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Acquire a harp not much expensive in Spain.

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  • #267671
    andibear
    Participant

    Thanks for activating my account, I hope I’m in the right section of the forum. I don’t know if this topic has been discussed, I haven’t been able to read it all yet.

    I’ve been thinking about buying a harp for a long time (in fact I’ve been wanting to play since I was a child), and I’ve finally been able to save some money to buy one.
    I’m still looking for what harp to buy, I have a limited budget, and I don’t intend to buy the best harp or the biggest harp, I just want a harp of a reasonable size (minimum 22 strings I understand would be fine to start with) for fun and hanging out.
    I live in Spain, which limits certain manufacturers because customs costs are high, but within Europe I could buy it.
    Renting is not an option due to logistical problems (and I would be afraid of breaking something that is not mine!).
    One option is to purchase a harp from one of the aforementioned and criticized wholesalers. Not my preferred option, obviously, if I could I would like to have a harp made by a luthier, but it is the only option when the budget is low.
    Before I opt for these dealers, can anyone recommend a reliable and inexpensive harp dealer in Spain or nearby?

    Thanks in advance and I will keep reading the forum, I still have many topics to read.

    #267672
    naisha
    Participant

    Hey! I’m also from Spain, and I totally understand what you mean when you say it’s not practical to rent and also not easy to go to a store and try them. Unless you live in Madrid. I ended up buying a Camac Hermine (34 strings), without trying it first and buying what they had in stock (it was right at the beginning of the lockdown so I didn’t have many choices either), and I have to say I’m very happy with it. I can’t compare it to any other, so what do I know xD
    What they told me is that to start learning it’s easier to start with a floor harp, because smaller harps have the difficulty of balancing it, so while you’re learning technique, you’ll also be struggling with the balance. I’m not sure about what your budget is, but I bought mine for a bit less than 3000€, including a full set of strings and the shipping to Tarragona. The rep seller in Spain, Alexander, was very informative and helpful. Sorry I can’t recommend other brands or stores, but that’s my experience:)

    #267675
    andibear
    Participant

    Hi Naisha! It’s great to coincide here with someone from Spain (we can share common problems in this field).
    I had already read about floor harps to start with, but my budget is not enough to buy a decent floor harp. I can buy a cheap floor harp or a decent lap harp. Because of space and money issues I’ve gone with the second option.
    I also play the mountain dulcimer (not very well), so I’m used to struggle with a lap instrument (although the difference between a horizontal and a vertical instrument will have to be seen) and I have adapted tricks and furniture.
    Anyway maybe I can wait a bit and try to scratch a little more money, although I’ve been waiting so long that I hesitate between “I want it now” and “I can wait a little longer”.
    Camac I think it was a little out of my reach but it’s a matter of looking or waiting.
    The ideal option would be a second hand harp but I have not been able to find anything (I once bought a bandurria for 5€, I dream of finding something similar with a harp, hahaha).
    Thanks for your advice, I’ll keep you posted.

    #267680
    naisha
    Participant

    Hey dulcimers are awesome! Then you won’t have problems with the balance. So out of curiosity I’ve seen in Clive Morley harps they have secondhand lap harps and a 34string harp for 800 pounds. As far as I know they only sell legit brands so In my opinion it’s a good option, although they come from England so the shipping costs may be more expensive. Also in Camac site they don’t show their small model but they make 27string harps too, I have no idea about the price though.

    https://www.detroubadourharpen.nl/The_Bards_Harps/download_price_list_files/prijslijst_harpen.pdf

    I also found the prices from detrobadourharpen (online store in the netherlands). I left the link here but I’m not sure if links get deleted. I don’t know if you already saw all this, hope it’s useful ^_^

    #274372
    andibear
    Participant

    Thank you very much! I thought I had done a good research ….
    I didn’t know that Camac had smaller harps, there is a distributor in Spain, I will contact them, because it is possible that it fits my budget (or making a little effort).
    About British distributors, I discard them out from the beginning, for fear of costs. It’s like with the US stores…. I prefer not to risk it, I have already seen cases of guitars that spend weeks in customs, you pay more than what it cost you and it arrives crushed… I don’t want to risk it…
    I didn’t know detrobadourharpen, I will contact them as well, thank you very much! I’m glad I found this forum, I wouldn’t have found so many sites on my own.
    I’m glad you know the dulcimer, here it is a great unknown. It’s fun to play, but a harp is my dream since I was a child. It will be fun to combine the two instruments.
    Thank you very much for your help!!

