This portion of my website lets me talk about my instruments. Mainly guitars, but as you might expect by now…. not as you know them!
Shaking of my frets was an act of personal liberation in pursuit of improvisational freedom. However, I took the inevitable study of a couple of thousand years of tuning history for granted. When I was asked to make a wish list for a ‘real’ microtonal guitar, I came up with the idea of a 41-tone equally tempered guitar.
LUCID Meantone guitar
This is my old Fender stratocaster which is with me for about 20 years but which got unused due to my microtonal needs… And now it’s back with a new neck for the upcoming concert ‘MeantoneBlues’!
LUCID Bohlen-Pierce guitar
Getting tired of microtones? Try macrotones! Just one more week before this new Bohlen-Pierce neck will ‘hear’ the light!
As always: built by Sjaak and Merijn from Lucid!
On April 21st, 2012 I received this mail from Aaron Andrew Hunt (www.h-pi.com):
The Super-Special Ultra-Custom All-Yellow U-Plex is finally done. I think the yellow worked out well. Because of the shade it is, my code name for this project became “the school bus”. Check it out:
I will keep it through the weekend for final testing and packing and then ship it to you on Monday.
I hope you like it!
And do like it?! No. I love it! Thanks for all the super-special-ultra-customness, it really adds to the coolness of the design and it will blend in my personal environment – including my instruments – really well! Last days I spent some time with the theory of the H-system, so I almost know the nomenclature key by key 😉
So, what exactly is it?
U-PLEX is a class-compliant USB-MIDI controller with 633 keys, two octave transposition buttons, and a 1/4” jack for sustain pedal input. It outputs untuned MIDI data to any application that receives MIDI. Its small form factor and USB connectivity make U-PLEX an ideal choice for making microtonal music with laptop and desktop computers. | Details
This project started out with my wish to have a 10-string multiscale headless electric fretless guitar with a tertian tuning consisting of pure major thirds.
To compensate the smaller intervals between the strings I thought I could add some more. So I had to choose and why not 10? Since this was going to be the prototype, I could always leave some out, or add some more!
The guitar is made of swamp ash (neck-through-body) with a snakewood fingerboard.
the Gibson Style U harpguitar
Since 2009 I own this beautiful 1917 the Gibson harpguitar. Initially, I borrowed this instrument for the recording of ‘When the Caged bird Sings’ but afterwards I couldn’t do anything else than just buy it.
Here’s an excerpt from our CD.
‘When the caged bird sings’ is an anthology of poems by the 19th century Afro-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), selected and set to music by vocalist Roderik Povel.
There are many stories to be told about harp guitars in general (here), Gibson harp guitars (here) and my instrument in particular. There is a very amazing picture gallery which shows Gibson harp guitars in the hands of their original owners, go take a look!
Every time I look at those images, I ask myself the following questions: would it be possible to recognize my very own guitar? Can I trace back (parts of) its history? What did it sound like in those days and how did it survive in such a great shape for almost a century?
One day, I was at the Amsterdam Public Library browsing the guitar history books. First, I opened up ‘Acoustic guitars and other fretted instruments: a photographic history’ by George Gruhn & Walter Carter. Quickly, I scanned the pages. And yes, there were harp guitars, but no, it was not mine. A reviewer wrote: ‘The chapter ends with two pages on the harp-guitar, again probably a true reflection of their (lack of) general importance.‘
And then, there was this book: ‘the Chinery Collection – 150 years of American Guitars’. Easily found the pages on the harp guitars and there she was, in full glory… I recognised every scratch and every dint, no doubt about it, I found her!
So know I knew the guitar was part of the Chinery Collection. But who was Mr. Chinery and how did the guitar end up in my hands? Many questions remain unanswered at this point, but there are some clues on this page at harpguitars.net. An interview with Scott Chinery in his guitar room – including a glance of my guitar – can be seen here.