Curtis Thorpe Creates a MIDI Harp Guitar with Voyage-Air

Hello Voyage-Air Guitar!

"I've got quite a collection of guitars but I always find myself picking up my Voyage-Air VAOM-06. It's tone is rich and complex and it is just a joy to play. I really enjoy seeing the look on peoples faces when I fold it to and put it in my gig-bag! I cannot get enough of my Voyage-Air and I'm going to be playing this guitar for many years to come. "

I just wanted to share my latest ‘invention’ that I applied to my Voyage-Air VAOM-06 guitar. I used some common electronics, a laptop computer, a bunch of wire, and was able to transform my normal Voyage-Air guitar into a Harp Guitar.

Harp Guitars are large instruments that employ a regular guitar neck and frets, fitted into an oversized body with an array of bass strings. This enables the musician to pluck deep bass notes that flatter and enhance the music played with the guitar melody. They were popular in the early 1900s.

Photo courtesy of Lance McCollum Guitars – Lance worked with Voyage-Air guitars before his early passing in 2009.

Recently, musicians such as Michael Hedges and Muriel Anderson have adopted a Harp Guitar to create their own compositions. I wanted to use my Voyage-Air guitar to mimic their beautiful work.

Click the thumbnails to view 

My Voyage-Air Harp Guitar modification works by using a device called the Makey Makey to trigger MIDI notes on my laptop computer.

The Makey Makey allows you to turn any conductive material into a keyboard key (a-z and 0-9) on your computer. When the conductive material comes into contact with a 'ground' it completes an electric circuit, and the corresponding key is automatically typed on the computer. I used a portable laptop computer for this project.

In this case, the conductive material was the 5 ordinary Canadian quarter coins on a small wooden platform. By simply touching any of them, I’m able to send a signal that creates the deep ‘Harp Guitar’ bass note.

To convert my touch into a MIDI note, I used a program called VMPK (Virtual Midi Piano Keyboard). It allows you to assign a MIDI note to any key on a regular piano keyboard. In my case, I chose the 5 deep bass notes common to a Harp Guitar.

The triggered key/MIDI note is then sent to the Logic Studio software on my laptop, and it plays the programmed sound that corresponds to a real instrument. I used a virtual electric/acoustic bass to get a sound similar to the strings of a Harp Guitar.

I hope that makes sense. Watch the video. Everyone’s amazed by the sounds I can create with this modification to a Voyage-Air guitar!

- Curtis Thorpe -

Stories From The Road

Owner Testimonials

  • 5star-100
    I received my VAOM-1C and boy does it sing!  I am the proud and happy owner of several top-notch Martins: a D35 Johnny Cash, a HD28e, a solid DCPA4R as well as a 1973 00-18. I also had a 2003 D18 which I sold because it wasn't so good. I was expecting the VAOM-1C to sound ok but not more. "Can't have the best of both worlds" I thought. Well, now I do. It is just exquisite, so melodic and yet with a surprising sustain and expressivity. It is a true jewel at a more than decent price! All the Best and THANK YOU!
    Jean-Dominique Michel, Switzerland - VAOM-1C
  • 5star-100
    My wife and I travel a lot and in the past have had issues with taking a guitar with me......they're either too bulky for the overhead compartment, or I have to let the luggage handlers toss around my guitars like they're a bag of beans. I recently purchased one of your VAOM-04 guitars, and I'm totally impressed with the sound and the playability of this instrument. My first choice is my Martins, but since I received the VAOM-O4 I haven't put it down. I would recommend this guitar to any player, even if you don't travel that much. I'm looking forward to my next trip. I may just spend most of the trip playing this guitar.
    Great Job Voyage-Air.
    - Tony H. - VAOM-04
  • 5star-100
    It’s considered a “travel guitar,” and it truly is a remarkably portable instrument; however, that label does it a disservice, because honestly, it’s a damn nice guitar. It just happens to have a nifty set of hinges that allow the neck to fold over on the top, making it far more compact and transport friendly. I love my Telair!
    - Anthony K. Sandy, UT - VET-2SBB
  • 5star-100
    I am pleasantly surprised at the quality and genius behind this amazingly compact, but great sounding guitar!! I work in the movie industry and travel quite a bit, and being able to bring my guitar as a carry-on wherever I go is just what I've been looking for! The overall sound is amazingly rich for its size, and the folding mechanics work like a dream! If you’re wondering if it's worth getting, the answer is a big YES!!
    - Nancy F. Santa Monica, CA - VAMD-04
  • 5star-100
    I bought a VAD-04 strictly for travel and light use. The day I bought it I paid a visit to United Airlines. As I was walking up to the counter the clerk said that he had seen these before and that there was no problem taking it on as carry-on. .I think that this is a great value and a nice sounding piece All in all it is a winner in my book. I’ve heard less sound from much more expensive instruments. I may mike it because I think it compares to my Taylor 814ce and Breedlove it surprised me!
    -  Michael, Columbus, NE - VAD-04
  • 5star-100 
    I travel a lot, and for years, I schlepped my heavy Goodall Jumbo, always worried about it getting damaged and stolen.  I recently purchased a Voyage Air guitar and love it.  Its light, gets on planes, and sounds terrific. It has made travelling with a guitar a no-brainer.  Even after closing and opening, it stays very close to being in tune. I recommend this guitar to anyone who likes to play wherever they go.
    - Stewart, Santa Fe, NM - VAOM-02