Clunkers we have known and loved….

Posted In: Coffee Break

  • Participant
    unknown-user on #107546

    I think we all as students have been through this scenario – have not been able to afford a “modern” pedal harp and so have had to make do with a less than professional model….and they often led to more than one adventure in your student life.

    I started out life on an old English Erard – that had had more than one local repair by non harp professionals (if you know what I mean) and had a few “quirks”. One was that it had this adorable 8th pedal that moved flaps at the back that opened and closed the sound holes in the back of the soundbox – and it made this creaking noise, like the door of a crypt opening….the sort of thing that was so appealing to teenagers and would make everyone laugh hysterically….

    Another quirk was that the discs would not turn, return or they would over turn – so I had an elaborate system of rubber bands going from the discs to the string nuts that would help keep the action functional…

    I’ve already said before, that my first time with a student orchestra was Night on Bare mountain, and just before the arpeggios at the end, I changed the pedals into D major – and the rubber bands snapped and went flying all over the orchestra in all directions. The kids in the orchestra squealed with delight and started scrambling over the floors to find the rubber bands and flick them back at me! I spent the rest of the rehearsal fielding the volleys from the viola section, who spent the whole time throwing bits of paper, erasers, pencils and anything else they could find at me….

    I, of course, did not have a car, and would manage to get the Erard into all sorts of vehicles, my favourite was the time we wedged it into a volkwagon horizontally across the back seat and out the front passanger window with a red ragged tied on the end of the column so that on going traffic would not hit it! I had

    Participant
    vince-pierce on #107547

    Well, I have yet to own my own harp and can’t wait until the day I do, but we have this old LH 17 at our school that one of the girls calls the ‘short bus’ harp 😛 I really love the delicate sound it has, and it’s a little lighter. The soundboard is a bit bowed, and the pedals are kind of stiff, and it’s hard to tune, but for some reason I like it. I also like it partly because it’s not as heavy, and it looks like a 23 but isn’t so flowery. I sort of think of it as my harp because no one else really plays it. Maybe I could buy it from the school…hm. But I am so curious to see and hear one of those ancient Erards. I love your description of the pedal flap! I can just imagine that…and how sad that it was destroyed like that! I know I would be in tears if that ever happened to me! What do you play on now, just out of curiosity? No rubber bands, I suppose…

    Vince

    Participant
    unknown-user on #107548

    Hi Vince,

    Yes, aren’t old 17’s lovely. I taught in a convent school, that had a very beautiful old gold 17 from I think 1930 – and it was just gorgeous. Actually, it was not a clunker, absolutley in mint condition, board had not bowed a millimetre, neck completely straight, and action in perfect slick condition….

    I did play an old style 22 in university – I think it as circa 1915.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #107549

    Actually, that last post is not quite right, I have a little light strung lever harp – made by Kim Webby in New Zealand…I was thinking pedal harps that I’m performing on. But lever harps are harps and I’m glad that I can keep my fingers going and have something I can teach on. It is made from New Zealand red beech, a goldy red colour – with figured wavy wood in the back that really shines. The trim is inlay of Rosewood (I’m a sucker for Rosewood) and it has an Alaskan spruce soundboard with the most lovely shimmery veneer on it.

    It has a quirky little sound, and is great for Irish or early music. So, I suppose rather than a “clunker”, it is a “quirky” that I own and love! And it is a harp! Just not a pedal harp for most of the sorts of work I do – orchestra, chamber ensembles, choirs etc. But it is more than some people have, much more!

    Participant
    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #107550

    My very first harp was a very old, third-hand Lyon-Healy gold 22, which had ivory pegs in the soundboard and had been rebuilt before I bought it. I was such an idiot; I didn’t know what a great little harp I had and sold it to one of my first students. It had a lovely tuning key that fit the pegs like a glove and never
    wore out. I kept it when I sold the harp and cried when I lost it! I guess the pegs and tuning keys are made of different grade steel now. My next, brand-new harp was a real clunker with terrible, dead tone, so I had to sell that one and buy yet another! I spent several years nagging that student, trying to get her to sell the first harp back to me but she wanted to keep it in spite of the fact that she had quite lessons and was hardly playing at all. My third instrument started off sounding quite green but developed into a beauty, thank heavens!

    Participant
    unknown-user on #107551

    Now, if you had been exceedingly clever and devious Elizabeth, you would have convinced the “student of few lessons”, that she was now exceedingly brilliant and had outgrown this “old” 22, and it was holding her back…and that you would help her by taking it off her hands (and kindly pay her the price she paid you)….sneaky sneaky sneaky…

    But seriously, those old 22’s were gorgeous, I’ve tried several times to get the conservatorium where I studied to sell me their old one, as it is very neglected and not even in use…think it’s in a storage cupboard.

    I also played a really beautiful old Wurtlitzer, circa 1930’s – original board, neck, everything, not too badly warped, action a little loose but no major buzzes, clicks or clacks. The most incredible and gorgeous tone. It also has curly maple on the back of the soundbox that

    Participant
    paul-wren on #107552

    A clunker that I knew and ‘hated” was a harp own by the school. This harp was assigned to me while in school. Even though I owned a harp at the time, we were required to sign in and pratice at school for so many hours a day. I was assigned a room and harp. Ugh, what a piece of crap that thing was. Some of the disc in the wires strings would not turn all the way and you would get the most god awful booooooooonnnnnnngggggggggggggggg when it was in a bad position. I begged to have the harp worked on, but was not in the schools budget. Besides the wires, all of the other strings were nylon, the middle section was completely dead.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #107553

    That harp sounds strangely familiar…

    Participant
    Jeralee on #107554

    When I was going to the U. of O. in the mid 90’s

    Participant
    rod-anderson on #107555

    I still have the first pedal harp I played back in the sixties – it must be nearly 150 years old now – a Delveau Grecian, still with the original soundboard.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #107556

    And rightly so! Scars or “Patina” – that increases the value you know with antiques..

    I’d keep that harp if I was you, it is so unique and has so much history, both yours and its own! And you probably would never get another one. And a student would be likely to thrash it, and it not stand up to all that use….

    Participant
    unknown-user on #107557

    I agree with Rosemary – don’t sell it!

    Participant
    David Ice on #107558

    Arizona State University had a horror of a harp, living in this dimension as a style 30.

    Participant
    David Ice on #107559

    Hi Rosemary,

    I have a story for you….perhaps I should post it as a separate thread, or wait until Halloween, but I swear it is totally true.

    I will not mention names.

    I ordered a L&H pedal harp in the 90s from a nearby dealer.

    Participant
    Jessica Frost on #107560

    When I was in high school, I enrolled in the

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