Anyone heard of the Resonance Caprice harp?

  • Participant
    textbooksnteacups on #217371

    Hello all!

    I’ve always dreamed of playing the harp, but as a child my parents never had the money to allow me to do so. As an adult, I finally had the opportunity. I have played the harp for only a short time and loved it! I am interested in playing more seriously once I build skills, but at this point, I’m still a newbie. I have taken some classes, but I am better at playing from memory and still have difficulty reading sheet music.

    Eventually, I would like to play for gatherings/performances, so I want to have a harp that is close to a pedal harp. I’m really in love with the sound, look, and feel of the Salvi Ana. The Lyon and Healy Prelude is a close second. I’m not as interested in the Camac Mademoiselle, maybe because I haven’t had the chance to hear/play it in person, but I’ve read that it has the best levers. I am a full time student who works, so the price is a concern. After reading blogs and HarpColumn, these harps seem to be the best options for those who want to eventually go to a pedal harp but cannot afford it at the moment.

    I am considering buying a small lap harp for practicing, which will be easier for me to store as I do not have my own place. I have seen the Caprice by Resonance Harps (based in St. Petersburg Russia) on ebay, and it states that the price includes shipping and insurance. According to ebay, it is shipping from Florida and I live in Southern California.

    Does anyone have experience with this harp builder?

    Would the humidity in Florida and the dryness in California be bad for the harp?

    Would purchasing the small 21 string first and playing/practicing technique, reading and writing music make sense (getting good at playing on a little one) or would that simply be a waste of time/money because I know that I want to play seriously in the future?

    A harp teacher I was taking classes with said I should buy the most expensive one I can afford because it will force me to grow more and I can trade it in when I get better. Do you guys agree with this? If so, what do you recommend for someone to do so they can practice outside of the home (like in the park?)

    These two videos show the little 21 string harp being played, but I think it is recorded in studio, so maybe the sound could be altered. I definitely need the advice of you experienced harpists!


    Thanks in advance for your help!

    Participant
    David Kitamura on #217374

    This particular build is very pretty but appears to not have any sharping levers. This will limit what you can play in addition to its smaller 21 string range. Just from my experience browsing lever harp textbooks, this seems to fall short of the requirements of what notes these materials (or a teacher, for that matter) would expect you to have. I have Pamela Bruner’s highly recommended teaching series and it expects a C5 at Level 1 and more bass notes past that at Level 2.

    The most frequent tips I’ve gotten in the past when I was in a very similar situation, asking about my own first harp purchase have been:
    1. Find a teacher, and with their guidance narrow down harp candidates to purchase.
    2. Consider a floor model. Though cheaper, a true “lap harp” introduces another layer of complexity to the learning process in the form of steadying the harp when playing it. At the beginning stage when learning proper technique is incredibly important, steadying the harp isn’t something you want to bother with. A floor model also generally has the range of notes that would meet the requirements of any harp teacher or teaching materials.

    If you do want a harp of comparable size and are willing to pay a bit more, I would consider looking into the Fullsicle by Rees Harps. It has a 26 string range with a low C5 and full levers, though significantly less expensive variations with fewer levers exist if price is a major concern (Sharpsicle, Flatsicle). As long as you purchase a model with predrilled lever holes more levers can be added later whenever your budget allows. The Harpsicle line is versatile even as a secondary harp, being very lightweight and playable standing, sitting, or even walking. It can be packed up and taken many places a floor harp just won’t be practical. You’ll also have little problem reselling it if necessary. It’s hard to go wrong with this option even if it winds up not being 100% right for you.

    When I was in a similar situation to you a few years ago I really overthought which harp to get as my first since it was a large purchase for my relative lack of wealth. I was looking into other options like the Fullsicle or a Mikel 38 for quite a while until I encountered a very reasonably priced Blevins Reve 34 on the secondary market. After making the right connections to get it I’m very satisfied with what I got and have a floor harp to finally call my own. I’m glad I waited to take the plunge and felt like I really lucked out with that one! Anyway, the point there is to check your local used marketplace before making any firm decisions, as a good deal might be nearby. This will also allow you to hear and otherwise inspect the instrument before spending your hard-earned money on it, which can always be a risk with sight unseen instrument purchases.

    Participant
    evolene_t on #217389

    Hello TextbooksNTeacups,

    That Capris really looks adorable. I understand being smitten by its style and size!

    Those two players make it look like a harp on which one could almost play advanced pieces. Now, I love Katheryn Butterfly of the second video, but she is a professional player on both the lever and the pedal harp. She can make any harp sound wonderful! I’m not so sure a beginner could get the same out of it…
    I haven’t been able to find the price for that small harp, but I’ve found this video :

    The sound seem more realistic, and it’s probably the maximum you would be able to take out of such a small harp for maybe a year. I also think it sounds quite “tinny” or “plasticky”, unlike the videos that you uploaded.

