Advise buying a used harp

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    Kate Roberts on #254720

    Dear all,

    Please could someone give me some advise.

    Ive just been to look at what would have been my first harp. A Teifi Robyn 34 string. Pristine condition bodywise but it has been in storage for a while and was missing many strings. I didn’t count them but maybe 10? It came with some spares but I think due to age these wouldn’t be of any use anymore plus there was a bit of fraying on the remaining strings and I imagine it needs to be totally restrung.

    Now I’ve never changed a string, and I don’t relish the thought of having to do so many with my inexperience, but I reckon I could do it.

    I’m thinking if I offset the price of new strings to the seller than a deal could possibly be made.

    But my real question is do you think the structural integrity of the harp is likely to be compromised? The lady (it had been her daughter’s harp) didn’t know how long the strings have been missing. It hasn’t been played for a two years so it is difficult to say. She did say a few broke when it was moved.

    I feel in my heart I should just stick with my decision and walk away. If I’m to buy a used harp it would be better to buy one that is still played and loved,from a harpist who is selling to upgrade.

    I’m so disappointed as I was so excited.

    Thanks in advance for any replies.

    charles-nix on #254722

    If the structure is fine, it is fine. There is unlikely to be enough tension lost from 10 strings broken — and I’ll bet they are all guts and mostly toward the treble. Most of the tension is in the wires and the lower guts.

    Also remember, the harp didn’t have strings when it was being built.

    For an authoritative answer, contact Teifi with which strings are missing.

    The harp should be priced below a comparable instrument

      if the comparable has been recently restrung and regulated

    Compared against another harp with old strings that just haven’t broken yet, I don’t see any difference in the value. Both would need restringing before you can even see what they really sound like.

    I wouldn’t trust spare guts that have been stored improperly; I’d start with a full set. Teifi can get you info on the proper strings–don’t guess or assume–or you may really have structural problems.

    Regarding replacing strings, I would suggest you find a harp technician (or Teifi) and have them teach you restringing (demonstrate/watch/guide while you do it). It isn’t hard, but it sounds more complicated in writing than it is to do.

    Kate Roberts on #254723

    Thank you for the reply. On closer inspection to the photos (which I really should have looked at properly) it has its lowest 13 string minus the second to bottom f then it has 5 more strings. So 18 altogether. I think teifi now use silkgut with the option of natural gut on their harps but I will check.

    I’m going to have a rethink then.

    Many thanks.

    Biagio on #254724

    Two thoughts on this:

    1) Since you have no experience as yet, it would be reasonable to either require the seller to have the harp restrung and regulated or ask for a very steep discount from what it would cost new.

    2) Stringing and regulation are skills that a harper should learn at some point and neither are difficult with practice. So if it is otherwise structurally sound and you can get the price low enough it might be worth buying it “as is.”

    Sandy Kear on #254725

    When was the last time the harp was regulated? When was the last time it was serviced or regulated? Ask to see the receipts or documentation for any work done.

    You can ask for these when you go to see it in person.

    I had a similar situation with a pedal harp several years ago, which had only 10 strings left on it. Mine ended up being fine after restringing and being regulated, but I had done research on what to look for in a used harp, and did a complete inspection in person before agreeing to purchase.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #254801

    Walk away. Never buy a harp if you have any doubts. There are plenty of lever harps available.

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