Every now and then we come across a fancy piece of wood that's not one of our standard options, and we can't resist making a harp out of it. These are the ones you see in the Featured Harps section of our website - unique instruments that can't be found on our regular price list and are now waiting for the right person to fall in love with them. When we build those harps, we're guessing on things like the type of lever and whether or not to include decorative inlay, and then hoping that the particular combination we end up with is just right for someone.
We currently have a special set of parts for the staveback FH36S, and this time we're doing something different and letting you choose the details before we build the harp. Start with gorgeous highly-figured pommelé sapele wood and choose whatever options you want. Maybe you prefer no extra adornments so that the rich texture of the pommelé really stands out. Or maybe you want to go all out with lever gut strings and a bird's eye maple soundboard and a bit of abalone sparkle on the pillar.
Sapele is a West African wood that is quite similar to mahogany. It is relatively fast-growing, and is used in fine furniture, fine woodworking and musical instruments. Sometimes, for unknown reasons, sapele trees will be found with this astonishing "pommelé" (French word meaning dappled or mottled) figure in the wood. Trees found with this quality of figure are typically processed into thin veneer to maximize the "square footage," so finding a board big enough to cut out all the parts for a solid wood harp is quite rare. We have only the single set of parts (soundbox panels pictured below) for an FH36S, so this is an unusual opportunity to own a truly one-of-a-kind instrument.
(Note: we have wiped the wood down quickly with a damp towel to simulate the finished look, which accounts for some of the dry patches you see in the photo.)
Of course, tone is an important feature of a special instrument like this. The sound of sapele is an amazingly pleasing blend of brightness, depth, power and warmth, with not too much of any one of these attributes, so that it seems to suit almost anyone's particular taste. It is often the "Ah, just right!" wood choice - warm and rich, with a complex mid-range and a very sweet high end.
The base price of this FH36S in rare, premium pommelé sapele is $7895, which includes a case and a full set of Loveland levers. Additional options include Camac levers, gut strings, abalone inlay and decorative soundboard veneer. If this looks like it could be your dream harp, give us a call!