I have always wanted a purple harp. About 10 years ago, I purchased the plans for a Shepherd Harp and some purple heart wood. Because of the expense of the wood, I decided to make a practice one first. Unfortunately, life happened and I did not get to work on the harps until about a year ago. A couple of friends helped me build the practice harp made from scrap wood from the house we were building and then the purple harp.
My daughter took the practice harp to college with her and I have the purple one. I am attaching photos of each. I spent a bit of time trying to find a finish that would not alter the purple color, but never really succeeded. The finish gave it a more maroonish tint but still not too bad.
Thanks for the mountain dulcimer plans - they are clear and comprehensive. I also printed off the instructions for the dulcimer kit - most helpful!
I have a shed full of old timber so its fun working out what to use where. The sides are perhaps Cedar or maybe Oregon. They bend OK with my home made steamer so time will tell. The back of an old wardrobe is also my plan for the back & top. Or maybe some timber from an old Piano.
The finger board will be good old Aussie red gum. One thing, I am working in metric so going back to ft & inches is taking some getting used to. I will keep you posted. Yes you have done right by me!
Also thanks to Jerry & Matt for my earlier emails.
Just finished my "suitcase bass", built entirely from plans provided by Musicmakers in Stillwater, MN. Good of them to make them available for free.
The body is a combination of pine sides and luan plywood front and back. The neck is laminated walnut from a big slab I've had drying in my shop for 10 years or more, planed to 7/8" thickness.
I made the bridge from some scrap maple I've had kicking around. It's supposed to be 7/8" but 3/4" was all I had so....3/4" it is.
A local music store gave me the end pin from some parts they had kicking around. Otherwise, if you can see it....I made it. Didn't want to spend the long dollar so instead of $150 bass strings, there are weedwhacker strings. No, I didn't go to Ace Hardware. There's actually an outfit on ebay that sells bass strings under the name "weedwhacker upright bass strings".
When I can afford better strings, I'll put them on cuz these are too fat and "thumpy" sounding compared to a serious set of strings but they work well for now. Hard to get them into the slots in the tuners though.
Since it's a suitcase bass, it's got a handle on the side. What else :)
Based on your free plan I was able to make a mandolin with some "cosmetic" changes. I'm happy to share the final result with you.
Note : No electrical equipment was used: all made by hand tools.
Thanks and best Regards.
Ordered your Limerick Lap Harp Blueprints and so the adventure begins!!
I'm a mechanical and electrical and software engineer with a woodworking habit. I live by plans and specifications and yours are superb.
The project took 125 hrs; 70 to build with 55 for the French polish and constantly tuning it for a couple of weeks! I understand that's acceptable...
None-the-less, I'm quite pleased with the thing and many others are enthralled with its overall voice.
I wish I could switch careers and do nothing but build harps!!
Thanks to Jerry and Matt and all of you at Musicmaker's for such an enjoyable experience! Blessings to you all!!
Good afternoon Matt,
Attached copy of photo of Shepherd Lap harps which I built from your blueprints. The one harp I built for a friend of mine,and he is just as excited as I am to learn to play this amazing instrument.
I have at this stage learned to tune the harp with a digital tuner and am amazed to the beautiful sound of this harp. I'm so excited in what I've achieved and am sure that I will be purchasing more blue prints in the future to build another harp.
I thank you once again for your help and assistance in making this dream of mine come to reality.
Bless you all,
Thank you for the Hurdy Gurdy plans and parts I recently purchased. They arrived safely and promptly. Needless to say I'm busy on the project at the moment.
May I take this opportunity to thank Musicmakers for their quality of service and assistance with my instrument-making endeavours over the past couple of years. Without exception I have found the project plans and instructions precise and easy to follow, making the projects interesting and enjoyable to construct. They have provided a great sense of satisfaction on their completion and many hours of enjoyment as family members learn to play the instruments.
Thanks again to you and the Team for your friendly and helpful service and support.
Country NSW, Australia
I purchased your digital download of 50 assorted harp plans a few weeks ago and I have loved reading the articles and accompanying blueprints. Not only am I happy with such an affordable price for so many plans, but I was also pleasantly surprised to receive your summer 2013 catalogue! I have been scouring the internet looking for the best prices on hardware parts and I found them right in the back of your magazine. I will most certainly be ordering from you in the future.
My Hurdy Gurdy - made from your excellent plans.
The harp I made from your plans came together without any problems. The drawings were excellent. I cut out the plans and traced them on to the wood. They fit together perfectly. I am donating the finished harp to a church that is building a model of the desert tabernacle of moses.....I think I will try and build the hurdy gurdy next.
Dear Matt & Jerry,
I have just completed one of two Regency harps I am building from scratch for my wife and wanted you to know that the sound is awesome!!! My wife began taking harp lessons in January using a rented harp from another well-known maker. There is no comparison between the Regency and the other harp - the Regency sound quality is much better and louder. My wife's harp teacher commented that she had seen many Regency harps but that ours was the best in terms of beauty and sound. We couldn't be happier with how this project turned out.
What a rewarding experience this project was for me (and my wife). When my wife sat down to play the Regency for the first time it nearly brought me to tears. I have not yet added the Universal sharping levers I recently purchased but have viewed Jerry's YouTube video and feel confident this effort will go well after we arrive in NJ.
My sincere thanks for all your help,
I just finished building a 17/16 hammered dulcimer from your plans and hardware. It turned out beautiful and sounds great. I used birds eye maple for the top and bottom rail and mahogany for the sound board and bridges. The mahogany and hard maple came from where I work(they have a pattern shop) and the birds eye maple was given to me also.I attached some pictures.
Thanks again for your quality products and service.
- Barry Brigmon
I don't do Facebook, but I thought you'd like to see the Studio Harp I just finished. I still have to make longer legs for it and it will take some time I am sure for the tuning to stabilize, but it is mostly done. The plans worked well. I picked up a couple of tips should I build another Studio Harp. And it only took a couple of weeks in the evenings and weekends to build it. I will have a hard time waiting until Christmas to give this to my daughter. The next harp I build will be a Shepherd Harp.
I am glad I chose Musicmakers instead of any of the other harp kit alternatives out there.
I wanted to send some pictures of dulcimers that i builded from your plans that i bought from you sometime ago. One for myself and one for my friend.
Now they are both ready. These are made of sitka spruce top, finnish birch back and sides and indian rosewood fretboard. Never seen these kind of instruments before or played one but these sounds really good and are pleasure to play.
So thanks to you.
Kari Kahkonen from icebear and kantele country:)
Click the pictures to enlarge
I have bought several items from you over the past couple of years, from blueprints to parts to Jerry's harp making journal, and have been very pleased with the service and friendliness of you all, plus the quality of the products.
I have attached some pictures of a couple of these that I have made for you to look at. The designs are modified somewhat to my taste, but still basically the Shepherd model.
Since you've spent a considerable amount of time answering my questions (some smart and some not so much), and therefore to a certain extent are responsible for the the creation of my 31-string Gothic harp, I thought you might at least like to see what you've done. Whether you consider this something you can be proud of or something you can be blamed for is for you to decide.
I have a reasonable amount of woodworking experience, though little of the finish variety--mostly things like decks, garden sheds and other hack-and-attach projects. I've never made a musical instrument before, so I thought I'd get my feet wet with something simple. So I built your Lil' Lyre kit.
As this turned out reasonably successful (it has ten strings and makes sounds, which I assume is a good thing), I wanted to try something that was a little more challenging. What did I choose for my next project? Something that indeed is a little more challenging than the Lil' Lyre--the 31-string Gothic harp. Not the kit, mind you, but from scratch.
Yeah, I know--your web site says "Our Gothic harps are our most challenging harps to build." But hey, the Lil' Lyre has ten strings and makes sounds, so I figured that the Gothic harp has 31 strings and makes sounds. How hard can it be?
Yeah, right. A few months (and many mistakes, discarded and remade parts, and a lot of fun) later, I finally strung my completed harp. I've attached a photo for your amusement.
