Blevins Avee 34 harp review

  • Participant
    alan-cross on #187290

    I am thinking about selling my Stoney End Marion 34 harp and buying the Blevins Avee 34 harp instead but I have never played the harp and I don’t know anyone who has ever played it either. I would like some information about how the tension feels and any other information you can think to offer about the harp.

    I’m thinking about the Avee 34 because I love the ability to switch from sitting and standing performing. I don’t know many lapharps with 34 strings other than Rees grandsicle (no) and Lyon electric silo. I don’t like the rees harpsicle line simply because it’s like playing with dental floss. The tension is horrible for me, way too loose. I like the Lyon Silo but its way outta my price range ($6000+).

    If anyone has ever played the Avee 34 or have any information about the tension on it, please share! 🙂
    Also if anyone knows of lap harps that have 34+ strings, please share that info too!

    Thank you so much!

    EDIT: I plan on having a pickup/preamp installed into the harp or some kinda clip. I know the Grandharpsicle has all that included but I really cannot work around the annoyingly weak string tension. I started on the sharpsicle and when I moved to my Marion 34 floor harp that has the tension similar to a pedal harp, I couldn’t touch my sharpsicle again. It was a major difference!

    Participant
    sherry-lenox on #187545

    I had a very beautiful Avee and loved it. I very reluctantly sold it because the buyer loved it so much.
    They are not a high tension harp, but my wonderful teacher, who could pull a truck with her fingers if she needed to, could play it comfortably. Her pedal harp is a very large Salvi.
    The Blevins company is wonderful to work with.
    Call them and ask them about the string tension.
    Have you read up on the new Dusty?

    Participant
    Biagio on #187547

    A 34 that is small and light enough would have lower tension than most others out there, if not all. Blevins has a great reputation and has been making some very nice therapy harps.

    Another option to consider would be a small double strung. Blevins makes several – one of my friends has his Cameo 46 (23 strings each side) and loves it. His Cameo 52 (26 each side) should be fine too; then there is the Rees Morgan for a bit more expense. I have a double 23 left from six or seven made as rentals.

    You can play all of these sitting with LeStik (or similar) or standing with a strap.

    Biagio

    Participant
    wil-weten on #187549

    As to double strung harps, you may also think of the Dusty FH26 double strung. Have a look at: http://manufacturing.dustystrings.com/harps/models/fh26-double-strung/

    Participant
    Biagio on #187557

    I’d think that the Dusty 2×26 would be too heavy to be played while walking around – depending on the wood they weigh from 16 to 18 lbs. It is however one of the few doubles being made these days – more’s the pity.

    Biagio

    Participant
    wil-weten on #187559

    Yes, I think you are right, Biagio, the 2×26 Dusty with its 13-17lbs is too heavy to be played while walking around.

    On the other hand: can one get a warm and full sound from one of the even smaller and lighter harps?

    It seems to me that is a question of having ‘either… or…’ trading one nice feature in in favor of the other. But I do hope that I am mistaken!

    Participant
    Biagio on #187561

    Wil, tone is largely a function of the string selection and sound board vibrating surface so the answer is “yes up to a point” but you’re right, there’s a trade off in a small harp. You just can’t get away from physical limitations. If a harp is designed specifically for one purpose, it can often be adapted to another, but something may very well be sacrificed.

    In Dusty’s case, they use the same frame (essentially) as the standard single 26, with slightly lower tension. On a double though, the area between string rows is acoustically dead so that part of the tone is lost.

    In Rees case the box is shallower and the board wider than the Dusty; Dwight Blevins in contrast to both uses a lighter board….and so on.

    My standard rental 2×23 is about 6 lbs. but being designed also for travel and to fit a large suitcase the board is only 8.5 inches at the bass, so the tone is OK but not “rich and full”.

    I made a custom version with higher tension and wider board that sounds in all modesty just great. But it also weighs more – maybe 10 lbs. The point being (if there is one) that both of those models were made specifically as doubles.

    Here endith the lecture (grin).

    Biagio

    Participant
    wil-weten on #187575

    Hi Biagio, yes, I agree in general on what you say about tone. In my previous message I was referring to very small harps.

    As I was one time interested in a Dusty FH26 double, I looked at the string tension. On the double harp each string is only half the thickness as the same string on a single harp (so that the two rows of strings of the double pull together exactly as hard as the one row of strings on the double harp. And unfortunately, I did like the sound of the single Dusty FH26 a lot more, as it was warmer and significantly fuller in my ears.