    #274373
    Biagio
    Participant

    A floor harp is certainly preferable if (and I emphasize IF) it is well made. There are several out there that look good, cost little, and are not worth buying. So I think in the circumstances you would be wise to consider a smaller one, preferably with 3 1/2 octaves, but I do not know what may be available to you in Spain.

    True, balancing a smaller harp is an issue but there are solutions: a stool or box, a stand that you or a carpenter can make, etc. Some 26 string harps come with legs such as the Dusty Strings Ravenna 26, or an adjustable stand can be purchased separately, as for the Rees Harpsicles.

    More essential in my opinion would be to find a teacher, no matter what size you get.

    Best wishes,
    Biago

    #274376
    naisha
    Participant

    Finding a good teacher meant in my case finding good tutorials, videos, recording myself and comparing the position of my fingers with the players, to make sure I didn’t twist my hands in weird angles and such. It depends if you’re good at self teaching or you need more guidance. For example, I find Josh Layne’s explanations enough for now, but if I get stuck somewhere and I really think I need classes, I’d contact him or another teacher to have a couple or three classes, but after that I prefer to keep walking on my own.

    #274377
    Biagio
    Participant

    Well I’m not saying that personal instruction is absolutely essential – that rather depends on how far you want to go. Yes indeed, Josh gives wonderful guidance and just carefully studying the techniques of fine players can take one a long way. There are also excellent videos, instructional books and DVDs; here are a few:

    Metodo Per Arpa by Maria Grossi (book, in Italian)
    Play the Harp Beautifully by Pamela Bruner (in English, books and DVDs)
    On Playing the Harp by Yolanda Kondonassis (in English, book)
    Youtube videos that I found very useful: History of the Harp (documentary with Catrin Finch), anything by Ray Pool, Laurie Riley on Double Strung Harps (her technique is marvelous although she is demonstrating on the double)

    The documentary by Catrin Finch is particularly enlightening; by studying that it is clearly evident that there are subtle differences among individuals’ physiques and different kinds of harps, both modern and ancient, and different harp techniques.

    I don’t mean to pour cold water on this, but will say from personal experience as well as that of all my teachers and many friends who play professionally that self-teaching can only take you so far, and along the way it is easy to pick up bad habits that are then hard to break.

    Many people are self-taught and that’s great but it does take longer than with personal guidance. Some excellent teachers provide instruction via the Internet, so if you run in to problems that is another resource.

    Best wishes and have fun!
    Biagio

    #274378
    naisha
    Participant

    Wow that’s amazing Biagio thanks for your reply!

    #274381
    andibear
    Participant

    The possibility of lessons is included in my budget for the harp. The problem is that it will have to be online classes, and for that I need a harp (there are teachers who rent you the harp for their in-person classes, that was my first intention, but due to logistical problems it won’t be possible).
    I have experience playing the piano (I went to lessons for 4 years, although it was a long time ago), so I have a base, but I don’t want to get into bad habits that are difficult to get out of.
    Hand position is said to be fundamental with any instrument.
    I’m learning the dulcimer on my own and I realize that no matter how many books I have and tutorials I watch, at least in my case, I need someone to watch what I do and correct what I do wrong.
    That’s why face-to-face classes would be ideal, but since I can’t, online classes are a good option. But for that I have to have the harp. In the meantime, I can always create the concept of “Air Harp” to be prepared 🙂

    #274399
    Biagio
    Participant

    Hi andibear,

    A couple of thoughts occurred to me after reading your latest….

