Buying a harp!

  • Participant
    Ihartharps on #190764

    Hello fellow harpists!

    I am thinking of buying a particular harp. I like it, but my issue is that the strings go out of tune very soon after I tune them. The owner of the harp says it hasn’t been played in about 3 years and believes this is why. I know that is problem is usually found when you put brand new strings on a harp, but don’t know if this is common with old, unused strings. So do you think that they go out of tune very quickly (i.e. Within a minute of tuning, 3 x in a row), or is it a poor quality harp?? It appears and feels to be of good quality, but I am unable to ascertain whether it sounds good, as it keeps going out of tune before I play it!

    Participant
    wil-weten on #190765

    You’d take a great risk buying a second hand harp when you have no idea what to look for. You’d best take your teacher with you or someone else with knowledge in this field.

    Old strings that have not been played for a long time, may perhaps have to be tuned a half or even a whole note higher when you tune them for the first time. But afterwards, they stay reasonably well in tune, though you may perhaps have to tune them up a little bit once or twice when you have been playing for some time (much more than ‘within a minute of tuning!).

    This harp may have issues, perhaps quite different issues than you are thinking of. Perhaps they can be easily fixed, perhaps this is not the case.
    But I find it very strange that a harp owner tries to sell a harp which has not been tuned for a very long time. Why did she not bring it gradually up to tensio herself before deciding to sell it?

    A harp that is not used to a certain amount of tension may not hold up (read: it may explode) after it is suddenly brought up to the right tension and sometimes it will explode even when you did take the time to bring it gradually to the right tension.

    Participant
    Tacye on #190769

    Is there a reason you can’t ask the seller to tune it, repeatedly, and give you a call to try it once it is holding tune? I once bought a neglected harp which took a month of more than daily tuning before it would behave and hold tune, so it can happen, but equally it could be a harp with issues. No one can tell from your description.

    Member
    eliza-morrison on #190786

    Can you tell us more about the harp? Is it a lever or pedal harp? What is its age? Who is the manufacturer/maker?

    Participant
    hearpe on #190803

    My gut feeling- no pun intended- from my limited harp experience, but my longer classical nylon string guitar experiences-

    is that the condition you describe IS probably more likely to be string related. Nylon strings will take on a length over time and go through the same thing as when they are new in terms of stretch-but generally not quite to the same degree.

    Not actually seeing the harp, I couldn’t say for certain- but try to do the best visual evaluation you can- there may be some acceptable natural bow under tension, but this shouldn’t grow that appreciably tuning it up slightly.

    Also pay close attention to how much resistance seems to be on the pegs= if they feel extra loose tuning it- by comparison with the others- it may have some problems related to worn peg holes

    If it’s worth it, you probably want to go with some new strings as soon as you can- maybe even beef up the gauge a little bit if they are very thin.

    Participant
    wil-weten on #190806

    As Lhartharps is speaking about strings losing their tension *within a minute* one may think of slipping pins. Does the harp have zither pins? Or through pins (and threaded or conic?)? But perhaps something else is the matter…

    I think buying a second hand harp when one does not have the expertise to examine it for (hidden) problems, one will be dissappointed in the end.

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