Forum
Register Latest Topics
 
 
 


Reply
  Author   Comment   Page 1 of 2      1   2   Next
Badcrumble

Registered:
Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #1 

Hello all and thank you for this fantastic resource. 

My name is Andrew and I am from Cape Town, South Africa (a part of the world that seems to have a distinct lack of harp guitars). 
To remedy this issue, I have enlisted in a guitar-building course run by Casimi guitars here in Cape Town, in an effort to build myself a harp guitar. 
I have already done this course once before, and have almost completed my first solo guitar build now too. 

This is going to be a big challenge for me, and the Casimi Team, but with Matthias having built over 300 guitars when he worked at Maingard, so I am confident we will be able to pull together and make something incredible...at the very least it will look good and be lots of fun to make [smile]

Anyway, my post here is with regard to sources of wood stock that is large enough for harp guitars. I'm looking, in particular, for wood from which to make a top, needing approximately 8.5" x 37" for the bass panel, and a more appropriate length for the treble one(obviously I'd like these to be book matched).

I have found a few sources that sell redwood and Lutz spruce in these dimensions, but I am really really keen to try and get a German or other European spruce top, if that is possible (I know, it sounds like a really tall order), and settle on Lutz only if I am unable to source high quality German Spruce. 

I will be spending a lot of money and time on this build, so I would really like to find as high a quality top as I am able to (I'll be spending 2 years of saturdays building it, so I don't want to skimp on the materials).

 

Does anyone here perhaps know retailers who deal in quality European Spruce of those sorts of dimensions?

I look forward to any responses, and thank you all again for this amazing resource. I am so impressed with how thoroughly harp guitars are documented here. 

Michael

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 412
Reply with quote  #2 
I hope you find what you are looking for. The Harp Guitars I make include super trebles. Lutz is quite stiff and I am quite happy with it's performance.

Michael

__________________
Michael Schreiner
SeanWoolley

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 93
Reply with quote  #3 
Hello Andrew. Here are some people that can sell you wood for harp guitars. Espen tonewood in Germany have a wide choice of top woods. Andreas Pahler Alpentonholtz, also in Germany has German and Austrian tops. Check him out on Youtube. Then Octopus tonewood in Turkey for Caucasian spruce.
I have bought from all of these people. There are probably more out there. Let me know if you need more information and have fun with your build. Best wishes.Sean.
Badcrumble

Registered:
Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #4 

Wow! Thanks Sean! Those are very very helpful!

 

As far as stiffness and workability goes (and obviously this would vary with individual pieces) but do you have a preference between German and Caucasian spruce, for harp guitars? I am hoping to get a nice full, piano-like sound out of it. 

And do you find the Espen Weissenborn sets ( 2x bookmatched: 210 x 930 x 5 mm) large enough? I have not quite completed my design, but the back panels are 37" x 8.5", which seems a tiny bit larger than the weissenborn sets. 
I know I am wanting a 16" lower bout, to match the OM I have built, but I am a little concerned that I may be restricted by the back at 37". I expect the top could be a tiny bit shorter than the back? 

SeanWoolley

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 93
Reply with quote  #5 
Hi Again Andrew. Sorry Caucasian spruce I haven't used, from Octopus I bought Cypress back and sides.
For my design, nylon string hg, the Weissenborn size is perfect. At Espen the hg size is 980x250,look at the bottom of the price list (price, classic + 200%). With Andreas Pahler I sent him  a full size template and he hunted through his stock and cut to fit. He also sells maple. Another one Tonewood.ch in Switzerland. Give them a mail they all reply in  English. Can you post some photos of your plan? Would love to see it.
Speak soon. Sean
Badcrumble

Registered:
Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #6 

Thanks Sean.
As yet, we have not finalised the plan. 
I am building it on a course offered by two very experienced luthiers, but none of us has ever built a harp guitar. 

I have already built a steel string orchestra model with the same guys and I know I want the treble side tto be very similar to this guitar, with a 12 fret neck join and a deep Venetian cutaway. 

 

Up until the bevel on the bass side I want it almost identical, and then we will have to see about that big long bass horn and sub bass strings. 

The course is paid monthly, and includes some design and such, but I would like to source all my woods first, so that I don't have to wait for them to adjust to Cape Town, and figure we should be able to design something awesome the boundaries set by the wood dimensions. 

I have already found a source for Koa (which is my ideal) at 37"x8.5" which I believe should be large enough to fit my intended design(If anyone thinks this will be too tight, let me know, as they have not yet started cutting).

The Espen page indicates calssic+200% on harp guitar back and sides, but on the tops they don't mention harp guitar. The weissenborn sets are as close as I can see. 

