So...how do you like your psaltery, plain or fancy? The BP is an interesting instrument in that it lends itself to a vast variety of decoration and embellishment without having to sacrifice much of its tone. There are simple ones and those that sport all manner of exotic decoration.
Me, I tend to go for simple lines and very basic ornamentation. I did choose a lovely Celtic knot for the sound hole of my Phantasy Psaltery, but otherwise it's very plain as psalteries go (I think Eric was a bit bored making it). My two Ringing Strings are elegant in their simplicity, and I wouldn't change that for the world. But there are some beautifully ornate instruments out there.
So....how do you like yours? Plain or Fancy?
I like enough bling to make an instrument (or anything else, for that matter!) stand out just a bit. Ebay has scads of BPs that are painted. I know nothing about the seller/maker, but they are nice to look at. I would be concerned about paint deteriorating and chipping, so I would favor a cool soundhole, some inlay, or maybe woodburning. Maybe colored staining instead of painting? Just a thought...
Oh, the BP in Donna's post, the purple and green? WANT!
That purple and green one is a Phantasy Psaltery (Eric Meier) it is very cool!!
I'm pretty sure the BPs your refering to on eBay are made by Dave Lucas. He does paint some and he puts some scroll work on the sound board of others. I have never heard a Lucas BP, but I've been told their voice is particularly loud. That could be useful in jams when the BP can't be heard above the other instruments, though you might not like it at home playing alone. As always, It's a matter of personal preference.
Archie Smith makes some very decorative psalteries also, beautiful pieces. Altarwind (see the picture in the header for this web site) did inlays in their BPs and I would be very interested in that myself.
I have wondered about painted and decorated psalteries though. If there is a lot of paint I think it might deaden the sound (depending on the type of paint as well) and also, if a decorative item is glued onto the sound board does that alter the sound? I doubt small decorations make much difference to sound but there probably is a point where it would. Just like the type of finish on a psaltery can change the sound....
The sound hole is probably one of the best ways to have some fun with your psaltery! I recently asked a builder to to a custom one for me, but as with anything else, customization and pretty decorations cost extra : )
I've thought about doing some wood burning, painting or stenciling on my bow however. I think you could get pretty outrageous there!!
sometimes the wood and the curves themselves are gorgeous....less can definately be more!