John Sullivan’s Final Harp Guitar

Though I like to keep my two harp guitar enterprises separate ( and Harp Guitar Music), I often have opportunities to merge or cross-reference the two that are simply too valuable to pass up.

For example, when I received a special Lance McCollum harp guitar for consignment a couple years back, it instigated a whole research project on McCollum’s harp guitar output.  It was great fun, challenging (I still have yet to hear from one owner), but I think very important, especially when the builder had historical importance and also passed away at the top of their game.

Interestingly enough, the McCollum instrument I was honored to list was only his fifth instrument, but also his last.

Such is the case here.  John Sullivan’s fifth and last harp guitar was consigned the other day, and I have had a rewarding and poignant time investigating it (I only met John once, at the 3rd Harp Guitar Gathering in Salem, but so enjoyed his enthusiasm as I shared my own vintage harp guitars with him).  I had always meant to try to track down the Sullivan harp guitars – owners, years and details – but had never managed to do so.  Now I have.  Photos and details are missing on some of them, something I hope we can put together down the road.

For now, you can read about #5 on the listing (I apologize for this “commercial”), and afterwards raise a glass and toast the memory of a luthier we all owe so much to.

  1. Michael Schreiner Says:

    All three of my Doan/Elliott/Sullivan HG builds are strung with bronze and steel and use the same bracing as the Bellinger (#4) HG. This bracing is very different than that found on the Doan #1 HG. Because of this bracing (necessary to support the bronze basses) the sound produced is full, rich and extremely satisfying. I smile when I play.

    I am guessing that each HG John built was to fit different clients’ needs but…If perhaps John’s #2 is better than #1 and #3 is better than #2, then #5 may be the best of all. This guitar is historically important and collectable. I hope I get to play it someday.


  2. Gregg Miner Says:

    I’m happy to report that Sullivan #5 found a home with Steve Bissell, a former student of John Doan in Portland.

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