Hoffman 2009 6-sub-bass Harp Guitar
Here’s something you
don’t see every day…a beautiful, secondhand Charles Hoffman harp
guitar with six sub-basses that
has barely been played!
Hoffman’s instruments are
held in high regard by the likes of Dakota Dave Hull, Tim Sparks and Leo
Kottke. From what I hear, the
popular Minneapolis luthier has retired from building. Hoffman was one of
the first to design and built his own slightly different take on the Dyer,
typically with five subs. This March, 2009 specimen is the first he built
with six basses, and I don’t know how many others followed. Certainly,
only a bare handful of Hoffman HGs are out there.
Though it looks much like a
Dyer, it features the recognizable Hoffman headstock and fingerboard end.
The heel area is flat, which makes the neck joint much easier to execute
(several builders opt for this approach). While Dyer necks join the body
exactly halfway between the 12th and 13th frets,
Hoffman somehow managed 14 frets clear, and the extra access is nice. His
scale is 25-1/4” with a 1-3/4” nut width.
I consider Hoffmans up
there in the top ten best-sounding boutique harp guitars. This one plays
and sounds like a dream. You can hear a Hoffman harp guitar optimally
played and recorded on Dan Schwartz’ beautiful
harp guitar EP (Dan will be featured again at the
October, 2019 Harp Guitar Gathering®).
This one has a nice darkish
Sitka spruce top and mahogany back and sides. (For some reason, my full
front photo looks “dirty,” which is not the case – it’s just the
photo. It does have a couple of claw figures and natural dark spots). The
top (including headstock) and back both are nicely bound with
black/white/black binding and tortoiseshelluloid; the top has an
additional wood binding section, which also appears in the rosettes.
Condition is excellent, but
not perfect. First off, I’m forced to give the original build a 9 for
fit and finish, just for a couple imperfect seams and what looks like a
couple faint vise impressions on the
headstock. They’re hard to photograph and only show up at certain
angles, but seem to be under the stain and finish. The finish is highly
reflective, as my photos illustrate. Though the previous owner rarely
played it, it has typical superficial scratches here and there. There are
concentrated fine, light scratches in the finish of the upper back, a tiny
finish ding on the side and one tiny chip through the finish on the back
of the neck. I gave it a cursory cleaning; it could use a good polish and
– if one is super picky – a light buffing should get it back to 99%.
It comes with a nice Cedar
Creek plush hard case, and K&K pickups are installed – so this is
absolutely ready to go for recording and performing…maybe even that
special airport gig?!
– Gregg "Sir Gregory" Miner
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