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JonPickard

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Reply with quote  #26 
Takes a long time - you're not kidding! [wink] Congratulations on finishing yours Michael, I hope I get to see it in the flesh one day.

I just got this and a few others from Stuart today.  I will be visiting him in London on Tuesday to go to a concert (Vicente Amigo) so will get a brief glimpse - can't wait.
Image 3.jpg 




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Michael

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Reply with quote  #27 
Those are great pegs. I used them on my Gibson Harp Guitar resurrection. You will love them. I like the up and down placement. It gives you more room to turn the knob and you will be less likely to mix them up.

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Reply with quote  #28 
Yea, we basically like the peg heads, Stuart says those three that protrude from the top can be sunk in a bit deeper.  Here I am having a 'fitting' the morning after we went to the concert.  A few more pics added recently on facebook https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.279807522128781.59506.101788256597376&type=1DSC09126.JPG
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JonPickard

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Reply with quote  #29 
Ok Sean and Michael, as you look for new posts every day here is some useless information just for you.  Guess what? - my HG is still not finished! Here is the latest pic I have of it - missing 2 strings and the super treble tuner rollers, which are yet to be made.   There - you can go get some sleep now.Image.jpeg

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Michael

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Reply with quote  #30 
I like the curve of the right side waist. That will feel very comfortable resting on your thigh. The arm rest will add to your comfort also. I may add a "built in" arm rest on my next HG (armrests are quite popular on 6 strings right now). Thanks again for keeping us in the loop with updates and PICS!

Michael 

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Reply with quote  #31 
Thanks Jon.
I have been wanting to ask  how the work was progressing.
Have you had the chance to play it yet?
First impressions about tone and size of design etc.
Best wishes, Sean.
JonPickard

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Reply with quote  #32 
Yea I had an armrest fitted to my work Flamenco after having owned it for about 3 years, and I really liked what it did for comfort and I think it also improved the sound.

One of the main reasons I shaped the right hand curve like that (apart from aesthetics) was to give it something to stop it slipping of my leg!

In case you havent seen them there are lots of pics (over 200 now) to fill in the gaps in my facebook folder https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.279807522128781.59506.101788256597376&type=1

No, I havent been able to play it yet.  (I wish!)  Stuart says those who have have been amazed by the depth and quality of sound, so you can imagine my eagerness...

There is a problem to solve with the bass sharpening levers - there are 2 levers per string so we need a slightly bigger gate on the second lever to allow for the larger string vibration that far down the string.  Just that and the super treble carriages to go and it will (hopefully) be all done.

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JonPickard

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Reply with quote  #33 
Its been a while so for any who are interested I thought I would update this thread.  I currently have the HG here at home and am lavishing it with love.    Here is a recent pic.  To my ear it sounds fantastic, very resonant, responsive and open - but yea you guessed it,  there are still problems to solve.
 
The biggest of which is that our sharp / flat mechanism on the super trebles (referred to earlier in this post) has not worked.  Apparently it worked well on the model we built but on the actual instrument it weakens the tone and sustain, for various reasons.  Rats!
 
Stuart needed a break from this to focus on other things so I have brought it home while we consider the next phase.  It has always been my desire to be able to tune the floating strings quickly into ANY key, without tightening or slackening the strings.  We have managed it on the basses by using 2 levers per string but there is not room for this on the supers.
 
The speaking length on all 10 of the trebles is about 28cms, so I cannot get the high pitches I originally wanted so I have got hold of some really thin gauges and have tuned them up as far as a high A (= 17th fret on a guitar).  So for now these have become mid-range strings.  They sound great and are very useable musically, but if I want to sharpen or flatten notes I have to do it with the zither pins - which on nylon strings means that they take a long time to settle at the new pitch.
 
So, we are playing with new designs and ideas of how to get semitone shifts with minimal structural change.  We may add a small extra fretboard for the supers up by the nut and use some kind of pinning device to hold string to fret.  If anyone has experience or advice for this kind of mechanism, or has seen anything like it on thin gauges and high pitches, or has other ideas to consider I would be grateful...

Hope everyone is well.

10390207_551169338325930_5141362298643279543_n.jpg
 


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Reply with quote  #34 
Hi Jon
Great to read that you have the guitar at home and can play it at last, and enjoy it
Perhaps you wanted too much????
Could you not slant / move  the super trebles  "nut/ bridge"? To shorten the string length
The finest strings I found were D'Addario  0.018 (I think).
Could not get them higher than E ( 24th fret on my 18 string) What are you using?
My solution would be to simplify.
But that is perhaps not what you want.
Look forward to read other opinions.
Best wishes to you.
Sean
JonPickard

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Reply with quote  #35 
Hi Sean

Yes, you are probably right I may want too much - a recurring personal flaw of mine I'm sure!

