Crack in harp

  • Member
    Terry on #186889

    Hello, I recently found a 17 year old music-makers gothic harp. it has an “outer stress fracture” on the neck, as the seller referred to it. I tried to attach a picture of the crack that the seller sent me, but after four or five tries, I gave up. The seller stated that the crack was only cosmetic, and that it would not affect the structural soundness of the harp, and that it would not grow any bigger. I wanted to ask if this was really cosmetic and if it would get any larger. Thank you very much.



    Janis Cortese on #186904

    I’d be very suspicious, only because there is simply no way that anyone can know whether a crack is stable or not, and it seems like a seller would of course say that it’s just cosmetic and doesn’t affect the sound. Unless the harp was placed into a CT scanner, there isn’t any way to tell.

    In your shoes, I’d talk to a repair shop first on the assumption that the crack would have to be repaired or stabilized. If the cost of this harp plus a good repair is still less than a brand new (uncracked) harp, it may be worth buying. But I’d definitely talk to someone who repairs harps, send them the pictures, and see what they would charge to repair something like that. That will give you an idea of what you should be willing to pay for it.

    I have to admit though, I’d be skeptical. I wish more people made historic and gothic harps, though. They seem difficult to chase down, and early music harps are interesting to me as well.

    Janis Cortese on #186906

    You know, I found the harp as a kit on their website here:

    Might you be able to buy a new neck for it and have it installed? Maybe the company can sell you just a neck, and you can bring the harp and the neck to a repair shop.

    balfour-knight on #186910


    Jerry Brown at Music Makers is a good friend of mine. They have a toll-free number, so why not give him a call? Do you know if the harp was constructed by the company or by an individual from a kit? The ones made at Music Makers are excellent instruments–I have one of their Large Gothics (36 strings) that just can’t be beat! Hope this helps.

    Best wishes,

    Biagio on #186913

    I’m sure that Jerry would be happy to help. That neck is reinforced (though not visible to the eye) with a hardwood spline so the crack “may” be cosmetic. But I think better to be safe. There are several ways to fix it, other than a new neck if that does not seem desirable.

    Easiest: Epoxy a strip of carbon fiber cloth under the neck (use a good strong epoxy such as System III)

    Next easiest: Bend a 3/4″ wide strip of 0.090 brass to shape; screw and epoxy that in place. You can get the brass at most hobby shops or hardware stores (brand name K&S Metals).

    Best left to a tech: Construct a special clamping mechanism, inject your epoxy into the crack, and clamp. Possibly dowel or screws as well.

    Some of the Clarks were made with a hardwood spline – what begins as a cosmetic crack eventually opens up to a major one. I repaired one Clark with the last method and it is holding up just fine. Rick Kemper (Sligo harps) uses the carbon fiber method as a matter of course on some of his repair jobs; Robert Cunningham goes the brass route.

    Good luck, which ever way it goes!

    Biagio on #186914

    Come to think of it….Music Makers may not have been reinforcing with a spline 17 years ago. Jerry has said that some of their older Gothics suffered from cracked necks until they started doing that. If you have not already bought the harp – don’t until talking with MM.


    Terry on #188068

    Thank you for all the helpful tips. Sorry I didn’t see this sooner. I ended up buying Musicmakers Smartwood harp kit and have since assembled it, and it sounds great. Thanks again.

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