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


  • Participant
    Biagio on #221525

    I suspect, as did Charles, that the breaking treble strings are too long for the intended note. So if you cannot get a refund the easiest solution would be to just drop the range a step or two and get new strings. Sally could probably do the analysis for you or you could contact a professional string maker. Here in the US I use Vermont Strings or Markwood Strings.

    As for the levers – since you are new to the harp you probably won’t really need them for a while; just remove the shoddy ones play in the key to which you tune (typically Cmaj in most beginner books). There are decent levers ranging from about $5 US up to really good ones at about $16 each; you can add as many as you want later. A frequent choice is Cs and Fs.

    Most people get a harp with levers on every string but that’s not really necessary, it’s just what many makers provide. Frankly I would just leave them off for the time being, learn proper technique, and plan on getting a better harp later. Sally has probably told you about the Musicmakers kits – they are easy to put together -I like the Voyageur model very much – if economy is an issue.

    Good wishes,
    Biagio


    Participant
    Stardust on #221769

    wil-weten:

    Requesting a partial refund and letting them keep what might be considered the cost of rental is a great idea. Thanks for suggesting it.
    I have emailed Muzikkon, but if this presents difficulties I may indeed call a consumer protection agency for some further guidance in the matter.

    Biagio:

    You and Charles were both right, indeed – this is what Sally told me as well. However, she seems to be of the opinion that dropping the range would not remedy the problem, as the tension in the lowest strings is way too low (the tension varies considerably throughout the harp). I won’t get into the particulars, but she isn’t enthusiastic about it at all and says she feels quite defeated… 🙁

    Thanks for your input about the levers too! I’ll keep it in mind and write that down as well!
    It’s true, I could always get a better harp later on, when I am a better player and better capable of making the right choice.
    We’ll see what Muzikkon has to offer, and take it from there.

    Thanks both and all for taking the time to offer your knowledge and views – I’m much obliged to you.


    Participant
    Biagio on #221774

    Good luck with this however it turns out!

    Yes, just dropping the range without doing anything else probably would not help much (except for the breakage issue). To increase tension in the lower ones you would need to make those strings heavier.

    For instance, if they are now nylon wound over nylon, use steel core with fiber bedding and a bronze wrap

    Just an example, one can’t make a specific suggestion without knowing the vibrating length. That’s why someone must do an analysis…a professional would charge about $15 US for that, which is reasonable, but the cost of buying new strings might not be.

    I went and took a look at the Muzikkon website and what I saw there smacks of deceptive advertising (see my new topic “Muzikkon Harps – Caveat Emptor”). I’m sorry that this happened to you.

    Best wishes,
    Biagio

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 4 days ago by  Biagio.

    Participant
    Stardust on #222138

    Hi Biagio 🙂

    Sally did an analysis for me. To replace the lower strings with nylon wound over nylon, we’d have to drill the holes in the soundbox bigger first… Of course, it can be done… Just annoying to have to spend time and money fixing something that should have been thought of by the harp maker. Sigh.

    I don’t want to say too much, but I must say that, when I look through Muzikkon’s website now, I definitely see what you mean.
    They sell SO many types of instruments! – it’s odd to me, how they can manage to keep track of them all, and make sure all of them are as good as they can be – it begs the question how many employees they’ve got..?
    I can’t help but feel cheated and increasingly suspicious of the whole deal. After over a week, they still haven’t answered my email; though they were certainly quick to write BEFORE I placed my purchase (going so far as to respond late at night even).
    However, I suppose it’s best to give them the benefit of the doubt, for now..


    Participant
    wil-weten on #222140

    Hi Stardust, did you correspond with Aine O’Neill herself? Here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aineoneill/?originalSubdomain=ie you find more information about her.

    She has become a representative for Camac Harps in September. She may be busy with the preparations of the Camac weekend in her new Camac showroom. More information: https://harpcolumn.com/event/camac-weekend-ireland-blessington-music/

    Frankly, I think this is rather good news, as now, she has all the reasons to maintain her good reputation. By the way, Camac makes great harps.

    So, in your case, I would mail her personally, or, if possible call her and try to work out a solution.

    If Muzikkon remains silent, you might ask Sally whether nylgut or carbon strings would do at the bottom of the harp. These are not too expensive, and they might fit the eyelets of your harp.

    Yet, I think you need to get your money back, because, after all, the uneven sound of this harp would never make you happy.


    Participant
    Stardust on #222141

    Thanks wil-weten, I did write to Aine 9 days ago. But that event hopefully explains her delay.

    I’ll ask Sally about the strings. I admit though, I am already considering other harps and, since Sally still receives orders until January, I’m tempted to buy one of hers. Particularly the Balder (Musicmakers Voyageur). It’s a tall step up from the budget I’d initially laid out for this though…


    Participant
    wil-weten on #222146

    Hi Stardust, if you’re considering other harps, maybe Aine is more inclined willing to take the Paki harp back if you buy a Camac harp from her. Camac harps are really fine harps.


