Who are the World’s Most Famous Harp Guitarists?

The harp guitar is one of the strangest looking but best sounding instruments in the world.  While the harp guitar has existed in various guises for centuries, the accepted definition of what a harp guitar is today comprises of what looks like a standard acoustic guitar with one end of a harp added to the top of it.

Electric harp guitars are also available, but the most famous harp guitarists play acoustic versions both on recordings and at live events. Typical harp guitars have a standard six string guitar setup with a further six strings for the harp section, but to be considered a harp guitar there only actually needs be one ‘harp string’ independent of the guitar fret board.

The world’s leading harp guitarists bring a number of styles of play to the instrument. Many play traditional country and blues music, while some play entirely finger style and others employ a combination of traditional pick playing and finger style.

Who are the world’s leading harp guitarists?

Andy McKee

Andy McKee is probably the world’s most famous finger style guitarist, with his YouTube videos of his performances boasting millions of views. Many believe that the reason McKee has been able to develop his trademark style is because he hated guitar lessons. McKee was still interested in the instrument during his teenage years, he just preferred playing around himself. A lot of his time during this years was spent learning shred guitar techniques and learning tracks played by bands like Metallica. These fast styles went a long way to helping McKee become the brilliant finger style and harp guitarist he is today.

Michael Hedges

Before his tragic death in a car accident aged 43 in 1997, Michael Hedges was one of the world’s most popular finger style guitarists, well known for the variety of styles he was able to play and the different instruments he would use.

Hedges was perhaps best loved for his willingness to experiment. He was synonymous with using different gear on many of his songs because he wanted them all to sound unique and individual. Whether a different pick up or funky structures around gain, delay, and reverb, Hedges was always up to something, and his harp guitar work was a big part of his success.

Antoine Dufour

Antoine Dufour is another modern harp guitarist – he actually records in the same studio as McKee and has also enjoyed his own share of success owing to YouTube exposure, too. One of the secrets to Dufour’s success is that he wears false acrylic nails on his right hand, with which he plays, and he even has his own signature models of guitars manufactured to his preferred specification by Stonebridge.

One quirky fact about Dufour is that despite being successful, he still offers his expertise as a guitar instructor, including Skype sessions so people anywhere can learn from this top harp guitarist.

These three guitarists all offer something unique and inspirational, not just with the harp guitar but in how they play overall, and are great role models for anyone looking to do something different with their guitar, whether this involves playing finger style, playing a harp guitar, or simply broadening their musical horizons.

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