3/23/2008

William Eaton: Harp Guitar Luthier, Performer

The final days of my Sedona Winter Retreat have been truly magnificent. I spent some time tonight with the great guitar luthier and recording artist William Eaton at his home/studio. He very generously allowed me to try a harp guitar that he made himself, and I sat in awe as he demonstrated several other harp guitars.

William Eaton has invented several stringed instruments that not only have an amazing sound, but are works of visual art. He played for me his hybrid Koto-Harp Guitar (pic below), a 26-String double neck electric/midi/acoustic harp guitar, an electric acoustic harp guitar (pic above) and a single neck electric harp guitar. They are all one of a kind musical and hand crafted treasures.

Just imagine one or two six string guitar necks surrounded by 7 or 8 strings on top and bottom that constitute bass and soprano ranges. You can use the extra top and bottom strings for harmonics and drone. Each harp guitar also features a unique tuning for endless harmonic possibilities. His main performing guitar has two necks, multiple strings, and a computerized tuning system, so that you can select from over 200 unique tunings, press a few buttons, and the guitar will automatically change the tuning of the base six strings using a proprietary pully tuning system. The craftsmanship built into these guitars is extraordinary. They are breathtakingly beautiful to hold and hear.

The guitars feature acoustic, electric and midi pickups. So you can play pick the upper and lower harp strings, and hammer the main 6 string guitar through a Roland midi setup, triggering any sound imaginable.

Hear samples from William Eaton's latest album from Canyon Records. He is currently touring with the legendary native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai and he has recorded several albums with Carlos.

William is performing on May 10th with Carlos at the Scottsdale Performing Arts Center. I'm already a huge fan and will be there.

Here's the album description for the William Eaton Ensemble. Do yourself a favor and buy it at iTunes.

William Eaton Ensemble - Sparks and Embers (CR-7061)

This double album contains over two hours of new music by the William Eaton Ensemble that will take you on a musical voyage into worlds of wonder and peace. Features the sounds of Eaton's unique instruments including lyraharp guitar, 26 string guitar and spiral clef plus flutes, pan pipes, mandolin, violin, violira, bass and ethnic percussion from around the world. Eaton is joined by percussionist Will Clipman, flutist Claudia Tulip, bassist and vocalist Mary Redhouse and violinist Allen Ames.

Thanks to my dear friend and harpist/photographer extraordinaire Mia Margaret Angelica for setting up tonight's meeting and taking the photos.

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