11th Annual Harp Guitar Retreat turns into a Hair Raising Experience!

The 11th Harp Guitar Retreat and House Concert turned out to be one of the most fun and magical to date!

John Doan Look Alike Contest

One of the highlights of the event was the “John Doan Look Alike Contest.”

Everyone really tried their hardest but didn’t want to lose any hair over it.

John Coaches Angele

Angele Can’t Help But Improve on the Image

 

 

 

 

Bruce Doan

Lavinia Doan

Aleksey Doan

Nick Doan

John Coaches Steve

Steve Doan

Tasha Doan

Deirdra Doan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The contest ended in a draw (we were laughing so much that we forgot to take a vote).

 

 

The event started with a sunset-lite evening get together catching up with old friends and making new ones.

 

 

Steve Bissell had been away on business in Kazakhstan and didn’t even have time to take off his Kalpak when he arrived. He brought with him a dombra hoping to add a few strings to convert it into a “Doanbra” for the Harp Guitar Retreat.

 

 

 

Everyone got along so well that they wanted to be roommates for the weekend but later thought better of it.

 

 

Nick shows off his Sandpiper Harp Guitar

Aleksey shows Nick and Tasha some crwths he made. They discuss for hours how to properly pronounce the name of the instrument.

 

The evening turned into an amazing jam session. Tasha thinks that she should maybe take up the harp guitar since everyone else is having so much fun.

 

 

 

 

On down times the retreat turned into an ongoing “Show and Tell.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After morning class and the daytime private lessons …

 

 

Nick Opens the Show.

 

 

 

 

Saturday night turned into a potluck/house concert open to the community.

 

 

 

Bruce shares his new Emerald Harp Guitar with the audience before he blows them away with his singing.

 

 

Lavinia performs with her harp guitar backup group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During our last class I shared a story about catching Julian Bream (my favorite classical guitarist) back stage after a concert.  I asked him if he could tell me in one sentence what I needed to know to play like him.  He turned to me with his hand half cupped over his mouth, and under his breath said, “Don’t tell your teacher, but just have fun!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that is just what we did!

11th Annual Harp Guitar Retreat Reviews

“Fabulous retreat! I learn something new each time.  It was worth travelling from the other side of the world to the retreat. Thanks for making learning so fun!” Steve Bissell

“The Harp Guitar Retreat is not only a fantastic immersion into the art of playing the harp guitar but also into the fascinating world of guitar history in general.  I have been to several and still learn new things every time.” Nick Vest

“As usual the harp guitar retreat was just a whole lot of fun.  There is probably no more beautiful setting in the world than the top of Doan Volcano, nor any more peace that can be found gazing out through the leaves from the balconies surrounding the Doan casa. John and Deirdra really know how to make us feel welcome and enfolded in the warmth of their love.

The lessons were informative and useful, the house concert was delightful, the open air meals were refreshing, the time spent hanging out with each other and trading the knowledge we each brought to the gathering were all precious. If the retreat lacked anything, it was time to sleep; we were all too enthused to want to call it quits in the evenings because we might miss something! I’m looking forward eagerly to the next Harp Guitar Retreat.” Angele Blanton

“The retreat was very inspiring, and I enjoyed learning from everyone.  We are all unique individuals, seeing and experiencing music from different directions, which adds to the gestalt of the retreat experience.  I came away with something from everyone.

I would not change a thing about the retreat. The format is good, and you make this kind of music accessible, breaking the subject down in such a way that even people at different levels in the same class can take away what is useful to them, and will move them forward.  Your skill as an instructor and patience with everyone is outstanding, and rather refreshing.  I liked the choices of material and particularly liked the breaking down and demonstrating how the melody, bass and super trebles work in concert. Lavinia Ross

“What a wonderful time I had at the 11th Harp Guitar Retreat. It was evident to me the amount of love and effort John and Deirdra put in to this event. I think the others would agree, that they made each of us feel so valued.

We had individual tutoring from John each day, with the goal of helping each of us excel in our own musical journey. We were like sponges soaking in all the musical knowledge about how to play, not only the Harp Guitar, but the essence of music as a whole language.

One thing that really stood out to me was John’s description of musical tones in relationship to human feeling. It’s so evident in John’s compositions.!!! John truly is a Master of touching the human spirit through his music. I long to do the same!!!

