Southwell 11-string Arch Guitar, formerly
owned by James Kline
Provenance: Well, it doesn't get much better than this. A "celebrity guitar" in every way. The incredible musician and popular arch-guitarist James Kline's first multi-string instrument, commissioned from England's master luthier Gary Southwell in 1993.
From 1994 to 2000 he recorded his first four CDs with this instrument with its exquisite "lute-like tone," after which he commissioned a near-duplicate (with slightly different voice) from San Francisco luthier Alan Perlman (who later famously devised Jim's super treble attachment). The instrument then sat silent for years in Alan's closet, until I asked Jim about it one day. He agreed it wasn't doing him any good there, and offered to sell it to me, an honor I quickly took him up on! I received it in 2012, and have proudly displayed it since. It ultimately graced our 7-month public harp guitar exhibit, and was further immortalized in the exhibition catalog. It simply hasn't seen enough playing use in the Miner Museum, and I'd like it to be played. It has what I can only describe as a "magically responsive" top.
If you aren't familiar with its sound - or Jim's talent - then you owe it to yourself to hear it on one of Jim's CDs. I'm the sole U.S. source for them, but am often without stock as they sell out whenever I manage to obtain them (Jim lives like a hermit in the Canary Islands for large parts of the year). Young virtuoso Jon Mendle was so captivated by Jim's recordings that he commissioned his own arch guitar from Alan Perlman (he was a featured performer on it at our 12th Harp Guitar Gathering®).
The 11-string arch guitar of Kline/Southwell differs from its inspiration - Peter Blanchette's invention, the "archguitar" - in having its three lowest strings floating. Thus, it can be classed as an arch guitar or harp guitar (depending on one's mood). It's also tuned slightly differently. Jim's tuning is:
I later restrung the five lowest strings for descending diatonic tuning. You could re-string for any tuning you like, including Jim's original or your own ideas.
Considering where Jim plays his instruments (often outdoors and in countries I've never been to!) the condition of this instrument is amazing. Only the top has the expected wear - subtle but numerous scratches, dings and nail wear. In other words, it looks exactly like what it is: James Kline's lovingly owned and played instrument.
It utilizes 4:1 banjo tuners, one of which was long ago replaced, as well as an additional button. Feel free to make them all consistent; I chose to leave it exactly as Jim last played it, including the leather string to hang it on the wall.
Woods are: spruce top, birdseye maple back and sides, mahogany neck and ebony headplate and fretboard. Dimensions are: 24.75" scale, 9-1/8" upper bout, 11-5/8" lower bout, 17-5/8" body length, 3-7/16" depth at end pin, 36.5" total length. String spacing is slightly narrower than classical standard.
I've not yet had an opportunity (or need) to install a battery and test the pickup.
It comes in its original well-padded hardshell case.
Often with these deaccession listings by the time I'm finished doing the write-up and touching and hearing these instruments again, I have that nagging, can't-bear-to-part-with-it feeling. This is definitely one of those.
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