I played harp to a basic level a number of years ago and now I’m retired and would like to take it up a little more seriously.
I’m looking to buy a harp to take me from basic to intermediate level and am looking at 2 possible contenders in the @£2,000 range: the Camac Telenn – from the Early music shop and the Salvi MIA SALIMIA-SS from online retailer Thomann.
Would either suit and which one in your experience would be best to invest in? Thanks in advance for any help you could offer.
Kind regards, Charles
In general I prefer Camac lever harps above Salvi lever harps, as tension and sound of the strings is nicely balanced and the levers are great.
You seem to have settled for the lowest price at which one can buy a really nice harp. The Telenn can be bought with optional high feet, and I think, unless you are very small, your back will love the extra height.
I wonder what kind of music would you like to play: classical, folk or ‘a bit of everything’? Both harps you mention are strung with lever gut (and sound somewhere between folk and classic)
If you prefer an (almost) classical sound, you’d probably prefer pedal gut on your lever harp. In that case, you may think of the Camac Korrigan (38 strings, you’ll probably need the high feet) or perhaps the Camac Isolde Classic (38 stringswhich has pedal tension fluorocarbon, unfortunately, no high feet available).
There’s also a pedal gut tension string Salvi: the Salvi Gaia (with low and high feet).
Thomann also sells L&H Ogdens (34 string, but strung with pedal gut) and with low and high feet (both low and high feet included).
Edit: earlier I thought the Salvi Gaia didn’t come with low and high feet, but I just saw at Thomann that the Salvi Gaia does come with low and high feet.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by wil-weten.
Thank you for your kind advice. Most of your suggestions echo my own thoughts. As I can try out the Camac harps (rather than buying ‘blind’ online) I am leaning towards those. I will pay what I need in order to get a harp I can keep and will stay with me. Thanks again.
Both the shops you mention are generalists. I would advise you to also look at specialist harp stores for the same harps – I really value their expert knowledge and personal service.
If you want to try lots of harps then arranging a trip to a harp festival where many of the makers are present is a great way.
I’m guessing you are in the UK? I would strongly advise waiting until next summer and trying to visit the World Harp Congress in Cardiff. It’s one of the rare occasions over here where you can try many different makes and model of harp all in the same place and compare everything to find the one that really speaks to you. You may even find something that isn’t normally available in this country that is exactly what you are looking for!
Of the two you mention, I agree with Will. I too prefer Camacs generally to Salvi lever harps. I haven’t played the Telenn though.
In addition to what I wrote above, it’s like Emma and Tacy pointed out, indeed best to try out the harp you want to buy for yourself, as also ‘identical’ harps (i.e. the same make, model and wood) can sound quite differently.
It may also be of interest to know that a few times a year Camac visits a Camac store in order to service its harps for free (that is to say, you don’t have to pay for the work, only for new materials like new strings) It’s a great way to get your levers regulated, when needed. I know that Salvi also offers such a service.
Thank you all again for your advice. What a lovely bunch you are!
Emma, I appreciate that visiting a harp festival may be a good way to try out lots of different instruments, but I’m probably like many people in that I would be very self conscious about demonstrating my basic skills in front of people, so would rather visit a store where I could have a little privacy and time to get to know each harp I’m considering. Also I’m keen to get started.
As I live way up in the north of England and as with many things in the U.K. all of the stockists (and even harp makers) are a long way from here so I’m doing most of my choosing online. Of course this is where the help of your good selves is invaluable, so thanks for giving me more great food for thought.
When you try out harps in the showrooms at World Harp Congresses, nobody is judging you. There are sometimes little rooms where you can move the harp to try them out, if it’s too noisy in the showroom. It is a treat to have so many choices. The concerts and workshops will be really inspiring. If you can afford it, I think you would enjoy it immensely.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by Elizabeth Volpé Bligh.
Hello, Charles and all!
This has been a nice thread. I just want to add that I prefer the Camac harps also. It is great that there is a shop where you can try those out. I do not own a Camac lever harp, but I do have a gorgeous Atlantide Prestige pedal harp that in my humble opinion is pretty well unequaled. I have played most of the line of Camacs, both lever and pedal, and I feel that you would be very fortunate to have one (or more!) of their beautiful harps.
Happy looking and buying one,
Before there is an “outcry” from my harp friends, I better add that I prefer Camacs except for my Dusty Strings FH36S in cherry, my “Cherie.” One of the best things about this harp is that she has Camac levers–the best, in my opinion.
Charles, I know you did not mention Dusty as an option, so that is why I neglected to mention this. My apologies to Dusty and all my harp friends who must have thought that I had “taken leave of my senses,” ha, ha!
Best regards and harp hugs,
Goodness me…I know that having a harp is a personal thing but there’s some real passion here. Thank you for your kind words. I’ve definitely been leaning towards a Camac harp and in the New Year I’ll be nipping along to the Early Music Shop in Bradford to try some.
As I’m quite a tall chap I’ll need to have a harp that stands a reasonable height (or can have legs fitted) so as I’ve investigated further I’ve decided to stretch my budget to include the ‘Isolde’. Traditional and early music together with interpretations of more modern pieces is my aim. No doubt I’ll see some of you at the various harp festivals in 2020. ‘Til then ‘all the very best’..
The Camac Isolde (both with celtic or classic stringing) are nice harps, but unfortunately, they don’t come with the option of high feet…
So, as are quite a tall chap, I wonder whether you would be happy with it. Frankly, I think you run the risk that sitting behind such a low harp may hurt your back. Sitting on a low stool won’t be comfortable either, I am afraid.
The Isolde is just 141 cm high, no high feet possible.
The Telenn comes with high feet to 148 cm.
The Korrigan comes with high feet to 156 cm.
You could use a lower harp when you can let it rest on a stable, preferably wooden platform or box (sorry, I don’t know the right English word for a low elevation)
Edit: I just saw you wrote ‘Traditional and early music together with interpretations of more modern pieces’ I think that the Korrigan, with its heavy string tension and classic sound, would be less interesting to you, also, because it is very hard to play very fast and still have a great sound with that kind of tension.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by wil-weten.
I wouldn’t start with a consideration of whether the harp has legs – using a harp stand or other support is pretty common.
Do the Transpennine or Northumberland Clarsach society branches meet conveniently near you? They might help with exposure to different types of harps, and worth asking if they have any hire instruments available to get your fingers back in practice for trying instruments out and take the pressure off you to buy soon rather than after trying a good variety.
Ah Balfour, we know you love the Dustys!! And I agree with you! The only one in Charle’s price range would be a Ravenna 34 which in my opinion would be well worth a look.
I have 2 Camac Hermines that I rent out and both are lovely. This summer I decided to get myself a new lever harp for gigs where the pedal harp isn’t suitable and I really expected to get a Camac – possibly an Aziliz. When I tried them none of them really had the voice I was looking for. I went to check out a harp with a student and there was a second hand Ravenna there that I absolutely loved. So, despite telling my pupil not to let me buy anything – harp number 11 joined the family!!
Charles, they come with the option of various different leg lengths so you can have them pretty high. There is a second hand one for sale here. I don’t know how far away from you it is but It’s not a million miles from the EMS so thought I would throw it into the mix.
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