    First, if you expect to at some time arrange for online lessons, why not contact one of those and ask for their thoughts about what harp to get?

    Second – indeed, hand position is key but that can be partly practiced without an instrument. My first teacher had me opening and closing the “harp fist” whenever my hands were free: driving, reading, dreaming…it’s pretty simple. Arm down, elbow bent, hand open and relaxed thumb raised then close the fingers one by one into the palm and finally with the thumb down and over (you will see advanced players doing it in other ways but that is the most basic technique).

    You need to train your fingers for independence and for strength roll a couple of Chinese medicine balls or even just 2 1/2 – 3 cm diameter fishing weights around in your hands.

    Third – I don’t know what shipping would cost but one option would be to order and assemble one of Musicmakers’ kits. They are very easy to put together – even teachers can do it and some use them as student rentals.

    There are licensed vendors overseas – just ask the good folks at Musicmakers about that. Also read the assembly instructions before ordering. I’d suggest either the Ballad (light tension) or the Jolie (medium) if a kit seems feasible to you..

    https://www.harpkit.com/

    PS You will not need levers for some time; when you do they are easy to add later. A comparable harp to the Jolie is the Dusty Strings Crescendo at US $3151 after deducting lever costs. That’s a $1852 difference to the Jolie kit – which would certainly cover shipping and then some.

    I do not have any relationship to Musicmakers other than admiring their craftsmanship and having built two of their models. My first floor harp was the Voyageur; my last the Cheyenne (which I modified significantly LOL).

    #274409
    andibear
    Participant

    Hello Biagio,
    Thanks for your tips (especially the “harp fist”).

    Asking a teacher was my first idea before asking here, but until January-February I won’t know on which days/times I will be able to give lessons (restructuring in my company), and I don’t want to contact a teacher and waste his time and then tell him that I can’t take those lessons, it would make me feel bad. I was actually planning to wait until January, get organized, contact the teacher and ask, and then buy the harp and close the classes. But I found the forum and thought that if I can get the harp before then, I don’t think in a couple of months I’m going to get into bad habits (I hope!).
    If not, I’m back to my initial plan and when I know when to take lessons, I’ll track down a teacher and ask.

    Practicing hand posture without instruments I also did it with the piano when I took lessons and sometimes with the dulcimer, but in this case I have no one to correct me, I don’t know if I’m doing it wrong.

    My fear with harps from the US or UK is customs, I know people who have had problems with instruments and they have taken a long time and paid more…. Of course I can have problems with harps bought in the EU, but from my experience it seems to me that it is more easily solved, although you never know.
    It’s a pity, because I’ve read good reviews of MusicMakers, and it would be satisfying if my first harp had been “built” by me (or assembled, at least).

    And regarding the levers, if you tell me that for starters they are not so necessary I can widen my field of search. The thing is, with both my pentatonic lyre and dulcimer I feel like I’m missing notes. I can play with the tuning, but I miss having all the notes at my fingertips like with the piano….
    Still that opens up my range of options, without levers I may find one of average quality and cheaper.

    At the moment I practice the hand position on my lyre by watching videos, it’s not the same, but it’s something.
    I will practice the harp fist as well.
    Hello Biagio,
    Thanks for your tips (especially the “harp fist”).

    Asking a teacher was my first idea before asking here, but until January-February I won’t know on which days/times I will be able to give lessons (restructuring in my company), and I don’t want to contact a teacher and waste his time and then tell him that I can’t take those lessons, it would make me feel bad. I was actually planning to wait until January, get organized, contact the teacher and ask, and then buy the harp and close the classes. But I found the forum and thought that if I can get the harp before then, I don’t think in a couple of months I’m going to get into bad habits (I hope!).
    If not, I’m back to my initial plan and when I know when to take lessons, I’ll track down a teacher and ask.

    Practicing hand posture without instruments I also did it with the piano when I took lessons and sometimes with the dulcimer, but in this case I have no one to correct me, I don’t know if I’m doing it wrong.

