I have been building custom, one-of-a-kind harps since 1978, seeking to meet my clients needs for very special harps. Over the last 31 years, I have designed and created over 325 custom carved and sculpted harps. Designing harps from scratch, or modifying my standard models, I create unique instruments that reflect each Musician`s Personal needs and desires. I have designed and created many very special harps, that are being used in hospice and other healing work. I have also designed and created many harps that are being used in spiritual services of all faiths.
I draw inspiration from many sources, including my Scottish and Irish ancestry, which includes both Robert the Bruce and Brian Boru as two of my Celtic ancestors.
I also draw from the deep and ancient Mystical traditions of my Sephardic Jewish ancestry as well. A specialty I have is building King David harps, that is Kinnors and Nevels. These are harps styled after two of the types of harps that were extent in the area of ancient Israel, around the time of King David. I usually build these harps in Myrtle wood, with carved Olive branches, the Star of David, and prayers in Hebrew letters, all carved in raised relief. One is in the form of a harp with a neck, pillar and sound box. The other is in the form of a Lyre.
Using a computer string band design program, I design custom sized harps with the range of notes, string spacing, and tension you desire. From pedal-harp tension and spacing, with Gut strings, to close spaced light tension Gothic strung harps. From 19 string compact, but full sounding lap harps, up to 45 string grand harps with big rich, room-shaking sound, all are possible!
The shape and "look" of your harp will be custom designed around the chosen number of strings and string spacing, by being carved, sculpted and otherwise decorated to your personal desires. It is very easy for me to build your harp to be larger or taller, shorter or more compact, all while using the same number of strings, and string spacing. I can carve in almost any style, creating any image you wish, that you can dream up . I can create a harp directly inspired by the ancient Gothic or Celtic styles, recreate a specific historical harp, or work from the images in ancient carvings or illustrated texts. The types of images and subjects that my carved harps convey cover the full spectrum of the imagination. Working from detailed drawings, photos, rough sketches or general ideas you may have. I work with you to create the mood and energy you wish to express through your harp.
Besides carving, I offer decorative options including: soundboard wood burning and painting, inlays of various materials such as colored woods, silver wire, mother-of-pearl, crystals and gemstones are possible. Please ask for more details on custom decoration ideas, and possibilities.
When we come up with the images you wish, I create a full sized drawing, to scale, showing the desired string spacing, etc., for your approval. This drawing includes any detailed rendering of proposed carving, inlay, or paintings, with different price options for different amounts of such detailed work. I send a range of color samples, based on your ideas, for you to choose from, for any desired painting. That way you can see, and approve all the colors beforehand. You will be able to then see how your harp will look when finished. And you will be able to request any changes in the harp size, shape, style or proposed decoration. Making any changes you wish on the drawing itself, I will then built your custom harp from that drawing.
My training as a builder of Classical Italian violins has taught me the importance of building each instrument as a unique total creation, whether violin or harp.
Fine violins and harps are built step by step, not by mass production. I carefully hand taper my sound boxes, and soundboards. Small differences of thickness and density of the wood used in a harp can radically affect its musical tone. I use only 15 to 20 year air dried, all solid Oregon Engelmann Spruce, which has been especially cut for the best sound, on my soundboards. This quality tone wood will continue to improve in sound in the same manner as the wood used in the finest violins. In fact this same wood, from the same trees, is sent all over the world to be used in fine violins, cellos and violas. You will observe a continual improvement in sound, the more you play. That cannot occur in a harp with a plywood soundboard. I never use hardwood veneers on my soundboards, as veneers tend to dampen the rich fullness of sound that only solid Spruce can produce. Veneers tend to flatten the wave form of the sound generated by a harp sound board, thus making the sound simpler, and reducing the full rich potential of a finely built harp.
You will find that Mountain Glen Harps are always rich and full in sound, with a warmth and depth that will compliment your playing style, no matter how soft or loud you play.
All the other woods I use are of the finest quality, solid hardwood fully dried and stable. Necks and pillars are made of three layers of solid hardwood on my larger harps, and two layers on my smaller ones. This gives the added strength of the opposing grain, to resist the tendency of the string tension to pull the pillar/neck to one side. Some makers use plywood here, but my experience has shown me that two or three layers of solid hardwood are stronger, and more beautiful as well !
How I build my Custom Harp Sound boxes
My sound boxes are usually built in a five sided, (not counting the soundboard), staved configuration. I cut all three pieces of each side of the sound box, so the wood grain flows from one panel to the next. Starting at the soundboard, and then flowing to the back, where the book matching reverses direction, and back to the other side of the soundboard. I can, upon request build you a harp with a four sided sound box, counting the soundboard as the fourth side. This type of sound box is often used when building a harp styled after some of the ancient Gothic or Celtic models. With this shape sound box, the wood grain will still flow around the box, as described above.
Harp Sizes Each harp I build can be designed and built of be as compact, or as large as you desire. This means all the dimensions, height, width of the harp from the box out to the pillar, the width and size of the sound box, etc. With this very flexible design service, the size and weight of the harps I build can vary wildly, depending on your needs. For example, a typical weight for a 36 string harp I can build, with a C to C note range, is about 18 Lbs. And the typical height would be about 56 inches. But for a person who sits taller (or who wishes to be able to play standing up), then the total height of the same harp might be up to 63 inches or more, with the same number of notes. Or, the same harp could be built to be more compact as well.
How I Design and Space my String Sets
String spacing and Tension. As on all my harps, I can build your new harp to have any string spacing and string tension you wish to have. Anything from true concert-harp string spacing and tension, to a close spaced, light tension Gothic type. Using my custom computer program, and a library of over one-thousand harp string patterns, I can reproduce a string spacing and tension that you are already comfortable with. I may also ask you to directly measure the spacing on your current harp, in order to give you a perfect match for your new harp. For my wire harps, I can vary the spacing depending on how you intend to play your harp. For traditional wire playing, a narrow string spacing is desirable. But, if you intend to use your finger-tips in playing, then a bit wider spacing is needed.
Here below is a video showing the being steps to constructing one of my custom harps. In this case it is a Laser Beam Harp, but a harp with strings will begin it`s life the same way, byt the full sized drawing being translated into wood ! :-)
My harps are constructed to create a harmonious balance of strength, light weight, and a full sweet tone. You can be assured that your Mountain Glen Harp will be crafted with the greatest care!
I guarantee my workmanship, to the original owner for five full years.
Thank you for coming to visit my Harp Pages, please let me know how I can bring your Dream Harp to Life !
Follow your Bliss, and live your Life in Joy!
Glenn J. Hill
Member: International Folk Harpers & Craftsmen Association Inc, Association of Science
and Technology Centers, Siskiyou Woodcraft Guild.
Please follow this link to take a look at my new custom harp builder blog: http://thecustomharpbuilder.blogspot.com/
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