Time to catch up on several months of new instruments out there! Turns out there’s so much, I’m going to split this into 2 blogs…
First, a reminder to everyone commissioning or building a new harp guitar project to please send me photos and info (or a link) for inclusion on Harpguitars.net. It’s hard to keep up with all the activity out there! I generally add all of these instruments permanently to the site somewhere – be it an entry for your business on the Luthier page, one of the many Galleries, or at the very least, this blog. Also – feel free to update me on your status (such as when you think we should add you to the Luthier page, or move up the page from the “occasional” to “dedicated” section).
Second, this quick sidebar: They say that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” I don’t necessarily buy that, otherwise I wouldn’t rant so vociferously about Tropical Moon appropriating “intellectual property” (original designs by Mike Doolin, Steve Sedgwick and others). In a similar vein, luthiers attempting their first harp guitar might want to consider the option of licensing a design from your favorite harp guitar inventor/designer. At the very least, it couldn’t hurt to show your appreciation and respect by communicating your intentions (adapting, copying features, etc.). I know that this (licensing or permission) has occurred in the past, but I also know that in other cases, no communication takes place. Just my 2 cents.
OK, on to the instruments!
As I post this, the Holy Grail Guitar Show is debuting in Berlin. I hope someone sends a report of harp guitar activity there. I know at least threebuilders will be there, I’m hoping for other surprises as well. Steve Sedgwick and Michel Pellerin both had to pass on our own HGG12 festival in order to attend the Berlin event, so I wish them all the best (but don’t make it a habit!).
Stephen’s latest harp guitar commission (above) is for a fellow he met at the first European harp guitar festival. The super-trebles make it a true harp guitar, the basses are configured over a neck so that they can be played harp guitar style, capoed or even played like a fretless bass.
Michel is just finishing up two new “normal” harp guitars, sans super-trebles. The first (shown above) is currently in the hands of Steve Silva in Waltham, MA. Made with flamed Makore back and sides with salvaged bearclaw sitka top. His old friend Frank Doucette tells me it sounds fantastic – big and open.
The second one is claro walnut, which Steve will get to try before choosing. Lucky devil!
Another builder, young Shane Briggs from Melbourne, Australia, will be taking his first harp guitar (above) to the Berlin show.
From the quick video he posted, it appears to sound wonderful, and he’s pretty excited about joining our ranks. I’ll be adding him shortly to our Luthier page.
In other Australian news, luthier Sandy Richards and player Lyndon Kriss teamed up to create a new dream instrument (above) modeled after Keith Medley’s well-known harp guitar.
They have a Making Of story here.
Another admitted Keith Medley fan, Federico Procopio of Rome, had local luthier Germano Fusco create something a little less flamboyant (above), but inspired by Keith’s instrument, with 28 strings (7 neck, 9 subs and 12 supers).
He’s clearly inspired by Keith’s music as well, as heard in his first video.
I don’t know if Thierry Andre of Montreal has seen Keith’s instrument or not, but he came up with his own extensions-on-both-sides idea recently (above). P.S: Looks like he’ll be at the Holy Grail show as well.
Speaking of super-trebles, I couldn’t believe that Alistair Hay (Emerald Guitars) was able to configure his carbon fiber HG for added supers! (above) A custom project for Joe Conklin.
I stumbled across this recent Making Of video by Doug Wilkes in the UK, building someone a copy of Eaton’s well-known lyraharp guitar (below).
Art Davis of San Diego was (is?) hoping to “create a fully researched top-level instrument that could be repeatable” (above). The harp assembly is mounted with screws to the reinforced side of the guitar.
Back to more normal harp guitars, I mentioned a while back that Candyrat artist Calum Graham had commissioned his first harp guitar from Canadian Charles Shifflett (Shifflett’s second HG, 25 years later!). Calum (below right) just successfully recorded on the new harp guitar for an IMAX film coming out in February!
My public harp guitar life continues to be a major win-win. Harpguitars.net continues to draw new builders, players and instruments like moths to a flame, and one of the best perks of Harp Guitar Music is the incredible diversity of customers – amateur to professional – who buy strings and instrument plans. So I often get to see new “secret” instruments in an unfinished state, or receive photos of just-completed instruments. It always gives me great pleasure to read “This is the harp guitar that we made with your strings!” Here are a few:
A new Sullivan-Elliott style about to be strung by resonator guitar maker Carroll Benoit of Texas (above).
Father and son Paul & Ian Franciskovich designed their own harp guitar, with a little personal touch (below).
This simple but stylish electric harp guitar (above) was designed and built by Richard Harris.
Next week: Interesting new “harp guitar relatives”!