I loved spending time with all my new friends, listening to them play their music! What a rare privilege to have spent time with John and Deirdra at their home. I came away very encouraged. I will remember it all of my days.” Bruce Labadie

House Concert Review

“We loved the whole evening. A very special memory.” Neil

“It was pure magic!” Miriam

“What a pleasure. Thank you for one of the most memorable and magical evenings of music in my lifetime. The stories you tell are part of the magic as well.  I am not sure how so much talent ended up in you John.”  James

 

 

 

 

 

 

11th Annual Harp Guitar Retreat June 28th – July 1st 2018 in Salem, Oregon

John Doan’s Eleventh Annual Harp Guitar Retreat is set for June 28th to July 1st 2018 in Salem, Oregon at the home of John and Deirdra Doan.  You are invited to join us. (see below for a daily itinerary, Saturday concert, testimonials, photos, fees, and registration information). Players wanting to learn more about the harp guitar have come from across the United States and as far away as from Europe, and Malaysia.

Harp Guitar Retreat Class with John Doan

The Tenth Annual Harp Guitar Retreat was a huge success with classes, private lessons, Harp Guitar Gallery, Music Nights, Concerts, and plenty of time hanging out talking about life and, what else, harp guitars!  We begin each day with a three hour group class where we are hands on the instrument exploring harp guitar playing techniques, music ideas, and even ensemble playing.

 

We always have a great line up of harp guitars of all sizes and makes, all for you to test drive at your leisure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We even had the whole class play at a local World Beat Festival.  It was a hoot combining harp guitars with Chinese drum, an electric shovel guitar, and a real operatic soprano!

 

 

 

 

 

One of the nights we go down to the little nearby town of Independence, bring some harp guitars, and try out some local brews while sitting around a fire pit.

 

 

 

Other nights we hang out after dinner and play for each other.  This is a great informal way to share music, technical insights, and to get a chance to play in a stress free and supportive environment.

 

The instruments are very interesting that are either on site or brought by various players.  Here is Steve Bissell with the earliest known harp guitar made by the famous Larson Brothers around 1901.  It was completely restored by Kerry Char of Portland, Oregon and not only looks spectacular but it sounds with surprising clarity and forceful dynamics! Everyone in the class gets to hold and play some of the most amazing harp guitars on the planet!

 

Nick and Tasha Vest come up from Los Angeles and have performed not only throughout the event and into the evenings, but also have opened the Harp Guitar Retreat house concerts held on the deck or out under the trees on top of the Extinct Volcanic Plug where John and Deirdra host the retreats.

 

 

 

Jerry Voorhees came with a nice Dyer Style 4 harp guitar.  He played some really fine originals at the House Concert event.

 

 

 

 

Melissa Ferrell-Young, who is quite an accomplished opera singer, came from Seattle to look into ways to accompany her voice with the harp guitar.  She added so much joy to the event.

 

4. Harp Guitar Retreat Class Exercise

 

 

 

Overall, the classes give you an opportunity to try out unique techniques to the harp guitar.  Many of these are taught without having to read from music so you can focus on your playing.

 

5. Harp Guitar Retreat with John Doan Class Break

 

 

 

 

Rigorous effort needs frequent breaks, especially for fresh baked pastries.

 

 

 

Lunches, dinners, evenings at a local outdoor pub, and times between lessons provide hang times to relax and have fun and on occasion visit with Lyra the little French Bull Dog.

It is fun to see the friendships that develop at the harp guitar retreats.  

16. John Doan's Harp Guitar Retreat GoodbyesOne of our classes we even videoed an ensemble tune “Harp Guitar Sunset” that we debuted at the outdoor concert.

17. John Doan's Harp Guitar Retreat Final Class

Some Testimonials About the Harp Guitar Retreat

 

“Tasha and I had a great time at the retreat this year.  I had a major breakthrough on my super treble understanding.”

Nick Vest

 

“I was so thankful to be able to be part of such a fun, memorable and fascinating gathering of musicians, and to go home with some exciting ideas from your excellent lessons to apply to my own music making.”

