Harp Kits


  • Participant
    Linda Browning on #229552

    Hello! I have some questions about harp kits. We are considering making a harp from Musicmakers, Stoney End, or Cambria, either 29 or 33-4 strings. Do any of you have experience with these designs, or do you know of another brand that we should consider? Any specific models?

    I currently play a Harpsicle with levers on F, C, G and B. I want something a little larger, a little more space between strings, and weighing up to 20 pounds/9 kilograms.

    Thanks so much!


    Participant
    wil-weten on #229553

    You may like to perform a google search on
    harp kit site:harpcolumn.com and you will find lots of experiences.


    Participant
    Biagio on #229556

    I do have experience with all three to a greater or lesser degree. Please take these remarks as subjective as like all people I have my own preferences for tone, versatility etc.

    Musicmakers: my favorite among kit makers; the larger harps are pretty easy to put together even if you have no woodworking experience. I prefer the Voyageur most of all although it is heavier than some others at 24 lbs./11kg. Beautifully designed and easily upgraded to concert level by purchasing a solid wood soundboard and making a slight modification to the pillar foot.*

    Stoney End: Gary has been making harps for a long time with one standard design, which is lighter than many others. That is because he uses plywood glued to hardwood “L” wood strips for the box sides, rather than solid wood like the Musicmakers and Cambria. Personally I find that more difficult to put together for an amateur woodworker than the other two. Like the Musicmakers he uses a high density laminate board – it too could be replaced with a solid wood board*.

    Cambria: Glenn has also been around for a long time and mostly specializes in custom designs; IMO his kits are a sideline. The board is solid wood. I have seen few in person but several people I know have had some difficulty putting them together – inaccurately placed dowel holes being the most common “complaint”. That can be dealt with by using an epoxy resin glue but to my mind that falls more in the line of repair than construction.

    *The pillar foot projects through the SB with the standard laminate board. If you replace it with a spruce or other wood board you have to chop that projection off and bolt the foot through the board and string rib, rather than screws from beneath. A solid wood board may be purchased from Betty Truitt (Dragon Whispers) or Rick Kemper (Sligo Harps). Look at what they offer before deciding – Rick offers more options (veneer or no veneer, spruce or cedar, add string rib or not, etc.) but both are excellent, experienced harp makers.

    Have fun and best wishes,
    Biagio


    Participant
    Linda Browning on #229564

    Thank you!


    Participant
    Linda Browning on #229565

    Thank you for giving me such a detailed answer. You have given me a lot to consider!


    Participant
    Biagio on #229567

    You are very welcome! I should have also said: study the instructions BEFORE ordering to be sure that you have the necessary tools and that they are clearly written. I know that the MM instructions are very detailed; it has been a long time since I looked at Cambria and Stoney End.

    Incidentally, the Voyageur can also be strung A-e rather than C-g if you want a lower bass; write to me for the specs if you decide to do that.

    Happy harping,
    Biagio


    Participant
    balfour-knight on #229570

    I also can heartily recommend Musicmakers. My sweet wife and I built one of their hammered dulcimers from their very nice kit with very detailed instructions. I also used to own a very fine Large Gothic 36-string harp built specially for me by them. I agree with Biagio, the Voyageur is also very nice, except that I like 36 strings (as a professional harpist) and the one they offer now is the Cheyenne model which I have no experience with.

    Good luck choosing a harp kit, and I wish you many pleasant hours of playing the finished harp!

    Harp Hugs,
    Balfour


    Participant
    Biagio on #229571

    Hi Balfour,

    The Cheyenne is the former Regency; I don’t think that there have been any significant changes – at least none I can see. The base is lighter than the old Regency and they may have made another change at the NPJ (and that was one heavy harp). The string design seems to be the same for both.

    I agree, a very nice harp.

    Best wishes,
    Biagio

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 2 days ago by  Biagio.

    Participant
    balfour-knight on #229687

    Thanks, Biagio! I hope to try some more Musicmakers harps one of these days! We truly miss having the SEHW close by in Asheville, NC. That used to be such fun! Wish someone else would take it over.

    Harp Hugs,
    Balfour


    Participant
    Biagio on #229689

    Hi Balfour,

    Jason seems to have made some changes in direction since he took over from Jerry and I’m not up to date some of them: He/they did finally eliminate the dip in tension at the Voyageur lower mid; no longer market the Limerick; employ lighter frames; and seem to be pushing more in the direction of finished harps over kits.

    As you know they no longer offer the Gothic, not even the 31 string version. That’s a pity to me; that harp had the longest vibrating lengths of all but a very few on the market.

    I keep looking for them to offer a solid spruce SB as an option some day and at least one harp has been offered with Camac levers.

    Interesting times!
    Biagio


    Participant
    balfour-knight on #229693

    Biagio, my friend, thanks for the news about Musicmakers’ new direction! We have met and talked to Jake and Matt personally, and I think they are the very best guys to take over and continue Jerry’s harp business. I understand that Jerry is still involved on a part-time basis, so that is great all around!’

    Linda, I hope all this info is helpful to you, too!

    Cheers,
    Balfour


    Participant
    Biagio on #229694

    Balfour my friend, I could not agree more. All of their kits that I’ve reviewed are outstanding, Matt Jake and indeed the entire staff always helpful and with perhaps the best warranty around. May they have many more years of success!

    Biagio


    Participant
    Linda Browning on #229736

    My thanks to all of you! Yes, it is very helpful, balfour-knight. I am really looking forward to trying a harp kit soon!

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