Camac Excalibur harp

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    Blindharper on #191755

    I just bought this harp about a month ago and wondered if anyone else had had experience with it. I love mine but I would be curious to know other people’s experiences with it. Does anyone know what the core material for the bass strings is? How do I tell if I’ve accidentally overregulated a string? I had trouble with I think it was C 27 and had to regulate it but i’m not sure how to tell by feel whether the string is in the right place. I was told to only give it a quarter of an inch turn but ended up needing to give it more because the buzzing didn’t stop. Also, when did this model come out? I didn’t see anything on the forums about it when it reemerged.

    wil-weten on #191756

    As to your nsername ‘Blind harper’, I think you may benefit from joining the yahoogroup VirtualHarpCircle. There are several blind people active there who will have great ideas for you on learning to play the harp with no or an impaired eyesight. To begin with tuning the harp the right way and knowing where you can find which string.

    The new Camac Excalibur is a very recent model. There was one many years ago. The recent model dates from about July 2015 (or a little bit earlier). Congratulations on this harp that has received many great reviews already.

    Do you read German? On the German Harpforum there also are a few friendly people active with no or bad eyesight.

    Blindharper on #191779

    Tunings not the issue. I had to do a tiny bit of regulation on one of the sea strings. I’ve been tuning my own harp almost since the beginning. Unfortunately, I don’t read German but if you know of any places where the Excalibur has been reviewed I would love to see them as I’ve looked and not seen much. I’m on the harp circle but I lost the email address connected to it so I’ll need to find that again sure I can get back on. But, as I said I’m more concerned about regulation and I would think even with good eyesight that it might be more difficult as you have to be able to tell how close the string is to the neck. And I doubt it’s exactly easy to look between the levers. Thanks for the response and I hope what I’m saying makes some sense. I would ask my teacher but she’s busy in performance season right now and very difficult to get hold of.

    Biagio on #191780

    Here is the Virtual Harp Circle home page:

    Unfortunately Camac does not publish details on it’s strings, but I would guess that C27 has a steel core, based on the rest of the upper band. Regulation (lever adjustment, actually) can be tricky even for sighted people so I’m afraid that I can’t be much help there.

    Best of fortune,

    Blindharper on #191781

    Are there general rules for regulation? Not specifically for this harp but generally speaking is there anything I need to watch out for? I tried to match C 27 as closely as I could to the other strings

    Biagio on #191782

    Well, yes there are general rules but exactly how you execute them is different for every lever type. Let’s start with the math (groan, yes I know). The sharp point is approximately 94.5% of the vibrating length. “Approximately” because of several things: the amount of the sound board’s belly, the angle the string makes to the board, and the angle off the bridge pin. But taking that as said, the point at which the lever fret or stop engages the string should be at about that point.

    Let’s assume a 32 inch vibrating length (board to bridge pin) which should be about right for the C below middle C; the fret should engage at 94.5% of that; or to make it simpler 1.76 inches below the bridge pin (0.055 x 32).

    I generally set it there initially, engage the lever, and check with a tuner – open and sharped. If the sharp is only a little off, moving the pin out or in a little will often do the trick by lengthening or shortening it a small amount. If that does not do the trick, I may have to loosen the screw(s) and move the lever up or down a little. Down makes it more sharp (shorter vibrating length), up more flat.

    That all assumes that the lever is properly aligned with the string, and that unfortunately is pretty darn hard to do by feel. Some lever designs are easier than others by virtual of the mechanical design. For my money, Lovelands are the trickiest and Truitts the easiest, Camacs fairly easy. But that’s the general principle.

    Rick Kemper provides a precise description of mounting Camacs, which may be helpful (see “Mounting Camac Levers” under “Building the Lever Harp”).

    Best wishes,

    Blindharper on #191783

    How does the Excalibar rank in the tension spectrum as far as strings go? It feels much lighter then either the bardic or might Dusty strings crescendo 32 but I could be wrong. It’s clearly lighter then the troubadour but the troubadour is gut strung. I know I’m asking a lot of technical questions but I figure it’s in my best interest to learn as much as I can about the instrument I’m working with considering especially that this one is so green.

    Biagio on #191784

    Bravo! The more one understands one’s instrument the better – I wish more players took a technical interest. The best way to learn is to actually design and build your own small harp – for guidance there consider joining the Harpmakers Group:

    It’s difficult to compare tensions across various models and makers of lever harps without knowing the specific string compositions and vibrating lengths – which most consider proprietary and will not publish in detail. A better thing to do anyway would be to judge by how they feel, but that is also a little vague.

