Steampunk Synergy X20 harp guitar
The Steampunk Synergy X20 was an Alistair Hay Custom Design commission by renowned American harp guitar player Steampunk Stace, aka Stacy Hobbs.
I first met Stacy at the Harp Guitar Gathering I went to in October, 2013. We sat into the very early hours one morning playing our Synergy X7 harp guitar – one of the very first ones I ever made.
In 2015, Stacy got to see my Steampunk-themed electric guitar, Daedalus, while I was on my way to deliver it to Aaron Dorval. When I developed the Synergy X20, we decided it would be the perfect platform to build Stacy a Steampunk harp guitar and we kicked the development into gear.
The black and gold machine heads, chosen by Stacy, are Schaller Da Vinci tuners. They have a really nice and unusual look, featuring a little window that shows the cogs and fitted into the theme of the harp guitar. The whole black and gold theme of the guitar is based on an old typewriter that Stacy sent me a photo of.
I took apart an old clock and rebuilt the cogs into a carbon fiber chassis, changed the gearing ratios and modified them to fit in with what we wanted and added an electric motor to automate them.
The pickup system is a custom combination of MIDI and piezo. On the guitar neck we have RMC MIDI pickups going directly to a 13-pin endpin from where Stacy takes a cable to an external box for MIDI and piezo control. The sub bass strings feature the LR Baggs Element Active System, including the onboard volume and tone controls.
The veneer is the same camphor burl veneer we used for Daedalus. It had the perfect look for the harp guitar and it was just big enough to piece together for Steampunk Stace’s Synergy X20.
As a little extra touch, I added a hygrometer which I sourced at NAMM Show in Anaheim California in January, 2017. It seemed like the perfect thing to put in a carbon fiber instrument, just to show it can cope with humidity, no matter what. The bridge pins are gold-plated and were also sourced at NAMM.