Welcome to the Tim Donahue Signature Harp Guitar FAQ page.
If you have a question that is not covered here, feel free to contact TD Signature Harp Guitars.
For a list of harp guitars in stock as of April 2013, please see here.
Answered by Tim Donahue:
1.) Do I need any special cables or electronics to play your harp guitar?
Being electric, the harp guitar needs to be amplified like any other electric guitar.
No special cables are required. 2 standard electric guitar cables (with 1/4" phone jacks)
are used: 1 for the harp output, 1 for the fingerboard output. This configuration offers the
most flexibility, allowing each set of strings to be audio processed separately.
See the picture at right:
The onboard volume controls provide excellent harp/fingerboard balance capability,
without the high frequency loss associated with passive pickup volume controls.
A simple line mixer can be used to blend the 2 output signals.
The separate outputs also allow the player to use 2 guitar amps
or even one 2-channel amp with this guitar. It depends on the kind of sound
the player wants, and the sky's the limit! A simple way to sum the outputs
of the harp and fingerboard is by using a passive mixer like the one below,
and running that output into a guitar amplifier.
2.) Can I tune the harp and guitar sections with just one electronic tuner?
Since I normally rout both outputs into a mixer and EQ them separately, I've often connected
an electronic tuner to one of the effects sends, or to the headphone output on the mixer.
This way, both signals from the harp guitar can be read by the one tuner.
Then I started to use a Korg clip-on piezo tuner, clipped to the lower bout of the harp guitar.
This worked amazingly well, and can be used without plugging the HG into any audio gear
(making this setup good for backstage applications). See the picture at right:
But an even better solution is to cut off the clip from a clip-on tuner and attach the tuner to the
HG head via double-sided rubber tape. Having experimented with different tuners at various
locations on the HG, I have found the inexpensive Korg Pitch-Clip attached to the HG head to be
an excellent way of accurately reading all HG strings, especially the lowbass ones. See below:
3.) How long are the EMG pickups' battery life?
Our Harp Guitars feature 2 EMG active pickups and thus use (2) 9v batteries.
In my experience with these pickups, the batteries last a long time, and I replace them only once or twice a year.
Since the pickup electronics are activated when a guitar cable is plugged into the guitar, keeping the guitar unplugged
when not in use will ensure longest battery life.
4.) How is the sustain of this guitar compared with a standard electric guitar?
It is not an exaggeration to say this guitar has the longest sustain I have ever heard from any electric guitar.
This piano-like sustain was the first thing I noticed about this harp guitar, making it especially responsive to
the independent left/right-hand technique I employ.
5.) What kind of strings can this guitar use?
Any brand of light gauge electric guitar strings (.009 / .011 / .016 / .024 / .032 / .042) are can be used on the fingerboard.
But lowbass tuning sounds great when using .052 & .O42 gauges on the 5th and 6th strings. Check out the video of
"SONIC SOLUTION" to hear the .052 / .042 gauge strings tuned to a low A and E.
The harp sounds and plays best with .016 gauge (plain) strings, commonly available at any guitar store.
6.) What are the tunings for this guitar?
There is no one tuning for the Tim Donahue Signature Harp Guitar.
Standard guitar tuning works fine on the fingerboard, but many tunings are possible.
The most common HG tuning used by Tim Donahue can be seen on the chart at the right:
There are a multitude of tunings for the harp strings as well. While 10 of Tim's most recommended tunings are listed
in the owner's manual, the sky's the limit, as long as the warranty guidelines are followed.
7.) Can I change the string gauges on the harp side of the guitar?
There should be no need to change string gauges on the harp side, as countless varieties have already been tried over
25+ years of development of this instrument. Heavier gauges than those listed in the warranty guidelines will void the warranty.
The Tim Donahue Signature harp Guitars feature higher-pitched harp strings- these give the instrument its unique
character and flexibility in a wide variety of musical settings. A bass harp version would not prove to be as flexible,
as the fingerboard already provides the bass notes.
8.) How strong is the neck on this guitar?
Our Harp Guitars feature 2 truss rods: one in the neck and one in the head.
With its massive neck and head construction, the TD Harp Guitar is extremely strong and does not require
truss rod adjustment. The instrument will last a lifetime, as long as guidelines in our warranty are followed.
9.) How can I learn Tim Donahue's harp guitar techniques?
A 3-hour DVD lesson with Tim Donahue is included with every harp guitar. The first section explains Tim's HG setup
and secrets to getting the best tone out of the HG, via audio processing and fingernail shaping. The second lesson
introduces a study piece written for the HG that dives right in to the many techniques that Tim uses. This lesson opens
the doorway for the player to develop right/left hand independence on the HG.
Where can have the harp guitar repaired?
Any qualified guitar repairman can repair the Tim Donahue Signature Harp Guitar, if needed.
But normally, only string and pickup heights need to be adjusted, so the player can easily do these adjustments by themself.
*** Authorized dealers and repair persons in the USA, Japan and Europe are soon to be listed on this site.
No special cables are use