For our 10th Anniversary Harp Guitar Gathering, we were hoping for an interesting mix of old and new…and we got it! After our 3 featured performer showcases, we switched gears to the ever-popular topic of how these crazy things are invented, designed and built!
Hosted by all-but-retired-but-not-forgotten luthier Mike Doolin, there were familiar faces (Benoit Meulle-Stef, the Powell brothers, Kathy Wingert, Mike himself), with some we don’t see too often (Eddie Vila, plus the long-awaited return of Stephen Sedgwick), plus local builder Don Druckenbrodt for his first appearance. Added to the mix were two of our featured players, Keith Medley and Tim Donahue, both who built their own unique instruments.
Each did a show and tell of their latest build, instruments that we could see, touch and play during the weekend. As always, many included slide shows of the build process, fascinating for builders and non-builders alike. Many of the instruments were or are for sale, by the way.
And so I present:
Benoit Meulle-Stef from Brussels, with his most outrageous creation yet. Based on his favorite Mozzani design, he took it even further with 7 silk & bronze sub-basses and 15 super-trebles reaching halfway up the lyra arm! This was a popular one for road tests.
Dave Evans (who builds in Ben’s shop) had a brand new creation previously mentioned (an ultra-charming archtop quart, tuned a fourth higher than standard). Ever humble Dave asked Mike to present it to the group.
Dave & Anthony Powell, of Sandpoint, Idaho, shared their new Tonedevil production instruments, including the Knutsen-like S-12HG model, and also a custom steel-string “arch-guitar” built for Ed Dowling (below).
Keith Medley (outside Nashville, TN) shared photos and amusing stories of the construction of his dream 27-string guitar.
Japan’s Tim Donahue (a feature at HGG4 in Naples, FL) presented his new production signature electric harp guitars, and went into detail on how he brought them to market. A first!
Kathy Wingert (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA) discussed her brand-new (not-quite-finished) build, with its stunning black and white ebony body.
Eddie Vila (Cookeville, TN) had a new Dyer style HG with beautiful koa back and sides.
Don Druckenbrodt (of Dallas) talked of restoring his first vintage Dyer (this is the leftover top), then starting his own line of copies and variants. His unfinished “cutaway Dyer” looked pretty cool! (not pictured…that’s Dennis Mitchell’s shortscale HG behind Don’s Style 7 reproduction)
Steve Sedgwick brought along the second custom arpa viola caipira for Brad Hoyt. It is hard to tell them apart at a glance, though there are some noticeable differences and improvements (new article from Brad is forthcoming). The intent is that one will be tuned in D and one in E; the critical string calibration for the pairs and octaves does not handle re-tuning well.
There were several other new instruments – Michael Schreiner’s new 20-string which I showed earlier, a batch of McCormick “Nashville” HGs brought by Chuck Thompson, harp mando from Martin Delabano, the Tony Karol I mentioned earlier, and a brand-spankin’ new Woodley White which I never got to see (brought by first time attendee Adam Carney).
Here’s a small portion of the instruments on the stage – later it would look like this:
Next: Saturday night concert