Camac Excalibur Vs. Isolde Celtic

  • Participant
    harpfairy on #228244


    I’m deciding between Camac Excalibur and Isolde Celtic. Would any of you who are familiar with both models comment on their differences in terms of string tension and sound quality, please?

    I have read some treads here and I was inclined toward Excalibur because of its medium string tension. Is it true that Isolde has softer string tension?

    I have listened to both models’ YouTube videos. Some of them sounded to me that the Excalibur gives out the sound similar to electric harps at some point.

    I don’t wanna play Celtic or Irish music as I prefer therapeutic and pop music.

    I want my harpy to sound bright and crisp, not muddy sound, especially at lower bass strings.

    Isolde sounds sweet and more affordable. Just that I don’t like soft string tension because of the subsequent reveberation.

    Thank you very much.

    wil-weten on #228246

    I’ve got a Camac Excalibur. It has a string tension somewhere between that of a celtic and a pedal harp. I love it for its balanced sound and great projection. It’s a real joy to play.

    Yes, the Camac Isolde Celtic has a lower, that is to say ‘celtic’ tension.

    In my opinion, the price difference is definately worth it.

    harpfairy on #228248

    Thank you, Wil-Weten.

    I’m new here. What actually does it mean when people say “balanced” sound?

    Is it true that softer string tension makes it easier when you play fast rythms?

    I’ve been playing on a rental Triplett. To compare the string tension, by any chance can you advise if it’s similar to that of Excalibur?

    Thank you.

    naisha on #228249

    Hey, I have doubts between the same harps as you, and also Aziliz. I think the best way to see which one is better for you is testing them in person, that’s what I’d like to do when the moment comes. It’s good to know the price difference between the Isolde and the Excalibur is worth it, though. I guess if 1000€ makes a real difference in sound, it’s a better investment in the long run. However (and sorry, I know you’re not asking for that other model), the Excalibur and Aziliz are similar in price, being Aziliz slightly more expensive, so I guess it’s a question of how comfortable you are with one or another.

    Biagio on #228252

    What actually does it mean when people say “balanced” sound?

    I can’t speak to what Wil means but from the harp maker’s position…it means that there are no sudden changes in tonal quality. Take a 5 octave nylon strung harp for example: in the lower mid there is a “transition zone” where the strings may need to go to heavier than mono nylon. One strategy would be to use gut, another nylon wound over nylon. The latter would be more “balanced” (gut is more “mellow” than nylon).

    Another area is the bass: many go to metal wound steel core strings there but if the harp is gut strung elsewhere those would sound harsher than fiber core silver wound.

    Some makers and players prefer different tones in different ranges so “balanced” may not be what they want. Dusty is a good example – bright treble, more mellow mid, lots of bass resonance (with bronze core nylon wrap).

    As always, try the harp, rather than rely on another;s experience alone, if possible. Nor are studio recordings entirely reliable; I’ve heard expert players get sounds out of my harps that I sure did not know where in there.


    tanyanoel on #228253

    I played on an Isolde for lessons but when the time came to buy, I tried out as many harps as I could get my hands on and I purchased the Excaliber. The string tension is tighter and it felt great to me, but I also greatly preferred the sound. It’s sound is quite massive I feel, especially for a lever harp. Very crisp and just wonderful and HUGE. The Isolde is a very nice harp as well, but had a looser feel and nowhere near the volume, clarity or volume of the Excaliber.

    Definitely play them both, as they are both very nice lever harps. I have not had the opportunity to play the Aziliz.

    harpfairy on #228254

    Thank you everyone.

    Annie – Aziiliz looks great, too 😊

    Thanks Biagio – I like your explanation. Now I think I quite understand what the balanced sound is.

    Tonya, will the sound of Excalibur too loud if I only play at home? 😁😂

    I’m not a musician. I just learn to play a harp for my family and myself.

    I don’t have a chance to try any of these harps as we are not near those stores who carry them.

    And good luck to you, Annie. I’m sure in a way the harp will choose us, too.

    harpfairy on #228255

    My apologies, for the typo of your name, Tanya. I appreciate that you experienced both models and chose Excalibur over Isolde for the reasons.

    OK guys, thank you once again, I’ll go ahead with the Excalibur. Wish me luck 😊😊

    naisha on #228257

    Wow! Please tell us your impressions when you have it! I’m sure it will be totally worth it 🙂

    harpfairy on #228259

    Sure, Annie, will do. Feel a bit bad to have to spend that much, though 😬😬

    Let us know which harp you finally choose, too.

    Would you please tell me how to add a profile pic like yours? Thanks 😊

    naisha on #228265

    Sure! About the profile pic, it’s a little bit tricky, I’ll copy paste the steps I followed (thanks Evolène!)

    You have to go to the website “”, which depends on WordPress. You must :
    – Create (or find old) profile on WordPress. (I created one with the e-mail I’m using here)
    – Use WrodPress to connect on Gravatar, basically log in.
    – On Avatar here , they explain how to upload an image from your hard drive to the website, and then set is as your profile picture. You’ll see a button saying “add a new image” and there you have it.

    Biagio on #228268

    I’m glad that was helpful harpfairy. I should also note that when makers refer to “balance” they may be considering something related but rather different i.e. the three basic statistics they look at when designing it: tension, tension divided by vibrating length, and the ratio of tension to breaking point.

    There are others – hardness, diameter, etc. – but this discussion – already somewhat esoteric – would verge near the realm of the metaphysical.

    We plot these statistics as an aid during the design phase.

    Tension is obvious: many, myself included, want to achieve a smooth curve gradually increasing from treble to bass. (Some may not: the Fisher Eiriann has a marked jump at the bass after fairly low tension – it is designed for fast Celtic music with lots of ornaments and good sustain in the bass).

    That would suggest that the resistance to the force of the pluck remains fairly constant There will be less resistance from a longer string than a shorter one which leads me to

    Tension divided by length, which might in that case be a curve gradually sloping down.

    Tension to breaking point is the least intuitively obvious: simplistically we don’t want it so high (tight) that strings break a lot but not so loose that the tone is muddy. In theory the higher this is the more clearly the string will ring; in practice we consider the purpose. A harp such as the Prelude would be pretty high; a harp intended mainly for fast Celtic music would be lower, and a South American harp very low.

    It is not particularly practical for a player to examine these statistics unless he/she really wants to understand more about how harps a designed (although that is not a bad thing if one has the time and interest). Suffice it to say that if a harp is described as “concert tension” that suggests overall high tension and T/L; if for “Celtic” lower.

    Many lever harps are designed to be suitable for a range of styles…at which point one needs to try them out!


    harpfairy on #228285

    Thank you, Annie, for the trick! 😊😊

    Thank you, Biagio, for the knowledge straight from an experienced harp maker like yourself! Really appreciate it. Very interesting indeed and sophisticated at the same time. 🙏😊

    autumnmoon on #252011

    Hi harpfairy!

    I‘m sorry for digging up this old post but I’m in a similar situation right now and I’m curious about your experience with the Excalibur and if it was the right choice for you.

    I used to own a Camac Celtic Isolde, I went to the Camac store in Berlin and tried different harps and the Isolde was the one harp that had all I was looking for – fluorocarbon strings, a beautiful design, a large amount of strings and a beautiful sound. And it was right in my price range.
    I was very happy with my purchase and I enjoyed playing it a lot!
    That said, it was my first harp and I didn’t have a lot of experience. I knew from the start that I wanted to give Camac a try because I like the company philosophy but in the meantime I‘ve had the chance to play a few other harps like Salvi Mia and my teachers Aoyama.

    Over time I thought the Celtic Isolde felt a little “floppy”, still very nice to play but I sometimes wanted a little firmer touch especially when I played passages that required a bit more technique.
    I love Celtic music but I’m not exclusively playing pup-style/dance music so I’m looking for a harp that is versatile.

    I’ve moved overseas now, had to sell my Isolde and I’m not living near any Camac stores. The nearest one would be Tokyo but with the whole situation right now I won’t be able to go there for a long time so I don’t have a chance to compare the Celtic Isolde and Excalibur in person.

    I’d be grateful if you could share your experience with the Excalibur!
    Stay safe!
    Autumn Moon

    wil-weten on #252014

    Hi Autumn Moon, I’ve got my Excalibur now for about 2.5 years and I am still happy with her. I like her tension being between celtic and pedal. I wonder though that when you feel the tension of the Isolde being ‘a bit floppy’ you might prefer a pedal string tension. As there is also a Classical Isolde Classic with pedal gut tension carbon strings, you may like to try that one too. If you want pedal gut tension and a warmer sound, you may like to try the Camac Korrigan. If you for some reason don’t want (pedal) gut on the Korrigan, you may exchange it for (pedal tension) nylgut.

    I hope you can find a way to try out these harps before you buy, as they sound rather different from each other (and also, even harps of the same model all sound a bit different).

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.