Steve Bissell

 

“Thank you for the wonderful weekend and for the knowledge you have given me! I am hoping to return next year. I made some great friends and had so much fun.”
Melissa Young

 

“It was another magical weekend, and they just get better and better.

The retreat location in the canopy of trees above the extinct volcano is beautiful, and the view over the valley out the living room window is amazing. The rooms filled with instruments all waiting to be played and enjoyed was a real banquet for the hands and hearts and ears.

Our lessons were packed with information we could actually retain and use in our musical journeys. You are a true teacher in that you are able to find out what each person needs and then tailor the lessons to fit. Having the group learn and perform a brand new piece you composed just for the occasion was a real treat, and the start of a new tradition. The students melded together into a cohesive, mutually supportive group that enjoyed each other and had fun together.”

Angele Blanton

 

“What a privilege to have met and spent time, all too short a time with you. I can only hope it can be repeated. A truly unforgettable experience. Thank you for your company.

Unforgettable – unmissable – if you get the opportunity to attend a retreat with John at Prospect Ridge grab it firmly with both hands not forgetting to hold onto your harp guitar with your third hand, believe me you’ll need it.

On a slightly more serious note ………………

John’s ability to demystify the Harp Guitar with its myriad complexities, assess your rung on the Harp Guitar ladder and suggest the next step was breathtaking. I arrived  at Prospect Ridge somewhat concerned about the instrument I’d hauled across the Atlantic and left four days later convinced that I’d made the right decision.

A Thesaurus of superlatives would be inadequate to describe the experience.

The only regret – not going on the previous retreat!

So huge thanks to John & Deirdra – and the other attendees – Gerry, Steve, Angele and Melissa for an unforgettable and memorable few days.”

Robin Launder

 

“A splendid time was had! The local beer was great and the harp guitar playing was amazing!”

Gerald Camp the Third

Included with registration: All lodging and meals are on site and included with registration. Printed materials are provided for each student with a series of exercises and compositions to take home after the retreat.

Instruments available on site: There will be several harp guitars on site for your use if you do not have one of your own to bring to the seminar. You definitely will want to check out the latest model of Travel Harp Guitars from Lukas Brunner of Switzerland.

Incidental Activities: There is plenty of hiking trails, tax free shopping, local wine tasting, on site hot tub, trampoline, and wireless internet. The site is central and about one hour away from the Oregon Coast, the high desert of Bend, and the cities of Portland and Eugene. In between classes and private lessons there will be time to just relax, practice, read, explore the area, or casually visit with other harp guitarists.

Space is limited: Retreats are limited from five to seven participants and their guests. Spouses, friends, or family attend at a reduced rate. If needed an additional weekend retreat will be scheduled to accommodate more participants.

Participants Fee: $700

Included four nights stay, three group sessions, three private lessons, meals, evening presentations, and various incidentals.

Additional guests Fee: $250

Includes four nights stay, meals, evening presentations, and various incidentals.

To enroll or for more information call or write, please use our contact form. Or call 503-364-4787 or write to us at harpguitar(at)gmail.com or PO Box 5081, Salem, OR 97304.

Christmas Unplugged – Reclaiming the Holiday Spirit Tour 2017


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Emmy-Nominated musician and storyteller John Doan will perform his acclaimed “Christmas Unplugged – Reclaiming the Holiday Spirit” program December 2017 (see dates below). It is a refreshing and magical escape from the frenzy of our times. Experience Christmas past as if it were today with group sing-alongs and whistle-alongs, archival photographs, and the sound of a century old instruments (harp guitar, classical banjo, various zithers) rarely if ever heard today. John’s physical comedy interspersed with fine musicianship makes for a fun filled evening for all ages.

 “John Doan reminds us in a way that is funny, musical and touching how we might find something we’ve lost from our homes and hearts.” Focus Magazine

John Doan on stage with the Christmas show.