Almost all other instruments can play in any key, including concert harps and guitars - so it seems to me an unfair restriction not to be able to do so.  As a pianist I often appreciate the very different feelings/moods that each key stimulates in me and the listener and I can't get away from the thought that if it could be achieved on a harp guitar then it would be a wonderful thing.  I will pursue what ideas I can to see if I can manage it before giving up.

Yes we could try a floating bridge, which should work and this may be a good solution, but it still won't allow for any sharp / flat system.  We may arrive at that option before we are done.

We are using the Savarez KF range.  The finest I have tried is 0.33mm, but at this length it can only go as far as high A (17th fret) and snaps at B.  Clearly we need to shorten the length or settle for lower pitches.

For the tuning we even had a brief go at this idea which we thought might work - but I spoke to its creator and of course it needs a perfectly flat sound board 5mm thick to work properly. 


Thanks for the advice, will keep you posted as and when things progress.

all the best

Jon

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Michael

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Reply with quote  #36 
Something like this might work.



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JonPickard

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Reply with quote  #37 
Wow, yes it might.  I guess we could put one of those hooks in each relevant fret.

Thanks Michael!

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Reply with quote  #38 
Jon - I was excited to finally be able to add the builder and your instrument to our Luthier page...but now I think I'll have to wait for the "final"!  With all these creative suggestions (and more to come, I'm sure), who knows what it may look like later.  A worthy cause - good luck!
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JonPickard

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Reply with quote  #39 
Thanks Greg, yes best to wait and see what the next phase brings.

I had a meeting with Stuart yesterday and we have pretty much decided what to do next, though it may be a short while until we can put the plan into action… will keep you posted as things progress.

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FredCarlson

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Reply with quote  #40 
Jon,

Wow!....I'd completely forgotten about this thread, and had to review the whole thing before putting in my two cents on pitch-changing devices.

Quite an amazing instrument!  And yes, you probably do want too much...but don't we all?  I sure do, and I get a lot of trouble and a lot of joy from trying to get it.

I've tried a lot of things;  I think my favorite for simplicity is sliding nuts/bridges.  The drawback is that (besides a nice, flat surface for them, as you point out) they require a bit of personal adjustment for each change.  I've toyed with (even designed) ideas for tracks that they would slide in that would locate them automatically at appropriate notes.  Frets can be very handy in locating strings at the desired pitches, as Michael's example of the banjo 5th-string hook shows (these are model railroad spikes, traditionally).  You can also get devices made to screw onto the side of a banjo neck (banjo 5th-string capos) that have a sliding capo or finger that covers a range of frets, so you can go up or down several semi-tones.  Shubb makes a nice one;  I've thought of building those into an instrument...you'd need one under each string, so you'd need a separate little fretboard strip under each string, with enough room in between to slide the "finger".  Once set up, that could work very nicely.  One could also have a single, wide fretboard, with sliding nuts that have a centrally located fret on top, and a matching slot on the bottom, the slot locking onto the fretboard fret and positioning the top fret accurately.  Again, simple, but a lot of work to make all the bits and set it up.  It would work well with nylon strings, but might be more problematic with thin steel strings, as they change pitch so easily with small tension changes.
Then, there's the Kanun (kanoon?), mid-eastern zither/harp that has rows of little metal flaps under each string.  You flip up a flap (so to speak) under a string to "fret" the string at that point.  There's a bit of personal adjustment necessary, and the potential of the flaps that are lying down in off position buzzing is considerable, I would think, but it's a workable system.
And then there's this, which you might have seen if you've been to my web site:

barikotoClcapos.jpg 

Each string has an oblong hole with a metal washer reinforcing the underside of each hole's perimeter.  A little individual capo is inserted into the hole and twisted 90 degrees until it locks simultaneously on the metal plate beneath and the string above, in the process pulling the string down to the fret.  I am much crazier now, after having done this to an entire fretboard, than I was before (if you can believe that!!).  I did a similar thing, earlier in life, to the sub-bass strings on The New Dream, one of my 39-string Harp-Sympitars.

