refer to them as "Scholander Lutes."  Scholar Kenneth Sparr credits Scholander with creating the instrument - modeled after the original multi-string Swedish lute, but now tuned like a guitar (in fact, it is tuned exactly like today's 12-course diatonic harp guitar).

See the Mixed Family Hybrids & Other Related Forms Gallery

"Swedish lute"
(false Swedish-lute)

 
Schultz (Schult), F
Stockholm, Sweden

According to Kenneth Sparr, Swedes Hallberg (above) and Schultz  were great guitar lovers and kept contact with Coste, who dedicated works to each of them.

Unknown

(numerous bass-gitarres)

 
Sokolowski, Marckus Danilowitsch
(Marek Konrad?)

(1818-1883)
Poland > Russia
Mentioned by Michael Sieberichs-Nau in his Dubez biography as another player of guitar with floating basses. Listed in Bone and Zuth as a virtuoso and friend of Regondi.

Unknown

 

Sor, Fernando
(1778-1839)
Spain

Born in Barcelona, Sor may be one of the most renowned guitarists and composers of all time.  Like the Italian guitar virtuoso Giuliani, there has been allegations that Sor experimented with the use of a 7th sub-bass D string - in fact Bone (1914) wrote that he, and not Coste, requested this option from guitarmaker Lacôte (?!).  Len Verrett (earlyromanticguitar.com), who has analyzed the works of Sor tells me that ""None of the extant published complete works of Sor utilize notes beyond the standard 6-string guitar range, with the notable exceptions of where a different instrument was noted (harpolyre).  None of the guitar works call for extended basses except for scordatura tunings (e.g. drop D, open G, raise F).  If Sor used an extended range instrument (and no credible evidence exists to suggest that he did), he would have transposed octaves but not written these out.  Padovec for example wrote out no extended basses in the published compositions but played such an instrument, which means he probably altered the score in an undocumented fashion.  There are anecdotal mentions from modern day performers that the famous Grand Sonata op 14 could use a low D, but having played this piece extensively, I believe this is false - the chord voicings of the strummed chords are clearly for the drop-D tuning. The low E was fretted, which was a stretch but do-able on the more narrow-necked, short scale guitar of the day, but awkward on a modern guitar."

It seems strange that Sor did not experiment with extended range guitars, since he composed and perform briefly on the Salomon harpolyre, a groundbreaking, but short-lived, triple-neck invention, that was as close to a harp guitar as one can get.  His use of the seven open bass strings (the provided frets never utilized) and clever use of the diatonic "harp" bank (the frets used only for the outermost string) show great artistic and instinctive abilities for music "beyond six strings."

Harpolyre

See Harpolyre

Six Petite Pieces Progressives

Marche Funebre

Trois Pieces Pour La Hrpolyre

My colleague, harp guitarist John Doan was the first to finally record these complete works on an authentic harpolyre.

Soria, Luis
1851-1935)
Spain

Luis Soria was a friend of Tarraga (the two playing several concerts together in the province of Alicante around 1880).  From around 1891-1896, Soria resided in Cuba, where he designed and built a unique “guitarpa.”  Two were made, an 8-string and 11-string.  Its range was stated as four octaves.  Curiously, the photo appears to have 12 black bridge pins, not 11.  With at least 3 floating strings visible on the theorboed headstock extension, there are probably 8 on the extra-wide fingerboard.  Therefore, the second guitarpa may have had the same body size and shape with 8 strings on the neck and no floating basses.  Recognized as a virtuoso in Cuba, Soria returned to Spain in 1896 (moving from Madrid to Alicante), where he continued his success, giving at least two successful guitarpa concerts in late 1896.  The reviewer described the two instruments used as (roughly translated) “a combination of guitar and harp, appearing like a guitar in the upper section and extending towards the bottom in the form of bell, until it rested on the floor.  In this way, the guitar can have larger soundbox and its soundboard more than double the size of a standard guitar, therefore doubling the volume, improving quality of sound, and with greater sustain.”  Domingo Prat’s Dictionary of Guitarists (B.Aires, 1934) mentions three additional concerts given by Soria in Barcelona 1905 using the guitarpa.  The instrument, though impressive and well-received by audiences, went no further than Soria’s own concerts.

Guitarist Emilio Pujol wrote about it that “In spite of having obtained its happily intended results, no one seconded the innovation - without a doubt because, upon multiplying the difficulties in execution, it simply stopped being a guitar without properly becoming a harp.”

Soria composed “remarkable works in the flamenco style,” and as an active guitar professor, he founded the first Spanish Guitarrística Society of Madrid.

(source: Ignacio Ramos Altamira, 2006, thanks to Andreas Stevens)

11 or 12-string Guitarpa of his own design and manufacture

 

Stegani, Sara
(1911/1913?-1950)
Italy

A pupil of Mozzani. - from Mozzani: Un liutaio e la sua arte by Giovanni Intelisano.  

Stegnani owned two Mozzani chitarra lyras. (source: Dizionario dei Chitarristi e Liutai Italiani)

Ms. Stegani's instrument can be heard on a recent CD by Simona Boni

Mozzani chitarra lyra

See Mozzani Harp Guitars

 

Strohmayer, Anton
Vienna

The harp guitarist who joined with the violin-playing brothers Johann and Josef Schrammel in 1878 to create what would become known as "Schrammelmusik." - GM, MS

Additional information (and source of images) here.

