Harp learning with Straight versus Extended soundboard

  • Member
    Denver CH on #146959

    My daughter is beginning to learn intermediate level pieces. I’m going to buy a Camac Clio for her for learning/practicing purpose only, and after about two years she will shift to a 47-string harp.

    We are choosing between Camc Clio with Straight soundboard and Extended soundboard. I think the two soundboards will generate different bass volume, so the left hand has to play with a different strength at the bass strings, hence affecting the harp learning experience.

    So, which one of these two do you think is more appropriate for learning/practicing purpose?

    jessica-wolff on #146960

    I like straight. Not a question of appropriateness, though.

    eliza-morrison on #146961

    Will your daughter be playing in ensembles? An extended board might be preferable for orchestral playing, as the sound will “cut through” better.

    Denver CH on #146962

    She will rarely play in ensembles. She just plays the harp for learning and practicing at home.

    catherine-rogers on #146963

    An extended soundboard does not increase the bass disproportionately to the treble. It increases the volume over all. For purely practice purposes it makes no difference whether you have a straight or extended board. Frankly, if you’re planning to buy a concert grand in two years anyway, I’d go ahead and invest in that if she’s tall enough to handle it, rather than buy a harp you don’t intend to keep and will have the trouble to resell. You won’t be able to resell the first harp for what you paid for it. Harps only increase in value through inflation.

    unknown-user on #146964

    Hi – I agree with Catherine – go ahead and get something that you can plan on keeping –


    Denver CH on #146965

    Thanks, Catherine!

    tony-morosco on #146966

    Catherine is right, the difference isnt about bass and doesn’t require a different playing technique. It is a matter volume and projection.

    I have to say, if you want to get the Athena or some other concert grand in a fewf years anyway you may as well get it now. If she can’t reach the low strings now it doesnt matter, she will grow into it.

    But there is absolutely no benefit getting the Clio now once to switch to the Athena or other CG in a couple years. You will only end up spending more money in the long run with no practical benefit. She can just ignore the strings she can’t reach until she can.

    catherine-rogers on #146967

    I have to tell you, Denver, if you buy that Clio, she may love it so much she won’t let you sell it! I use my concert grand in orchestra when needed, but I wouldn’t give up my Clio. I even use it in orchestra sometimes (it has extended board). Also consider any advice her teacher may give. So much depends on your daughter’s age and height.

    emma-graham on #146968

    I agree with bypassing the Clio. I have a pupil who moved up to pedals from levers in the spring. She tried and fell in love with a fabulous used Camac Athena but she couldn’t reach the low strings and had to have a 1 inch board under her feet so she could sit properly with her feet firmly on the ground. It didn’t affect pedalling. It was a bargain and I advised her parents to buy it. 6 months later and she can already reach everything and the foot board is gone. She is 11 and growing really fast. Don’t know how old your daughter is. On another note Sioned Williams who is principal harp with the BBC symphony Orchestra is tiny. She plays a Horngacher which is a very wide harp. She can’t reach very low with her R. hand and has been known to bring it round to the left side so both hands are on the same side of the harp! She knows a smaller harp would be easier but she just LOVES her horngachers!! Where there’s a will there’s a way.

    Tacye on #146969

    In favour of getting the Clio is the fact that in a couple of years your daughter will have developed that much more as a musician and may make a different choice about which harp suits her.

    Denver CH on #146970

    Thank you all very much for your sharing your thoughts!

    catherine-rogers on #146971

    The Daphne and Arion are both larger than the Clio and they are Salvi harps which, though good quality, are known to be heavier in general. At her age, the lighter weight of the Clio would be a consideration.

    emma-graham on #146972

    I don’t know where you are geographically but as she is very small have you considered a pilgrim progress if it is available near you? They have a very good even tone and are the perfect size for little children learning pedal harp.
    The other thing to consider would be upgrading to a better lever harp which has an even tone that you are happier with. That might be easier to trade in when she is big enough to have a wider choice when making the decision on which pedal harp to go for. There is a smaller Salvi Daphne avaiable with 40 strings. http://www.harpconnection.com/storepages/Daphne-40.html
    Also the Aoyama etude 42 is small and Aoyamas tend to be light.
    All are worth comparing with the Clio. As others have said the extended versus straight soundboard wouldn’t affect her studies – just the way the harp projects. Hope you manage to find what you and your daughter are looking for. Best of luck to you both.

    Denver CH on #146973

    Thanks, Emma! Here we have no access to Pilgrim harps. It seems that Clio may be a better option for us. There is a huge difference in the prices of straight versus extended versions of Clio, so it has become a hard decision for me to choose from them.

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