New Ellis Guitar for The Tea Party's Jeff Martin

by Andrew Ellis
www.ellisguitars.com

My first harp guitar experience set in motion many designs and ideas. I love the possibilities opened up for players who dare to play them. Years ago harp guitars were made by big acoustic manufacturers such as Martinâ„¢ and Gibsonâ„¢. I have a plan of a Martinâ„¢ harp guitar which has an over sized body, similar to a jumbo. It also has two necks, one six string steel, and the other a fretless bass. During production of these, you had the choice of up to 12 bass strings.

One of my favourite styles of harp guitars is the Dyer harp guitar. They have no fret board or second neck. Instead the body chamber continues up to a second headstock from which the bass strings run. There is often a second sound hole as well. You can find pictures and more info about harp guitars at www.harpguitars.net .

Jeff Martin from the Tea Party owns a Gibsonâ„¢ harp guitar. It was made during 1916. Another from that year is owned by Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin, but is in no condition to be restored to a playable state.

Jeff’s ideas and desires for the sounds and features of guitars really push the boundaries of instrument building. I have enjoyed the challenge of working with Jeff since he moved to Australia. The resophonic guitar I built which Jeff currently has on tour, is a one of a kind based on the harp guitar’s traditional combination of guitar and bass strings. The seventh string is similar to that found on a harp guitar, but with a difference. Harp guitar bass strings are traditionally designed as drone strings or backing, but my seventh string is easily adjusted to a bass, baritone or guitar string scale length. In short, the player controls the amount of bottom end, which is a frequent request from my customers. The other advantage this guitar has over harp guitars is it allows the player to use a slide, and therefore play all the notes on the seventh string including the ones that go past the standard nut. This string is level with the others for playability.

I designed this guitar to be practical and it fits into a standard case even when the seventh string is installed and tuned to pitch. As far as we can tell this is the only instrument of this kind in the world. It is great to have this guitar in the hands of an internationally recognised player who can bring out the full potential.

Article by Andrew Ellis Guitars
Ellis Guitars

There are more pictures and information at www.ellisguitars.com
All pictures are thanks to www.nathanarcherphotography.com

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