Doan is an international touring and recording artist who has appeared on radio and television across the country, including his Emmy-nominated Oregon Public Broadcasting special (seen on PBS) “A Victorian Christmas With John Doan.”  He recently was given the International Brand Laureate Award for “World’s Leading Harp Guitarist.”  He has performed with a diverse range of artists including Donovan, Burl Ives, Larry Carlton, Mason Williams (of “Classical Gas” fame), as a member of the New Christy Minstrels, among others and his virtuoso playing and arranging has attracted praise from no less guitar luminaries than Chet Atkins and Doc Watson. Doan is an Associate Professor of Music at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

Christmas Unplugged with John Doan 31st Anniversary Season 2017

Sunday, December 3, 2017 at 7:00 PM – Salem, Oregon

Presented By: Willamette University Music Department. Hudson Hall on the campus of Willamette University, 900 State Street, Salem, OR 97301

Advanced Tickets: $15.00 adults, $10.00 students and seniors. Tickets at the door: $18.00. Free Tickets: Willamette University students, faculty, and staff are available up to one week prior to the event (tickets are limited).

Tickets Available at: Willamette University Music Department or at the door. For more information and phone reservations call (503) 370-6255.

Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 7:30 PM – Newport, Oregon

Presented By: Newport Symphony Orchestra. ALICE SILVERMAN THEATER OF THE NEWPORT PERFORMING ARTS CENTER. 777 W. Olive Street, Newport, OR 97365

Tickets: $25 and $39 plus ticket fees; students $10

Sunday, December 10, 2017 at 2:00 PM – Newport, Oregon

Presented By: Newport Symphony Orchestra. ALICE SILVERMAN THEATER OF THE NEWPORT PERFORMING ARTS CENTER. 777 W. Olive Street, Newport, OR 97365

Tickets: $25 and $39 plus ticket fees; students $10

 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 at 6:00 PM – Placerville, California

Presented By: Sandpiper Instruments. Intimate House Concert. Placerville, CA 95667 (Sacramento Area)

Tickets: $20 – contact John Westling at piperharp@earthlink.net. Seating is very limited and will be available for approximately 35 people. Standing room is available when all of the seating is taken. The audience is asked to bring pot luck finger food and drinks by 5PM with the concert to start at around 6PM. This should be a very memorable evening!

Friday, December 15, 2017 7:00 PM – Glendora, California

Presented By: MLA IEEE and GRSS

Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 770 N. Glendora Ave., Glendora Ca 91741

Seating is limited so get your tickets online to secure your place at this Holiday event.

Tickets: $18

Saturday, December 16, 2017 7:00 PM – Glendora, California

Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 770 N. Glendora Ave., Glendora Ca 91741

Seating is limited so get your tickets online to secure your place at this Holiday event.

Tickets: $18

Sunday, December 17, 2017 – Carlsbad, California

Presented By: The Museum of Making Music

5790 Armada Drive, Carlsbad, CA. (760) 438-5996

Tickets: $20

“Call him Mr. Christmas” – Statesman Journal

“John Doan breathes new life into musty tunes with his pristine, intricate picking, which is laced with the delicacy of a snowflake … that evokes the nostalgic, mystical side of Christmas and leaves the shopping mall sentimentality behind.” – Billboard Magazine

“John returns audiences to a time when we use to dream before movies did that for us.” Mason Williams

“John’s music is simply beautiful. No, it is more than that, it is heavenly!” Burl Ives

Experience the Total Solar Eclipse In Oregon At Harp Cliff Cottage – the Home of John and Deirdra Doan

The Doan’s live atop an extinct volcanic cone in the hills of South Salem directly beneath the Path of the upcoming Full Eclipse.  Eclipse Path

Projected Position of the Sun over Harp Cliff Manor at 10:30 a.m.August 21, 2017, as the eclipse occurs.

Eclipse Position in Sky

Exclusive 3-Day “Midnight in the Morning Sun” Event August 19-21, 2017 Hosted by John and Deirdra Doan

John and Deirdra Doan

1.  Enjoy Three Days and Nights Exploring the Valleys, Hills and Wineries of Western Oregon.

Oregon Vineyard
2.  Take in a private concert by master guitarist, John Doan where he performs music inspired by the evening sky.
John Doan Outdoor Concert
3.  For the more adventurous take in nature by way of a river float viewing native birds in their wild habitat.
John and Deirdra Doan in Kayak
4.  Kick back with a book, a hot tub, 
Hot Tub at the Doans
or hike in the private woods that surround the area (no worries as the trails are well marked, although it will help to read the signs).
John Doan Behind Danger Sign
5.  Warm yourself by an outdoor fire looking into the star studded skies accompanied by the music of John Doan.
John Doan camp fire
6.  Be the second to hear John’s original composition “Midnight in the Morning Sun” written just for this occasion. Lyra, The Doan’s French Bull Dog is the only one who has heard it so far.
Lyre Doan
7.  All food, lodging, and events are included in the event package. 
Doan Kitchen
Doan room

John and Lyra will drive you to off site events.
Lyre Assists John Driving

Write to me at jdoan (at) johndoan.com for more information and costs for the “Midnight in the Morning Sun” event. If interested please respond to this limited time offer by next Wednesday, August 9th.

