The carbon fiber Synergy harp guitar is the brainchild of Alistair Hay of Emerald Guitars in Ireland (though I am officially claiming partial credit for goading him into it!). After three years of pondering it, he decided to jump into the project just over a year ago. Having received a serious request and commitment from one of our Gathering participants, Michael Belotto, Alistair decided to incorporate Michael’s specific requests into the first harp guitar prototype. Notably, this would be a small instrument with a shorter scale length.
It also looks really cool.
The first one I received for this U.S.A. listing is actually secondhand. The owner decided to trade it in for a custom 7-bass instrument. You can see the former owner playing this very instrument here. It is “near mint,” having light finish scratches here and there as its only flaw. For that, we’ve knocked $550 off the price, so this is a great deal on this particular model, which normally retails at $3050.
This is Emerald Guitar’s “Artisan series” model with an upgrade of the Celtic knot, which goes nicely with the dark green color. If you want to know how all this is accomplished, don’t ask me...how these things are made still remains mostly a mystery to me – Alistair’s been working with this stuff for ages and apparently knows all the tricks (and has invented many).
OK, OK (I know the suspense
is killing you)...how does it sound?!
As I was infamously quoted after my first time playing one at the Harp Guitar Gathering, “It actually works.” (Alistair wanted to put that on the T-shirt, I think). This was of course simply alluding to my naiveté about carbon fiber guitars in general, as I’ve personally had no need to explore them so have little experience. True, it doesn’t quite sound like wood, but it does of course sound like a “real” instrument, and a quite good one (and I bet it would fool some in a blind test). The balance of the neck across all strings and frets is exemplary, and only suffers acoustically in a live environment by being quieter than, say, a full-size Dyer (which is not an unexpected tradeoff, I imagine). The subs are similarly quieter, and while they cover the range all the way down to a low F (supplied bass strings are a custom Newtone set for standard tuning FGABCD), they don’t project or boom like the better full-size harp guitars (You can actually see and hear a great acoustic clip of this very instrument by its original owner, the talented Jon Pickard, here).
However, plugged in, the Synergy harp guitar can compete with the best (amplified) instruments, and you can presumably crank it to 11 (or feedback threshold). This one comes with a stereo B-Band system (the battery under a handy flip-out opening near the end pin, with the subs and neck fully separated for balancing and EQ-ing each section separately. It sounds glorious through my Behringer guitar amp.
A sturdy flight case is included (optional gig bags are coming soon), which measures just 40" x 17" x 7-1/4" (shown at right in front of my Dyer in its gig bag). It consists of aluminum frame with laminated plywood sheeting, with foam insert. Case and harp guitar weigh about 27-28 pounds total.
You’ll definitely be the first on your block if you snag this eye-catching beauty. Operators standing by.
- – Gregg (Sir Gregory) Miner
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