Harp guitars have been around since at least the 19th century, and if you want a good, enthusiastic, intellectual argument on the exact date of its birth, you’ll find many an organologist ready to do that. (Here’s a page filled with information about the subject.) But it was only recently, in 2014, that the Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments finally recognized the harp guitar as its own thing. New- or old-fangled as it might be, the harp guitar contains both the usual six strings and fretted neck and a neighboring series of unstopped open strings. Well known musicians who have played them include John McLaughlin, David Lindley, and Robbie Robertson.
But look up the instrument on the ‘net and there’s one name that will pop up before anybody else: 29 year old Canadian Jamie Dupuis. He’s earned millions of views on his YouTube channel for arranging and performing covers of rock and metal classics.
He’s certainly a fan of Pink Floyd, as you can see above in his cover of “Comfortably Numb.” The ringing, echoing quality of the harp guitar’s body suit the song well, as it starts to resemble a sort of synth-string wash.
The acoustic-based Floyd songs work as well as you might expect. “Wish You Were Here” for example.
Dupuis shows his skill with the more experimental electronics of Dark Side of the Moon. He adds a slide guitar and effects to “Time”:
...which works even better on “Breathe”:
And he brings out the very strange looking Dyer Electric Guitar Harp for “Welcome to the Machine,” using some double-tracking to give him some soloing space.
You can hear all his Floyd covers as a playlist here, and then check out his other Harp Guitar covers from Ozzy Osbourne to Tears for Fears here as well as some classical arrangements.
Oh and yes, he also plays regular ol’ acoustic guitar and some banjo. The man certainly knows his way around a fret: enjoy!
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.