    From your nice ‘lecture’ (I love that word!) I understand that the width between the string rows has consequences for the acoustical features. So ideally the width between them should be as narrow as possible? I am trying to grasp the idea.

    Anyway, I do understand now the advantages of a harp specifically designed to have two instead of one row of strings.

    As to the question of alan-cross on other 34 string ‘lap harps’. There are a few lap harps with relatively many strings made in Germany. E.g.
    a 33-string travel harp: the itinerant http://artefakt-musik.de/iti33.htm or the hobbit http://artefakt-musik.de/hobbit.htm or some travel harps of Martin Gust: http://www.magus-harps.de/Reiseharfen.html or the 31 string Kairos of Weissgerber at http://www.weissgerber-harfen.de/weissgerber_harfen_kleine_keltische.html. Unfortunately oversees shipping costs are very high nowadays.

    Participant
    Biagio on #187600

    Wil, I haven’t looked at the Dusty 2×26 recently, but I seem to recall that the double is about 200 lbs. lower tension per row than the single. Much as I admire those folks, I have to say that they are very conservative. No wire strungs, no cross strungs, it took forever before they started using Camac levers as alternative Lovelands….one can understand why of course.

    Stoney End has the strings converge very close to each other at the board so they can use just one robust string rib; and of course that yields more vibrating surface. Rees and yours truly space them parallel to each other – about 2.5 inches apart – and use two thinner ribs. I can’t speak to William Rees’ reasons, but on mine I do that because I think it is easier to see and play; and hopefully eliminates potential buzzes at the strings’ knots.

    I don’t recall what Dusty does there but I’d bet on two ribs – the strings drop (almost) straight down as does the Rees.

    Biagio

    Participant
    wil-weten on #187620

    Hi Biagio, I must have mixed some things up regarding the Dusty FH double strung harp.

    Anyway, this is the present string chart of the Dusty FH26 double strung harp. http://manufacturing.dustystrings.com/files/1813/7217/5318/FH26_Double-Strung_String_Chart.pdf

    And this is the string chart of the one row 26 Dusty harps:
    http://manufacturing.dustystrings.com/files/2013/7217/5322/Ravenna_26_Allegro_26__FH26_String_Chart.pdf

    For comparison Middle C on the double strung is 40″ and on the single strung it is 50″.

    So, like you said, the difference in tension per string between the two types of harp is not much.

    Participant
    alan-cross on #187623

    Hello everyone and thank you for your great information! I am learning so much from all your replies.

    I seen something about the strings reducing the accoustic sound (or something like that) will this also reduce the sound if an amp was used?

    I have the StoneyEnd Marion-34 right now with a pick-up installed. I am using the electric more than pure accoustic simply because of where I play. So a hit to accoustic sound isn’t a deal breaker for me.

    Participant
    Biagio on #187630

    Wil, you were right as far as I can see – most if not all of the diameters are smaller on the double than on the single. One must guess at the wound strings in the bass, but it’s a good bet that they are also lower tension on the double.

    String lengths however are the same for both so it’s the smaller diameters that reduce overall tension. To keep the same tone they could have beefed up the sound board and made it wider, instead of lowering the tension. But as a production shop with all their jigs and fixtures set up that would not be as efficient to manufacture.

    Incidentally, using through pegs is a major reason that doubles weigh so much more than singles. Zither pegs cut down on the weight but they are not reliable above about 30 lbs. so you have to reinforce the hole down in the bass.

    Another trade off!

    Biagio

    Participant
    wil-weten on #187634

    Hi Alan, you wrote: “I seen something about the strings reducing the accoustic sound (or something like that) will this also reduce the sound if an amp was used?”

    I think you are referring to the volume of the harp, while Biagio and I were referring to the kind of tone.

    To get a rough idea, you may be willing to compare
    here: http://manufacturing.dustystrings.com/harps/video-audio/#
    a single row Dusty FH26 in maple and a double row Dusty FH26 in maple.
    In all these recordings the same tune is played in the same room by Harper Tasche.

    Participant
    Biagio on #187636

    Alan, if that was in this thread…..

    What the strings are made of has an effect on how they will sound, all else being equal. So too will the tension and playing technique. With a good amp, an acoustic will just be louder, but most amps also have equalizers built in so that is not entirely true, just a generalization.

    Harder strings produce a brighter tone than softer ones – of common materials nylon is hardest, then fluorocarbon, then gut. But please don’t confuse hardness with strength or density – that is a different issue.

    When we get down into the wound strings it get’s trickier. In order to get as close as may be to the upper register tones we have to play around with the core, bedding and wrap, and that’s a whole other topic for some other time.

    Biagio

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