Sligo Harp Shop - Components

Round Back Shells

Above – Two semi-finished shells ready to ship.  Top is Maple, 47” long.  Below – Curly Bubinga, 44” long.   These shells are quite strong, but are light – about four pounds each..


These round back shells are made by vacuum forming book matched veneer over two layers of 1/8” bending plywood using a powdered resin adhesive.  The result is a lightweight harp shell that is ¼” thick, perfectly smooth, fair and ready for finish sanding.  The veneer can be from a wide variety of species and are built to one of three stages of completion.

Plain shell $177 - Finish veneer applied over two layers of 1/8" bending ply

Semi-Finished $266 - Shell with cap and base epoxied into place, two or three oval sound holes cut, top and bottom trimmed flush.  Base and cap are made from birch ply, 3/8” and ¾” thick respectively

Soundboard Ready $325 - same as above with liners and mid-brace installed, the face of the sound box machined flush and ready for a soundboard

To place an order E-mail me and specify the stage and wood species  you want.  If you want a Semi-Finished or Sound Board Ready shell, you will need to also specify the length of the soundboard you will be mounting along with the angle for the cap and base. 

If you have not worked with round or stave back harps before, I will include a six page guide, “Working With Round Back Shells.” This will show you the simple jigs and fixtures I use to hold round backs while I  install the cape and base, cut the sound holes, trim the shell to size, glue the soundboard, finish the edges of the sound box, fit the neck and pillar and shape the knee block and neck to match the top of the sound box.   

Shell Width - I make shells on one of two molds.  Both molds make shells that are 16” wide at the bass end 3¼” at the treble end.  One is 48” long, the other 60”.  If you specify the dimension that is most important you (width at the bass end or width at the treble end) I will let you know what the other two widths can be.   After the edges of the shell are trimmed, they are over 3.5” deep at the treble end.  A 47” shell will be over 8” deep at the bass end.  Shorter shells will be proportionally shallower.  

I am willing to make a custom mold for a production run, but it is an expensive, time consuming proposition. 

Wood Species - I keep the following veneers on hand - curly maple, wavy cherry, plain maple, Bubinga, white Oak, and Fresno and Walnut.  My primary veneer supplier is Certainly Wood and I can make a shell using any of the species displayed at their online wood menu at   I have to wait for them to ship a specialty veneer to me which will add a week to delivery time . 

Maximum Length - The bending ply I use comes in 4 foot lengths, which is enough for most five octave (36 string) designs If you will be attaching a soundboard that is over 47" or so, I have to special order different (longer) ply which is more costly and will take longer.   There are some creative ways to “stretch” the shell to accommodate a soundboard that is a full 48” long, but the extra cap or base apron will add weight. 

Packing and Shipping runs an additional $40-60 for a shell depending on its size and destination. 

Delivery/Payment – I have been delivering shells 7-10 days after receiving a check from the client.  I do not deposit your payment until the shell is in the UPS truck.  If I have a backlog of orders, I will let your know before you place your order.  If there is going to be a delay, I will alert you immediately.


Six fancily figured shells in process for a Canadian client.  The sound holes have been cut, but the top and bottom have not been trimmed flush with the cap and base just yet.

Tapered Sound Boards

Soundboards are available in Sitka spruce and redwood.  They are available in a variety of lengths, veneered, with and without string ribs.  Most builders prefer to add their own ribs which allows them to profile the board and rib scantlings to suit their design and acoustic preferences.  A 50” board will be 1/8” thick at the treble end and ¼” thick at the bass end.  Shorter boards will be proportionally thinner at the bass end.    See “Wood Species” above for available veneers. 


<30” long

<40” long

<50” Long

<60” long












Add $25

Add $30

Add $50

Add $70

The Spruce boards are made from well cured rift and vertical cut spruce with less than 2% run-out.  AA or better, running 15-20 rings per inch.  The Redwood is just as nice.  String ribs are made from quarter or rift sawn hard maple. 

Pictured – the backside of a redwood sound board and a the front of a soundboard veneered with curly cherry.

To place an order, E-mail me and specify the stage and wood species  you want.  specify the length of the soundboard as well as the width at the bass and treble end.  If you want a ribs, please specify the string tension in your design and you preferences for the rib scantlings

Packing and Shipping Without the string ribs, Tapered sound boards are thin and fragile, and must be carefully packed between stiff panels that will prevent them from cracking in transit.   This runs $25-40 depending on the size of the board and its destination.

Delivery/Payment – As with the shells, I have been delivering boards 7-10 days after receiving a check from the client.  I will not deposit your check until package is in the UPS truck.  If I have a backlog of orders I will let your know before you place your order.  If there is going to be a delay, I will alert you immediately.

Veneered boards cannot be as strong (in bending across the board) as a solid board of the same thickness.  If you are profiling your soundboard closely to the limits of its strength, the veneered board will need to be a bit thicker.  This may adversely effect the tone on lightly strung harps.  I like to build harps with moderate to moderately high tension, and their tone does not seem to be impaired by a veneered board.  A veneered board is not as likely to get humidity cracks across the width of the board, and IF a humidity crack does form in the core, it cannot be easily detected which eliminates client complaints. 

I don’t stock plywood boards.  You can order birch aircraft ply from Jerry at Musicmakers Kits, Boulter,  LL. Johnson  or Wickes Aircraft.

What if the Shell or Sound board breaks? I use these shells and soundboards on my own harps that are strung with 1300 lbs of tension.  I have not had any failures or complaints from other builders.  That said, these are components.  I won’t have any control over another builders workmanship, gluing technique, how much profiling he does, or the scantlings they may select for string  ribs and liners.  Harp building can be risky, but I am willing to share some of that risk.  So this is my guarantee -

Guarantee - If the soundboard or shell you purchased from me fails due to a material defect, I will ship the first replacement to you for half price.  


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