    Many players are thinking of how stiff the strings feel when they talk about “tension” but what that really is – is “resistance.” Fluorocarbon is more elastic than nylon and denser than gut, so while an FC string may not feel as stiff as either at the same length and frequency it may in fact be at higher static tension than both.

    To my hands the Crescendo is about in the middle for tension between a Troubadour (high) and a typical “therapy” lap harp. But some of the latter can be quite high, such as the Timothy Niamh.

    Best wishes,

    Blindharper on #191786

    About the same C 27th. Could the buzzing actually be coming from a problem with the string? I’ve tried reregulating and loosening the screw some and noticed when I went back and took a look that there is a small Nick in the top of the string as if part of the wrapping is worn through. Is about level with the lever contact point. Should I be concerned about breakage if I should then I need to call my closest store which is in Virginia by the way and try to get hold of the base lever wire.
    I really wish that some enterprising harp maker would take it into their head to attempt making a harp line specifically for wheelchair users. It’s an absolute miracle I found this one. Even with that being said as tiny as I am there are a few adaptations that have to be made if anyone is interested I can start a separate topic to discuss a few tricks . Believe it or not lap harps aren’t quite as friendly to wheelchair users as people think. .
    This is why I prefer a floor harp to one that sits in my lap and less of course the base could be made completely solid. It actually needs to sit in my lap not hang sideways From my neck. Or force hyperextension over the back of my wheelchair which is far less than comfortable as the only part of my body showing above the back of the chair at that point is my head. Floor harps all the way thank you very much. At least until someone comes up with something workable in the smaller harp range. Oh the joys of being barely over 5 feet.

    Biagio on #191788

    Sorry to say, it is very difficult to diagnose this from a distance – a buzz can be cause by many things, and even result from picking up the vibrations of another string entirely. I think it would be best to take it in to the Virginia Harp Center, or a similar place.

    Many people find lap harps awkward, at least until they have been playing for some time. I even put my lap harps on custom stands so that they are at the height and angle of a floor harp.


    wil-weten on #191791

    Blindharper, you asked for reviews, but I could not find them in the English language. Yet, here I found a nice one in German: I know you don’t read German, but Google translate may give you just the kind of impression you are looking for.

    When you wrote ‘regulating’ I thought you meant ‘tuning’. As you bought your harp very recently, I guess the harpshop you where you bought the harp will take care of that for you and help you solve the buzz. Before you go, first try to use the harp in a different room than the one you use to play in. You would not be the first person to discover the buzzing problem is not caused by the lever where it seems to come from. Odd as it sounds, sometimes the buzzing has to do with some object in your harp playing room instead.

    Blindharper on #191792

    It’s possible. I’m actually wondering if it may have something to do with the way the string was placed on the harp. The reason being when I played it in the store and later at home the same string kept buzzing. What I think I’m going to do is call Virginia harp center and try to get a replacement string. They sent me a combination tool to do the regulation of myself so I don’t have to take it to the store which is three hours or so away from where I am by train. When I said I don’t read German I don’t read it well enough to make a lot of sense out of it. The actual truth is I read it just enough to sing it but not well enough to use it for any kind of every day work. I will attempt to take a look at this review. Thanks for the info. I wish I knew of someone else who had played one before. Because it’s hard to find information until an instrument of any sort has been out there for at least a year if not longer. Anyone know what the difference is between the strings on the Bardick and the ones on the Excalibar? It looks as if they’re the same but different brands. Has anyone ever dealt with this particular brand?

    wil-weten on #210098

    I just discovered your latest mail about a year and a half later. I am sorry.
    I do hope your problem has been solved a long time ago. If not, any local harp technician would probably be able to solve this for you.

    As to your question:”Anyone know what the difference is between the strings on the Bardic and the ones on the Excalibur? It looks as if they’re the same but different brands. Has anyone ever dealt with this particular brand.”

    The Camac Bardic 27 string harp has strong nylon strings with the lowest (I think 5) strings made of Alliance carbon strings. They’ve got a rather high tension.
    The strings on the Camac Excalibur 38 string harps are made of Kürschner carbon strings (and the bass strings are made of wire). They are supposed to have intermediate tension.

    As to brands. Camac harps are well-known in Europe (where I live) for their sturdyness and the willingness of the manufacturer to listen to the wishes of harp players.

    I hope to be able to try the Camac Excalibur in the foreseeable future and find out whether the tension is strong enough for me (being used to a pedal harp tension harp).

    Today, I discovered that Josh Layne’s newest lever harp is a Camac Excalibur. Have a look at:
    By the way, I love Josh Layne’s ‘Harp Tuesdays’.

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