A pedal harp that sounds like most like a celtic??

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    jinjit82 on #188954

    Hey Harpists!
    I know this is an odd question, but I’m wondering if there is a pedal harp that has a tone and “heavenly” sound similar to a Celtic harp: i.e. always sounds warm and beautiful even when messing around, with never with a harsh, brassy, or tinny quality.

    I’ve been playing a Salvi Daphne semi-grand so far for 2 years on rental, and I really like the sound, but I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the sound when I practice certain pieces on Celtic harps. Using a semi-grand or grand pedal harp is non-negotiable for me. However, I was wondering if, AMONG the pedal harps, there is any particular brand or style that most closely mimics the sound of a Celtic harp. Thanks in Advance!!!

    jinjit82 on #188955

    Sorry, I just wanted to add, that by adding the sounds that I don’t want (ie tinny) I do not at all mean to insult pedal harps by any means. It is due to my limited music vocab, so it’s easier for me to describe by what Celtic harps don’t have than by what they do.

    wil-weten on #188958

    I am trying to understand what you mean. I wonder if your question has something to do with string tension.

    Lever harps tend to have lower string tension, which means that a string sounds longer when attacked with the same force then when a string of a harp with higher string tension is plucked.

    Gretchen Cover on #188960

    Jinji, I understand what you are saying. I think the word would be “light or quick” rather than “tinny.” I played with two Renaissance ensembles long ago. The pieces I played on the Dolmetsch harp and then the LH Troubadour -especially canaries, hornpipes and other fast or intricate music – simply don’t work on my concert grand. The sound is too broad, deep and resonant. Only Greensleeves seems to work on all harps:) Size matters IMHO.

    Biagio on #188963

    Well, the strings are part of the question but to me what this really underlines is that a pedal and lever harp are different instruments in several respects. It would be possible to design a double action with the tonal characteristics of a “celtic” but the closest to that would probably be fairly old when string tension was lighter than nowadays.

    There are tunes for the wire strung that just don’t sound good on nylon/gut for similar reasons. I can change technique to approach the wire sound but it’s still not the same.


    balfour-knight on #188964

    Jinji, my Lyon & Healy 85GP, in my photo, is the “brightest” sounding pedal harp that I have ever played. (Even Tom Bell, the harp tech, remarked that “this small harp has no right to sound this good!” when he regulated her recently.) I purchased this 44-string harp rather than a Concert Grand for this tonal reason. But even she does not have nearly the same tone as my two lever (Celtic) harps. That is why I own three harps, and cannot just be happy with one, ha, ha! Hope this helps.

    Best wishes,

    tenthousandclowns on #190988

    Try any pedal harp with ‘lever gut’ or similar gauge strings on it. I was lucky to find one before I understood the issue completely, and I am so glad, as a lever harp player for 25 years adding pedal harp repertoire. Better still would be to have a lighter soundboard rebuilt as well, specifically for lighter tension strings. Of course, you can’t go too low tension, or the strings will buzz on the discs.

    jinjit82 on #208732

    Thanks, guys. I’ve read all of your answers, and they were all very informative. I now have a Dusty Strings Bubinga lever, but will consider all of these ideas before I decide on my one-day pedal.
    Adina Cappell

    Jerusha Amado on #208802

    It isn’t easy to find a pedal harp with light tension, strung with lever gut type strings. One company that rebuilds old harps using light tension stringing is H Bryan and Company. http://www.oldharpsmadeyoung.com/single-post/2014/09/26/String-and-String-Tension

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 12 months ago by Jerusha Amado.
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