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FredCarlson

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hey folks!

Been a long time since I've checked in here (and I notice there doesn't seem to be much action).  Suzy and I have finally sent off our big project of the last several years....a 19-string cello.  Not quite a harp cello, if we use Emperor Gregg's System of classification; my system is much more lenient...I think 5-string banjos are a form of harp guitar.  Anyway, this thing has 5 main strings (CGDAE, that is, an extra high string), 10 outboard (bass-side) sympathetic resonating strings, that just maybe could be considered harp strings, if the player could only figure out how to pluck them while bowing the main strings.  Maybe it becomes a harp cello if you play it pizzicato...and also 4 drone strings that run inside the neck and are bowed by a motorized wheel (a la Hurdy-Gurdy) mounted in the tailpiece.  Way too complicated to figure out, but it sounds very cool.  Built for successful (and very gifted!) TV and Movie score composer from L.A., Nathan Barre (did the music for the HBO series True Blood, currently does the music for a show called "The Americans", and has numerous film credits). 

Nate made a little video when he came to pick up the instrument a few weeks ago:



Since sending that thing off, I've been trying to restore the Humanitar, to bring to the big Fretboard Journal Summit party this coming weekend.  Yes, it needed some serious help;  I may have overestimated the structural qualities of paper mache!

In any case, I miss all of you...it suddenly occurred to me there must be a Gathering happening soon...another one to miss!

best!

Fred


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Michael

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Reply with quote  #2 
Yes it is cool. Lots of action elsewhere on 5 string violins but haven't seen a 5 (19) string cello. You guys do beautiful work. It is Sir Gregg by the way. Thank you Sir Fred and Dame Suzy for sharing this beautiful instrument with us.

Michael

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FredCarlson

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks, Michael!

Suzy was making 5-string violin/viola hybrids with sympathetic "understrings", as on Hardanger Fiddle and viola d'amour over 30 years ago....got me started on the whole Sympitar thing, which led to Harp-Sympitars.  We both always wanted to make a cello...this is our second with the 5 main strings; the high E string is really great (especially for someone like me who can only play in 1st position anyway!!).  We wanted to try the outboard East Indian-style sympathetics on our first cello, but that was a bit much for that client.  I'm glad we got to do it on this one, and it worked great, though when the drones are going you don't notice the sympathetics so much in the mix.

Fred

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Gregg

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Reply with quote  #4 
Fred & Suz! Fantastic instrument - and excellent video, by the way!
I love the mini-HG wheel (as in Hurdy Gurdy, not harp guitar)...maybe that's something we should all be adding to our Dyers!
Excellent work, my friends, thanks for sharing.

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FredCarlson

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Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks, Gregg!

Maybe you'll get to meet Nate some day; he's quite an interesting and talented guy.  He was telling us about an old Theater Organ he just aquired from one of the Hollywood movie studios, and is having restored and installed in several rooms of a new sound studio/performance space he's putting together, somewhere down your way.  He'd enjoy seeing your collection of instruments, I bet...

And, regarding bowing wheels on harp guitars....no, I haven't done it yet; but, I had a conversation some years ago with local great Santa Cruz guitarist Bill Coulter about making him a guitar with an automatic drone of some sort, for playing Celtic music.  He wanted it hidden inside the box somehow; we joked about it and haven't brought up the idea since, but now I see how to do it....if I could get Bill interested in a harp guitar it might happen...if I wanted to do it, which I'm not sure I do, given all the things this particular Fred has to occupy his little mind...

Actually, I am right now very close to having a harp guitar with an automatic bass drone; I've been restoring The Humanitar (remember that thing??), and the current set-up (it's an ongoing experiment, this thing!) has 11 bass harp strings that go over a jiwari bridge.  I've never done a jiwari on bass strings, but have heard it on "the Combolin", that instrument used by the Scottish band The Corries, and invented by one of their members (deceased, you'll remember his name, I've forgotten it).  It's a great, scary sound, and when the set up is just right, the low drone/buzz goes on and on and on.  Could either revolutionize harp guitars or get me kicked out of the club, but probably won't amount to anything so exciting.

I'll try and post a video of it once I get it all set up. 

Fred

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