Remember, Few Events will eclipse this one so write back soon.  

All the best,

John, Deirdra and Lyra

Christmas Unplugged 2016 Concert Tour

Emmy-Nominated musician and storyteller John Doan will perform his acclaimed “Christmas Unplugged – Reclaiming the Holiday Spirit” program December 2016 (see dates below). It is a refreshing and magical escape from the frenzy of our times. Experience Christmas past as if it were today with group sing-alongs and whistle-alongs, archival photographs, and the sound of a century old instruments (harp guitar, classical banjo, various zithers) rarely if ever heard today. John’s physical comedy interspersed with fine musicianship makes for a fun filled evening for all ages.

 “John Doan reminds us in a way that is funny, musical and touching how we might find something we’ve lost from our homes and hearts.” Focus Magazine

John Doan on stage with the Christmas show.

Doan is an international touring and recording artist who has appeared on radio and television across the country, including his Emmy-nominated Oregon Public Broadcasting special (seen on PBS) “A Victorian Christmas With John Doan.”  He recently was given the International Brand Laureate Award for “World’s Leading Harp Guitarist.”  He has performed with a diverse range of artists including Donovan, Burl Ives, Larry Carlton, Mason Williams (of “Classical Gas” fame), as a member of the New Christy Minstrels, among others and his virtuoso playing and arranging has attracted praise from no less guitar luminaries than Chet Atkins and Doc Watson. Doan is an Associate Professor of Music at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

TOUR: CHRISTMAS UNPLUGGED 2016
12/09/16 Portland, OR Unity of Portland United States
Time: 7:00pm. Admission: Suggested Donation of $15-$20 at the door. Age restrictions: All Ages. Address: 4525 SE Stark Street. Venue phone: 503-234-7441.
12/10/16 Salem, Oregon Willamette University, Hudson Hall United States
Time: 7:00pm. Admission: $15.00 for adults and $10.00 for Seniors, children and students under 18. Tickets at the door are $18.00. Willamette University students, faculty, and staff may acquire free tickets up to one week prior to the event (tickets are limited). Age restrictions: All Ages. Box office: (503) 370-6255.Address: 900 State Street. Venue phone: 503-370-6255.
12/17/16 Portland, OR First Baptist Church United States
Time: 7:00pm. Admission: TBA. Age restrictions: All Ages. Box office: (503) 228-7465. Address: 909 SW 11th Ave (SW 12th and Taylor Street). Venue phone: (503) 228-7465.

From Sor to Doan

John Doan with Harp Guitar

I have been asked to perform a special intimate concert “From Sor to Doan” Saturday, October 22nd at 7:30pm at Casa Della Zisa (click to see other events) located at 4624 NE Fremont Street, Portland, Oregon 97213. Ticket prices $20/individual or $35/family. For tickets and location information, email Peter Zisa casadellazisa@gmail.com or call 503-307-4907.

This event takes place in Peter and Yukiko’s Craftsman style living room where they have begun showcasing intimate performances where everyone is up close and personal with the music. This will be both a concert, TED talk, and conversation with the audience all in one.  In this setting learn about where the inspiration for the music came from, why the musical language was chosen and what is it trying to say to the listener.

At Peter’s request, the concert will begin with harpolyre music of Fernando Sor (1778-1839) who is known today as the “Father of the Classical Guitar.” I will play a few pieces on an original harpolyre from 1829, an ancestor to the harp guitar. I have recorded Sor’s complete works for this instrument on “The Lost Music of Fernando Sor”. This will be followed with more of Sor’s music upon a guitar that he arguably commissioned to be built in 1819.  This instrument inspired a creative work titled “Homage to Fernando Sor” from which I will compare and contrast with some of Sor’s original compositions. I will play selections from the Sor Homage on the first guitar ever made from 5,500 year old wood by Gary Southwell of England.