While I'm at it, here's an example of sliding nuts/bridges that works nicely. 
barikotoClsaddles1.jpg 
In this example, the range possible is only intended to be a semi-tone, although in practice it's a bit more.  But it could be extended.  The trick with this set up is that because the string connection point has to be significantly lower than the top of the nut/bridge to get a good, clear tone, when you slide the nut/bridge back closer to the connection /anchoring point, you increase tension on the string, raising its pitch at the same time as you are attempting to lower it by lengthening the vibrating string length.  My solution was to slope the ebony plate that the nuts slide on upward as it moves away from the anchor point, so as you slide the nut away from that point, the slope pushes the nut up, which adds tension to the string.  This mitigates most of the string tension change caused by sliding the nut.  Probably not so necessary in most cases, since if you're just sliding the nut freely, you just move it to where it makes the string in tune, but the instrument in question was more complicated than that, and I needed the ramped nut-base for other tuning reasons (eeek!).  I think you could dispense with it entirely; though if you had frets that the nuts located on, they would have to be positioned with tension changes taken into account.  (By the way, the strings in this picture are Chinese Gu Zheng strings....nylon wrapped on steel core; lots of great possibilities for harp guitars, 'cause they come in very long lengths, and sound cool).

Anyone died from boredom yet?  This stuff is actually fun!! 


By the way, Jon, speaking of fun...I was delighted, in reviewing this thread, to see that you got Stuart a copy of my Alphabet of Imaginary Instruments to cheer him through health problems...that makes me happy!

Good luck in everything...I hope to hear that glorious instrument some day!

yours,

Fred Carlson


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JonPickard

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Reply with quote  #41 
Hey Fred

Thanks so much for your input, I knew you might have some useful suggestions.  Yes, I have looked at the amazing instruments on your website many times - mind blowing!

We did some experiments with something like your individual capos for the basses right at the start - I think the only reason we chose levers was because we thought they would be quicker and easier to use in practice - though I wonder now if your way might work better, as there are some buzzing issues with the double lever system.
 
I've often wondered about your tuning systems, so it is great to get some detail on how you get them to work - thanks!
 
So building weird harp guitars drives you crazy - or does one has to be half mad in order to build one in the first place?  Either way I am so grateful there are people in the world crazy / ingenious / visionary enough to do it.  Shine on!

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FredCarlson

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Reply with quote  #42 
Jon,

I didn't think to mention the levers on Taproot, my most recent harp-guitar-like thing.  Jeff Titus will be performing on this at the upcoming Gathering, and doing a presentation on the instrument as well;  I'm sure he'll spend some time discussing the "Hoyt Levers".  The coolest thing about them is that they are operated by the players fretting hand, from the back of the peghead (not at all useful for your treble harp strings....sorry!).  An enormous amount of time, effort and money went into these things.  Jeff loves them; frankly, as the guy who gets to set them up and adjust them, I am less happy.  Jim Hoyt and I both agreed "we wouldn't do it that way again!".  That being said, there might be some good inspiration in them; they certainly got me thinking about many other ways of doing it that I might like better. 
They do work well, and are pretty cool looking from the back; just a pain in the you-know-what to install, set up and adjust.

taprootleversandpegs.jpg 
taproot pegheads.jpg 


I'd love to see what you come up with!

Fred hoyt lever 5.jpg 


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JonPickard

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Reply with quote  #43 
Ok, so its been a while.  Kind of quiet in the forum at the moment so I thought I would update this thread a little.  I have long since bored all of my friends and local acquaintances with going on about my harp guitar (is it just near me that 'normal' people - meaning non-HG folk - struggle to relate to harp guitars for very long?) so I turn instead to you, the online HG community in the belief that there are still some here to read this to whom this may be of interest.

The trials and experiments continue in my search for the best solution for a tuning system for my super trebles.  (The following probably reads like a "what doesn't work when designing a super treble tuning system" article).   Why am I publicising things that do not work?  Because I NEED to share this with people who may relate, and hey, it may even save someone else the same trouble one day...

Greg, sorry for all the pics in this post, I hope it doesn't eat too much bandwidth.  Let me know if it does and I will delete if you like.

Anyway, with the help of another luthier more local to me (Alan Miller, http://alanmillerguitars.co.uk/) I first followed up Michael's idea of using a banjo hook by having this extra fretboard made, and filled it with hooks, thinking "cool, I might be able to have any note just by hooking any string at any fret".  
DSC00714.jpeg  IMG_1710.jpeg 
After a bit of adjustment we got this to work - but - it was too fiddley to use in practice and it damaged my nails to keep pushing the string under the hook.  The hooks also caused string damage on the nylon strings, leading to too much snappage.

