Help needed: Should I get a refund for my new harp?


  • Participant
    Stardust on #220531

    Hello everyone,
    I hope I’ve landed in the right forum. 🙂

    I just bought my first harp – a lever harp with 27 strings – ordered from abroad as there were none available for purchase in my immediate area. It arrived a couple of days ago, and I’m very uncertain… I like it, that is, the sound and the way it feels to hold, but it seems to hold the tuning really badly.
    I was wondering if this is normal with new harps/new strings?
    The reason I’m asking, really, is because the harp I ordered was supposed to have an E-string as the bottom string, and I emailed the maker/dealer, asking if this made a big difference (since I had read that I should get a lever harp with C as the bottom string). They replied that no, it didn’t matter, but then when I received it, it had a C-string as the bottom string… And I suspect they may have just changed it to suit my ‘preference’?
    Then I looked the harp up on the website again, and in the picture it looks like it has an A-string as the bottom string?!
    I had read that harps are built to have a very specific tension, wouldn’t swapping the strings around like that harm the harp in some way?

    I’d really appreciate some input on this. I have emailed the seller, but they haven’t explained the string issue yet.
    I’m so new to all this, never even played a harp before, so I don’t really know what to do… or whether this is okay or not.
    Thanks in advance!


    Participant
    Evolène on #220537

    Hello Stardust,

    Lost of questions here. You say that you have never played the harp before, so perhaps you have not been able to know what to look for in a harp. We need a lot more informations to be able to help you!

    The first set of questions is :

    Who is the seller?
    Since it was shipped, what country do they sell from?
    Is it a reputable brand?
    What was the price range?
    Have you been able to try the brand or the model out in any way before buying?

    How familiar are you with harps in general? Even perfectly good have can arrive with strings rather flat and take a few days to regain tuning as it adapts to the temperature etc.

    However, you are right, harps are built to fit specific string tensions. Furthermore, it wouldn’t make any sense to just swap the last string from E (or A) to C, because you would have a gap in strings.

    My gut feeling, by reading your post, is that you have bought a low-quality Pakistani harp which are famous for being almost unusable.
    Basically, if the harp comes from Pakistan ; if you don’t know the seller or the brand by reputation, but only through a quick internet search ; if you’ve never tried the harp ; and if you’ve paid a really low price … Then you have bought a harp that is all but useless, because it cannot hold a tune, the levers are inadequate and good harpmakers will not repair it.
    The price will vary by brand, but for a 27-strings harp you can’t go below $800 without levers and $1000 with levers. Good quality harps usually sell for much more than that.

    I might be wrong, and I hope that is the case.
    If you can give us more indications, such as the brand and model of your harp, the link to the manufacturer’s website and photos of your harp, we might be able to help out!

    As an aside, this is a good website to check out before buying a harp in order to have the general sense of what to look for : Celtic Harper – What type of harp should I get?


    Participant
    Stardust on #220547

    Thanks for the reply, Evolène!

    The seller is Muzikkon. Situated in Ireland. The harp parts are made abroad, and then assembled and tested in Dublin – I was initially sceptical about this, as the parts probably are produced in Pakistan… But the fact that Muzikkon is cooperating with a harp teacher made me decide to take the risk. My budget is rather limited.
    As far as I know, Muzikkon is a rather new brand, but seemed to have received some favourable ratings online.

    I admit it was a rather “desperate” purchase, as I live in Sweden where harps are basically extinct… And I wasn’t able to find a shop where I could try some out. So that, combined with the aforementioned budget, made me go for the Muzikkon harp when I found it.
    It’s a nice harp, feels comfortable to hold (roundish back) and balances well when I play it. My only issue is with the strings, and then the fact that they didn’t give me a string chart or a warranty. Both of which I had kind of taken for granted that I would receive with the harp…
    I have emailed the dealer about this. No reply yet.

    You wrote,

    “However, you are right, harps are built to fit specific string tensions. Furthermore, it wouldn’t make any sense to just swap the last string from E (or A) to C, because you would have a gap in strings.”

    To make it clear, the bottom string isn’t the only one that is swapped if that is so – the strings are all in the correct order! Just beginning with a (red) C instead of the A that is shown in the picture.
    Maybe there’s an explanation. I don’t know…

    I hope I’ll receive some more information from them soon, so that this can be cleared up. I am very unfamiliar with harps in general – I only recently decided to get one, and there’s no harp teacher in my area so I’ll be taking online lessons and learning from books (got the one by Sylvia Woods for starters). I did some binge-reading and Youtube watching before I placed my order, and hoped that was sufficient. Apparently not…

    Anyway, I appreciate your reply! And I’ll look into the link you provided me with. Thanks,

    Stardust

    EDIT: forgot to mention the price range! The harp cost me €567.00

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  Stardust.

