Classic Black Finish
The standard finish for all of the carbon fiber Superlight Harps™ is Classic Black, which is a shiny, high-gloss finish. The surface is very smooth to the touch, and from a distance of 4–5 feet or more, the harp appears black. Up close, under the shiny finish you can see the distinctive weave of the carbon fiber material, which looks similar to a black herringbone pattern. It’s a very elegant finish in its natural state, and is the most scratch resistant finish.
All of the Superlight Harps™ can be painted in just about any color one can imagine. We use a high-grade automotive finish that is about as tough as a painted finish can be. There are three differences to note when considering the Painted finish versus the Classic Black finish.
1. The Tone
Because the carbon fiber material is so thin, the paint adds enough thickness and mass to affect the sound of the painted harps, giving them a slightly more mellow tone. The paint also mutes the sound of the harp slightly; however, these harps have such incredible volume to begin with that this is barely detectible. As to the tonal difference—some harpists prefer the sound of the Painted finish harp, while others prefer the tone of the Classic Black finish. Think of it like the same harp model made out of two different woods, and you have an idea of the difference. The Classic Black and painted finish harps would have to be right next to each other to hear the difference. You can try and hear the difference by checking out the recordings on the Carbon Fiber vs. Wood Harp page and viewing the answers.
2. The Scratch Resistance
The painted harps are somewhat susceptible to scratching and chipping. Basically, anything that would hurt your nice, shiny new car would do the same to a painted Superlight Harp™. The painted harps are still virtually impervious to the elements (water, heat, cold, humidity), and are similarly tuning stable. And even the biggest chip would only be in the paint, and would not penetrate the carbon fiber base.
The painted harps come with a bottle of touch-up paint that exactly matches the harp, including a brush in the lid. In the event of a large chip, the touch-up paint and the harp could actually be taken in to an automotive body shop for the re-touching.
3. The Price
There is an additional charge for painting the Superlight Harps™. Painting carbon fiber is a surprisingly tricky procedure requiring a number of coats and sanding. The beautiful, shiny finish looks so easy, but is really a challenge to achieve. The pricing for a painted finish is found on the details page of each model or on our complete Heartland Harps Price List.
Custom, Hand Painted
We can create a harp with just about any design one can imagine. This option is available on all models, and is applied over any Painted or Classic Black finish. You would supply us with the general design, and we work with you and our artist to create the custom, hand-painted design to your specifications. Depending on the complexity and size of the design, custom artwork fees range from $300–$2,000 US, or higher (in addition to the paint or wood grain finish fee). See more details and examples in the article Creating the Dream Harp.
One addition we can do on any of the harps, black or painted, is that we can also add artwork in the form of stencils, done in your choice of color (most commonly in gold to match the hardware).
The best website for finding possible artwork patterns is www.iStockPhoto.com.
There are lots of choices there, and we can also use black and white files from any other similar site. Most stencils will add anywhere from $40–$400 to the overall cost of the harp, depending on the complexity of the stencil. Multiple stencils will be higher. We can put the artwork anywhere on the harp that you envision it, and in multiple locations as well.
The one thing to keep in mind when looking at the possibilities is to minimize the number of ‘orphans’ in the stencil. These are areas where the background is completely surrounded by the black or painted surface. These are common in, for instance, a field of grass and flowers, where the grass is long and overlapping, or in most complex Celtic artwork. Below are three samples, ranging from difficult (and more expensive) grass and flowers, to an easier flowing pattern, to an easy solid pattern. All of these would look beautiful on any harp, but would vary widely in price.
The most complex sample:
The simpler sample:
The easiest sample: