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”!
Stephen, that sounds like a blast!
Boy, talk about a small world! I guess it makes sense that all those people I know would show up at a guitar event in Berlin, but it seems so remote to me, I wouldn’t have thought it…..
Bob Gore…I haven’t even met him, and he owns one of my wilder HGs (The New Dream); Michael Sanden is one of my favorite luthiers, and of course Linda….and Mich (Matsuda), too! Man, where was I?!
Thanks for the mention in the latest blog. I’m back from Berlin, which was a fantastic show. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos but I’m sure a few will show up.
I met Bob Gore who was great to chat with and certainly has some amazing stories to tell. I was very pleased to see Andreas David, I had a feeling he would come to the event. We had such a great laugh together and he is playing a lot of ukulele and harp ukulele at the moment. He said he only lives about 10 minutes away from the event.
I met Michael Sanden last year very briefly at the London Acoustic show and mentioned about Doan and harp guitars. This time we got to chat much more about John and Deirdra as well as about Jeffery Elliott and John Sullivan. It was nice to here at third persons perspective about what was happening at the time with the development of John’s instrument. It was especially great to hear stories about Elliott and Sullivan because they have been such old friends. It was John’s harp guitar that inspired him to make a few harp guitars. He says he has come to his senses and won’t make any more harp guitars, although at the show he had a very small and cute nylon string harp guitar with super trebles. It has inspired me to think about making a harp guitar just with super trebles.
I spoke to Linda Manzer and thanked her for being an inspiration. She came over to my stand to try the sitar guitar I brought. She spoke about the friendly competition between her and Fred. I found out she spent some of her childhood in England. She had the Medusa there on show with it’s owner Henrik Andersen.
I briefly spoke to Michihiro Matsuda about harp guitars and he said that he also really loves the Gibson harp guitars and has done some repair work on one. He will be building a Gibson style harp guitar in the near future.
On the last night I was at a Thai resturnant in the hotel with a few makers and their partners. Michel Perllerin and Claude Laflamme were there and we had such a good time. Due to timing at the show Claude couldn’t do a demo which was such a shame since him and Michel came all the way from Canada. Also at the dinner table was the Australian kid Shane Briggs. His work was really excellent, much better than I was at his age. We all got along really well and had a great night.
The Berlin show was a greater mini harp guitar show, just without the harp guitar music.
Fred – what a small world! I had no idea…
Thanks for this…I just love seeing this stuff!
By the way, Gregg (and Michael, since you commented on it), the wonderful Thierry Andre spent three months living and working with me, some years ago, here in Santa Cruz, courtesy of the Provincial Government of Quebec. He recieved a grant to study with me, and during that time completed most of that marvelous “Birdies” harp guitar pictured above. I have yet to see or hear it, finished, but it’s pretty charming, I think. As I recall, he ended up using some of my backyard stump redwood for both top and back. He’s a truly great, unique guy; it’s about time he got out into the world a bit!
Thierry Andre’s parent birds watching over the baby bird is my favorite. I love seeing new ideas for making HG’s more beautiful and player friendly. I enjoyed the tutorials found above – especially the planning stage and dealing with build issues as they present themselves. Thanks for sharing this.