    Participant
    charles-nix on #220549

    There was a thread discussing Musikkon Harps, Ireland last fall. There may be further helpful information in that thread.

    I remember that an Irish representative of the company corresponded during the thread and also left her contact email address.


    Participant
    Tanya Hill on #220550

    I don;t know how to make a link to that older conversation, but here is a copy and paste of a reply about that harp and an e-mail. Hopefully the woman below can help answer your questions.

    Aine O’Neill ON AUGUST 24, 2018 AT 6:04 AM #219990
    Hey Guys,
    Just thought I’d weigh in on this chat and introduce myself. I am an Irish Harp teacher here in Dublin. Muzikkon brought me on a year ago to help fine tune their harps and work with them on their development. Like everyone here I was weary of cheap harps but my students were buying them anyway so I thought rather than fighting against it I should work with a company to make these pieces of furniture into functional instruments. Its been a fun journey and the harps are now a playable affordable option. I would never discourage a person from buying a hand made harp or a more professional harp (Like Camac) but sometimes at the beginning this isn’t an option and I have worked hard to make these harps the best they can be at their price point.

    Each harp is tested before it goes out to a customer, this was the missing step with so many companies, the quality wasn’t being assured.
    Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions. I also work as a Rep for Camac Harps and my aim is just to give my students and other students options.

    Best wishes
    Aine
    aine@muzikkon.com


    Participant
    Stardust on #220554

    Charlie and Tanya – thank you!! I have now emailed Aine, explaining my concerns. Will keep you posted.


    Participant
    Biagio on #220565

    Jumping in late here and I hope everything works out for you. Just a few comments in case it does not….

    I think it is great that Muzikkon has contracted with Aine to perform quality control. That has been the most frequent source of frustration with harps made in Pakistan – one does not know if the actual makers were consistent. In any case the “shifting of strings” worries me a little – unless the person who did this also changed many of the others to keep the tension close to what it was intended.

    Not to question Aine’s qualification (since I don’t know her) but I must say that being a harp teacher alone is not a guarantee that the teacher actually understands harp design and construction. For instance a good friend and internationally respected performer/teacher I know has no idea of that aspect. Perhaps Aine does, but there are very few excellent teachers/players who are also excellent harp makers.

    With respect to Norse harp makers: Sally Sehlin (in Sweden) no longer makes harps but did (and still may) carry Musicmaker kits. This is not uncommon – several fine harp makers got their start that way, first just putting the kit together, then branching out into customizing them or coming up with new designs based on the kits. Anyhow, here is Sally’s website:

    http://www.nordicharps.se/

    Best wishes,
    Biagio

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

    Participant
    Stardust on #220601

    Update!

    Everything seems to be in order now. I have received my warranty and string chart, and both Aine and the guy who handled my order have communicated well and provided me with the information I requested.

    Turns out I was lucky enough to receive one of their newer harp models – which aren’t out on the website yet! It will be shortly; and the bottom string is indeed supposed to be a C.
    Furthermore, Aine tells me it’s usual for Celtic harps not to be branded. So I’m not worried about that anymore either.
    I feel somewhat guilty about starting this thread now… but in a way I don’t regret it, as you all have been so helpful!! Special thanks to Tanya for giving me Aine’s email address! But really, heartfelt thanks to everyone.

    I just hope nobody will be discouraged from buying Muzikkon harps if this thread stays on the web. All in all I’ve had a very positive experience, and would recommend Muzikkon to anyone on a budget; as already mentioned, the harp is very comfortable to play and hold – and has a sweet tone.
    Though I will likely upgrade it eventually, I’m more than happy for now.

    Biagio: It’s a shame Nordic Harps aren’t producing harps anymore. Scandinavia needs more harps!


    Participant
    Tanya Hill on #220602

    So glad this all worked out!!!! Congratulations on your new harp, and don’t feel bad for reaching out to the folks here in this forum, that is what it is for! Seeking advice, learning and problem solving!


    Participant
    Evolène on #220760

    Great that everything turned out ok! And thank you for keeping us updated, it’s always important to know harp quality.

    Furthermore, Aine tells me it’s usual for Celtic harps not to be branded. So I’m not worried about that anymore either

    Not quite sure what you mean by that.

    It’s true that I have seen few celtic harp smaller than 34 strings that have some kind of logo with the brand. For example, my FH26 by Dusty Strings does not have any exterior symbol marking it as Dusty (but there is the sticker inside the soundbox with the serial number). On their FH34 and FH36 though, they have pretty plaques with their logo, as you can see here : Dusty Strings Logo - Plaques

    So if this is what you mean by “branding”, I wound’t worry!