    I’m very empathetic to the fact that harps are expensive, even lever harps. Wanting to reduce cost is a definite priority for the first harp.
    I’m interested in the fact that although the harps that you’re interested in are lever harps, they have the distinctive pedal look to them. Is this more of a style choice, and you wish to play the repertoires associated with the Celtic while having the look of the pedal? Or are you ultimately looking to play advanced classical – perhaps even concert – music? In this case, the 21 strings will leave you profoundly frustrated.

    David is right to talk about the 2nd hand market.
    My personnel advice however is to rent a harp for a year or two, then take the plunge to buy (either the harp that you’re renting, in which case shops often offer the rent-to-buy option ; or another harp). Renting is flexible ; you can rent for 2 month then change harp if it’s not satisfactory.

    It’s better to play a “cheaper” harp, by only forking out $20 to $50 every month (less than what many students spend on coffee), and yet still be able to play the full range of music that you want, than spend a bit more than you can afford for a harp that you might not like after all.
    Though very cute, this Capris seems to have a few limitations. 21 strings. really is not a lot of strings, in my opinion, even if you “only” wanted to play a folk/celtic repertoire ; and the sound might prove disappointing in the end…
    (I would personally find it great as a decoration or “toy”)

    I’ve actually done the same as you as a penniless student and bought myself a plucked psaltry : Plucked Psaltry
    With 15 strings and very cheap (not as nice as the one on the image), I though it would be a great way to start the harp and practice youtube tutorials. But at the end of the day, it serves as decoration on my desk ; I haven’t been able to produce much out of it and it has discouraged me a number of times to progress with it. Playing is hard, the sound is not that nice, and it simply does not compare to a quality instrument.

    I’ve then rented a full, beautiful and expensive harp and I take joy every time I see it and play with it! 🙂
    This article by Dusty Strings convinces me more and more : Why You Really Do Deserve A Nice Instrument – Dusty Strings
    Food for thought!

    But in the end, whatever you prefer will be the right choice for you based on your very own criteria
    Good luck in your quest 🙂

    Participant
    textbooksnteacups on #217390

    Hi David!

    Thank you so much for the input, I didn’t even think to look at the lever situation. Knowing that the teaching materials require a larger range is also very helpful!

    I will keep an eye on the secondary market.

    How did you know that the harp you purchased was ok? I can see obvious cracking in the neck, but I’m not knowledgeable enough to play and know if it is damaged or not a good quality. Should I find a harp teacher first (I moved since I last took harp lessons a year ago), even without a harp, and have them look at it with me?

    Congratulations on finding a good deal on your harp and thanks again for the advice!

    Participant
    David Kitamura on #217396

    Good call about the rent/rent to own option, Evolène. @OP definitely look into that if you have a harp dealer or studio in your area that rents, especially if you want to go for a pre-pedal model.

    As for my own purchase experience, since I had bought this from enough distance away requiring freight to get it to me, I was taking a risk myself. I was unable to inspect/play it before paying the asking price to get it to me. What influenced my decision was a combination of the features this model had, the asking price vs. its new price, the seller’s reputation for selling used harps previously, their disclosure of any existing damage or playing concerns, and buyer protection in case something did go awry. At the price I was getting for what it was, I was willing to accept certain flaws. I also had the local Virginia Harp Center staff to help me identify potential issues after receipt. Another thing that eased the process was the build itself – the Reve is a carbon fiber hybrid, with a carbon fiber neck + pillar and a wood soundbox. Most concern was for the soundbox and hardware (which were fine), as it would’ve taken quite a disaster to get the carbon fiber structure to break under any previous ownership! Ultimately I got a clean bill of sound and structural integrity.

    I can’t speak for having a teacher accompany you to inspect the local marketplace, but they should certainly be able to instruct you on what to look for when giving a preliminary inspection as well as guide you to relevant offerings in your area. The people I would trust most in the sale/rental of used harps are also players familiar with the harp they’re selling, so you could ask them to play a piece when prospecting if you aren’t comfortable doing so yourself.

    Participant
    textbooksnteacups on #217399

    Evolene,

    Thanks for looking up the harp – for some reason I can’t see the link/video you found, perhaps because of my device (tablet). You’re right, it would be a cute (but expensive) decoration!