Josef Swozil

 

Taraffo, Pasquale
(1887-1937)
Genoa, Italy

 

Arguably one of the best true "harp guitarists" who ever lived.

See: Featured Player of the Month, 10-05

Settimio Gazzo (various models)

See The Harp Guitars of Settimio Gazzo
and Other Genovese Luthiers

24 of his important recordings have been collected on CD

Taraffo, Pietro
Genoa, Italy

Pasquale's brother, who often performed and recorded with Pasquale on harp guitar, and virtuoso harmonica.

See: Featured Player of the Month, 10-05

Gazzo

Mozzani

See The Harp Guitars of Settimio Gazzo
and Other Genovese Luthiers

 
Taraffo, Rinaldo
Genoa, Italy

Pasquale's brother, who played violin and harp guitar.

See: Featured Player of the Month, 10-05

Settimio Gazzo

See The Harp Guitars of Settimio Gazzo
and Other Genovese Luthiers

 
Toboso, José Martinez
Spain

Toboso owned the first of Torres' 11-string guitars (SE07).

 (source: Stephen Sedgwock, Alex Timmerman, Antonio de Torres: Guitar Maker-His Life and Work by Jose L. Romanillos)

1876 Torres 11-string  
Tolsa, Carlos Garcia
(1858-1905)
Spain

Tolsa was was the nephew of Manjón (above) and said to have been the favorite student of Julian Arcas.  His original 11-string instrument was discovered to be a c.1895 Francisco Nuñez (owned by Randy Osborne of Fine Fretted String Instruments). (source: Fine Fretted String Instruments, Stephen Sedgwick) c.1895 Francisco Nuñez  
Trucco, Luigi
(1896-?)
Savona, Italy
Trucco played a Cesare Candi 10-string. (source: Dizionario dei Chitarristi e Liutai Italiani) C. Candi 10-string
(presumably theorbo-style)

See The Harp Guitars of Settimio Gazzo
and Other Genovese Luthiers

 
Wanjek Wanjek wrote a bass-guitar tutor. (Source: Dr. Stefan Hackl)

 

Unknown

 
Witter, J. A.
(United States

Witter published a Book of Solos for Harp Guitar in 1918

Discussion and full PDF of the folio available to Harpguitars.net Members here.

Gibson Style U with 10 sub-basses  
Wobersin, Wilhelm

Wobersin wrote the tutor Schule für Bass-Gitarre (Laute).

Discussion and full PDF of the tutor available to Harpguitars.net Members here.

Zimmermann Nordic Lute
 (he is seen in his tutor only playing the "Nordic lute" - one I classify as a "false Swedish lute")

 
Additional Players

Other notable players include part-time amateurs known for their harp guitar creations - builders such as Chris Knutsen and Albert Shutt.

Knutsen, Chris
(1853-1930)
Washington > Los Angeles
Well-known for his endless hollow-arm harp guitar designs, Knutsen also played his own instruments.  Though only an amateur, he played at least once on "national" radio.

See Harp Guitar Player of the Month, 4-06

Knutsen 18-string Symphony harp guitar

Knutsen harp steel

Shutt, Albert
(1877-1963)
Topeka, Kansas
Shutt was a well-known, yet ultimately unsuccessful, instrument inventor, designer and builder.  He also played the common stringed instruments, including his own patented "mando-bass-harp-guitar."

See Albert Shutt and the Mando-Bass-Harp-Guitar

Shutt Mando-Bass-Harp-Guitar

What I find as fascinating as the extraordinary list of "notable players" above are the many hundreds of professional and amateur harp guitar players who have left a record via photographs, advertisements, sheet music or recordings.  Many of these player's names are known to us as well.  I have not included the dozens of solo or ensemble musicians archived on the several Iconography pages on this site because there are simply too many.  Hawaiian bands, Vaudeville acts, and of course professional and amateur Schrammelmusik groups utilized harp guitars of every type and description in countless musical groups.  Occasionally, relatives of those named have discovered a family member whose only appearance or record on the Internet is on this site.  Perhaps more stories will be unearthed about these forgotten performers in the coming decades.  Clearly, harp guitar players have been, and will likely continue to be, tremendously prolific.


Additional Sources & Bibliography

Updates

3/16/12: Added Mikhail Vassilyevich Polupayenko. thanks to editionsorphee.com
Feb, 2012: Added George Dudley, thanks to descendant Renee Ball

6/24/11: Added Alpinolo Nunzi, postcard courtesy of Alessandro Nobis
4/16/11: Added link to recordings of Giulio Giulietti on his listing.
8/15/10: Updated the Noceti entry with a newly-discovered image and analysis of his instrument - not a true harp guitar at all, as it turns out!  
Added link to Wobersin's Tutor under his listing,  Added the Witter entry, with link to his Harp Guitar Book of Solos.
5/7/09: Added link to new article on Tullio Giulietti under his listing.
11/1/08: Added more information on the "guitarron" or "Guitarion" that Dubez is said to have played.
9/17/08: Added Eddie Peabody.  Added image of Wobersin.
8/15/08: Added Dargas and Schmid-Kayser. Added image of Hammerer. Edited instrument for Meier-Pauselius
7/1/08: First Posting


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