Electric Actuators in place of traditional pedals?

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    duckspeaks on #190569

    Has any manufacturer tried having electro-mechanical actuators in place of the complex pure mechanical system?
    Frankly I would rather to have to depend on electricity than accept the high costs of traditional design. An electric system would be so easy to implement! Yes you may not be able to slide a note in flight with utmost control but the mechanism would be greatly simplified. Much less stuff to regulate as well. Notionally 7 3-throw switches would do it and it paves the way for more than 7 and custom settings to “prepare” the instrument to do unusual stuff or strange combinations and even for computer control. If the neck is to be reshaped we can go way more than plus or minus 1 semitone. Still this is not influencing the acoustic part. The concept that all notes must change together can also be challenged because wiring/program control of electrical can be much more flexible than mechanical contraptions. Even upgrade kits for lever harps can be devised.

    The technology existed for more than a century.
    Why wouldn’t anyone sell this already?

    catherine-rogers on #190570

    It’s been tried. Camac made a harp with hydraulic controls that could preset pedals and change multiples on command. Didn’t go over. Must also consider that the wooden parts of harps change as they age and regulations must be tweaked to get pitches as close to accurate as possible. Sometimes that means bending disc pins or swapping out discs for other sizes, etc. Also most of us prefer not to depend on electricity being available wherever we play; we even use battery amplifiers. One of the beauties of playing the harp is that a well-trained harpist can do many non-structural repairs at home or on the road. Most of us wouldn’t want to attempt dealing with electrical problems.

    carl-swanson on #190571

    Very well said Catherine. The Camac experiment, made by Joel Garnier many years ago, was also a very heavy instrument. Something like 120 pounds.

    As those of us who have been playing the harp for a long time know that dependability is a big deal. With a mechanism that depends on electricity to make mechanical parts work, the slightest thing could render the instrument unusable.

    Biagio on #190574

    “To dream, the impossible dream…” yep, it has been tried also with solenoids, and also by retrofitting a lever harp with pneumatics. Both judged too complicated and erratic by the luthiers and as a player I’d hate to have to deal with either.

    On the other hand, if one is prepared to go MIDI digital, those have been built. Of course then you need all the other audio stuff.


    duckspeaks on #190579

    Amazing! Hydraylics, solenoids and pneumatics! If someone has tried that may be the status quo has stood up to challenge. Thank you!

    carl-swanson on #190640

    The great age of musical instrument mechanics was for the most part from around 1760 to 1840 or so. All of the instruments of the orchestra as we know them today had their mechanisms developed and refined during that period. The valves for the brass instruments, the mechanism for the flute and woodwinds, the piano double escapement action, and of course the harp mechanism. It’s incredible to see just how good those instrument makers and inventors were back then, and how well their inventions and developments have lasted.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #190653

    That’s all we need. Electricity requires a power source, uses energy, and introduces the risk of fire, short-circuiting, electrocution. One of the great beauties of music is the fact that it does NOT require power other than human. We need to be in control of our instruments and our music. Digital music will easily become a crutch, just like tuners.

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