Camac Electroharp, sound and techniques

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    I play a Camac Electroharp, the solid body 36-string, and I’m curious

    about what other players have chosen as pre-amp for it: I’ve used a

    K&K 97 pre-amp, which is simple but good, and now a Fishman Pro EQ.

    Platinum,much more versatile, and then a keyboard combo or PA. I

    think the bass needs cutting down on this harp, do you? The long

    sustain of the low strings, because of their mass and the harp not

    flexing (like an electric guitar body), means that damping is very

    important, quite a new art. Anybody else worked with this? I have a

    Camac Melusine which I also amplify (K&K Big Twin plus Fishman) and

    it’s much easier to play because it responds acoustically and string

    volume and sustain are more even across the instrument. I’m still

    trying to feel as comfortable with the Electroharp, so any


    John D.


    I agree about the base. I typically use the stereo output and a two channel amp. Then I can eq the base and the treble separately, and set the volume different. The only problem I have with that approach is where the split for the two channels occurs. It’s too high.

    Getting even sound but cutting the base down enough is tricky. I also use a Fishman Pro EQ and find it works fairly well.

    What may help is if you read up on wire strung harp technique. I have Ann Heymann’s Secrets Of The Gaelic Harp. I use some of the dampening technique she teaches in that book in the base. It works rather well.

    I also arrange the base parts to make them simple, and depending on the melody line I sometimes use “Power Chords”. I figured if they work with overdriven guitar to keep it from becoming an atonal mess it would work with the excessive sustain of the base. It helps.


    Thanks, yes I think simplifying the bass is a good idea, as chords ring on so long. I also try to play a quieter left hand, but as I also play Paraguayan harp and music, it’s hard to restrain the left hand. I wish I could play the same repertoire on electric as I can on the Melusine, pieces by Bernard Andre for example, but it’s not proving easy and I’m more inclined to gig with the M. I’ll look up these damping ideas, and have already worked out a few. Yes, I agree, the stereo split is too abrupt without some kind of panning facility to blend them, so I’ll stay mono for live stuff with the Pro EQ. I realise that the basic problem is the mass of the large low strings compared with the high ones, and that the solid frame responds appropriately, i.e. the big mass goes on vibrating much longer (and create a bigger signal for the pick-up than the little strings), and with a harp acoustic soundboard the sounds of all strings are transmitted thru it and at the bass end, where it’s wide, it flexes more and absorbs the vibrations faster. I think the ideal electric harp might be a semi-acoustic, with a thinline soundboard that is damped so there can be no feedback, but able to absorb vibrations especially at the low end. Anybody ever seen such a thing?

    Evangeline Williams

    I don’t use a preamp.


    Thanks for your comments.I certainlythink a pre-ampmakes the instrument more manageable , and I can see the logic of Tony M’s stereo approach, but I doubt I’ll go down that route. I have recorded direct into the desk in stereo with the harp, and the cut-off takes some adjusting and panning to get a natural effect (I sometimes use four channels with different panning). I think ultimately it’s simply a matter iof adapting to the instrument, rather like a Spanish guitar player would with a Fender Strat. And just like the electric guitar created new music, so is the electric harp. I remember hearing Stivell playing his perspex ( I think it was) wire-strung electric harp in concert some ye4ars ago and the bass was very simple, with great sustain.


    How about a modeling signal processor like the Korg ax3000g? You can change the sound almost beyond recognition, but some of the more subtle settings get over the heavy bass (which I certainly found a problem at first)

    Also changing to a ‘coupled hands’ technique has some value.


    Maria Myers

    Does anyone know whatever happened to Evangeline?


    Hallo ,

    yes, the normal problem you find with electro harps is the bass and the endless ringing strings. As you allready pointed to the mass of the strings…but it is not only the mass, more importantly it is the composition of the string. With a different string composition (but equal tension) it would be possible tp shorten the sustain.

    The next reason are the pick up. I’m sorry to say, but from my personal view the pickup


    LR Baggs Para Acoustic di Active Direct Box and Preamp

    Fishman Loudbox. I used 2 to get a really great full sound in any room. Light and sound good!

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