Is this the first one?
Ben found this – a U.K. patent by one Steven Charles Anthony Malinoff of London. I couldn’t find anything on him.
But does it look familiar? It did to me, too. It’s the “Ha Shem” played by Esteban Antonio. It was built by Spanish luthier Stephen Hill – as you may recall, I added Stephen and the instrument to the Luthier page (mentioned in my blog a month or so ago). I emailed Stephen about the patent, but no word back yet. Checking Antonio’s site, I see that he mentions it being patented. He also has a second, new electric one, built by Christopher Wood.
Note all the “Documents Cited” in the patent…they might as well have just said, “see Harpguitars.net”! Plenty of “prior art” and inventions there, but I guess they want to protect this specific instrument. I’m no patent lawyer, so am clueless about all the details. It seems like you’re kinda locking yourself in by including precise measurements, scale lengths, etc., and not just type, but brand, of strings. Pretty interesting. I also can’t tell if the application was granted or denied (feel free to report on this, anyone…).
Too bad Jason Carter didn’t patent his harp guitar sub-bass bowing business, as that’s specifically what these subs are about. I haven’t seen Esteban use the fretless fingerboard for the bowed subs – that sounds interesting!