Soundboard Decoration

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    brook-boddie on #198149

    I have a question for you guys:  I have a small, not-so-expensive lever harp that I would love to have a soundboard decoration.  Besides the stick-on decals, has anyone ever attempted to paint a soundboard decoration on a finished harp?  If so, is there any particular type of paint that should be used?  Is there any particular type of soundboard veneer that works better for something like this?

    If this were done, it would be done by a professional artist I know with the understanding that she would not be held liable if it doesn’t turn out as I would want it.  I’m not sure that I’ll be brave enough to actually hire her to do it, but I wanted to get you guys’ opinion about this being a viable option and whether or not you think it might damage the harp. My biggest fear is actually not damage to the harp; it’s whether or not I want to risk allowing her to do it, knowing that whatever she does cannot be reversed, no matter how much I like/dislike it.

    Please share your ideas with me. Thanks in advance!

    hearpe on #198155

    I love a decorated harp, or any other instrument.   I’ve seen some simple and attractive vine designs , leafs and shamrocks or other celtic sign, and I wouldn’t mind having that.  I think simple is best myself-  soundboards transfer the sound waves and pass them along as the notes and music, so I don’t think they should be heavily painted, myself. You may have the best result keeping I simple- some good acrylic oil base paint might be tougher lasting, while latex gives you the flexibility to quickly sponge off mistakes or ideas that don’t look good when applied, and that may allow you to make your own designs rather than hire a professional. Have fun and good luck.

    Biagio on #198164

    The paint medium should be thin to avoid any dulling of tone or later chipping.  You will be OK with just about any SB base provided that it is finished, preferably with lacquer. Unfinished wood will absorb the medium and run unless it is heavy tempura (not a good idea).  Be sure to give the artist as many ideas as possible.

    One of mine was decorated with Liebtruth glitter watercolor done to a design we came up with together.  The base is lacquered birch.

    Laurie Riley is the artist – an accomplished wildlife painter as well as harper.  We lightly penciled the contours before painting.  Afterwards the design was very lightly sprayed with a fixative.

    Have fun!



    Tacye on #198175

    If you know what the current finish on the soundboard is, it may be possible to pick a paint which can be removed later.  For instance polyurethane is sometimes used on harps and is resistant to many solvents, so you pick a paint which won’t bleed into the existing finish and can be removed by a solvent which wouldn’t bother the polyurethane.  You also need to be sure there are no cracks in the finish for the paint to seep through.

    Allison Stevick on #198176

    I think harp decoration can be great! I haven’t painted on a finished harp, but I did watercolor pencil on my own unfinished harp before finishing with a lacquer. I did a light outline of the design beforehand, as Biagio said, and it worked well. Have fun, and do let us know how it turns out!

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