I am considering purchasing my first pedal harp. I am focusing mainly on Camac or Lyon and Healy instruments. I am an older, intermediate student who wants a good solid, dependable instrument that can be played in professional situations. I am looking at such factors as playability, portability, the sound/projection of an individual instrument, the visual appeal of the instrument and the potential for resale (one needs to think ahead just in case). However, this is likely to be my only pedal harp purchase. My question is about need for maintenance. I view maintenance as being just as important as some of the other criteria because of possibly needing to ship the harp somewhere for repair if needed. My understanding is that there are few Camac certified harp technicians in the U.S. I have read that Camac harps can be regulated by a harpist who is not a technician. I have also read that Camac harps use steel cables instead of solid pedal rods which make them more durable. Is there a difference in the maintenance required for Camac harps as compared to L&H? Do most harp technicians normally service both for common issues (i.e. regulating)? Is it important to have a technician that is certified to service a particular brand named instrument provide the service, or does it depend on what the issue is? How much different are technical issues that might arise between L&H and Camac harps? Do harpists who play Camac pedal harps have difficulty finding good quality technicians for the maintenance of their instrument?
I am a rank amateur player but I based on my experience with my Camac Clio, I think it is a very fine harp. My harp is very “stable” in that it stays in tune and needs little re-tuning. My harp has a bright, clear sound. I’ve only had strings replaced in the 20 years that I have owned. it is not moved a lot.
I am the proud owner of a Camac Atlantide Prestige, for me, my dream harp. To answer some of your questions, I have found that most harp technicians here in the USA can service all different brands of harps. Bear in mind that there just are not too many harp techs, period!
You seem to have researched most of the Camac innovations, and you may wish to read about them on the website of Pacific Atlantic Harps in CA. Yes, if you are mechanically minded, you can regulate your own Camac harp. (L&H harps too, but they are a little more complicated). A Camac harp comes complete with a very nice toolkit and manual of instructions. The company also has very good customer service and their head technician, Liza Jensen, lives in New York City, USA. She is most helpful.
As for the other items you mention, it really is up to the individual. We all have different tastes, so my advice is to try all the harps you can before you make your purchase. Be aware that it sometimes takes most of us several harp purchases before we find our dream harp, though, ha, ha!
Wishing you all the best,
Like Balfour I have a Camac Atlantide Prestige. Here is is – https://vimeo.com/451665227 (go to 4 mins 50). It’s 11 years old, gets moved all the time. You would be far better off in the US than in Australia for any sort of technician – we get very occasional visits. It takes a while but I can regulate the odd string when necessary although its a bit nerve wracking in case you break the pins off a disc – in which case it’s a long wait to get a new disc sent. The brochure that comes with the Camac is very small print but very helpful. The cables are easy and the pedals easier than changing felts. I know the theory of a L+H regulation and pedal rod change for 2 university harps and you can get a book on the topic. If you live at the far end of the universe as far as techs go there isn’t much choice but to learn the basics. Go for the harp you love to play and you will work out how to do things to it as you go along. My mum and I watched Jakez from Camac regulate one when I was about 11 and we still have her notes from that. Plus advice from Liza when she has been out here regulating it. Most techs can do all sorts of harps in my experience.
Thanks for your post. I enjoyed watching your video again–very nice playing on piano and harp, an inspiration for all of us during this “shutdown” time.
I have never broken the pins off a disc, in all my years of playing and regulating harps, but unfortunately, it could happen. On Camacs, it is best to loosen the disc screw two full turns, leaving the screwdriver in the slot of the screw, then tap the end of the screwdriver with your hand or the tuning key until the disc separates from the spindle. A light “snap” will be heard, and the disc will be free. This is fully explained in the manual on p. 19. Liza Jensen also uses this method instead of placing the screwdriver between the pins (prongs) of the disc to free the disc from the spindle.
I hope all this information is helpful. Thanks for all the other posts, everyone.
Thanks a lot Balfour. The only time I broke a pin it wasn’t actually the separating the disc from the spindle that did it – which I also do like Liza how you describe – it was at the bit the book talks about after you have a string back on but if it is a bit “over” corrected in the grip of the pins and you have to relax it a touch. They show a picture of the screwdriver placed between the pins doing that on page 18 of my booklet. I just did one string yesterday ready for a concerto concert but luckily neither disc ever got to the over corrected position so I didn’t have to do that bit! How many size discs are there? Maybe I should have a few spares…
Hello Philippa and everyone,
The video that Philippa posted above is a NEW ONE! At first I could not access it, and I went back to an earlier posting by Philippa, got that video to work and enjoyed watching it again, piano and harp. But it kept “bugging me” that I could not access the new one, so I kept trying and lo and behold, it worked just now. It was a CMA Young Artist Awards ceremony in Australia, and Philippa played Scarlatti, Faure, and Donizetti beautifully on her harp. It was such a pleasure to watch, Philippa, I wanted to “set the record straight,” as it were.
Hope all of you can watch this video. The cellists and guitarist are great, also. I won’t tell you who won, ha, ha! You will have to see for yourself!
Cheers and harp hugs,
Thank you Balfour, Got another one for you in fact – from yesterday Sept 30th! Interesting modern trio work by Finnish/Canadian Matthew Whittall based on Edgar Allan Poe poem City in the Sea (and written for a National Viola competition) at the end of my latest livestream (last 15 mins). Rest is a mix of Baroque solos from all three of us and a few harp and flute duos. https://vimeo.com/461699029
Thanks so much, Philippa! I am looking forward to watching your new video when I get somewhere with Wifi. My little tablet we use at home does not have enough GB’s to watch videos, but I will be somewhere I can watch it in a few days. Your playing is so lovely!
What a treat to watch your video from Sept. 30! My wife and I enjoyed the entire concert, since we cannot go to any “live” ones here in western North Carolina under the current restrictions. Not only were you superb, but the flute and viola were outstanding. One does not get to hear an alto flute very often, or for that matter, a viola soloist, at least around here!
All the solos were music we love, and then the “Poe” inspired “City in the Sea” by Whittall was so effective! This is the right time of the year for that sort of poem and music! Not only are you a wonderful soloist, but you are an equally fine accompanist. It was interesting to see Tommy “turn your pages” on the tablet, too. Your Atlantide sounded so good by itself and with the flute and viola! I studied Scarlatti on the harpsichord in college, but I like his music better on the concert harp. Our Atlantides are perfectly bright for his music!
Thank you so much for letting us know about this wonderful video. Hope you are doing well and making more gorgeous music!
Best to you,
Balfour (and Carol Lynn)
Thank you Balfour – if you like highly Romantic I was performing and livestreaming again today. Concerto this time – and dressed to match even though it was lunchtime! Starting at 52.30. https://www.facebook.com/ElderConservatorium/videos/345284950044393
Hi again, Philippa,
Once again, my wife and I were awed by your beautiful playing! Your performance of the gorgeous Gliere Harp Concerto in E flat was magnificent. We are so glad you finally got to play it live with that outstanding orchestra, since the Covid messed up your original schedule. Your concert dress was also very nice, even if it was not really in the evening, ha, ha! The pipe organ in the background looks magnificent–have you ever heard it played in concert? Besides playing harp and piano, I am also an organist, so I admired that organ, you know!
This video showcases the Camac Atlantide harp, for anyone wanting to know how it sounds and really stands out with a full orchestra. The tone and projection are just unequalled, in my humble opinion. Plus, you can regulate it yourself. Jujubee, have you made any plans yet to attain your pedal harp? I hope these postings have given you some good ideas.
Best to everyone,
Balfour (and Carol Lynn)
Thank you Balfour. Yes, I have heard that organ played many times although not yet this year! If I had time I would learn the organ too….its hard to keep my piano skills going though never mind doing something else. The original Dodd was renovated in the 30s then replaced in the 1970s with a new Canadian organ. https://ohta.org.au/organs/organs/Elder.html
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