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View Poll Results: Harp Guitar: Pointless or World of difference?
Pointless 22 19.13%
World of difference 55 47.83%
dont care 6 strings is enough 38 33.04%
Voters: 115. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 07-02-2011, 07:13 PM
FingerFlicker FingerFlicker is offline
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Default Harp guitars: Pretty pointless or World of difference

I have seen some awesome work on a harp guitar, but what's to say the same thing couldn't of been done on a 6 string. I guess sometimes one can benefit from those added 5 bass notes i just dont think having a whole guitar based on them is really that essential. To each his own i guess.
On the other side of things a nice bassy drone note ringing in the background would give a song that nice full sound hmmmmmmmmm.
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  #2  
Old 07-02-2011, 07:17 PM
HHP HHP is online now
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Harp guitars are pretty unique but they are also pretty rare. When they are available, they can be pretty expensive so it's not like you can get one and see if you like it or are good at it. The people I've heard that are good on them put a lot of time and effort in to get that way. Doesn't interest me enough to take it on.
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  #3  
Old 07-02-2011, 07:20 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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My attitude on harp-guitars is similar to HHP's. Just the sheer cumbersome logistics of handling and transporting those monsters is enough to discourage me from wanting one, and they wouldn't really suit the music I play, anyway,

Having said that, in the right hands they're amazing instruments. So more power to those who aren't dissuaded from hauling harp-guitars around!


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 07-02-2011, 07:54 PM
banjobike banjobike is offline
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Default World of Difference

I can't play 6 strings effectively, but in the right hands, a harp guitar is awesome. Could name some like Muriel Anderson, but take a listen to the late Michael Hedges. Incredible stuff.
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  #5  
Old 07-02-2011, 08:51 PM
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I almost always enjoy listening to music played on a harp guitar. Perhaps that's because those who play them are likely to play quite well, and choose their music accordingly. Nice music on nice instruments, played well. What's not to like?

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  #6  
Old 07-03-2011, 01:33 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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There's a really great album of traditional Italian music on mandolin, guitar and harp guitar on David Grisman's record label called "Traversata."



http://www.dawgnet.com/acd_html/acd47.html

While I've been impressed by Muriel Anderson's solo harp guitar playing, the way the instrument was used as a backing instrument for the mandolins on the "Traversata" CD actually speaks to me more. It really sounded impressive.

I think it's because when I hear Muriel Anderson or Michael Hedges do their stuff on harp guitar it's so beyond any of my capabilities that I know that even if I bought one and woodshedded on it for years, I still couldn't achieve that.

But the accompaniment parts and melodic harp guitar playing on "Traversata" are much more achievable for a normal competent player. It's the first time where I've listened to one and it made actual musical sense to me. I could visualize the parts being played as they were played, and thought: "Yeah, I could do that."

And I could use one in that sort of measured accompaniment and melodic role. Which is probably - in fact, almost certainly - how most of the harp guitar players back in the harp guitar's heyday a hundred years ago actually used them then. I don't think there were more than a handful (if any) Muriel Anderson and Michael Hedges-level harp guitar virtuosi back then....

Anyway, I'm still disinclined to buy one for myself, but as an instrument the harp guitar made much more sense to me since I bought and listened to that "Traversata" CD. It's just wonderful music, besides, so I highly recommend it on that basis alone.


Wade Hampton Miller
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  #7  
Old 07-03-2011, 03:12 AM
JRB JRB is offline
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Me and mine.



You just don't know until you know. Or something like that. Probably the most harp guitars you'll see at once, and the most harp guitar players you'll see at once (with two of them playing behind their heads, no less) until you go to one of the Harp Guitar Gatherings.



Gregg Miner, Stephen Bennett, John Doan, Muriel Anderson, Carter Lancaster, Jeff Titus, Andy Wahlberg... The list goes on and on. Check out Harp Guitar Music for CDs and other harp guitar stuff. Visit www.harpguitars.net to learn more than you will ever be able to know about harp guitars.

And perhaps "pointless" is a pretty harsh word for something you just don't get.
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Old 07-03-2011, 06:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRB View Post
Me and mine.



You just don't know until you know. Or something like that. Probably the most harp guitars you'll see at once, and the most harp guitar players you'll see at once (with two of them playing behind their heads, no less) until you go to one of the Harp Guitar Gatherings.



