Sligo Harps - Plans

Here, you can download the plans in .dwg format for the fourth harp (the Waldorf harp) for free.   This page also presents prices and details for Paper plans for three nylon strung harps (26, 30 and 36 Strings) a historic wire strung harp based on the Lamont, and instructions for building a Bray harp based on plans available through the Boston Museum of fine art.  For the first five harps, each plan set includes:

Plans Sheetshowing the size of the harp, length of the sound board and angles for placing the base plate and cap

Detail sheets - Showing the scantlings for shaping the sound board as well as the fasteners that hold the neck, pillar, and sound box to each other

Full Sized Templates - for the Neck, Pillar, Knee block, string rib grommet spacing and sound holes

Stringing scheduleListing the lengths, gauges colors and compositions for each of the strings

With the plans, access to the Online Building Guide and the suppliers list, you can build any of these harps:


The Raven 36 – $45

I have built about 26 of these and the Raven is the most popular plan I sell.  The Range descends two notes below the great C to 43Hz. A.   With 1,200 lbs of tension, the frame and sound box need to be strong.




30 String Abbott – $40

I met Craig Abbott at a local clan gathering and we resolved to build a nice harp for his youngest daughter.   As a father of seven, he wanted something that could be built quickly and economically.  We were both delighted with the result – a small, portable 30 string harp that delights the eyes and ears. 





26 String Siochan based on the Clark Harp – $30

Siochan is Gaelic for “Peace”.   This harp has been popular with folks that want something they can carry easily for therapy work or Renaissance fairs. 



Waldorf 22, Lap Harp – Free

This design was developed for a class of middle-schoolers at a Waldorf School in Pennsylvania.  The goal was to make a small harp that was quick to build, and did not require skilled joiner.  The result sounds very nice for a harp of its size, and has a useful range, descending three of four notes lower than most three octave lap harps.


The Neck to pillar joint is a simple butt joint, reinforced with a side patch.  The 3mm birch ply soundboard can be tacked on with bronze ring nails.  Straightforward solutions allow a rank beginner to make a robust instrument with minimum drama and fuss.


You can download the Waldorf plan in a portable document format (.pdf) or as an Autocad (DWG) file  along with the Building Notes (8 pages) I originally developed for the school.  If you have trouble opening the files, I would be happy to E-mail you the .dwg or .pdf files.  Many engineering firms, architects and print shops have CAD programs and large media plotters.   Savvy craftsmen have found the proper inducements (do I smell fresh baked cookies?) to the appropriate individual can score them a set of full-sized plots.    If you insist on paper copies of the building guide, plans, detail sheets templates and string band, I would be happy to send them to you for $20.  





Lamont Style Wire Strung – $30

This plan is based on measurements and drawings in Robert Bruce Armstrong’s The Irish and Highland Harps.  Tim DesRoches spends his summers in nearby Bethesda Maryland and came to my shop one evening a week in 2009 to build the first.  He is quite a good carver as these pictures show.  The plans do not include drawings for detailed zoomorphic carvings used on the Lamont – you can consult the book for that.  It does specify the structure we used for the joints and scantlings for the thickness of the sound box sides and top.  You will have to decide whether to carve the box from a single slab of wood (the traditional approach) or whether to use a plank construction (as we did below).  This harp has the tight spacing of the ancient harps (32 strings spread over 13-1/8 inches), which will require the player to use the nail technique to play.



Magda, a Five Octave 6/6 Cross Strung Chromatic $45


60 strings, 56” tall, 28” Deep, 18” wide, 22 lbs

Warning - A cross strung harp is a complex, high tension instrument requiring close tolerances for pin placement.  It is a difficult instrument to build well.   This harp also uses a unique pin configuration with the tuning pins crossing each other in the neck.  This makes tuning a little easier since the harper can place her wrench over the tuning pegs that run along the top of the neck, unimpeded by the other strings.   It also keeps the turning angles between the bridge and tuning pins smaller.  To get the angle separations needed at the bass end, holes for the #6 tuning pins had to be drilled and reamed through a neck that is 3 inches thick at the bass end.   The angled holes can be made with simple jigs, but do require some patience and skill to make accurately.  

The most common cross strung harps use a 5/7 configuration, with seven “natural” strings per octave (think of the white keys of the piano) lying in one plane and the other five strings (the black keys of the piano) falling in the other plane.   

Like the Lamont, the first prototype was built by Tim DesRoches.  He was pleased with the look and sound of the final instrument and took it back to Poland for his wife Magda at the end of the summer 2010



Building Guide for a

Renaissance Bray Harp$45


32 strings, 51.5” tall, 17.75” Deep, 8” wide, 9 lbs

Warning - The Bray harp has a very distinctive sound!

In 2005, I was contacted by Holly Stockley, Veterinarian from Michigan that wanted to build a bray harp to use at Renaissance fairs.  Together, we located museums willing to sell plans for bray harps in their collections.  The various plans we obtained clearly show how the instrument parts are shaped how they fit together, but they do not provide guidance on how to fabricate those parts, what strings to use or how to adjust them to make a working reproduction.  Museums and harp builders typically want to avoid the endless debates waged by among Musical Historians and other self-appointed experts regarding what was used to string these harps, how the brays were adjusted and the techniques musicians used to play them.

The building guide and plans will alow you to build a close replica of the Bray harp in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.  The Building guide is 8 pages and includes the steps I used to build the sound box, neck and pillar.  It provides detailed instructions and 10 diagrams describing how to fabricate the staples and bray pins used to attach the strings to the sound board.  It lists three string sets (one in nylon, two in traditional gut) as well as specifications and sources for hardware.    The Building Guide does not pretend to replicate the methods used by German Luthiers of the late 1600’s.   It illustrates the approach I used to efficiently build a working instrument using modern power tools and readily available materials.  You cand make the full sizes templates by tracing the full sized plans.


Prices include shipping to within the USA


To order, you can write us at send me an e-mail and we will send you a PayPal invoice, or you can send a check, money order to:

Rick Kemper, Sligo Harp Shop, 10605 Lockridge Drive, Silver Spring MD 20901.  

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