The second half will debut new works for harp guitar from my upcoming recording titled “Into The Quiet.”  I will play these upon the Jeffrey Elliott/John Sullivan harp guitar which is the first harp guitar in modern times.  I will also play a piece on the latest version of 20 string travel harp guitar by Lukas Brunner of Switzerland.  All the instruments are timeless
masterpieces in their own right!

The music will strive to reach beyond time and to help you in this time travel I will share the back stories to this new material and how Sor has inspired some of this writing.

Look for my new recording in the coming weeks. As always, if you can’t make it you can order CD’s and DVD’s of this music at http://www.johndoan.com/discography/

Cheers,

John

Mason Williams (Classical Gas) says, “John’s music is like magic. No special effects or illusion, real hands on real magic. Where all of this music is coming from seems like a mystical experience.”

Burl Ives says, “John’s music is simply beautiful. No, it is more than that, it is heavenly!”

International Brand Laureate Award: “World’s Leading Harp Guitarist.” 

10th Annual Harp Guitar Retreat June 22nd – 25th 2017, 9th Annual Harp Guitar Retreat Great Success

John Doan’s Tenth Annual Harp Guitar Retreat is set for June 22nd to June 25th 2017.  I hope you will be able to make it. (see below for a daily itinerary, Saturday concert, testimonials, photos, fees, and registration information).

Harp Guitar Retreat Class with John Doan

The Ninth Annual Harp Guitar Retreat was a huge success with classes, private lessons, Harp Guitar Gallery, Music Nights, Concerts, and plenty of time hanging out talking about life and, what else, harp guitars!  We begin each day with a three hour group class where we are hands on the instrument exploring harp guitar playing techniques, music ideas, and even ensemble playing.

2. Harp Guitar Retreat Harp Guitars

We always have a great line up of harp guitars of all sizes and makes, all for you to test drive at your leisure.

3. Gerry Camp shows John Doan Emerald Harp Guitar

Gerry Camp brought his prototype 20 string Carbon Fiber Emerald harp guitar made in Ireland.  It is virtually indestructible and we were all impressed what a good sounding instrument it was, especially plugged in or with the new Tonewood Amp attached to its back. Continue reading

“Harp Guitar In The Woods” Saturday, June 25th 6:30pm Potluck, 8pm Concert

Version 2

I will be performing an outdoor harp guitar concert in the woods at my home on top of Prospect Ridge Saturday, June 25th.  You are invited to a potluck dinner at 6:30pm where we can visit followed by an intimate concert at 8pm.  Plan to bring an entree or a dessert item.

For tickets, you may order them via PayPal to ensure a spot at one of the most exciting events of the year – trust me.

This year the music will be about the evening sky.  A special piece will be premiered at sunset titled “Harp Guitar Sunset” where I will be accompanied by several other harp guitarists attending the 9th Annual Harp Guitar Retreat.  I hope you can be a part of this special occasion.  This is not just a concert, but an experience!

17. Harp Guitar Retreat 2014 Sunset

Seating is limited (last year’s event nearly sold out!).  Admission is $30.00 per person.

To purchase tickets, use our handy PayPal ticket service to ensure a seat. Once you have secured your admission you will be sent the address and directions to the event. RSVP if you will be coming to the potluck. I hope to see you there!

John Doan

9th Annual Harp Guitar Retreat June 23rd – 26th “From Basics to Beyond”

Harp Guitar Retreat Morning Class

Harp Guitar Retreat Morning Class

The 9th Annual Harp Guitar Retreat June 23rd -26th, 2016 is a great event to learn harp guitar basics and beyond (see below for a daily itinerary, Saturday concert, testimonials, photos, fees, and registration information).

This is different than a festival environment that focuses on various performers who entertain us with their playing, this is a workshop and immersion experience with the entire emphasis placed on you and how you want to grow as a musician with a harp guitar in your arms.

You will be introduced to:

1. Various techniques and concepts of playing the harp guitar

2. Exploring ideas on how music works through hands on application and all sorts of discovery activities.

3.Composing and performing through personal coaching

4. and being inspired.