Gregg Miner, Stephen Bennett, John Doan, Muriel Anderson, Carter Lancaster, Jeff Titus, Andy Wahlberg... The list goes on and on. Check out Harp Guitar Music for CDs and other harp guitar stuff. Visit www.harpguitars.net to learn more than you will ever be able to know about harp guitars.

And perhaps "pointless" is a pretty harsh word for something you just don't get.
Jeff Titus and his wonderful wife stopped in our crystal gallery in Sausalito yesterday, and on request, played some very lovely and stylistically intriguing music on my Voyage Air VAD-2. He showed my 13 year old son, Martine, and I some special tunings he uses, and gave Martine a mini lesson on fingering and technique. What a pleasant, talented, and humble guy. I'm looking forward to hearing his CD, and finding out more about harp guitars.
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  #9  
Old 07-03-2011, 06:28 AM
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I think the difference is in the composer and performer, much as in DADGAD compositions. In both arenas there are compositions that are simply demonstrations of the capabilities of the instrument that leave me cold. However, in both arenas there is literature that takes advantage of the capabilities to add an unexpected tonality or capability to a piece of music that is excellent in its own right. Good music is good music. Use of a particular instrument or tuning to accomplish it is secondary to the actual music.

Bob
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  #10  
Old 07-03-2011, 07:38 AM
Morgan1 Morgan1 is offline
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Default Why "harp" guitar?

Sorry to go a bit off track, but I've never understood why they're called harp guitars. They're more zither like than harp like. Anybody know where the name came from?
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Old 07-03-2011, 09:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morgan1 View Post
Sorry to go a bit off track, but I've never understood why they're called harp guitars. They're more zither like than harp like. Anybody know where the name came from?
Hi Morgan…

Zither is harder to spell and doesn't sound as cool?

I love harp guitars. And just because a person doesn't own or play one shouldn't disqualify it from being not only a valid instrument but I viable one as well.


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  #12  
Old 07-03-2011, 09:43 AM
Morgan1 Morgan1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ljguitar View Post
Hi Morgan…

Zither is harder to spell and doesn't sound as cool?

I love harp guitars. And just because a person doesn't own or play one shouldn't disqualify it from being not only a valid instrument but I viable one as well.


Whatever you call them, I want one from Kathy Wingert!
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  #13  
Old 07-03-2011, 09:45 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRB View Post
Me and mine.

Wow....very cool! Is that an original, vintage harp guitar or a modern one? Looks old in the photo.

What do you tune the bass strings to?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JRB View Post
You just don't know until you know. Or something like that. Probably the most harp guitars you'll see at once, and the most harp guitar players you'll see at once (with two of them playing behind their heads, no less) until you go to one of the Harp Guitar Gatherings.



Gregg Miner, Stephen Bennett, John Doan, Muriel Anderson, Carter Lancaster, Jeff Titus, Andy Wahlberg... The list goes on and on. Check out Harp Guitar Music for CDs and other harp guitar stuff. Visit www.harpguitars.net to learn more than you will ever be able to know about harp guitars.
Imagine trying to get that many harp guitars in tune together in the years before accurate, inexpensive electronic tuners!

Once again, very cool, John.


Wade Hampton Miller
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  #14  
Old 07-03-2011, 12:32 PM
JRB JRB is offline
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So, here's a little educational stuff about harp guitars. Most harp guitars have either 5 or 6 bass strings. A common tuning for 5 strings are G, A, B, C, D, low to high. The D is the D below the 6th string. Now you've got nice low resonant strings to really fill out your chords. Imaging an A chord with an A an octave below the 5th string, or the rumbly G chord you can get. Michael Hedges used G, Bb, C, A, D for the song "Because It's There."

For 6 strings, F, G, A, B, C, D is a pretty common tuning. Stephen Bennett came up with a nice combination: G, A, B, C, D, G (equivalent to the 3rd fret 6th string). 7 strings are also popular, with the strings E-D.

The Gibson with 12 bass strings are usually tuned chromatically: E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#. Good lord, I could never keep track of those strings. Gibson 10 Strings were tuned A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, F, F#, G, G#.

I think 5 or 6 strings would be the most useful.
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  #15  
Old 07-03-2011, 02:56 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Good to know, John. I take it that you keep the six fretted strings in standard tuning, then?

Next question: what's the origin and who's the maker of the harp guitar you're holding? Is it an original Knutson, by any chance? Is it all koa?

Just curious.


Wade Hampton Miller
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