It's made of African padauk and finished with only clear urethane topcoat to preserve the lovely orange, nicely-grained character of natural padauk. While padauk is a hard and heavy wood, I wasn't sure about how it would stand up to the rigors of being a harp. I found only one reference online to a harp that was made of padauk, but it had nothing to say about about sturdiness or what was done to enable it to survive the tensions of a fully-strung harp.
So, in an attempt to ensure adequate strength, I constructed the neck and pillar in a slightly different sort of way. In addition to being strong, I wanted the neck (and pillar) to at least appear to be a single piece of wood, with no laminations or reinforcements showing. So I started with a 2" thick board, sawed it down the middle, and hollowed out both pieces so that the hardwood was only about 1/4" thick. Then I filled the hollows with eight layers of snugly-fitted 3 mm GL-II aircraft birch plywood (think of it as a plywood inlay), and glued the two halves back together. The result looks from all angles like a single piece of wood, but is actually a 42-ply laminate.
Whether this was a good idea or not remains to be seen. Will it crack? Will the pins hold? Will it explode in a shower of birch and padauk splinters and twanging strings? Time will tell. At least I was able to completely string it without a hint of problems.
All that's left, then, is installing the sharping levers. After I mortgage my house, I'll be ordering these which, coincidentally, cost almost exactly what I have invested in the rest of the harp. Feeding a habit is expensive.
So, thanks to all the kind folks at Musicmaker's, I have an actual harp. And after about another month of tuning, tuning, tuning, I'll be able to sit down and, well, look at it. Maybe I should consider learning how to play it. But where would I find the time? There are Limerick and Regency harps sitting in my shop, just waiting to be coaxed out of a stack of lumber.
I will start out by telling you that this is not the first hammered dulcer that I have built.That said, I would reccomend your blue prints over any others that I have tested. Anyone with a little patience and woodworking ability can build a quality instruement that sounds great and looks great. Your lay out is precise,instructions are easy to follow. I did make some changes that made stringing the instruement a little easier.I cut the delrhin into 1/2 inch peices and super glued them to the bridges.This way you don't have to go under anything and it's much easier.I plan to build at least 5 more using your plans and I will not be ashamed of pricng them at 1k each.When I have time I want to try one of the mandolin plans and I'm sure I will be just as pleased. Your plans make it possible for anyone to build and own a quality dulcimer.
God Bless those that help others.
I had spoken to somebody at Musicmakers about our project and how much we appreciated the detailed plans for both the adjustable stand and the 17/16 hammered dulcimer.
Your directions were the best that we have ever used for a project and my husband is a shipwright as well as a master cabinet-maker and furniture builder. He followed them right to the letter and as we discussed in an earlier e-mail found them to be dead on accurate. The resultant tone is beautiful.
Jean and Garrett Mulder
Since 1989 I have wanted to purchase and learn how to play the hammered dulcimer. My fiance, at the time, told me he could make me one. Well, after a year of courtship and 14 years of marriage, he finally came through with his promise. He used your blueprints and had absolutely no problems reading the plans and has had oodles of compliments and wows on how beautiful the instrument is. Thank you sooooo much for having this business and for your sincere kindness. I have had to call one or two times with questions and have had nothing but kind, sweet help.
-- Angie in Wyoming
Attached are photos of a Regency based harp that I scratch built from your excellent plans and blueprints. Aside from some cosmetic changes, adaptations and trim, the harp is a regency. I used Bubinga for the neck and pillar and base, African Mahogany for the body sides and Paduuk for the trim. The soundborad is 5 ply Finnish aircraft birtch ply and the back is 5mm Oak plywood. The lower side decorations are your Celtic Knots.
I have been tuning it only for a few day and the tone, timber, volume are excellent! Thank you for the superb plans and blueprints. My wife plays and is very happy with this instrument. I will be getting levers from you shortly and installing when the pitch settles.
Notes on the photos: The detail of the 'key' at the pillar to neck joint - I used a piece of ebony left from a guitar fretboard. 3/8 thick, installed 1/4 inch into the Bubinga. Unfortunately my router slipped on the very last cut and made small divet on one end of the broach... Not enough leeway with the already cut Key so I had to apply some trim. Also, besides glue and dowelling, I used quite decorative brass funiture bolts as well (think the joint is secure!).
- Jack Schaerer