Amount of strings

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    isabelle on #217330


    I’m new to the harp. I started playing in august last year. I bought a Camac Bardic 27 harp to start with and it has been great but now I’m looking for a bigger harp. My question is what your thoughts on the amount of strings are. Is there a lot of music that can’t be played on a 34 string harp compared to a 38 string harp? Will I miss the extra four strings? I like the more celtic sound and I think I would prefer a lower string tension than the Bardic. But I also want to be able to play classical pieces in the future. I’ve been looking at the Camac celtic Isolde and the Camac Telenn Kadiou among other harps. There is of course also the question of portability. The harp community where I live (Sweden) is small and there are no harp shops to try out different harps sadly. I feel like I’m lost in the harp jungle and I would be eternally grateful if you wanted to share your thoughts on this matter 🙂

    wil-weten on #217331

    Hi Isabelle, you can play practically all music for lever harps on a 34 string harp.

    Like you, I’d like to play both folk music as well as classical music.
    In the end, I chose for a Camac Excalibur (with 38 strings), because I love its sound and because it has the right height for me. The Excalibur strings have a tension somewhat between folk music and classical music. For an indication of its sound, you may like to have a look at the video clips of Josh Layne.

    The Camac Isolde has about the same height as the Camac Excalibur, but the strings of the Camac Isolde celtique have a lighter tension and the strings of the Camac Isolde classique have a stronger tension.

    The Excalibur is significantly pricier than the Camac Isolde, but people say that the Excalibur has a better projection.

    The Camac Telenn Kadiou has a rather light string tension. Lighter than the Isolde celtique.

    As to portability, you may also think of the Camac Aziliz or the Camac Hermine. They have a ‘celtic’ string tension. The Camac Aziliz is also available with a classic tension (but this would be a special order as it needs some different levers)

    By the way, a quality harp with a larger soundbox tends to have a richer tone than an equal quality harp with a smaller soundbox. All the same there are rather small harps that sound much richer dan some large harps…

    Biagio on #217333

    I guess “the more strings the more possibilities” and it is really nice to have those two more in the bass (A and B), especially. But honestly, I doubt that you can find a lower tension lever harp of that size unless it is modeled after the Grecian – the only one I know of is a Starfish design and he no longer makes them.

    One can play the entire Celtic canon on that Bardic – after all, these were originally played on wire strung harps. Personally I like the Triplett Eclipse or the Salvi McFall – but I live in the US.


    balfour-knight on #217438

    Well put, Biagio! I am quite spoiled with having so many strings on both my lever harp and my concert grand pedal harp. The more strings, the better, although having 49 strings on the new Salvi Reus does sound a bit much, don’t you think?

    Biagio on #217587

    Ha ha, Balfour my friend, my largest harp now is just a 26 and I play the 19 wire strung most often. So, “no comment” on a 49!

    OTOH for a while my favorite was a double 23 – 46 strings – so, still no comment.

    Seriously, and this is a thing I bet many new harpists go through, it will take several years before they really know where they will go with the instrument. Some of us (me) are still finding out (grin).

    For Isabelle, then, I’d suggest: add another lower octave if you feel limited (I did around the second year), but don’t splurge on a really BIG harp just yet. Get to know more about the technical as well as the musical aspects of this very diverse instrument.

    After all, Salzedo played Spanish music on a pedal harp and Frank Voltz plays jazz on it; meanwhile Deborah Henson-Conant was a pedalist before she went way in on the electric!

    Best to all,

    isabelle on #217593

    Hi and thank you all for your input. I will take your words in consideration when making a choice. I guess it’s all depending on what kind of music you want to focus on playing. Like you say Biagio it may take years before I know where I’m heading. If ever 😛


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