Has anyone owned a Music Makers ready-made Belle harp? Looking at it as a possible rental to students. I bought 3 Music Makers harps in the 90’s (two, 29-string’Studio’ and one 36-string “Gothic”) and they weren’t that great… the Gothic’s soundboard split and I sent it back for repair… I ended up selling all 3. But those were built 20 years ago so I assume their designs have improved!? Thanks!
The Belle has essentially the same string set as the discontinued Studio, i.e. pretty light. They discontinued the “Gothic 36” because of the issue you mention – tension too high for the pre-curved SB.
The Belle and Jolie are also lightly strung, the Voyageur is closer in tension to the Dusty FH34/Crescendo/Ravenna34. I know several teachers who choose the Voyageur, Ravenna, or Rubarth Merlin for rentals. Personally I never liked the Studio tension though one teacher I know did – but she bought the kits.
That’s all I can tell you, hope it is helpful.
I built a Belle harp from a kit a couple of years ago and I use it a lot. It is loud and easy to play, the string tension is ok, a little low but not too low, it’s a very playable harp, I made a few upgrades changing the strings to same gauges from Markwood and added Camac levers.
I have other harps which I play and have built several over the years, the Belle harp is not as rich as my Camacs but it is much louder and it’s very light for its size, very easy just to pick up throw into the car without putting into covers and struggling up and down stairs. For me it’s the harp of choice if I am playing with others at Celtic sessions or folk dances because of this.
I built this harp as a bit of amusement not expecting to play it seriously, actually I play it about 50 per cent the time I spend playing, it’s improved my technique also, as I learn a new piece on the Belle and then move to the Camacs when the muscle memory is working.
The only minor draw back I have experienced is the string spacing at the bass end it could benefit from another mm, I have big fingers and I need to be careful to place them on the low f and g to avoid buzzing, this isn’t a problem with the other harps which have enough clearance. This is probably down to my lazy technique anyway 🙂
In short it’s light, resonant, loud and very forgiving to play.
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