Is Imperfection Acceptable?

Posted by David Clark on

Greetings, Folks.

Today, I was inspired to slow down, stop and reconsider the results of my harp making efforts here at John Kovac Harps by Davy C. I suggest you may, as well, be interested in what has caused me to pause to reflect upon my woodworking career, concerning the harp instruments I create and sell. What inspired me can be found in a short woodworking video blog produced by a woodworker, Steve Ramsey whom I link to in my favorite Web Links. His channel is entitled, Workworking for Mere Mortals. 

You can check out Steve's thought-provoking video on YouTube at

As a commercial maker, I, of course, without question want to provide you with the most perfect instrument possible. This includes such qualities as appearance, string specifications, sound quality, playability, durability, etc. After all, you, my customers, my clientele deserve no less, correct?

I consider, are my kits easy to put together? Are they accurate? Do these kit harps play & sound good? Are they worth the money you are paying for them compared to a pre-finished commercial instrument of similar size?

Yet, as a non-assembly line, one at a time producer, my harp woodworking can be considered, custom, hand-made. That may mean my harps & kits come as authentic, engineered productions, but with original imperfections. 

I've worked to create a shop with power & hand tools that provide me with much higher accuracy beyond that found coming from an average, do it yourself, weekend woodworker. Yet, my harps & parts are still hand-made. I do not have a commercial, automated, assembly line production shop. Each of my harps & parts are one-off; very close to perfection, but I don't promise such a thing as factory perfection like some of the larger, more well known harp manufacturers can provide.

So, the question begs, how much perfection is necessary or desirable? How much custom, hand-made imperfection is acceptable? 

And, the very next question begs, how much perfection or imperfection are you interested in obtaining by building your own harp? For instance, if we here at John Kovac Harps can provide you with a harp kit that has great engineering prebuilt into it to provide you with great quality sound & performance, if you assemble, finish & tune it yourself, how much imperfection will you accept? Will a few less than straight lines, a finish smudge here or there, or perhaps some less than perfect matching of wood grain directions take away from the good sound of your harp? 

As Steve Ramsey notes, such little imperfections create originality, and I include, it adds authenticity & personality to your work. You know, that is exactly how the world's finest violins from antiquity are made: handmade, each one imperfectly different from the others, yet with brilliant sound, none the less. Do we really need automated assembly lines creating absolutely perfect pieces of musical furniture in order to count it as the real thing? Or, will our less than perfect, custom hand made imperfections add the necessary personal character to a real instrument, enough to even call it our own? 

On one related, historical note, Ancient Israel's King David had created an "orchestra" of worshipping musicians to play his Psalms & prophecies to God, getting Israel ready for eventual temple worship. What was notable about this is every skilled musician chosen for worship was also required to make their own instrument! 

So, when making your own instrument from our kits or design books, know you are in good company and we don't really need absolute woodworking perfection in order to create a perfect harp. Your efforts coupled with our engineering will give you and the world a great musical instrument; automated perfection is not needed. But, your individual DIY heart & love poured into your work is. 

Build well, my friends. And, don't forget to have fun!

Thanks for considering,

- Davy

1 comment

  • That was very helpful blog. I appreciate your attitude.

    Nora on

Leave a comment