Anyone seen/heard a Mikel 38 yet?

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    Biagio on #215631

    Teifi has an excellent reputation. Aside from the specific levers, you may have noticed that lower priced harps such as the Siff Saff, Ravenna, Oladion, etc. have Finnish ply boards (sometimes called birch ply, technically aircraft grade laminate), whereas higher cost ones use spruce or some other solid soft wood.
    Some actually prefer the ply over solid wood, especially if they want a good quality harp to be played in different climates. In fact, that’s why Harper bought his Oladion – he uses a Dusty FH36 for indoor concerts, the Oladion for outdoors.

    balfour-knight on #215643

    David, I have enjoyed reading this thread with all the good responses! I am a professional pedal and lever harpist who enjoyed owning a Ravenna 34 for a number of years. I could not part with this special little harp until I found the most gorgeous Dusty FH36S in cherry–most of our readers remember my story, I am sure! I do love the 36 strings over the 34–I regularly use the high B and C, especially for the ending notes of glissandos. In fact, when I needed the High C on my former Ravenna, I would play a harmonic on the C below, the highest C on a 34 string harp, to give the effect of the High C to end on. (Not after a glissando, of course, but usually the ending note of an arpeggio.) For someone used to the large range of a pedal harp, any lever harp is a compromise, but you get used to the boundaries of your instrument.

    A friend of mine has a small piano with only 61 keys, when there are regularly 88. I almost cannot play this piano–I run off of the ends very quickly! It is quite an adjustment, more so than playing a small harp, for me, at least. If I am just reading printed music which does not have a large range, it does not bother me as much as when I sit down to play by ear. I want a large, open highway in front of me, ha, ha! I require the 88 keys!

    Well, good luck in finding your ideal harp. It is wonderful that you live close enough to the VA harp center to try their harps.

    Cheers to you all, and Biagio DOES know what he is talking about, ha, ha!

    Biagio on #215645

    Thank you Balfour my friend:-)

    Ha ha, you could try out my little 19 wire strung – talk about limiting! What I’ve learned though is that with small harps you have to learn a whole new range of techniques vis a vis a pedal or large lever harp.

    The more I learn the less I know:-)

    Best to all,

    David Kitamura on #215731

    Tayce, my musical background is rather minimal. When I was a young one, my sisters took piano lessons but I had no interest in what they were doing. When I hit middle school, I played violin for the 4 years I was there since there were loaner instruments available and it was accessible, but I never truly appreciated the instrument. My heart always belonged to the therapeutic sound of the harp, and now that I’m older I can make that happen for myself without needing approval from my family or whatever.

    As another option I’ve been looking at, it seems that the Salvi levers have been redesigned in recent years. Two points of contact are visible, but it’s hard to see exactly how it grips the string until I see one on the floor. It appears to be a simpler mechanism than the Teifi levers but I’m not quite sure what difference that makes in the long term, though.

    It could mean Salvi Una meets my desires, as it has 38 strings, is reasonably costed and lighter weight, and admittedly the green finish is pretty to me. It’s considerable in case importing a Teifi is prohibitive to me.

    Gretchen Cover on #215736

    David, you seem to have a case of what I call “paralysis by analysis.” You have to keep researching and thinking and then nothing gets accomplished. Why don’t you simply rent a harp and start lessons. Then you will better know what you really want in a harp. Plus you will learn how to play.

    David Kitamura on #215737

    I certainly don’t deny this, Gretchen, and I agree. A trial rent is a good idea though I didn’t think it practical now because currently much of my spare time is spent fixing up an old property to living condition. In addition to time, associated expenses with it has made saving up a bit slow going. As that’s passing over I wanted to do all of my research since the available technology and harp models have certainly expanded in the last decade or so, not to mention right now I feel like it’s really all I can do. I appreciate every voice here along the way! I’m really going to need a break once all that’s done.

