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Arch Harp Guitar
Steel String Photos by Dutch Treat Productions
View: Acoustic Guitar Magazine Article  
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GREAT ACOUSTICS

Alan Perlman
Arch-Harp Guitar

  From Acoustic Guitar, July 2004, issue 139, © 2004 String Letter Publishing, David A. Lusterman, Publisher. All rights reserved. For more information on Acoustic Guitar, contact String Letter Publishing, Inc., 255 West End Avenue., San Rafael, CA 94901; telephone (415) 485-6946; fax (415) 485-0831; www.acousticguitar.com.
PHOTOS BY RAY LARSEN
Commissioned by guitarist James Kline (www.elevenstrings.com), San Francisco luthier Alan Perlman’s Arch-Harp Guitar is an unusual, yet functional, custom instrument. Based on an archguitar, a small-bodied guitar with nine to 13 strings that com-bines the tonal qualities of a classical guitar and a lute (for more information on archguitars, visit www.archguitar.com), this instru-ment started out as a “standard” 11-string in 2002, and a detachable second body with eight harp strings was added a year later.

Perlman (www.perlmanguitars.com) used North American birds-eye maple for each body’s back and sides and European spruce for the tops. He says that Kline’s rugged touring style (which some-times includes backpacking in remote areas) called for a sturdier guitar than normal. Although Kline requested that the guitar’s tone hew more toward the guitar than the lute, Perlman used a ladder bracing pattern to retain a lute-like quality. Kline tunes the guitar’s first six strings to standard guitar tuning and the lower harp strings continue with B, D, A, G, and F (high to low). Waverly banjo tuners are installed in a symmetrical pattern on the headstock with five tuners on each side and one in the center.

James Kline
demonstrates his singular instrument

The harp addition follows the exact contours of the gui-tar’s body, with several rubber spacers in between, and attaches at both ends with backpack-style cinch cords adjusted with two spring-loaded plastic toggles. Kline tunes the harp to a variety of scales depending on the piece he’s playing, but they usually range from a B (an octave above the open second string of a standard guitar) to a B an octave higher than that. Waverly banjo tuners are also used on the harp section, which includes some harp-style levers that change the string’s pitch by a half step. For amplification, the guitar’s bridge is outfitted with a Highlander undersaddle pickup, and an L.R. Baggs iBeam soundboard transducer is used in the harp’s body. Alan Perlman
Arch-Harp Guitar
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By Teja Gerken

 


 

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