If any of the above interests you please consider reserving your place for this summer’s 9th Annual Harp Guitar Retreat held at the home of John and Deirdra Doan.  At the retreat you will have access to John’s years of experience as a pioneer of the harp guitar, an Emmy-Nominated and award winning recording and performing artist as well as a University music professor.

The setting is nothing short of breath taking with expansive westerly views of the Willamette Valley from atop a towering extinct volcanic plug that the house is built upon (the only eruptions forecasted are of music and laughter).

John Doan - living room concert - the chair awaits in his home.

It is an intimate stress-free environment with all levels of playing/performing encouraged and accepted for an educational seminar involving a very limited number of participants.

Harp Guitar Retreat 2013 BBQ7

 

You may come out to learn about playing the harp guitar but you will also leave with some new friends.

The retreat starts with a Thursday night dinner and informal performance for those who would like to play. The class and lessons are laid back and are aimed at working with players who have just started playing the harp guitar and with those who want to put an edge on what they already have accomplished with the instrument and their music.

Weekend morning classes begin with reviewing various exercises from the new harp guitar instruction book John Doan is preparing for publication as well as various activities playing the harp guitar by ear without the distraction of following a written page. Continue reading

New Travel Harp Guitar by Swiss Builder Lukas Brunner

Far off into the Alps of Switzerland there exists a instrument workshop where Lukas Brunner dreams up designs for harp guitars that sound as crisp as the winter air with bass notes that dip down like the deep valleys below and with super treble strings that rise up like the mountain tops.

Alps

Nestled between Swiss mountain peaks is the small village of Lavin where harp guitarists seeking shelter from the winter snow will find a warm place to sit and pluck awhile at the Brunner Guitar shop.

In my travels in Europe I have managed to make a few visits to this magical world where savory chocolate, precision clocks and fine craftsmanship are the order of the day.

Lukas Brunner and John Doan

This is where I met Lukas Brunner who makes travel harp guitars that can be transported in a small bag, placed in an overhead or beneath the seat in front of you on an airline and can be assembled in a few seconds, for the most part in tune and ready to play a concert on!

John Doan in Concert in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

John Doan in Concert in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

After having the airlines loose my Elliott/Sullivan harp guitar three times (and fortunately also finding it three times!) it became a good idea to tour with a harp guitar that comes apart, fits in a small case and can always be with me on the road or in the air.

Brunner HG in case

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My good friend Philippe Fouquet and follow harp guitarist from France told me that he got a newly designed harp guitar from Lukas Brunner and raved about many improvements to this newest model and suggested that I look into getting one.

Philippe Fouquet HG (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I put in an order this past year and I just received the latest model of Travel harp guitar from him this week.  I am excited to share this instrument with you here and in my future concerts that I fly to.

Brunner Travel Harp Guitar

Brunner Travel Harp Guitar

It is stunning to behold.  Lukas has such a remarkable eye for design and detail.  Most notably his new design has the twenty strings centered on the body instead of running over to the treble side like my previous instrument. He achieves this with a single attachment for the guitar and bass string instead of two separate necks he used before. The black finish is exquisite and even dramatic.  This took quite a bit of extra work to achieve.

This new instrument has an evenness of tone that prevails across the entire range. He has added internal bracing this time round that helps structurally and evens out the sound quality of the soundboard.

Brunner Travel Harp Guitar close up on face

Brunner Travel Harp Guitar close up on face

There is a reverberant sound throughout and a great balance of the three pitch areas is achieved acoustically and not just by the use of a mixer.

Brunner HG 2015 Full from bass side Brunner HG 2015 Full back

Technically, the body dimensions are defined as B-medium: length: 19 1/8″ (48,6cm), 
width: 14 1/2″ (36,8cm)
, depth: 4″ (10,2cm). The overall volume and vibrancy is somewhat less than the inch larger sound box of my Elliott/Sullivan harp guitar (that also has a hollow arm under the bass) but this new smaller sound box without the hollow arm still holds its own and is quite good to play acoustically.

The Indian rosewood used for the back and sides is really beautiful and the Red Cedar top is very lively.