    Biagio on #215740

    David, I applaud your research effort – may I suggest widening it beyond looking at different models and prices? Probably you are doing that – for example talking to the people at the Virginia Harp Center – so let me suggest a few additional resources:

    Plan on attending at least one harp conference, if only for a day. For instance two coming up this year are the Harp Gathering Festival in Ohio (May17-20) and the Somerset Folk Harp Festival in New Jersey (July 19-22). See also

    Drop by any nearby harp circles – most will be welcoming and happy to discuss their harps with you (and anything else) after the meeting. Contact the local chapters of the AHS and ISFHC for those in your area:

    Invest in two short books that I consider essential for any lever harper: The Harper’s Manual by Laurie Riley, and Trouble Shooting Your Lever Harp by David Kolacny. These cover topics that come up again and again on harp forums, but are usually not covered by any “how to” or “teach yourself”. resources.

    Check out and/or join other harp forums: the Virtual Harp Circle, The Harp List, the Dusty Strings Forum and Blog. The VHC in particular has in the Files a description of various levers and, shortly, a discussion of strings (I’m still writing that one, LOL).

    Really study what well-known harp makers have to say about the instrument (and not just their own models). I’ve already mentioned Sligo Harps, some others with helpful insights are Rees, Thormahlen, Dusty, and Blevins.

    Best wishes,

    Tacye on #215742

    One thing which strikes me is that you say you are drawn to the sound of the harp, yet you hardly mention the sound of the instruments you are considering. Fewer strings can be worked around and less good levers can be not used much. What sound do you like?

    Renting a harp for a little while is good as you have more skills to try harps and decide what sound you like to make, and indeed your preferences may alter with familiarity.

    David Kitamura on #215743

    If I had to pick a preference, I’d say I prefer the warmer, more mellow tone common in gut strung harps. To be honest I never really stopped to think what kind of tone I would prefer in a personal harp. I’ve heard a lot of models with different tones and they all sounded nice to me with their repertoire, unless it was a bit “plinky” by a limitation of its build or something.

    As far as events, I do plan to observe Dr. Jaymee Haefner’s master class next month and attend the Somerset Harp Festival this year on the Saturday visitor’s ticket. Parsippany is reasonably close by.

    wil-weten on #215757

    @ Gretchen, thank you so much for mentioning “paralysis by analysis”.
    This is one of the traps I may tend to fall into.

    @ David, there is a lot more to discover in the sound of a harp than only the kind of warm tone some gut strung harps provide. You may be surprised how warm some nylon strung harps sound. Also, you want to hear how a harp sounds in the lower, the middle and the high register. Sometimes one doesn’t like one or two of the registers. Also, the sound of two seemingly exactly the same harps of the same manufacturer and the same model, built from the same kind of wood, can sound quite differently.

    And then there’s more to selecting a harp. Think about the string tension, or the smooth operation of the levers (giving correct half tones, preferably without clicks and clacks while you are operating them), the measure of comfort with which you sit behind the harp, etc. etc.

    I agree with Tacye that renting a harp may be a great way to start your harping voyage. And I agree with Biagio that its advisable to go to as many harp gatherings as you can manage.

    balfour-knight on #215859

    I have enjoyed catching up with this thread today! Good comments from all of you, my friends, and I want to add that “no harp is forever,” David. Most of us have owned several, if not MANY, harps in our “harping careers.” So, renting one at first sounds like a wonderful idea to me, also. Our tastes and needs change with time, so something temporary may be the best way to go.

    Harp hugs and best wishes,

    erin-wood on #220857

    Did you end up getting the Mikel harp David? I have a student who got a 38 Mikel harp for Christmas last year. It has had a lot of string breakage. Now it has a crack in the next. It is very frustrating and haven’t heard back from the shop.

    David Kitamura on #220908

    @erin-wood I ultimately did not get the Mikel, as I was getting my finances together a preowned 34-string Blevins harp at a very agreeable price appeared on the used market. It’s been in my hands since about May.

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