Advice on viewing a questionable used harp

  • Participant
    erinlawrence15 on #251573

    I have been looking at used petite pedal harps by Lyon & Healy, Salvi and Camac. I’ve had an opportunity to view and play 2 so far, so I am still watching websites and being patient.

    Another harp appeared recently, and I’m interested to go see it but I haven’t reached out to the owner yet. It‘s been in a smoke free home, and only one owner, late 1990’s. From the pictures the wood looks good, I don’t see scratches or cracks.

    But, there are several strings missing, maybe 6, and no picture of a dust cover. I am wondering if this is from a family-run estate sale or something like that.

    I have a list of things to look and listen for, and I would have it checked out by a professional if I were going to take the plunge. But the broken strings makes me suspect that it hasn’t been played for a while. (I play the lever harp, so I know how to change strings.) Is this a red flag? What would you all ask before you drive out to see and hear it? (2 hour drive.) Will I even be able to tune it to have a good impression of the sound?

    I feel like I may have an opportunity to get a good price on a pedal harp, but is this a bad idea?

    Participant
    Tacye on #251574

    I would ask when it was last played and where it has been sitting. When you tune it the chances are that more strings will break – the owners need to accept this is what happens with old strings and not your fault. You won’t be able to hear it at its best with old strings – do take your own tuning key as it would be a pain to discover they have misplaced theirs.

    I would say it is a bit like buying a car that has been sitting in a garage – you can’t take it for a proper test drive, it will definitely need a full service, but may have less wear than something that has been in use throughout.

    Participant
    paul-knoke on #251577

    If you go to look at it, move each of the pedals through its full range of motion – flat to natural to sharp and back again – to make sure they’re all working properly. I’ve encountered more than one neglected harp on which the action had seized up.

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by paul-knoke.
    Participant
    Gretchen Cover on #251581

    I would contact the harp tech you would use to check the harp and ask about making a virtual appointment to do a first look at the harp. You could FaceTime with the tech and then decide if you want to pursue this further. Be sure to take a tripod for your phone so you can be hands free. Otherwise, ask the tech what photos and or video he/she would need.

    The seller should know a replacement set of strings and regulation is going to cost at least $1,000. That may help with the pricing. I looked at a harp that had been ignored like the one you describe and the chance of serious damage to the soundboard was about 10 percent.

    I would certainly take a serious look at the harp. Heck, I would go just out of curiosity.

    Participant
    billooms on #251589

    David D’Arville of Virginia Harp Center has an excellent YouTube video that shows some things to look for.

    Search for “How to buy a used pedal harp”

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