I’ve recently added a Camac Athena to my L&H Troubadour V. Since then, I’ve learned about several differences between Camac and L&H/Venus/Swanson harps that I didn’t know about previously (even though I thought I’d done a lot of homework). I think it would be nice for other Camac owners to have a dedicated section on the forum for discussing and getting feedback on some of these issues. (Lots of good information is already on the forum, but it’s scattered.)
To start, I have several issues on which I’d like to hear feedback from Camac owers and from those who are familiar with Camacs.
1) Camac’s recommended string gauges are lighter than the standard Bow string gauges. (There’s a chart on their website, and I compared it with a list of standard gut gauges that Bow sent me.) The Camac owner’s manual says that using a slightly heavier gauge will not harm the harp but that the recommended strings were studied and chosen to minimize string breakage and to optimize sound. I’m guessing that increased breakage is just typical when you use a heavier gauge string that requires more tension, but can anyone tell me if they’ve sensed or experienced any extraordinary string breakage (or sound or other deficiencies) in using a heavier gauge (such as Bow standard) on their Camac pedal harp? (I live really close to L&H West, and would find it a lot more practical to pick of Bow standards as I need them–I’m not so much of a pro as to plan on keeping 47 spare Camac strings on hand at all times.) I’m also wondering if Camac’s choice of a lighter gauge is more of an homage to the old Erards than it is an actual scientifically supported benefit.
2) As I decide on which strings to replace my seven-year-old strings with, I’ve heard about Bow Light Gauge gut and Bow Lever gut. Does anyone know if Bow Light Gauge is the same as Bow Lever Gut?
3) I’d also like to know if 1st octave pedal nylon (etc.) is the same gauge as 2nd octave lever nylon? I just want to be informed in my decision.
4) Also–and I’ve been unable to find an answer on the forum to this–Camac recommends “Standard Galli wire” for the low wires. Can anyone please tell me what options alternatives they may have used or would consider on the wires?
5) Can anyone give me their thoughts on the the heavy pedal action on their Camac pedal harp? Does it soften with time? I had a Venus player basically horrified at how difficult it was to change pedals on my harp. (As I auditioned harps, I sensed that the pedal action was heavier on my Camac, but the pedal action on a 2008 Venus was certainly a lot stiffer than that of a (breathtaking) 1947 L&H 23.) I can imagine the Venus and L&H pedal mechanisms naturally softening over time as riveted joints break in, but I’m wonder if the Camac pedal (cable rather than rod) mechanism is such that stiffer pedal action is just the norm with Camac pedal harps? (I’m a man and, perhaps, have a little more muscle with which to pedal, so I’m not particularly distressed, but I, too, have thought it would be nicer if things were a little gentler.)