Clare & Kilmartin lap-harps
Silver Spear lap harps are made entirely from solid timber, usually with a body and frame of sycamore, and a vertical-grain soundboard of spruce or cedar. This type of soundboard, which is similar to those formed by the hollowed-out body of early harps, is made possible by the low string tension, and gives a surprising volume and sweetness of sound, considering the compact size of the instruments - the Clare and Kilmartin 17‘s in particular would fit comfortably inside a normal suitcase.
Their shape is based on historical harps - the straight arm of the Kilmartin echoes the very early harps shown in manuscripts such as the Utrecht psalter, and in pictish carvings, while the flowing ‘gothic’ curves of the Clare were influenced by the carvings of early renaissance harps which are found in so many churches across Britain and Europe, and in paintings from that period. However, they have been designed primarily as travel harps, or distinctive instruments in their own right, ideal for improvisation or song accompaniment, rather than pure historic reproductions.
These harps do not usually have semi-tone levers - the small number of strings makes it easy to re-tune them into different keys - but levers may be fitted to the c’s and f’s, as an option, if required. They are generally fitted with nylon strings.