Acoustic Fretless Harp Guitar – Jonathan Pickard

Well most of us will be familiar with Tim Donahue’s Fretless Harp Guitars but this is the first acoustic fretless harp guitar that we have seen. UK based Jonathan Pickard sent us pics and details of this unique instrument.

Acoustic fretless harp guitar face on

In owner Jonathan Pickard’s own words….

Inspired by some of Cenk Erdogan’s youtube videos I was looking around for a classical guitar to have converted to fretless (this was to be my first fretless instrument) but the more I thought about it the more I wanted some extra low strings for more versatile accompaniment so I was also considering commissioning an 8 or 10 string nylon guitar. As well as nylon guitars I also own a 23 string (nylon) harp guitar and have come to really love these instruments with extra range strings, so it wasn’t long before the penny dropped and I realised I should get a fretless harp guitar.

I contacted Sean Woolley (who I had met 2 years earlier at a Harp Guitar gathering in France) as he is known for making wonderful nylon harp guitars. It turned out that he had swapped this guitar with Jason Carter for a newer model and it was available for sale, and it even already had a Carlos Juan pickup in it. A few weeks later Sean had successfully converted it (his first fretless experiment) so I flew out to his home in Southern France to pick it up a few weeks ago.

I plan to put some sharpening levers on the sub bass strings soon to reduce time re-tuning for different keys, and am still experimenting with different strings. I just ordered some flatwound La Bella’s after reading about Strings on Unfretted.

As far as I know it is the world’s first fretless acoustic harp guitar – at least until someone comes along to prove me wrong!

Acoustic fretless harp guitar from bridge

Technical details

This Harp Guitar used to have frets! It was built along Flamenco guitar lines – e.g. woods and bracing pattern. The 6 extra sub-bass strings are tuned diatonically down from D to low F, although this varies depending on what key I want to play in, so it has almost another bass octave. It was built and later converted to fretless by luthier Sean Woolley and formerly owned and toured with by international harp guitarist Jason Carter.

….ends Jonathan Pickard

About Jonathan Pickard

Jon Pickard and harp guitar

Jonathan Pickard has been a professional Guitarist and Pianist for over 25 years. He specializes in Classical, Spanish, Flamenco and Latin Guitar styles but is also among an emerging new generation of Harp Guitarists. He is a composer and performer of original Harp Guitar music, mostly on his 23 string Harp Guitar designed by himself and built by Stuart Mewburn.

He was trained to a First Class BA degree in Classical guitar and Jazz piano at Bath Spa University by teachers from London Trinity College, and has had many years of private tuition and masterclasses from world renowned players such as John Mills, Xuefei Yang and Terence Latham.

He lives in Somerset, United Kingdom.

Jonathan Pickard (website)


More Fretless Guitars

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.