Glenn Branca’s Double-Body Harmonics Guitar Is on eBay — UPDATED | VIDEO
April 28, 2015
|You’ve heard of a double-necked guitar. Here is a double-bodied Harmonics guitar, the creation of avant-garde musician and guitarist Glenn Branca.
Not only is it functional—it can be yours. Branca has listed the instrument on eBay, where it will sell to one lucky buyer on May 1 at 12:28 a.m. ET. UPDATE: The guitar sold for $787.77.
Looking like something out of an M.C. Escher drawing, the Harmonics guitar is designed “to bring out single harmonics or clusters of harmonics that exist on the length of a string up to the limits of the range of hearing or the amp being used,” Branca writes in the eBay description. “Up to 32 to 64 different harmonics on each string depending on how it's tuned. The guitar facing away from your body plays mainly just harmonics. The one against the body sounds the same as a slide guitar.
“You can use either one or both guitars balancing them the way you want. When using 2 amps you can get an extreme stereo guitar effect.”
Due to its design, the Harmonics guitar can’t be fretted in the customary way—the fret positions don’t correspond to the pitches because the strings are longer than is customary—and it can only be played with a slide.
Branca’s history as a guitar innovator is legendary. He began playing guitar in the early Sixties at the age of 15 and later studied theater and created experimental theater pieces. Those two interests merged in the Seventies, and in the early Eighties he began writing compositions for electric guitar ensembles and, eventually, for orchestras and electric guitars, using drones and microtonalities. His long musical path has involved members of Sonic Youth, the first act he signed to his Neutral Records, and Page Hamilton of Helmet.
He created his first version of the Harmonics guitar in 1982 for use in his Symphony No. 2 and has since made a number of variations on the instrument. He constructed this particular model in 2014 from two three-quarter-scale guitars. While earlier models required that the player be seated, this model was designed to be used when standing. In the absence of a headstock, the strings terminate opposite the bridge using dulcimer pins.
The guitar up for auction comes with an instruction sheet explaining how to play, string and tune it, as well as other pertinent information. It also includes a long glass slide bar, a tuning wrench for the dulcimer pins and a strap that’s screwed into the guitar with sheet-rock screws. The strap, he writes, “is adjustable or you can screw in a different one if you like.” The winner can have Branca sign the guitar wherever they choose.
If you’re curious to hear what the Harmonics guitar sounds like—and you know you are—here is a video clip of Branca playing the guitar in Copenhagen during a performance on February 13, 2014.
Enjoy, and happy bidding.