Sing the Sweet Sounds of Fall with “Floating Strings: The Remarkable Story of the Harp Guitar in America” at NAMM’s Museum of Making Music

Release Date: September 19, 2017

CARLSBAD, Calif. – September 19, 2017 – In time for a spectacular fall season, NAMM’s Museum of Making Music will open “FLOATING STRINGS: The Remarkable Story of the Harp Guitar in America,” a new exhibit of harp guitars ranging from the 1860s to today, beginning Saturday, October 14.

The new exhibit will include a display of over 40 instruments selected to illuminate the precise and intricate craftsmanship found in these unique instruments. The special exhibit will detail the significance of the harp guitar over the past two centuries, and celebrate their impact on music culture and history across the world.

“Many of the instruments we will present have only been seen by researchers and collectors, so we are eager to welcome everyone into this long-planned exhibit designed to engage all of our senses,” said Carolyn Grant, Museum of Making Music Executive Director. “This will be a beautiful exploration of the very deep and fascinating history of an instrument that’s enjoying a modern-day resurgence.”

The exhibition – the only public display of its kind – will explore America’s fascination with the harp guitar, the name given to an instrument designed with a unique set of floating strings as well as fretted strings on the neck. Most commonly, the floating strings are additional bass strings (anywhere from 1 to 12); and occasionally, mid-range or treble “harp” string banks are included. While the design of such guitars traditionally dates back to Europe in the late 1700s, the Museum of Making Music exhibition will examine the renaissance of harp guitars in America from the 1890s to the 1920s, and then focus on a rekindled love affair with the instrument, which began in the 1980s and still continues today.

The exhibit was curated with harp guitar expert and President of The Harp Guitar Foundation, Gregg Miner of the California-based Miner Museum. The exhibition will kick-off in conjunction with the October 13 Harp Guitar Gathering ®, a weekend celebration of history with harp guitar players and builders. The annual event, coordinated by Miner and his foundation strives to celebrate all things harp guitar-related in a festival-style format. Over that weekend, participants will be treated to panels and presentations, private instrument demos and tryouts, as well as performances from great masters of the harp guitar.

Miner says, “The convergence of these events will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The exhibit will provide a spectacular glimpse of our own overlooked harp guitar heritage of the previous century, which actually represents just one of the periodic waves of this instrument’s importance and popularity over the centuries. We then jump forward to the next wave – today’s, which has already lasted as long, and appears to be just ramping up! The 15th anniversary of our unique festival will be our biggest yet, with harp guitar specialists arriving from all corners of the globe to share their passion and artistry. By the end of the weekend, I think the public will see the limitless depth and diversity of the harp guitar.”

Scheduled performers at the festival include the critically-acclaimed virtuoso of multi-stringed plucked instruments, John Schneiderman; the triumphant return of Hirokatsu Takai with his custom koto harp guitar, built by Benoît Meulle-Stef; grand master of the harp guitar Stephen Bennett; as well as FRETMONKEY recording artist and winner of the 2014 Ernie Ball Acoustic Prodigy Contest, Travis Bowman. The concert will also include appearances by Muriel Anderson, Andy Wahlberg and Claude Laflamme. Tickets can be purchased here:

FLOATING STRINGS: The Remarkable Story of the Harp Guitar in America exhibition will run through April 29, 2018 and will be accompanied by a variety of concert dates throughout the exhibition that are scheduled to demonstrate the unique beauty and complexities of these instruments.

Christmas Unplugged with John Doan
Sunday, December 17 - 7:00 PM

Emmy-Nominated musician, storyteller and harp guitarist, John Doan presents his acclaimed program “Christmas Unplugged – Reclaiming the Holiday Spirit.” Nominated for “Best Entertainment Special of the Year,” “Christmas Unplugged” 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 such as a harp guitar, classical banjo, and various zithers.

Muriel Anderson
Thursday, February 1 - 7:00 p.m.

One of the world’s foremost fingerstyle guitarists and harp-guitarists, Muriel Anderson is the first woman to have won the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship. Her recent CD “Nightlight Daylight” has won top honors and 11 national awards. She has performed/recorded with Chet Atkins, Les Paul, Victor Wooten and the Nashville Chamber Orchestra. Her obvious joy of music, humor and her facility across the genres of folk, classical, jazz, bluegrass and international music is revered by guitarists worldwide. An engaging performer, Muriel’s unique approach to the instrument virtually transforms the guitar into a lyrical choir, then a marching band, then a Japanese koto, then a Bluegrass band - one minute launching into a Beatles’ tune and the next, a Rodrigo concerto. Muriel is host of the renowned Muriel Anderson’s ALL STAR GUITAR NIGHT® and founder of the MUSIC FOR LIFE ALLIANCE charity.

Stephen Bennett
Saturday, March 24 - 8:00 p.m.

One of the most prolific and original finger-style guitarists of his generation, Stephen Bennett is also a leading exponent of the harp guitar. Whether playing his great-grandfather's harp guitar, his 1930 National Steel or a standard 6-string, Stephen is a musician to hear. In live performance and on record, his diverse musical influences and interests are joined with a lifelong love affair with the sound of guitar strings. Stephen has performed around the world, shared the stage with some of the finest guitarists, and created a body of work that is respected (and loved) around the world. He is the founder of the Harp Guitar Gathering, an annual event that brings players, luthiers, scholars and fans of this instrument together for a weekend of performances, workshops and camaraderie.

Exhibition information and tickets for all MoMM events can be purchased by visiting www.museumofmakingmusic.org.


Media Contacts: Chalise Zolezzi / chalisez@namm.org / 760-438-8007; Jeanne O’Keefe for MoMM: JOKeefe@lippingroup.com / 323-965-1990

  • About the Museum of Making Music

    NAMM's Museum of Making Music presents the storied history of music instruments and products - from invention, to creation, to market - as its canvas to enrich people of all ages and backgrounds. They do this by offering educational immersion opportunities, exhibitions, hands-on experiences, and live performances that inform and inspire, while demonstrating how musical instruments impact popular culture and connect lives.

    A division of the NAMM Foundation, the museum opened at the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) headquarters in March, 2000. MoMM is the only museum of the music products industry, and is the only museum worldwide that focuses on the ecosystem of music making from 1900 to present day.

    For details on the museum’s concerts, exhibits, workshops and outreach programs, please visit https://www.museumofmakingmusic.org/