Kathy Wingert Short-Scale Harp Guitar
Kathy has been in the upper echelon of handmade guitar builders for awhile now, and for a reason. Perfection in fit & finish, aesthetics, and above all, tone. That's why Frank Doucette convinced her back in 2007 to build her first harp guitar.
And she's been going harp guitar gangbusters ever since. Stephen Bennett bought #2 (now trading it in for another), and Pete Bradshaw (who can afford it, the bum) has #3 & 4. Clearly, Kathy Wingert harp guitars are some of the best sounding instruments available.
On this one, Kathy decided (for a multitude of reasons) to try a short-scale instrument. I told the story about how and why this instrument came about on the article Non-Standard Scale Harp Guitars. I remember trying it tuned up a fourth as originally envisioned, and though she didn't care for it, I thought it had great potential for higher tunings (much more so than my Knutsen 3/4 scale).
What I discovered the last time (see my blog of Sept 22) was something completely different. She now tunes it a whole step up (F#), with perfectly gauged strings. I agree that this seems to be its optimum range. However, I tuned several strings down to standard and confirmed that it will sound equally good there. So the advantages to this size and scale (and construction) are that the player can string and tune in anywhere from standard to terz (3 half steps up) and it'll sound great! I have a hard time describing the very special tone of Kathy's harp guitars, which Frank describes as "perfectly balanced across the full range of the instrument with an exceptional tonal richness and clarity." It seems to be everything at once - everything you'd need or want it to be.
How great? Well, we A/B'd it with Pete's full size Wingert with Frank judging. This little gem sounds like a full size guitar! The instruments sounded different, but this wasn't really much quieter or less resonant, or less projecting. In fact, this instrument has an extra secret weapon - the high melody string gets louder the higher you go! Not unnaturally so, but amazingly so. The highest frets just sing, and that is a huge deal on a standard size instrument, let alone something of this size. Consider it a bonus.
The other advantage, of course, is the size. Smaller individuals or anyone with small hands will love the compactness, the weight, feel and playability. With no sacrifice in tone! It's a miraculous experiment, I would say.
There's no need to mention the workmanship and materials. All are flawless and exquisite (though the cocobolo is particularly nice!).
They say you usually get what you pay for, and in this case, you'll see, feel and hear every penny.
-Gregg Miner, the "harp guitar pope"
DVDs by Stephen Bennett, John Doan, Muriel Anderson, Andy McKee,
Stacy Hobbs, Tom Shinness, Dan LaVoie, James Kline, Larry
Berwald, Bill Dutcher, Gregg Miner, Pasquale Taraffo
All Site Contents © 2006,
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
PO Box 573155
Tarzana, CA 91357