1990 Jeffrey R. Elliott Harp Guitar

The original steel string 10-string masterpiece


To harp guitar fans, the name Jeffrey R. Elliott is synonymous with "the First Modern Harp Guitar" - the now-legendary 1986 20-string Concert Harp Guitar he designed with John Sullivan for customer John Doan.  

Outside harp guitar circles, modern guitar aficionados from every corner of the globe are undoubtedly aware of the reputation of Portland's Jeffrey R. Elliott, whose classical guitars sell for over $30,000 through fine guitar dealers.

Though rare, his steel strings are equally exquisite, desirable, and valuable.

This one-of-a-kind 10-string was built in 1990 for well known author Benjamin Hoff, who played both guitar and lute and wanted maximum choice and flexibility all in one instrument.

It has been featured in American Lutherie #34 in an article on harp guitars, and also in AL #99 in an updated look at harp guitars written by Jeffrey. Also, in October 2005 Acoustic Guitar magazine showcased it on its "Great Acoustics" page (click on thumbnail image at right).

Jeffrey has a 14-year waiting list and stopped taking new orders several years ago, which makes opportunities to acquire Elliott guitars rare indeed.

I have not had the pleasure of playing this guitar, but have been told that it has a unique voice with amazing separation and clarity.  I assume this is the result of Jeffrey's hybrid X and fan bracing of the top in conjunction with his pinless bridge design.  Dream Guitars recently sold a pre-owned 6-string Elliott steel string of similar design, which was priced at $20,000.  They described it as "simply one of the most balanced and articulate guitars you'll ever play." 

Although built for light gauge strings and fingerstyle playing, Jeffrey says that it performs equally well when flat-picked.  His ingenious use of Schaller D-Tuners on the 3 lowest strings allows instant retuning of those 3 strings to preset pitches as much as an octave apart. Jeffrey tells me that although designed for banjo, these tuners work wonderfully for the sub-basses.  The first 6 strings are tuned as a standard guitar, with the others easily tuned to complement a particular key or to create or support special effects.

The neck is designed to be unusually player friendly, with it's low profile and Jeffrey's compound cutaway that merges smoothly with the heel, since the side is countersunk flush into the heel (see photo).  The string spacing on the nut is 37 mm for strings 1 to 6 (nut width 44 mm if it were a 6 string).  The total nut width is 58 mm for all 8 strings, and the additional 2 strings float free of the fingerboard.

A quality hardshell, custom-fit TKL tweed case is provided.

Jeffrey's extended life-time warranty and appraisal also accompany the instrument. 

Dream Guitars® says, "Jeffrey R. Elliott is considered, for good reason, one of the very finest American makers of the Classical guitar. Everyone in the business refers to him with regard."

Guitars International declares, "...Elliott's instruments are prized worldwide for their warm, creamy, flexible tone; bell-like clarity and projection; smooth, dynamic response; perfect balance; wide color palette; well-defined separation; and unsurpassed workmanship."

Guitar Salon International states, "...one of the most in-demand living builders in the world today. Elliott's work is extremely refined and all matters of detail are perfectly executed. The sound of course is lush and full with great clarity in all voices. It is no wonder that his clientele include the likes of Julian Bream, Ralph Towner, Leo Kottke, Dick Weissman, Earl Klugh, and Burl Ives."

I say: The previous owner didn't have the opportunity to put this instrument to best use, so 21 years later, it is in flawless shape.  It has been thoroughly gone over by Jeffrey, and will ship from Portland.  I wish I had the opportunity to get up there to evaluate this priceless masterpiece myself!

- Gregg Miner, the "harp guitar pope"


  • Engelmann spruce top
  • Koa back & sides
  • Compound cutaway
  • Brazilian rosewood Elliott-designed pinless bridge with brass saddle posts and ball end housings, and steel ball-end anchor posts (see photos)
  • Honduras mahogany neck
  • African ebony fingerboard
  • Mountain mahogany bindings and head overlays
  • Bird's-eye maple burl central rosette band with maple and holly purflings and rosette rings
  • 10 gold-plated Schaller planetary tuners with custom curly koa buttons: 7 standard and 3 sub-bass "D" tuners
  • Bone nut for strings 1-8, fossil ivory nut for strings 9 & 10
  • Traditional French polish (shellac) finish
  • 65 cm scale strings 1 through 8 (before compensation)
  • Fretboard extension to 21 frets

$18,000 (additional 3% fee if paying via CC or Paypal)
Shipping not included; 48-hour approval period

Email to place a hold or obtain payment terms and conditions.

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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