    Although the look of the pedal harp is definitely beautiful, I want to be able to play classical music-eventually I would like to transcribe orchestral music to the harp. Some of my favorite more popular artists are Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, and J.S. Bach. As a child, I drove my guitar teacher nuts because he asked me to bring in the music I wanted to play, and I was bringing in my favorite symphonies and asking him to teach me to listen and then translate/play them…I want to do that with the harp.

    I’ve read that these three harps (Salvi Ana, L&H Prelude, and Camac Mademoiselle) are similar in string tension/spacing to a pedal harp and are good for those who want to eventually play on the pedal harp, that is one of the biggest reasons I’m looking at those three. They’re several thousand dollars cheaper than any of the used pedal harps I have seen, and I do see a used Salvi Ana in the listings here for ~4500.

    I was renting a Ravenna 34, but had to return it due to a move. I will look into harp rent-to-own possibilities in my area, I’m in Orange County right now, and it seems that everything is in LA and my car is compact, so will need someone else’s car.

    You make a great point about getting something cheap and then never using it! I wouldn’t want to do the same thing after spending what could be a downpayment or rental money.

    Thank you for the Dusty Strings article! It does make me feel more like getting or renting the Salvi Ana or Prelude.

    Is it really that much better to get a harp similar to a pedal harp to practice on as a beginner, or is using a celtic harp ok? I have seen some for sale on ebay that are small and under 1000K, the Mikel brand new or other brands used. I know I would be taking a chance there though.

    Participant
    evolene_t on #217418

    Hello again,

    The video doesn’t seem to have copied here, sorry about that. Here is the YouTube link :

    Capris Video

    I think it’s important to state that you want to play classical music. I personally don’t know if you should play a pedal-lookalike before transitioning, someone else might have an input.

    As for buying cheaper harps on eBay, I would be very careful. (Take a look at the topic “Why does this post keep on disappearing” to understand why).

    Counter-intuitively, I would be wary of buying cheap when not having a lot of money. Going for a know brand, for a new or lightly used harp, or renting-to-owning one, is a sure bet : let’s say you spend $3 000, and that’s more money that you can afford to spend. But once the money is out, its all good, you can keep the harp at least 20 years. Chances are that you won’t need to regulate it at all, or if you do, it’s covered by the warranty. Plus, like the Dusty Strings link says, you will take pleasure every time you practice and will progress all the better.

    Now, let’s say you go for the cheaper option : you buy a $750-ish harp on eBay, not really knowing the maker, the owner and the way the harp was taken care of. The harp might show problems as soon as it arrives, or a few months in. The sound gets worse, and even though it was cheap enough to begin with, you start to want to customise it in order to improve the quality (new levers, better strings etc…). The costs increase, maybe $100 here or there, maybe more.
    Or, you actually start to get bored with it when you compare it to quality harps. 2-3 years in, you see all of the flaws the harp and you’ve heard so much better. You end up investing on a harp you wanted all along, but you’ve still already spent $750 at first, probably more, and end up getting the $3 000 harp anyway.
    So by cutting cost at first, you’ve ended up spending more in the long run. It’s a well-know paradigm in economy (the poorest spend the most, it’s expensive being poor).

    Hence the rent-to-buy method, or buying used (but trusting the seller), etc.

    Again, good luck!

    Participant
    wil-weten on #217422

    My earlier more elaborate post in this thread vanished. So, I’ll post a summary.

    ” If so, what do you recommend for someone to do so they can practice outside of the home (like in the park?)”

    I understand that you don’t have your own place, and therefore will take the harp outside a lot. Frankly, I think that you’d best buy a Dusty Ravenna, preferably 34 strings, but with 26 strings you at least can make a start at the harp. Of all the mentioned harps, the Ravenna may be best suitable to play outside in parks etc because of it’s use of sturdy and high quality multiply and vinyl. It’s well transportable and of sounds nice. I’d rather not take an expensive and very heavy lever harp like the L&H Prelude to a park…

    As to string tension. The Ravenna’s have a kind of medium string tension. I think it would be rather easy to move on to a pedal harp, if that’s what you want. There are a few great harps with pedal harp tension strings, but they are way pricier and more susceptible to the kind of quick changes of temperature and humidity that can happen when one plays in parks etc.

    Participant
    textbooksnteacups on #217661

    Evolene, thanks for resending the link. It definitely is a pretty/cute decoration – the sound isn’t appealing to me, so glad you found that! You’re right about the poor buying lower quality items that need a lot of tinkering and additions to make palatable, which is expensive in the long run.

    Wil-Weten, thank you for the advice on the Ravenna to take out. If I had my own place, I would grab a floor harp without hesitation. The Ravenna seems to be well liked and I’ve played on it before.

    Thanks everyone!

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