PO Box 942, Fourways, 2055, South Africa Tel: +27(11) 465 9088 Fax: +27(11) 465 0994 E-mail: hughsfineguitars@iafrica.com
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Geof Harris

Geof Harris, originally from Johannesburg, now in London: jengeof@hotmail.com

The bass guitar has been at the centre of my musical passion for over 30 years but 3½ years ago I was unfortunate enough to crush both my hands in a freak motorcycle accident. As I stood at the side of the road watching the blood drip out of my shredded gloves I wondered if I had seen the end of my music forever, a totally horrific thought. Fortunately as it turned out, the injuries were just outside the peripherals of the 'players hand movements' and eight operations, several bone grafts and a heck of a long time in plaster later, I was somewhat back on the road to health. From this bitter experience I emerged a different person: one with a new respect for my talents, and fiery determination to make a success of my music career.

I had spoken before about studying the guitar not only as a means to itself but also to elevate my skills in music generally, it had been lurking in the background for ever but never really getting fair attention. Two months after the accident was my birthday and to my utter surprise my wife Jenny plonked a brand new Taylor 314 on the bed - big shock, big expense - while I sat there with these painful hands swollen up like balloons. Wow! She did it for love for sure, but also to stimulate and motivate me to extricate myself from this unfortunate situation.

It worked, and now I had a responsibility to myself to get back on track. Never mind that I have always loved the guitar but little did I know how much I was about to love this complicated instrument. A whole new world of guitar was about to open up to me. Some time later at my teacher John van Nierop (mentioned elsewhere in this website) a chance viewing of a tutorial video of Bluegrass maestro David Grier knocked me off my feet - completely - all these notes, but where from? Answer: cross picking plectrum technique, and of course very clever left hand chord manipulations amongst other things. From there the music of Tony Rice, Doc Watson, Norman Blake, Dan Tyminsky, Ricky Scaggs, Chris Thile, Alison Kraus etc. etc. emerged. And of course most importantly, Hugh Cumming and his Aladdin's Cave of exotic guitars! So many to admire: "Here Geof, try this one . . ." and the next one, and the next one and so on. Each one more desirable than the last. My perception of the guitar had opened up dramatically. Fortunately over the years I had spent many hours behind the plectrum playing bass, so now I was off on a new journey and it wasn't too long before I was eyeing a big Martin dreadnought guitar with evil intent - "that" sound just couldn't be replicated, so full, rich and in-your-face. All the Stars (abovementioned) couldn't be wrong. I had to have one too.

Guess what? My Birthday again and surprise surprise, there it was. I am so lucky, Jenny does love me so; but I love her too, just wish I could buy her a few guitars as well . . . there's the Collings 12 fret, or perhaps that Morgan without the fret markings, never mind several other Martins that are begging to be taken home - of course if you can prise them away from their fanatic guitar buff Hugh. What a wonderful man and the real thing. His business is more focused on sharing his guitar experience with you than trying to close a deal and move a product 'out the door'. Hugh's attitude is completely natural and can be summed up: "If more people played the guitar this world would be a better place" ; and I am a better person for the privilege of knowing Hugh Cumming (and owning a Martin HD28, of course!).