Register Latest Topics

  Author   Comment  

Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #1 

first post, my name is Aljosha Elsensohn from austria
I'm 23, joiner for a living, and besides an amateurluthier (hoping to become a professional one day)

I at the moment am in the final stages of the planning of a harpguitar
in fact I just have to finish some smaller things and then will start
it will have a 8 string neck (6+2bass), 6 subbasses and 8 super trebles

now I was wondering

so far I built everything as responsive as possible, with mayor influences by somogyi

but on a harpguitar this might turn out bad, i fear sympitar like effects, which I don't really want,
at least not too much
I havent played a Harp yet, except for one very short moment, so I cant really tell how much I should care about this...
can it be a problem, also for playing
I could imagine that it aint too comfortable if one has to dampen most strings most of the time...
any opinions would be great

thanks in advance


Avatar / Picture

Posts: 414
Reply with quote  #2 
Welcome!! You came to the right place!!

I like the added resonance that the super treble and sub bass strings produce as the main guitar neck is played. These added resonances are not the buzzy sympitar sound (which is quite pleasing but a different sound). There is a different technique that you need to master when playing a harp guitar. The bass strings need muting after being struck to keep the piece you are playing from sounding "muddy". There are several ways to accomplish this. Usually the right thumb ball or palm is used. Pete Bradshaw uses a foam pad strapped to his wrist to mute as he plays. As I said, I like all ringing going on but I don't play "properly". 

Go here for a short discussion...

I am currently building a 7 string acoustic spruce and walnut small jumbo guitar with a low B (not a harp guitar).  What will the tuning be on your 8 string guitar neck? I can still add an 8th string if I like what you are doing. 


Michael Schreiner

Avatar / Picture

Posts: 306
Reply with quote  #3 

Oh....maybe that's my problem...all those scary Sympitar effects!!

As Michael alludes to...the Sympitar uses an Indian style "jiwari" bridge to get those scary sounds; you won't get them with normal set-up unless you have something buzzing for another reason.

That being said, it is true that the more strings you have, the more sympathetic resonance you will have.  The sympathetic resonance of the sub-bass strings on a harp guitar is quite different from that of the supertreble harp strings, and both are different than the jiwari sound of the Sympitar.

The subbass strings are generally tuned lower than any notes that can be played on the main strings (thus the name sub bass), and therefore you cannot get any unison sympathetic response from them; instead most of what you get is high harmonics ringing, a very magical sound, and quite subtle compared to the jiwari sound.  The supertrebles can be another story, depending on how you tune them and what you play on the main strings.  Typically they are tuned quite high and one doesn't necessarily play a lot in their range on the main strings (perhaps only the upper octave of the first string gets those notes, anyway).  One may get some unison responses, but mostly they will be an octave or octaves above the note they are responding to (or a close harmonic).  These kinds of responses can indeed muddy things up a bit, but they are also an important part of the beauty and character of what a harp guitar is (my opinion!).  I don't think making a less responsive instrument would benefit'd simply have a less responsive instrument.  In my experience, I almost always like a more responsive instrument better than a less responsive one.  But it's likely true that a really underbuilt (very thin woods, very light bracing) instrument could have too much going on in the could also collapse from the tension of all those strings.

There are playing techniques for damping; there are also mechanical dampers that can be added, things you can "switch" off or on to completely (or partially) stop the ringing of the harp strings.  But it's an interesting problem to try to make a device that stops the sympathetic ringing but allows the plucked sound...that's possible, too, but possibly not without compromising the plucked sound in undesirable ways.

My advice (from the creator of the evil Sympitar) is: learn to love sympathetic sounds!!

And never take me too seriously!

And good luck!

Fred Carlson

Having an open mind doesn't necessarily mean your brain has fallen out.

Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #4 
hey guys,

thanks for the replys and sorry for taking so long to reply

my plan was just "simple" 8strings in standard tuning, with the two bass strings beeing fretless
tuning of the whole thing would be GBEADGBE
I really dig those Daddario fretless strings...

on the subbasses I'm still wondering whether I should go from the low E or rather the low G
first option would be helpful if I ever play on a Dyer-style
and it might be good for the playing, as I would not need to fret the bass strings and give it the typical sound...
most likely go for that one
Bennet tuning in either option

right now I am wondering thought whether I will build it with a guitar neck or rather go for an octave-harpmandolin, because thats what I play more often right now...

If I go for that option I've not yet decided whether I go for two single bass stirngs, or just a 5 doublestring mando...
but it'll be 8 strings on the fretboard

all the best
Previous Topic | Next Topic

Quick Navigation:

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.