SeanWoolley

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 93
Reply with quote  #7 
Hey Andrew that guitar does look good.I do like the cut away... You're right about Espen. Just rechecked my mails to Jorgen at Espen, the widest he could supply was 220 wide,(this was a couple of years ago).
FredCarlson

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 304
Reply with quote  #8 
Andrew,

That's a stunning guitar!!  I can't wait to see what you come up with for a harp guitar design!

I wish you luck finding that perfect piece of top wood;  the wood suppliers are still not providing us HG builders a lot of choice.

You might be able to find a set cut out for cello or contra-bass, and get it re-sawn into harp guitar tops; that would entail a pretty big expense, but perhaps a good investment if you plan to make more.
I have had good luck with Sitka Spruce as a top wood for harp guitars, though it seems to be thought of for some reason as inferior (to "European" spruce) by a lot of builders.  I do think spruce in general is the best choice, especially for a steel-string HG.

Good Luck,

Fred

__________________
Having an open mind doesn't necessarily mean your brain has fallen out.
http://www.beyondthetrees.com
Badcrumble

Registered:
Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #9 
Thanks  so much for your advice guys. I think I am going to go with a master grade caucasian spruce top from Octopus. 

Now I started working on the design with Matthew at Casimi Guitars this past Saturday. Man was it fun, but also challenging. It seems there are a few sticking points we have noticed already and need to find elegant solutions to. 

Does anyone build a harp guitar with a radiused back? I am wanting to radius my back (at least horizontally, vertically may cause some problems due to the length and the hollow arm.
I am hoping to see an example of how best that would be done...I am guessing sides that taper slowly as they move towards the neck, and then just radiused braces on to the back and all the way up the hollow arm? But then I am a little worried about how tight a radius I could have on the hollow arm. 
If there are any examples of radiused back harp guitars I would love to see some pictures. 

Also, what differences can one expect between nylon and steel core sub bass strings? Presumably the nylon ones have less tension? Is it perhaps that nylon core strings are usually used when the standard guitar part is nylon string and that steel core are used on steel-string-guitar harp guitars? Or not? Could I design for nylon core sub-bass strings and a steel string guitar?

Sorry for all the questions. I am really excited by this project, and living all the way out here in South Africa, I have only been able to get hold of one actual harp guitar for references...and it's not a hollow arm design.  
SeanWoolley

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 93
Reply with quote  #10 
Hello Andrew, glad to have news from you and great to hear that you are moving forward.
Radius back; yes. Across the width, 1/8th offset. The hollow arm taper start near the waist. I made a simple radius bar with sand paper on it. I plane & sand the "outside edge of the hollow arm so that the radius continues down the arm.
I love nylon core sub bass strings.Answers to most of your question can be found on the strings page in the Harp Guitar Music shop. I note in passing that the HGM steel string bass sets are great value for money. Hope this helps , I'll try and find some photos that help as I know how you feel, I built my first hg without ever seeing a harp guitar.
Best wishes.Sean
Michael

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 412
Reply with quote  #11 
If you join this forum http://www.luthierforum you will be able to access 3 documented harp guitar builds by me and one build by Tony Karol that shows his method to radius the back. Just type harp guitar in the search box.

Michael

__________________
Michael Schreiner
Michael

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 412
Reply with quote  #12 
Gregg has the John Doan HG plan available here ... http://www.harpguitarmusic.com/plans.htm
which shows bracing for nylon core basses. I build for phosphor bronze basses and adjust the plan accordingly.

Michael

__________________
Michael Schreiner
Badcrumble

Registered:
Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #13 

Thanks Michael
I have attempted to join up there, but have yet to be accepted by the moderators and so on. 

I know this is now a very broad question, and that their may well be no actual answer, but here goes:

I've never played a harp guitar before. Never even seen one in person. I have a solid understanding of the physics involved, but no experience in playing harp guitar music, and no preference as to what I intend to play. 

I currently play finger style steel string and right now I am really enjoying playing rag-type tunes with the bouncing thumb. I also really enjoy a lot of modern finger style guitar.

I have not really experimented much with dadgad or open tunings, but I intend to. 

Does anyone have a recommendation as a standard or default harp guitar? trying to choose which string gauge to design for, what type of strings, spread of scale length, and so on, is really tough when you've no reference from which to go on. 

The design I have currently (which, unless someone recommends otherwise, I will start building) makes use of 6 sub bass strings, with the longest scale length being 33 1/4 " and the shortest being around 31 1/3"...each string featuring a string post and a sharpening lever. Is this appropriate? Most harp guitars I see seem to have a larger spread in their sub bass scale lengths. 

