The remote town of Narrandera, New South Wales has its hemisphere’s biggest guitar – like “the guitar that ate Australia” big. And it’s already inspired plenty of free music, plus a free sample library you can download for yourself.
Big is impressive. A giant guitar is a tourist attraction, that’s for sure. But big is also sonorous – this oversized instrument also has a unique timbre in the bass register, made possible because of its size.
So it’s well worth checking out this free library of sounds, all Creative Commons licensed – all they ask is some credit and tags in return. Friend of the site Bassling (Jason Richardson) did an ace, professional job of capturing the Narrandera guitar in all its splendor, alongside Tom ‘Wasabi’ Jones.
It’s available ready-to-use in Ableton Live and Native Instruments Kontakt formats, but you could easily adapt the sounds to any instrument you wish.
The Big Guitar [with downloads]
That unique sound has already caught the attention of composers, both locally in NSW and abroad through the power of the Internet (that’s you).
The wonderful experimental music site Disquiet has just completed one of its legendary Junto Project episodes with sounds from Narrandera, as part of an ongoing series of community-driven music challenges. It’s called “Acoustic Expanse,” even if I would have gone for “huge-a*** guitar,” but the results are great. Check it out:
Here’s Bassling’s own composition:
The Big Playable Guitar of Narrandera boasts impressive specs. Built out of plywood by Robert Palmer over the course of 300 hours, it’s 5.8 meters in length, 2 meters wide across its body, with nearly 4 meter-long strings. You’ll need two musicians to play it as a bass guitar, though Jason says he did manage chords – “both by using both hands and also by pressing down a glass bottle across strings,” he tells us.
By the way, if you’re wondering why there are all these “in the Southern Hemisphere” disclaimers, that’s because eventually America bested Australia in the category.
Narrandera, for its part, had the largest playable guitar record certified by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1991, not long after its 1988 completion. It held that title until the year 2000, when the Academy of Science and Technology in Conroe, Texas bested it with a 13.3 meter long, 5 meter wide, 1018 kg guitar. Of course Texas did that. (In, uh, Texas units, that’s almost 44 feet long, 2244 pounds.)
I had to do some hunting to find that instrument, but the largest v-neck did make a showing at Jersey City’s Liberty Science Center, during a show called “Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked The World.” Source: The Guardian
More on that instrument (which incorrectly says the scale is 1:12 – no, that’s actually 12:1!) – the latest to demonstrate the power of using kids as your labor, in the name of “science”:
The largest playable guitar in the world is 43 ft 7.5 inches tall, 16 ft 5.5 inches wide and weighs 2,000 lb. Modeled on a 1967 Gibson Flying V and built to a scale of 1:12, it was made by students from Conroe Independent School District Academy of Science and Technology, Conroe, Texas, USA at a cost of US$3,000. With construction beginning in October 1999, the instrument was finally played at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion with the opening chord of “Hard Day’s Night”.Guinness Book of World Records
I would therefore say Australia holds the title for largest playable acoustic?
In the piano category, we already have an instrument here in Germany – and a sample library, to match, The Giant, aka the Klavins 370i.
There’s a whole oversized band coming together; I can feel it.
More pics, for scale: