Buying my first “real” harp (potentially a Troubadour III)

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    Hello everyone,

    I’m looking to buy my first “real” harp soon, as my little Harpsicle just isn’t doing the job anymore. My teacher is letting me try out a Troubadour III right now, and if I like it, she said that I can buy it from her. I also want to try out other harps, though, to get a feel for what I like, and I was wondering if I could get advice from some people here?

    With the Troubadour III – it was built in 1989 (I had to ask Lyon and Healy twice, ’cause the first time, they told me 1969, and then I did my research, and the Troubadour I had only been out for a few years at that point, so 1969 didn’t make sense, lol), and it has a few nicks and scratches, but it looks really nice for the most part. The sound board is bowing up around the 4th and 5th octaves, maybe 3/4″-1″ or so. Some (3) of the tuning pegs slip when I try to tune the strings, although when I make the strings sharp, and tune them down to be in tune, they do hold their tune that way. Also, I’m not sure if I’m really happy with the levers – some of them buzz (which my teacher said she could help me fix), and they look like they’re eating the strings, and the tone isn’t quite as clear through the levers. So if I get this harp, I might try switching to Camac levers someday, if that’s a possibility on a Troubadour? Anyway, she said that this harp won’t be more than $1,800, and I’m wondering if that’s a good deal? I really do like this harp so far, and it’s within my budget.

    I’m going down to Dusty Strings in Seattle in a few weeks (I’m in Bellingham, WA at the moment) to see if I can try out some harps there, but I’m also wondering if anybody has suggestions of where else to look to try out harps? I want three things mainly: 36 strings or more, good tone, and I want it to be visually pleasing. And I’ve heard that Camac levers are really nice, so maybe that’s something I should look into as well, rather than switching the levers out after getting sick of the old ones. I’m also looking to buy used, instead of new, because my budget isn’t really large. I see the classifieds section on here has some used harps for sale, but some of them are out of my price range, and others are too far away for me to be able to try in person.

    Any ideas? (Also, I’m sorry if this question has been asked a million times, but I don’t see a search function on this site.)


    As long as you’re going down to Seattle, you might as well zip on over to Puyallup and see what The Enchanted Harp has in stock, too.


    hi Ben, sounds like those levers need adjusting.

    Rachel Redman

    Ben, I have had a Troubadour VI for a couple years and I love it. Personally, I can’t think of a lever harp that I would trade my Troub for, due to the beautiful sound, hardy construction, string tension and general appearance.

    Yes, as Deb said, it does eat strings. Put it in a stable environment and you will minimize that problem. Mine was stored in a large room with varied temps, and that stressed it. I moved it to a more stable room and it’s done well.

    I have had buzzing levers on my Troub (and it’s the newest model), but like Deb mentioned, regulating should deal with that.

    Happy harp-hunting!


    Hi Ben. What an exciting time for you! I have a Dusty and a Pratt Chamber Harp and far prefer my Pratt. John Pratt is the designer and craftsman for them and his work is simply amazing. His father actually designed the first Troubador for L&H so John has been around harps, design and forward-thinking about harps since he was a kid. If you can, check them out. Any instrument is such a personal thing—the sound, the feel, the look, the soul connection!

    Peg .

    How exciting!

    Pat Eisenberger

    There are SO many great harps out there – good luck with the search. Just don’t be afraid to try the smaller harp builders along with the big companies. There are some great ones out there – Webster, Lewis Creek and Heartland Harps are just a few in my area. I’m certain there are other great ones all over the country – and the experience of dealing with the builder to have a special harp built “just for you” is wonderful!


    My teacher has a Dusty FH36S (I think) and he says he doesn’t actually
    use the top 2 strings (the ones that they take off for 34-string harps)
    all that much.

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