I then intend to design for light gauge strings, using standard harp guitar tuning, as per the light tension set advertised on this page, however, I think the Stephen Bennet tuning also looks interesting (and I do like that 3rd fret G). 

The guitar part I am more comfortable with, and it will feature a body around 16" wide at the lower bout, 25.5 scale length and 12 fret join. Designed for 0.012" - 0.053 /4" string gauges. 

I know it's a tall order, but does anyone have suggestions for a good default, "vanilla" set up? Is there anything about my proposed measurements that seem alarming or not sensible?

 

Light tension
(Harp Guitar Music set)
.076.070.064.062.060.054total tension
FGABCD~147 lbs
$14.75 [pixel]
Michael

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 412
Reply with quote  #14 
 I am building my 4th Sullivan/Elliott style HG I brace it for Bronze sub-bass strings - not nylon that the original came with. After much experimentation, I have settled on D'Addario Phosphor bronze basses (the F is a John Pearse bass string). The guitar part is Elixer .012 to .053.

My bass string length is 2" shorter than yours.

This is what I use: F .076, G .070, A .062, B .056, C .054, D .049

The set you posted above looks good to me for your string length except maybe the A should be .066 to be more consistent. 

These are just my thoughts..I hope someone else will share also. 

Michael



__________________
Michael Schreiner
SeanWoolley

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 93
Reply with quote  #15 
Andrew it's hard to answer your question...My bass string lengths are about 30 to 26 inches long, I think that string posts do help a clearer sound and avoid any rattles from the machine heads. I go round the post others go over. The string length is part of the overall design, how the two head stocks look together,is there the space needed between the head stocks to fit tuners etc. I have to feel comfortable with the way it looks, then I find the strings. You know Gregg can custom supply strings matched to your needs if needed. I choose from what I can get hold of and use nylon core D'Addario classic basses going from 0.060 on the F to 0.050 on the D. I'm not a fan of sharpening levers but others are. I like Andy Wahlberg's solution; a wine bottle cork cut in half and slid under the string. Simple, there is no doubt a prettier way of making a "sliding fret". Like yourself I didn't have any contact with harp guitars or hg players until after I had made a couple, and now that I've had the chance to meet several what stands out is that we are all doing are own thing,so I encourage you to do just that, follow your instincts, follow the wood and I'm sure you'll make a great guitar.
Best wishes.Sean.
Badcrumble

Registered:
Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #16 

Thanks so much for your input guys. 
Sean, my investigation so far shows exactly that! There are no best practices defined at this point, and it seems every way you want to is an acceptable way of doing things (I've seen mention of all sub bass strings being the same gauge, lowest sub bass being closes to the guitar neck... so much variety and no one superior method).

The string scale lengths I have suggested were derived from exactly the method you suggest Sean...I have spent the first month of this project drawing and redrawing pictures of a headstock that does what I want it to. I wasn't initially keen on string posts, but having worked the design over a whole lot, it seems they will be necessary in order to spread the sub bass tuning machines appropriately. I am also wanting to use sharpening levers, which have been incorporated into the headstock design. 

I intend to be pretty sure of the design before I start building anything...it's amazing how many potential issues can be negotiated and defeated by drawing pictures. 

 

Michael

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 412
Reply with quote  #17 
I use string posts also. They are actually bone bridge pins.

Michael

__________________
Michael Schreiner
Badcrumble

Registered:
Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #18 

Hey guys. So the questions continue:

Initially, I had thought that joining the headstocks anchoring my guitar strings and sub bass strings was preferable structurally , and so I started my design by looking for a way to make a single headstock that was neither too cumbersome or too heavy.

I arrived at the design below:

In the above image, the sub bass tuners will be positioned on the "vertical" strip on the far right, with string post on the second vertical strip and sharpening levers on the vertical strip closest the neck. 



Obviously a single headstock means that my guitar-side headstock can not be angled back with a traditional scarf joint, as it needs to lie in the same plane as the sub bass headstock. I had planned initially to work around this by hollowing out the headstock behind the nut, much like a Fender Telecaster headstock, or the Sullivan/Elliot headstock. 
This headstock design will also require me to look at possible assembly methods. Usually we'd box up completely and then work on the neck almost in isolation, until the two are joined by a dovetail joint. 
Obviously this method won't be suitable for this design, as the headstock would need to be joined to hollow arm (presumably with a small block and a dove tail? almost like another heel) before it is time to fit the neck's dovetail. 