    My fear with harps from the US or UK is customs, I know people who have had problems with instruments and they have taken a long time and paid more…. Of course I can have problems with harps bought in the EU, but from my experience it seems to me that it is more easily solved, although you never know.
    It’s a pity, because I’ve read good reviews of MusicMakers, and it would be satisfying if my first harp had been “built” by me (or assembled, at least).

    And regarding the levers, if you tell me that for starters they are not so necessary I can widen my field of search. The thing is, with both my pentatonic lyre and dulcimer I feel like I’m missing notes. I can play with the tuning, but I miss having all the notes at my fingertips like with the piano….
    Still that opens up my range of options, without levers I may find one of average quality and cheaper.

    At the moment I practice the hand position on my lyre by watching videos, it’s not the same, but it’s something.
    I will practice the harp fist as well.

    Thanks for the tips! 🙂

    #274410
    andibear
    Participant

    Oops, sorry first of all for the long text before.
    And secondly, I didn’t read well about MusikMakers and focused only on their marketing in America, I will contact MusikMakers to see if they have authorized dealers in the EU.
    Thanks again!

    #274412
    Biagio
    Participant

    Hi andibear,

    Regarding kits:

    A kit is not the best choice for everyone of course; someone does need some minimum of selected hand tools and preferably a power sander and drill.

    Although Musicmakers supplies brads to securely fasten the sound board, since these are KITS that may be purchased by novices they don’t recommend using just glue alone (which many professional harp makers do with dozens of clamps). Using a pneumatic stapler is faster if one can rent it and, of course, a compressor. T

    That’s what I did on my last since I’d previously sold all my shop tools haha. I’d designed and made perhaps a dozen models and did not think I wanted to do any more – dealing with the public, shipping etc. – I was wrong: just wanted one more for my self.

    Off topic but FYI what I did was this: replaced the Finnish birch laminate sound board with one of spruce, customized bass strings and added large sound holes in the floor base. The apartment got pretty dusty (grin). It’s a great harp, though I’d not advise that for most people. Back to the issues:

    Regarding levers: everyone has an opinion of their favorite kind; some cost more than others, some are harder to mount, some must be regulated more often, and so on. As a (former) harp maker I prefer Truitts or Rees which are easy to mount and have minimal distortion for my personal instruments. But that’s a different topic. Getting back to my original comment:

    You have an advantage over many in that you obviously have a good music back ground. Nevertheless, it can take a long time before a new harpist has mastered technique sufficiently that accidentals are feasible. So if someone is courageous enough to make their own harp or assemble a kit, it seems to me more efficient and economical to just add levers when they are needed. That may not be for a year or more for some, and levers are the most expensive component in making a harp. For example: my modified Cheyenne aside from the kit itself levers cost me about US $600 for a full set (custom strings were $200, spruce sound board about the same): 20% if the total cost! Of course if I’d made the frame and box too that percentage would be even higher.

    Sorry for the long rambling post and I do not mean to press you toward buying and assembling a kit. I’m just saying that if cost is an issue and someone has the tools and an interest in how harps are made, they can have a good to great harp at half the cost of just buying one ready made. I can’t imagine that shipping and customs would cost $1800 (the difference between the kit and a Dusty Strings Crescendo). I could be wrong though (grin). Probably the major question is whether they are interested (grin).

    Speaking of Dusty Strings: they make some of the best harps on the market and may well have vendors near you – ask them. A fully levered Ravenna 34 is an excellent and economical student instrument.

    Best wishes,
    Biagio

    #274995
    balfour-knight
    Participant

    I agree with Biagio–the Ravenna 34, fully levered, would be a very good option for you, if it is available in Spain. Like he said earlier, harpists favor certain makes of levers, my favorite being the Camac levers, which can now be installed by Dusty Strings on their Ravenna 34 harps. These harps are very fine quality and very accessible here in the USA, so I hope they may be possible for you in Spain.

    Best wishes in whatever you decide, Andibear!

    Balfour

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