Camac Lever Harps

The Camac Society was founded in 1972 in the French region of Brittany – where all our instruments are still made.

Brittany is a Celtic land along with Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall. The new generation of Breton harpists are personalizing their heritage, and sharing it with the world. We have always seen the lever harp as an instrument in its own right, and not only a “starter” or student harp. All Camac concert lever harps are made in close collaboration with a lever harp soloist, and our range spans all possible string types and tensions. 

Here’s a few of our most popular models! 

 

Kind of Blue: Camac Electric Harps

External microphones, as anyone who has tried to amplify a harp with one will know, cause all sorts of problems. You cannot confine the amplification to the harp alone, and the feedback can be terrible even at quite low volumes. It is necessary to use contact microphones. The best way, with or without a soundbox, is to put one on each string.

Camac’s blue harps – so-called because their launch models were electric blue! – feature a high-quality, piezo pickup on every string. This system of pickup is very different from a magnetic microphone of an electric guitar type, and we use it for its natural sound and round timbre.

Our electric and electroacoustic blue harps have become a benchmark for amplified instruments across all genres, from jazz and variety, to the most avant-garde new music. They can be connected to effects racks and a wealth of other sound processing; their palette of musical possibilities extends into infinity, from a discreet bolstering of the sound, to the wildest sonic experiences.

 

Electric Avenues – Be Inspired!

Camac Pedal Harps

We are proud to continue the French tradition of the finest harp making, combined with a thirst for technical innovation. 

Unique qualities of Camac pedal harps

  • Ergonomic string angles, more comfortable for the hands

  • Unique pedal mechanism, using (practically) unbreakable cables instead of traditional rods

  • The Camac “rod tuner” allows harpists to improve the intonation of their instrument between professional regulations. This also prolongs the longevity of the instrument, bykeeping the mechanism in good shape

  • Special disc counter-movement, for better intonation and minimal buzzes and noises

  • Roller wheels at the base of pedal harps, for easy moving

  • Silicon cushions instead of traditional pedal felts. These hardly wear out; traditional felts need annual replacement

 

La passion à la française

The French school of harp playing is famous throughout the world.

French luthier Sebastien Érard’s (1752-1831) brilliant ingenuity paved the way for the functionality of the modern concert harp. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the harp rivalled the piano, and Sébastien Érard was a leading manufacturer of both instruments. One of the first in France to make grand pianos, his double-escapement action became a design adopted by all subsequent builders. It was the same with the harp. After more than a decade of painstaking research, Érard’s invention of the double-action harp in 1810 finally made it possible to play the pedal harp in all keys, without a dramatic change of playing technique. To this day, no harp maker, in or out of France, has surpassed the genius of Érard.

Erard Empire no. 3969

The original Erard Empire no. 3969, now in the Camac private collection

The Maison Érard operated in both Paris and in London, and remained active until 1959. Shortly afterwards, in 1972, Camac Harps was established as the next French harp maker.We are proud to continue the great traditions of French luthery, and have dedicated both our Vendôme and our Elysée concert harps to Érard’s famous Empire models. The Elysée’s gilded bronzes are cast directly from the original Érard Empire 3969, which is now in Camac’s private collection of historical instruments. They were cast by a French master craftsman who works for the national museums.

We continue to collaborate with French artisans on the realization of our instruments. One example of this is the hand-carving of our Concert Grand harps by artist sculptor Jean- Bernard Jouteau. His latest creation – our Art Nouveau – is inspired by the “Belle Époque” between the 1880s and the First World War, when artists on both sides of the Atlantic went back to nature. Flowers, tendrils, leaves and lattices contributed to a style which, like ourcompany, turns its face to modernity. Our Canopée, another recent Concert Grand, is an inlaid tour de force by Jocelyne Réal. Réal, a “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” (“Master Craftsmanof France”) has made an original masterpiece for us, involving over five thousand individual pieces of sycamore, American walnut and mother-of-pearl.

Camac Elysée

Camac Elysée

Our harps are made entirely in France, with no reliance on outsourcing. We remain committed to domestic production, for reasons both of quality control, and social and environmental responsibility. In 2007, the French government declared Camac Harps to be an “Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant” (Enterprise of Living Heritage). This is an award for companies who underpin the economic and cultural identity of France.