 

Then, after more thinking, it occurred to me that joining the headstocks could also have some stability/maintenance implications? For instance, removing the neck from the guitar at any point in its lifetime becomes impossible? 

Also , since designing tops for such a high tension is new for all of us, I am worried that something may pull in a way we are not expecting, and in this case, it'd be easier to rectify and work with if we had separate headstocks. 

That said I now really really like the look of the single headstock.


Do you guys find an increase in stability from joining headstocks? If so, is it worth the assembly and maintenance issues? Is it maybe much much simpler to keep my headstocks separate?

 

Also, look at my awesome koa set [smile] 

 






Thanks again for all the guidance guys. 
Andrew



Badcrumble

Registered:
Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #19 

OK! I think I have found a nice solution to my problem. I am not going to join my headstocks to a single headstock after all, after running in to complications on how to fit the neck, future maintenance issues on the neck joint, and the pitching of the headstocks relative to one another (in that they'd have to lie in the same plain, but with the guitar side indented. 

So what I have decided to do, is to try and have the design above be the way the headstock looks from directly in front. It will feature a pretty straight forward guitar headstock, reclined at a comfortable angle. And then the somewhat-harp-looking sub bass headstock pitched much flatter, and overlaying the guitar headstock when viewed straight-on. I may then add some kind of truss between the two, for stability, but we will have to wait and see. 

 

I have spent all of my free hours after work sitting with my drawing board, playing with this design. It sure is exciting!

Michael

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 412
Reply with quote  #20 

I like your design and you have valid points regarding future neck maintenance. I think the single head stock is best for resonance but any sort of attachment between 2 headstock necks may give the same outcome. Aligning the single headstock is a bit of a challenge. I don't fully assemble the bass arm until I have the guitar neck flossed and angled properly. Once the guitar neck is angled properly, I make adjustments to the bass arm to line everything up then make the final assembly. The guitar neck is bolted and glued to the body using a butt joint. I do have an adjustable truss rod but due to the stability of my headstock construction, I have not had to make adjustments on any of my 3 builds ..yet.









Michael


__________________
Michael Schreiner
Badcrumble

Registered:
Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #21 

Hi again everyone.
Thanks so much for your assistance, suggestions and input. 
We have come a long way on this project, although still mostly in the design stages, I have decided on my bridge shape, and have made a perspex template for that. 
I have also processed a nice large African Blackwood blank, that will eventually become the bridge. 

 

After many considerations, we decided on separate headstocks, looking something like:



The intention being to have a Koa veneer on the front of the guitar headstock, with a further African Blackwood/ebony veneer in the dark shape, which is supposed to look like the shadow of the harp guitar headstock, which will be in African Blackwood or Ebony.  

 

I am only attending the workshop on Saturdays, and only every alternate month, so it is a very long process, with plenty of time to mull things over and redesign designs.

 

I finally purchased a master grade Swiss Spruce top from tonewood.ch, along with some brace wood. I am excited for it to arrive, even if it's just going to sit in the cupboard for a few months. 

Thanks again for your suggestions. This resource has been invaluable and we've only just started. 

Michael

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 412
Reply with quote  #22 
Again your designs are beautiful from what I can see. It is hard to see the guitar head stock. Keep the pics coming.

Michael

__________________
Michael Schreiner
Gregg

Avatar / Picture

Moderator
Registered:
Posts: 1,148
Reply with quote  #23 
Nice to see you guys working this stuff out here.  I was reminded of Ben's overlapping neck and bass heads (I don't remember which one is on the top and bottom.  String tension held them giving the impression of a solid join - no glue or screws)!
__________________
Gregg Miner, editor, Harpguitars.net
Badcrumble

Registered:
Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #24 

Well this build is progressing along. I have finally completed templates for the bass and treble sides of the guitar, the bridge and the cutaway. 
Next week I will start work on my mold, and take a flush cut router to my roughed out bridge blank.

I am really liking the way my curves work together, and am particularly fond of that cutaway. 

My hollow arm is less bulky than that on the Dyer plans I have available to me, but it does not seem too far off the dimensions of the Sullivan/Elliot design.

Does anyone have an idea of what the implications of a narrower hollow arm would be?
If anyone recommends thickening it a bit, I'd love to know now, before I start on the mold, and before I cut out my top and back. 

 

 

 

SeanWoolley

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 93
Reply with quote  #25 
Hi Andrew, thanks for the update, all looks good to me.
Personally I don't build with a mold, never have.
Do you really need one? You could be bending your sides next week instead...
Best wishes.Sean
Previous Topic | Next Topic
Print
Reply

Quick Navigation: