Illustrious visitors
to the
Miner Museum

by Gregg Miner, as part of

We regret that the Miner Museum is not open to the public.
It is open by private appointment only to serious plucked stringed instrument researchers, collectors, aficionados and musicians.  Please provide references if requesting a visit.

This is a personal scrapbook of photos I wanted to share - as mementos of the wonderful times I have had welcoming visitors to my Museum room, which opened in November, 2000.  I resisted a page like this for the longest time (in fact, I rarely thought to even take photos) - I didn't want it to look like all those lame establishments you walk in to, where there's a wall full of pathetic photos of the owner posing with various stars, as if he's their close, personal friend. Still, I do get a number of fun and diverse visitors - some are well known, some are not, most are warm, wonderful, talented and creative - or all of the above...and some are my close, personal friends!  

6/18/2018: Shortly after emailing me a wonderful review of my Norwegian Wood CD (including the fact that he loved my cover of his own "Mood for a Day"), Rock legend Steve Howe (of Yes) was in L.A. on tour. He stopped by so we could compare lyre guitar collections (he's playing my 1890s Lyon & Healy Washburn terz lyre guitar). What an honor!

Oct, 2017: This is our very special friend Hiro Takai (stage name TakainoMoheji) from Japan. We'd booked him to play our 15h anniversary Harp Guitar Gathering in southern California (his 3rd HGG appearance), and he was dying to see the instruments and the dogs. And they, it turns out, were dying to meet him. He's a force of nature and an incredible musician (specialty: his custom koto harp guitar).

Oct, 2016: This was the event of the first Santa Barbara Acoustic Instrument Celebration, for which I was invited to put together a harp guitar concert. Luckily, major Quebec player Claude Laflamme (left) was booked, and Michel Pellerin (right), the maker of his wonderful harp guitars, was also in attendance. They were keen to see the museum, and I was anxious to see my friends! Claude's wonderful wife Ann was with them, and we had a great time.

8/27/2016: Had a wonderful evening when our friends up the street (Ben & Pauli Carnes) had us to dinner to meet two new couples, who then came down for a museum tour.
Ben (in construction) was a pro Bluegrass pedal steel player in another life and they have a ton of musician friends through their church.
A lot of laughs and stories with Chester Thompson and his wife Roz (from Nashville) and Ronnie and Sandy Van (local). The two men hadn't seen in each other in awhile, but had briefly been in a band together ages ago.
Ronnie (guitar) has various credits, from the Jackson 5-like "The Sylvers" in the '70s to touring with Diana Ross.
Chester I am embarrassed to admit, I had never seen play in my life, even though he did stints with pretty much all my high school prog rock idols! I only knew (from Ben) that he was associated with Genesis. So you can imagine my mouth dropping open (and staying there for some time) when my humble, soft spoken new friend told me of his first gig at age 24 with Zappa. (Me: so was he a genius? Answer: Yeah. Me: how'd you learn all that stuff? A: EVERY SINGLE NOTE was written out. Whereas in Genesis it was all by ear.). I only saw Zappa once when Flo & Eddie were with him. Then Jean Luc Ponty did a stint and left, and Chester says he was right after that.
"Zappa was my school...Weather Report was grad school..."
Yes, his next gig was with the seminal band before my getting turned on to them (Jaco and "Byrdland," naturally). Chester was just prior, in the band with fellow rhythm section player and still one of his best friends and favorite musicians, Alphonso Johnson (he and Roz were here in LA staying with the Carnes after a short South American tour with Johnson...and I had missed their practice run at the Baked Potato!).
So I had not just missed Chester playing down the road, but apparently JUST missed him over and over 40 years ago (and for whatever reason I missed becoming the standard Genesis fan).
Anyway, hearing about the management insisting on putting Jaco in the band and Chester giving it a try in the studio, then leaving ("it was oil and water"...and then he imitates for me Alphonso's style, then Jaco's...) was pretty darn surreal. More than once, I said, Dude, you've gotta write a book about all this!
While the wives socialized, we guys relived our youths, sharing about the first time we each saw Billy Cobham with the Mahavishnu Orchestra (me at the Aragon Ballroom in the Chicago 'burbs....Chester would ultimately do a double bill tour with Cobham's band...) and similar revelations.
MAN - he just kept throwing out all these quick pick-up band "supergroup" gigs he's done (members from Yes, King Crimson, Steve Hackett, on and on).
Oh yeah - Genesis. From 1977 to 2007, their touring drummer (Me: so was Phil a good drummer? A: Yeah, he was fantastic! He did all the studio drums, I did 'em on tour...). Still not really believing all this prog-rock history sitting next to me at the Carnes', I HAD to check it's Chester with Phil Collins in their drum duet.
After dinner we headed down to our house for a quick tour. Neither couple - despite the men's whole lives in the music biz - had never seen anything like the stuff in the Miner Museum, and were quite appreciative. 1st photo is Chester demonstrating the berimbau. 2nd photo is Ronnie managing to actually sound funky on my KeyKord automatic-cording tenor guitar! Fun folks, every one. Who KNOWS who you might meet just up the street!

8/13/2016: Two of our favorite musicians (and people) stopped by for an exceedingly pleasant visit: Wife and husband duo (hammered dulcimer & guitar) Karen Ashbrook and Paul Oorts, while gigging and festivaling on the West Coast.

4/17/2016: I had heard that my friend Scott Holloway (with his "Dyer" company partner, luthier Jim Worland) had met Steve Klein at NAMM and were teaming up for some projects. I freaked, as Klein is a living legend in guitar lutherie (and player) circles. Steve was down for a collaborative trip, and Scott brought him by (that's Scott with a new giant c.1913 Knutsen). Steve and I immediately felt like kindred spirits (but I bet a lot of his friends feel the same). See more on my blog Eine Kleine Harpguitarmusik.

5/5/2015: A local acquaintance of mine, Mitchell Manger (at left) is a music attorney who also runs Antiquity Music (rare acoustic and electronic keyboards). He made an appointment for his fist visit to the museum, and asked if it was OK to bring a friend. I hesitated, asking for the usual background check. He assured me "Wally" was OK, and was known in the music biz. Wally turned out to be frickin' Gotye, dreamboat pop star of "Somebody That I Used to Know" fame. Well, I didn't know, but my wife sure did. I don't know who was more infatuated - Jaci, me, or Maezi. Turns out Wally was a super normal, total geek like me. Read the whole crazy story on my blog Wally's World.

9/13/2014: Guitar & lute multi-instrument and multi-string virtuoso John Schneiderman drove up from Orange County and made the rounds of some of the Miner Museum’s harp guitars. I had to take a selfie with my hero. See my blog Schneiderman Plays the Blues for more instruments and John.

12/31/2013: Just before New Years Day...and a surprise visitor who just happened to be in the area - all the way from Padua, Italy. Luthier Max Monterosso has been an email pal for awhile now, as he builds fine guitars and now harp guitars. Our thumbs up was for his friends back home.

8/4/2013: Guitarist and recent harp guitarist Ken Bonfield was in town for a gig he set up for a quartet of us. He stayed over, sleeping in the Room of a Million Resonant Strings. Here we compare the most unusual harp guitars of all time - the creations of luthier Alan Carruth. See my blog Artistry of the Harp Guitar.

3/11/2013: After years of bugging him, I finally coerced Fred Walecki (of family dynasty Westwood Music fame) into coming over. Actually, it was Isaac Jang who finally made it happen. Isaac is a luthier apprentice of (guitar/harp guitar luthier legend) Kathy Wingert and also did repairs in Fred's shop. For more on my long, occasional relationship with Fred, see my blog A Visit with Fred Walecki.

10/12/2012: I got a call from the manager of Trent Reznor (founder of the acclaimed Nine Inch Nails) asking if his client could come over and investigate and possibly rent some of my oddball dulcimer or zither-y things (to film to pre-recorded playback). Being mainly a keyboard guy (his manager said he is a classically-trained pianist), Trent naturally gravitated toward the Dolceola – half piano, half zither. He decided to go with a couple different choices for his partner to look at (Atticus Ross, with whom he does David Fincher's soundtracks). Trent's on the left, with part of his technical crew, Dustin Mosley and Jun Murakawa. All 3 guys were super nice, and appreciative museum visitors. I couldn’t wait to see what they did with these, though hoping nothing too dark and disturbing with the Dolceola (as Trent’s musical reputation preceded him…). I’ll let you be the judge, as his video “Ice Age” is now out. See more on my blogs Nine Inch Harp Guitars and Dark and Disturbing Dolceolas.

1/22/2012: Some of my AMIS friends (American Musical Instrument Society) came to Anaheim for the NAMM show (most for their first time), driving up afterwards. These guys (and gal) all kick my scholar butt, but seem happy to put up with me. L-R: Jayson Dobney, associate curator at the New York Met (UPDATE: He's now the director!), Arian Sheets, curator of stringed instruments at NMM, Vermillion, SD, Lynn Wheelwright, collector, historian, early electric expert, Matthew Hill, formerly of MIM, Phoenix, currently going for his PhD in early electric guitar history, and Darcy Kuronen, head curator BMFA (and Dangerous Curves exhibit/book). Experts all, a more illustrious group of geeks and nerds you will never meet. 5/23/2011: Florida harp guitarist and dear friend Andy Wahlberg was passing through the area on the vacation. He, wife Kitty, and son Kurt enjoyed their first (but I hope not last) visit.

5/8/2011: Four of the hottest young acoustic guitarists on the planet (all on the Candyrat label) came through L.A. last night on a short tour. They stopped by on the way up to Santa Barbara and had fun trying out some odd harp guitars. L-R: Gareth Pearson, Craig D’Andrea, me, Antoine Dufour, Ewan Dobson II. 

Craig is amazed by my c.1899 Knutsen.

Antoine trying a Lance McCollum (currently for sale at HGM): all agreed this is a killer HG. Gareth gravitated toward the c.1900 Russian Zimmerman (7 on the neck). While Ewan (a former classical guitarist) dwarfs the Gazzo on stand.

5/4/2011: World musician Abaji, who plays a gazillion instruments, stopped by for a visit. Here, he's playing my traditional Armenian dukuk. See my blog Lock the Instrument Cases – Abaji’s in Town! 10/19/2010: Australian luthier Graham McDonald stopped by to examine and photograph mandolins. An excellent builder of mandolins and Irish bouzoukis, Graham is also an author and scholar, self-publishing The Mandolin Project. He next plans a lengthy fully-illustrated  history book.
2/27/2010: Carter Lancaster from Canada was in So Cal doing promotional videos for Holloway Harp Guitars, and paid his first visit here.  Carter is on my Harp Guitar Music label, and one of the best. 1/23/2010: Award-winning guitarist Muriel Anderson stopped by while in town on tour with Tierra Negra - Leo Henrichs and Raughi Ebert, from Germany.   1/23/2010: No sooner had Muriel and gang left, than Berlin's Andreas David came to stay for a few days of musical mayhem. Andreas is a friend through the harp guitar (he has attended HGG5 & HGG7 with singer Katja Brauneis.  His real talent lies within his many multi-instrumental gigs, and he is a virtuoso on banjo and ukulele, besides guitar and Dobro, and who knows what else.  He had never experienced this range of unusual historical instruments, such as the inexplicable Altpeter double-harp uke.
3/27-28/2007: John Doan stopped by after his Carlsbad Museum performance and other Southern Cal gigs.  He treated Jaci and I to about half the Sor pieces from his upcoming harpolyre recording project and about half the tunes from his upcoming solo harp guitar CD (trust me, these are going to be two "must-haves" for guitar fans!).  This rare 1829 harpolyre is likely the only specimen in the world that has ever been restored to playable condition and strung and tuned properly.  John is the first performer in 175 years to perform on it.  What a private concert!
2/1-2/2007: An intimate harp guitar summit occurred when Andy McKee coincidently showed up in Los Angeles the very day of Stephen Bennett’s first Southern Cal concert. Stephen and I were prepping for our Museum of Making Music gala opening night, while Mr. 2 million YouTube Hits McKee was in town for his appearance on the Carson Daly show. Andy joined us for breakfast and I was thrilled that he had a chance to pay a visit and get to finally see my Museum Room first hand. Unfortunately, his trip coincided with the Carlsbad exhibit, and so he would miss seeing two dozen of my best instruments - the various harp guitars and relatives. With the cases disturbingly empty, and two of the top harp guitar players in town, I happily recognized a rare and unique opportunity, and we planned this photo session: Why collect just harp guitars?...when I can collect actual harp guitarists?!
11/21/2006: Michael Chapdelaine played a gig down the street from me and I invited him over for a quick tour.  Michael is a consummate classical guitarist-turned-steel string fingerstyle wiz - what an honor to get a private concert!  Incredible arrangements, unique technique, and an absolutely astounding guitar by luthier Kevin Muiderman. 2/20/2006: Harp guitar ace Stephen Bennett stops by for a visit. First he tries out a different type of "harp-guitar" - Stumpke, c.1840, patterned after the famous 1831 "Scherr Patent Harp-Guitar," then spent the evening serenading Jaci and I in our living room.
2/16/2006: Alex de Grassi (another favorite guitarist), who hopes to get a harp guitar of his own someday, tries out the c.1899 Knutsen Symphony. Most guitar players vote this the best-sounding guitar in the collection. But Alex and guitarist Thomas Leeb are more delighted by the quartet of rare German Stoessel-lutes. 


2/11/2006: The Rex James Duo (harp guitar & mandolin) stops by on a road trip all the way from Idaho.  Harp guitarist Dave Powell is amazed by the tone of a 7-string bass zither banjo.... ...while brother Tone takes the Miner-cello for a spin... 2/10/2006: Carolyn Grant and Tatiana Sizonenko direct and curate (respectively) NAMM's Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, CA. With renowned luthier Rick Turner in tow, they made the long pilgrimage to discuss some special exhibit ideas for the future.
August, 2005: Benoit Meulle-Stef, my dear luthier friend from Belgium, visited on our way to the Portland Harp Guitar Gathering. Here, Ben gets his first (and last) lesson on the concert harp. 2004: Nancy Wilson (of Heart) came by to try out the Dolceola as an option for husband Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown soundtrack.  It didn't pass the audtion (as I expected, it was a little too quiet and "clacky"). OK, I admit I was just a little bit exited to pretend to duet with Ms. Wilson. God, I'm a geek! 2/16/2003: I finally met my special friends Jean and Gilbert Findlay face to face. Jean is Chris Knutsen's relative (the infamous harp guitar inventor/builder), and the impetus to start The Knutsen Archives (which, of course, led to, and my my own worldwide infamy.


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