The bass string lengths are 30 1/2″ (774mm) while the guitar string lengths are 25 1/2″ (650mm) (both standard on Brunner harp guitars).

 

Brunner uses Gotoh oval chrome tuners for the super treble strings that he places on a ledge (an early innovation he debuted on his previous model).  On the bass shoulder bout can be found a sound port to give the player more sound to listen to while playing.

Brunner Harp Guitar from the Super Treble side revealing the upper sound port through the sound hole.

Brunner Harp Guitar from the Super Treble side revealing the upper sound port through the sound hole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were several details Lukas added to this instrument that were very brilliant like the bridge attachment not touching the face as well as being cut at an angle for a more sure fit.

Brunner HG 2015 Face close from bass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beveled edge on the lower bass bout is beautifully done in curly Maple making it easy for the arm to rest while playing.

Brunner Harp Guitar from Bass side featuring curly Maple binding with beveled arm rest

Brunner Harp Guitar from Bass side featuring curly Maple binding with beveled arm rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was looking for an overall appearance of the night sky and the beveled arm rest worked in visually as a crescent moon. I love how he managed to put the inlays of evening stars at harmonic points of the string, something easily overlooked when thinking of them as ornaments.

Brunner harp guitar close up of star inlays and side sound port

Brunner harp guitar close up of star inlays and side sound port

Brunner Harp Guitar headstock

Brunner Harp Guitar headstock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The headstock is smartly designed with all the guitar tuner buttons off to the right and the bass tuners compactly set within the bass arm atop of a pillar to the far left.  My previous travel harp guitar was considerably heavier with two full necks.  The absence of the additional neck makes the instrument lighter and easier to work with.

Brunner Harp Guitar from the top down

Brunner Harp Guitar from the top down

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of these headstock tuners are locking tuners that only respond to adjustment while attached to the instrument and under pressure. This allows the tuning knobs to be knocked or turned while detached from the body without any impact on the tuning once the instrument is assembled (which only takes a few seconds to do!).  What is remarkable and has guitarists gasping is that once the guitar and bass string attachment is snapped into place the instrument is virtually in tune!

The bass tuners are more like fine tuners and generally should work best if the basses are left at the same pitch from tune to tune. The lowest E goes easy enough up a half step to F as does the B down to Bb.  I will be exploring using a lighter gauge string for the first sub bass so I can bring it up to E on occasion when I use a capo on the guitar.  I hope that works as they are so snug and low profile, which is perfect for it being a travel instrument.

Brunner HG 2015 back neck joint

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The magic behind the travel harp guitar is how the guitar and bass strings come off the body.  That all starts by loosening the screw at the top of the sound box. Once loosened one very carefully presses down on the knob while holding down the neck so it comes up under control instead of quickly popping up.  With a little practice this is a smooth transition.

Brunner used good old Swiss precision tooling for the contact points that he originally worked out with his uncle who is a master tool smith.  The precision allows for stability of the instrument once assembled and as above mentioned, contributes to the instrument being in tune when put back together.

Brunner Travel Harp Guitar Close Up on Super Treble Strings

Brunner Travel Harp Guitar Close Up on Super Treble Strings

Once plugged in it sounds completely natural and will be a joy to play in concert thanks to the LR Baggs Anthem SL setup. As you look into the sound hole you can see a small dial that allows for adjusting the volume without reaching for a mixer or coordinating with the sound engineer.

In conclusion, there is so much that has gone into this newest model and I am thrilled with the results.

The overall length is shortened compared to his previous travel harp guitars which is great for travel. Brunner still managed to lengthen the super trebles a bit for a fuller tone and the sub basses still have good length to give a full tone as well.

As with his earlier model, the zero fret, the larger sound hole and the beveled arm rest work really great.

I have added a NeckUp Guitar Support for playing but it was great that I really didn’t have to have it given how the strings have been moved over to be centered on the face of the instrument.

I have a little bit of a learning curve to do to get use to the 16 fret neck versus the 21 fret of my Elliott/Sullivan harp guitar (the higher frets used mainly for indicators for locations of harmonics up the neck, but no big problem).

I am excited to bring it to your community for a future concert. This is truly a new year filled with hope and excitement for future music making.

(Special thanks to Lukas Brunner for all the fine photos of the new travel harp guitar).