    It’s interesting that you feel that this might not be the only harp you buy, just the first one. This could be a harp that one advises parents to buy for their child… when nobody is really sure if they will keep at it for the next 10 years, but that is still reasonably good quality so that the bad sound isn’t discouraging.

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Evolène.

    Participant
    Stardust on #220763

    I assume Aine meant it’s normal for smaller brands?? Dusty is one of the giants, isn’t it? Or do you think I’ve been misinformed somehow?
    To clarify, I was not referring to the lack of a logo like the ones shown in the picture (off topic: those harps look marvellous!), but how there didn’t appear to be anything inside the soundbox.
    I’ll need to peer inside the soundbox again to double-check this; maybe there is a serial number I’ve overlooked. Don’t think so, though…

    I’ll keep the thread updated if there’s anything to mention – might be helpful if anybody else is considering buying a harp from them. There are not many reviews up yet.

    The harp stays well in tune now. I’ve had a couple of strings break, but I understand that’s to be expected? Quickly changed anyhow 🙂
    I’m practicing loads! About 3-4 hours a day these past few days.

    EDIT: Didn’t see your modified post at first.

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Stardust.
    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Stardust.
    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Stardust.

    Participant
    Biagio on #220767

    The harp should have been tuned and the levers regulated before it is sold, and the strings new. It is not usual for those strings to break so early.

    No. It is not “usual” for Celtic harps to be “unbranded” if by that Aine means that the actual maker is unwilling to be known by name. There have been several scams – one reported here quite recently – where a seller claimed the harp to be something it was not.

    It may happen once in a while that some will be licensed by the original maker to a third party manufacturer – for example Marini Harps sells Musicmaker designs with their own “brand” (Marini is licensed by MM); L&H was licensed to make the Clark Irish harp by the Clark company. The licensee is sometimes free to sell them at any price they choose. Sometimes within limits.

    But I would not call that “common”. At least not yet.

    Some have predicted that the market would evolve the way guitars did 40-50 years ago: low end beginner instruments, middle quality student types, and higher end named brands.

    Those of us getting long in the tooth will remember those Beatle-mania days. Some of the those guitars were OK,some were excellent and some were really junk. Perhaps that is what is going on here.

    Biagio

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Biagio.

    Participant
    charles-nix on #220772

    Seconding Biagio and Evolene: I’ve not ever seen a totally unbranded harp of any size. It is common for the only marking to be inside, but there should be maker, model, and serial number inside, and sometimes a string chart. The Pakistani harps are sold under a lot of different names, but they are branded. Every other one I have seen is branded and manufactured in house by the maker–or it is based on a Musicmaker’s kit.

    New strings should not be breaking. Maybe one faulty one will break when new occasionally. But, if several nylon strings are breaking,

      and you are tuning to correct pitch

    , then either you have poor quality nylon, or the string design is too long for its pitch. In either case, it should be a warranty issue.


    Participant
    Stardust on #221517

    Hi all! Thought I’d drop by with another update.

    Since my last post, I’ve been in touch with Sally, the harp builder mentioned earlier in the thread. She has had a thorough look at my harp, and the results are, unfortunately, as we feared. The harp is of higher quality than most Pakistani harps… but the strings are poorly fitted and the levers likewise. (Some of the levers are so hard to use they can nearly be considered as stuck)
    Sally texted me this morning writing she’s tried what she could, but there’s just nothing she can do to fix it, unless I get some different levers which she would be willing to replace for me. About the strings, there’s nothing to be done that wouldn’t cost more than I’m willing to spend on this harp.

    Sadly, since it’s over a month now since I placed my order, I doubt a refund is still an option. :/


    Participant
    wil-weten on #221520

    Hi Stardust, when you are not happy with your harp outside of the period of being able to return it without costs, you may like to try the easy solution which several reputable harp builders offer: you can get your money back with substraction of the money you would have paid if you had rented that harp for this period.

    As you live in Europe, you may also be able to invoke the consumer protection the European Union is offering you. This is a little bit harder, but it might work. In your case, I would call a consumer protection agency in your country for help.

    Possible arguments to get your money back or to get it repaired properly, would be that the current levers are unsuitable for their goal. As to why the strings break, this may be a matter of bad strings, or of bad calculated strings, or of rough spots getting the strings to wear out much too soon.

    Edit: I see that the seller, Muzikkon, is in Ireland, which, fortunately, is part of the EU. This, at least in theory, should make things easier to fix than when you would have to try and correspond with someone in Pakistan.

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  wil-weten.
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