Tim Donahue Signature 6/6 Fretted Electric Harp Guitar

A near mint secondhand instrument hits the market!



Here’s something I’ve never offered in my two decades of unique harp guitar listings: an iconic Tim Donahue Electric Harp Guitar!


While there are plenty of electric HGs out there (of varying degrees of quality), the majority follow the pattern of traditional acoustic instruments with sub-bass strings. This is an entirely different concept; for those unfamiliar with Tim’s unique invention, read on!


Though Tim – a dear friend of mine – has graced two of the Harp Guitar Gatherings and I am well familiar with his music, I haven’t followed the production of these remarkable instruments over the years. So, I thought it best to let the owner speak about this instrument, as he is the one who originally ordered it from Tim in Japan and thus knows all the details (he also supplied the detailed photographs). Rick Menzel writes:


“I am the current owner of this beautiful instrument, serial number 2010072. It is the seventh of a total of thirty built during the period from 2010 to 2018 and the first of only five ever sold in the United States. I might suggest you begin your consideration of this instrument by going to www.timdonahue.com. Unfortunately, the harp guitar section has not been updated since 2019, when the last one of these thirty wonderful instruments was sold. It still is a wealth of information about Tim and the instrument, much of which I reference below.


“Sometime in the mid eighties, Tim was looking for an instrument to play the music he heard in his head. He envisioned a cross between a fretless guitar and an electric harp guitar which didn’t exist at the time. So he designed and built two prototypes that broke with tradition by putting treble strings in the harp section rather than bass. Initially, both were fretless, with one later converted to fretted which Tim said opened a new musical world for him and is now his main instrument.


“He performed and recorded with these instruments for twenty-five years, all the while refining the design and developing his independent left/right hand playing techniques. As he built a fan and student base, interest in the instrument grew to the point where a production run became feasible. He searched for years to find a builder willing and able to build limited production runs of his instrument. There were failed attempts with two different manufacturers that did not follow his design and specifications. Finally, Tim found ASKA/DEVISER, a division of Momose Guitars, located in the mountains of Japan (Tim’s adopted country), that is highly respected for their craftsmanship, electrical expertise and supply of premium wood stock to build the first production run of six in 2010, followed quickly by a second run of six that same year.


“Tim called this the world’s first ‘production electric harp guitar.’ It is important to note they are production only in the sense that patterns and jigs where made but each individual step of the build was performed by highly skilled Japanese artisans, technicians and luthiers. The only significant option offered was fretted or fretless, all others were cosmetic. The site did list an option of eight harp strings, however, it is my understanding that no 8/6 was ever built but at least one 6/6 was later converted. 


“The specs for this instrument available through Gregg are listed below:


WOOD: One-piece African mahogany body. One-piece African mahogany neck and head, both embedded with a non-adjustable aluminum truss rod. Ebony fretboard with Jim Dunlop jumbo frets, brass side markers and laser-cut ‘Tim D’ signature inlay at the twelfth fret. Ebony capped head with custom brass nut and string ferrules.


FINISH: Hand-rubbed Natural Oil.

HARDWARE: Gold-plated special order Gotoh tuners featuring adjustable post height. Gold-plated wide range Gotoh Tune-o-matic bridge. Gold-plated knurled volume knobs.

ELECTRONICS: Guitar has EMG active humbucker and harp has EMG active single coil, each with separate 1/4” output jack and volume control. Requires two 9v batteries.

DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT: Scale length is 630mm (24.8”) which is almost the same as a Les Paul. The brass nut is 2” wide which is the same as most classical guitars. The instrument is a very compact, well balanced 36” in length and weighs just under 8 lbs, the average for electric guitars. To accommodate the additional stress of the harp strings, the depth or thickness of the neck is approximately 1.5” at the fifth fret compared to about 1” on most electrics and acoustics. Although it takes a little getting used to, the width and thickness of the neck forces the left hand into a more natural, less fatiguing position and facilitates advanced techniques.

ADDED OPTIONS: Dr Hook cable manager is simply a gold-plated cable retainer mounted at the end of the body to relieve stress at the output jacks. Dr Fret ver. 3 is a package of small, short pieces of triangular brass that can be adhered anywhere on the body under a harp string acting as a removable bridge, allowing countless possibilities for additional notes. They do not mar the finish.

CASE: Custom fitted plush lined case with key from premier Japanese manufacturer.

INCLUDED: Hex wrench and instructions for adjusting harp string post height. All written documentation originally and subsequently supplied by Tim including wood origin (Lacy Act) documentation. All teaching CDs and DVDs supplied by Tim. Package each of 16 and 17 gauge plain steel harp strings.

HOOK UP REQUIREMENTS: The minimum is two right angle-to-straight guitar cables, a small two-into-one mixer or pedal, an instrument cable and an amplifier. In lieu of an amp, a really good starter option would be to go silent and use either an amp in the box type pedal or an amp/effects modeling unit, being sure your choice has a headphone out. My personal setup was two (one each for guitar and harp) rack mounted channel strips (pre amp, compressor, eq) feeding a rack mounted dual channel stereo multi-effects unit going to mixer and out to a pair of power speakers and a sub-woofer. I think you get the idea that hook up options are many, allowing you to create the sound and music you hear in your head.

CONDITION: Excellent to near mint. There is only slight finish wear from strap around the lower strap pin, normally covered by strap. (See last photo of green light shining on this area.)

“A FEW WORDS ABOUT TECHNIQUES: If you have watched videos of Tim playing, it is hard not to be amazed and possibly a little intimidated by his incredible technique. Part of what makes this possible is the very responsive fingerboard and resonate body which provide long, piano-like sustain. He mainly dedicates his right hand to the harp and sounds the guitar by tapping, plucking, flicking, hammering-on and pulling-off with the left. There is some information online about this technique and I believe Tim is still offering individual online lessons. However, don’t let the above put you off. There is no right or wrong way to play this unique instrument…as always, only the music counts. The joy of exploration is really what you’re purchasing with this instrument. Thirty were built; five players, including Tim, have two (one fretless and one fretted) which means only twenty-five people have experienced this joy. I feel lucky and privileged to be one. Join us!”

Thanks for that invitation, Rick!

Some additional resources:

Tim wrote a Players column for Harpguitars.net, archived here: https://www.harpguitars.net/players/after6_vol6n1.htm In that, you’ll find his nominal tuning (the harp strings are not “super-trebles,” but in the range of the neck), and also a brief but fascinating discussion of Tim’s synesthesia (he “sees” music as colors).

Besides his several out-of-print albums, Tim can be heard on his many YouTube and Facebook videos. On CD, he can be heard on two of my Harp Guitar Music CD compilations (which you can sample on my Bandcamp): Harp Guitar Dreams and Christmas Present.

Many of the other players that Rick alluded to can be seen in two of my blogs:

Tim Donahue’s Growing Electric Harp Guitar World and

Checking in on Tim Donahue’s Plan for Electric Harp Guitar Global Domination


Have fun exploring...and please come back to discuss this rare opportunity!


A quick note for U.S. musicians: This instrument is in California, which offers a great chance to save on shipping.

-Gregg "Sir Gregory" Miner




Price: $2700

Contact me for purchasing and shipping information

On consignment, not on premises

CDs & 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
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