(Orange, Texas)

March 8, 2014

Mauriceville man builds harp

Dawn Burleigh
The Orange Leader

MAURICEVILLE — Carroll Benoit, 79, believes in making dreams a reality.

Benoit saw a harp during a wedding 40-50 years ago which inspired a dream of building the instrument one day.

Benoit builds resonator guitars since he retired in the 1980’s.

“I have built and sold about 200 guitars,” Benoit said. “I was forced to sell because people would ask for one.”

Two years ago, Benoit started researching on how to construct a harp. He contacted a person in Maryland for plans and a woman, Mignon Winger of Beaumont for more information.

Winger, a retired school teacher, performed at weddings and parties with her harp.

“I wanted the harp to have the look of a pedal harp,” Benoit said. “It does not have a pedal but has sharpening levers instead.”

The harp is slightly smaller at 67” than a normal 74” harp.

Construction of the instrument took approximately 480 hours once Benoit started.

“I am able to sleep now that it is completed,” Benoit said. “It was all I could think about once I started.”

Guitar making is a 7-day a week hobby for Benoit who regularly attends conventions to display his instruments.

According to his website Benoit said his love for music goes back to 1950 when he was a freshman in high school and he and two friends learned to play the guitar together.

Benoit also performed at Tuffy’s in Mauriceville for 20 years.

Winger saw the concert harp for the first time Thursday when she tested the harp for Benoit to know if all his work and research paid off.

“It is a work of art, amazing,” Winger said. “It sounds like a folk harp. He did a marvelous job.”

Winger asked if Benoit is going to build a bigger harp next.

“I want to see him build a pedal harp,” Winger said.

Benoit said he does not know what will be next, but it will be something different.

Benoit and his wife, Anita, will display the harp during the 30th Annual Texas Steel Guitar Jamboree  March 13-16, 2014 at the Sheraton DFW Airport.