Watch the Harp Guitar Basics online guitar lesson by Stephen Bennett from Harp Guitar Basics
Hello and thanks for your interest in harp guitars! With Harp Guitar Basics my aim is to present you with some musical arrangements to get you acquainted with my approach to the harp guitar.
As with anything, there are other approaches, not just mine. There is not even one "harp guitar"; there are a number of different configurations of these wonderful instruments. My purpose here is simply to give you some ideas of how I make music with the style of harp guitar that I like best – the type having 6 additional bass strings.
I start with the assumption that you, the reader, already has at least some minimal experience playing finger-style on a standard 6-string guitar. But even if you have never played guitar and somehow have wound up with a harp guitar, you will still be served well by the arrangements presented here.
You can approach these in any order you like, but the most difficult tune is my composition Perestroika.
When I inherited my great-grandfather’s harp guitar I had to figure out how to play it. What was I going to do with these extra strings and the possibilities they presented me with? I was already making my living as a musician and so I dug in to the challenge with a base of knowledge and experience already acquired. I began to arrange tunes for harp guitar, lots of tunes - all kinds of tunes. I arranged all sorts of tunes: tunes by the Beatles, folk tunes, Celtic tunes, jazz standards – whatever crossed my mind.
At that time, I was playing regularly in a restaurant and would play guitar several nights a week for 3 and a half hours. I hated to take breaks so I just played the whole time. In order not to bore myself (not to mention the patrons) I was constantly arranging new tunes to play. I never used a music stand and always played from memory. So this was a very good period of time for me in terms of the development of my chops and my repertoire: I was always learning tons of music and then playing it repeatedly. Some of those first pieces that I arranged back then – the late 80s - are presented here in Harp Guitar Basics.
In addition to arranging pre-existing music, I started writing music on harp guitar right away. Perestroika – which is presented in this project – was one of the first tunes I wrote and is also probably one of the most accessible of my harp guitar tunes. And – it’s a lot of fun to play!
So thank you again for your interest in harp guitar and now - time for you to dig in and get to work! And when you’re done, my hope is that you’ll be inspired enough by the sounds coming out of your harp guitar and intrigued enough to try your hand at some arrangements of your own, and maybe even in time, some compositions.