So, on went my thinking cap and I designed and had a variety of these brass widgets made to play around with:
IMG_1829.jpeg 

We tested them, to be used like this
DSC00936.jpeg 

They worked - but - they rattled in the 'off' position, so I added a spring:
IMG_1914.jpeg

and installed them like this - 3 positions for sharp, natural and flat
IMG_2055.jpeg 

This also worked - but - they too caused string damage, needed a allen key to use them and the fret positions are not precisely enough in tune - we are talking micro millimetres affecting the pitch.  That top fret is about 6mm.  So it was close, but not close enough.  I may come back to this idea before I am done…

So, running out of ideas and with Sean's words of advice to simplify edging closer towards the front of my mind I have been looking at adding a straight diagonal bridge to shorten the strings for pitch and will have to just tune with a zither key.  I have some triangular acrylic lying around the house so I cut and fitted these;

a half bridge for the top pitches when tuning from a' to c''' (10 strings).
IMG_2035.jpeg 

and a full bridge for higher notes, tuning from e'' to g'''
IMG_2034.jpeg

Both of these produce a decent sound - even though acrylic is obviously not the right material.  The soundboard is pretty flat and is reinforced under that part - so I hope that a wooden version of either of these would offer a good simplified solution.  

But, just before we try that we have one last thing to try to give me the tuning flexibility I so obsessively crave -  individual movable Guzheng-style bridges!  Alan is working on some trials of those as we speak.  We have no idea if this will work or not either, but if not we will try a straight bridge like in the above pic.  

Well that's as far as I have got for now - you can't hang a guy for trying. 

I also have to say that the more I play my harp guitar the more my respect grows for those who can play them well.  Playing this instrument even without full use of super-trebles is a bigger challenge than I gave it credit for.  I have a lot of practice to do before I can play anything smoothly but am loving every minute of the trying.

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode…


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Michael

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Reply with quote  #44 
What are you trying to accomplish? Do you need to be able to have a stop at every fret position in the treble bank? I think the frets are too close together in those high treble positions to be set reliably in tune using a mechanical device.

The cello would make a very nice alternate instrument  [smile]
  

Michael

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Reply with quote  #45 
Thanks for sharing Jon!  No problem (currently) on bandwidth, as so many folks have migrated over to Facebook.  I also see more of our HG crowd on the acoustic guitar forum than here typically.  With SO many new harp guitar owners and players (I know from the amount of strings I'm selling to new names), I'm still hopeful that some will feel comfortable here.
I know it can take a LOT of finessing to get supers to work even without sharping involved.  Even subs take hours to dial in properly (with Dragon Whisperers, for example).
Fred's the guy who's into this stuff (and has gotten out of ever box he's managed to get himself into!
And yes, WHEN you get it all working, supers are still a unique challenge.
good luck,
g

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JonPickard

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Reply with quote  #46 
Thanks Greg

Michael, my ideal wish was / is to be able to sharpen and flatten each string without needing to tighten or slacken them to do so.  With steel strings it is not such a problem as they settle much quicker at their new pitches.  With nylon they are still stretching 5 minutes after you alter them so to get around that I have been trying to devise a 'magic button' or lever to just switch quickly on and off to achieve the sharps or flats.

I only really want 3 notes per string, but on the extra fretboard shown above I thought for a while I might even manage every note (for unlimited options).  But you are right, the notes are so close together up there that it seems all but impossible to get just right.  There are 12 frets on that fretboard, the first 7 or so are in good tune, but not the rest.

Its been a process of eliminating the more far fetched ideas before settling on a simpler one.

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JonPickard

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Reply with quote  #47 
Ok, tried some more sliding Guzheng style bridges - again, they worked for tuning but not for a good sound.
Image.jpeg

But I do finally have a super treble bridge that works.  I had to give up on any fancy sharpening / flattening system.  Everything we tried sort of worked for tuning, but at the expense of a good sound.  So we now have a simple straight bridge as you can see here (though it looks more like an aqueduct).  This means I have to tune with zithers and fine tuners, but gives a really nice sound.  I guess it works better because it uses the tension of all 10 strings to pull the whole thing down on to the soundboard.  So I guess my quest on the treble issues ends here, a mere 5 years since I started the first drawings!

We ramped the bridge upwards towards the higher notes to keep the break angle similar across all strings.  Like other HGs I have seen you can do a Guzheng style vibrato behind the bridge which is a really cool feature.
 
I am currently using light steel strings and tuning from E to G (10 strings).  I did get used to having lower pitches (A to C) and nylon strings while all of this was going on, so I will be experimenting with different pitches and gauges for a while and I guess I will go with what gives the best sound.


IMG_2071.jpeg  IMG_2067.jpeg 

There is still a little cosmetic work to do to hide some of the marks that the experiments have left, but here is how she is looking at the moment.
IMG_2064.jpeg 


IMG_2066.jpeg   


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Reply with quote  #48 
Nylon strings makes this task more difficult. My mind will continue to work subliminally for a solution.

Michael

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Reply with quote  #49 
A couple of updatey pictures for anyone who's interested...
HG in window 01 lo res.jpg

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JonPickard

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Reply with quote  #50 
oh and the video I recorded a while ago...


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