2005 Stephen Brown
Virtually never played 14-frets-to-the-body Dyer style, with electronics!
In 2003, Fullerton guitar player Kevin Stevenson commissioned local flat-top builder Steve Brown to build him a Dyer copy harp guitar. Steve suggested, "How about if I build two, and you can take your pick?" Well, the choice was too hard, so Kevin bought both!
#1 is virtually the same as this one, but in walnut. As it was finished first, Kevin played it the most, including immediately recording an entire Christmas album with it.
This guitar was finished two years later, built with very fine Sitka top and premium Honduras mahogany back and sides. The neck is mahogany, as is the bass headstock veneer. The neck headstock and binding (top and back) are unknown. The ebony bridge is of an interesting original design.
It wasn't until my assistant Frank Doucette and I were playing it just before listing it that we realized this custom instrument had a neck/body joint at the 14th fret - very unusual for Dyer style instruments! In fact, we still can't figure out how he did it. Perhaps because there is an extra inch of real estate below the bridge and the scale is a tad shorter at 25-1/4".
Playability is great, the only drawback being the fret ends, which could use dressing, as they're a bit sharp and uncomfortable. Other than that, the fit and finish is a good 8 or 9. There are a few finish nicks (significant ones pictured; I tried to show worst case). There is a small (glued) crack on one side of the neck heel. This is not a structural problem, but presumably the result of screwing in the strap button in the heel which is in also bolted to the body. There is an adjustable truss rod as well.
Tone is excellent, and right in line with the construction quality, design and price point. Balanced, clean, and powerful enough across the whole range, with a nice hint of overtones. Kevin barely played it, so it it sounds like a new, slightly tight, guitar. I played his # 1, which has opened up quite nicely. The pickup system is unknown, but we plugged it in, and it sounds great.
Tuners are nice - individual Waverlys for the neck and Stew-Mac 5-Star 4:1 banjo tuners for the six subs. The two headstocks are joined by a small wooden dowel.
Included is a (very slightly used) black Harp Guitar Music gig bag. If you prefer to shop for an alternate case, I'll give a $125 rebate on the gig bag.
Bottom line: This is a very clean, ready-to-go pro harp guitar at a very attractive price. Consider it blessed.
-Gregg Miner, the "harp guitar pope"
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