    Participant
    Biagio on #222147

    Stardust, if you should decide to get the Balder from Sally….it is a very nice harp for the price, but be sure that she uses the new string set. They redesigned the original one a few months ago.

    The voyageur is an excellent harp in the economy range and used by several teachers for student rentals.

    Best wishes,
    Biagio


    Participant
    Stardust on #222149

    Wil-weten: Maybe. Which models would you recommend? I’m thinking about the Hermine; same amount of strings as the Voyageur and about the same weight. But I need to do more research. I’m not sure about the sound yet.

    Biagio: I think she knows this, but if I do get it I’ll be sure to make sure!
    Would you say the Voyageur is of high enough quality to last me several decades? Or would I have to replace it or upgrade it sooner rather than later?
    Ideally I’d like to get a harp that could last for life, now.
    Also worth noting is that the shipping costs (with customs etc) add a lot to the price for me. Does this mean I could get a higher quality European harp for the same price, or would you say the Voyageur is still good for the money, even with the additional shipping costs? (I’d ask Sally this – but am afraid it might come across the wrong way.)
    Thanks,
    Stardust


    Participant
    wil-weten on #222151

    Hi Stardust, all Camac harps are fine. Which one would suit you best, is a different matter.
    The Hermine is the most popular Camac harp with its rather light carbon strings.

    Personally, I’d prefer the Camac Telenn with medium celtic gut strings (older Telenns had heavier strings and a bit different neck). Gut sounds warmer and richer than carbon. Both harps are nice priced.

    A bit more expensive is the Camac Isolde. Most people choose the Camac Isolde Celtic. There are several other Camac harp models, but they all are more expensive.

    If going to a Camac shop is not practical, you may start and listen to youtube clips.

    Here: you can hear several Hermine clips of the Atlanta harpcenter at: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=atlanta+harpcenter+hermine

    This gives you a first impression about how different harps of the same model can sound.

    As for other clips, just google for them in youtube. If you can’t find clips from a model you are interested in, feel free to ask. We may be able to find some clips for you.

    I mentioned Camac as Aine also sells Camac harps. By the way, there are a lot of other fine harp brands too.

    I may have got the wrong impression, but somehow I thought thatSally built Voyager harps from a kit and then sells them, so you wouldn’t have to import a harp from the States.

    Also, good to know, the very large European Music Center Thomann.de also sells Salvi Harps (see: https://www.thomann.de/se/harpa.html?sw=harp&price-first=0&filter=true&manufacturer%5B%5D=Salvi It ships for free from purchases of at least 199 eu. Beware though that they also sell Pakistani harps under their house name and ‘Roth & Junius’.


    Participant
    Stardust on #222155

    Cheers, wil! Looks like I’ve got a lot of options 🙂

    Gut strings are out of the question for me, though I agree the tone in them is lovely. I want carbon or nylon anyhow.

    Sally orders her kits from the States. Then builds them. So yes, I must pay for the import. She has given me a price estimate and it was higher than I expected. Not insurmountable though, if the harp is worth it!


    Participant
    Biagio on #222157

    Hi Stardust,

    I consider the Voyageur model one of the best in it’s price range and it will certainly last a lifetime, quite possibly two. A few people have upgraded it’s 5-ply laminate sound board to spruce or cedar, which elevates it to a concert quality instrument.

    I am almost positive that Sally imports the kit and then puts it together as many other Musicmakers’ licensees do. I don’t know how much it costs to ship the components to her; here in the US the kit costs $1500 before levers costs – those can range from Lovelands at about $6 each from the lever maker to about $16 each if one buys Truitt or Camac levers.

    So for a fully levered Voyageur with Truitts I’d be looking at selling the completed harp for about $2500-$2600 US at least, which includes a 20% markup for labor and profit. A Voyageur build at the factory runs $3800, so I expect Sally would offer it somewhere between the two figures ($2600-$3800) US). Perhaps she would “do a deal” by fixing the Muzikkon harp issues while she is at it? Then you would have two harps (many of us have two or more, haha).

    Compare that to the Hermione listed on Muzikkon: $2600 US equivalent. I’d conclude that they are equivalent in terms of cost (assuming you want to take a chance again with Muzikkon) The Hermione may sell for a bit less or a bit more at other outlets.

    I can’t say which would be the better harp (both are fine), but I would ask Sally what she would charge for the completed Voyageur. You and she seem to have a trusting relationship by now and that too is a positive thing. Ask her as well about what sort of warranty she would offer and compare that to what is offered on the Hermione.

    Good fortune!
    Biagio

    Edit: Musicmakers made it’s reputation under the former owner Jerry Brown by producing top quality instrument kits. Jerry retired last year and the new owner, Jacob Nelson, seems to be moving the focus to higher end, completed instruments. A completed Voyageur with Truitts or Camacs now competes in price and quality with the Dusty Strings Crescendo, it would appear.


    Participant
    wil-weten on #222158

    Above the cost of the kit, come the costs of transport as well as VAT and Customs. As I hear the prices, I think Camac harps would be significantly cheaper and they are easier to sell later on.

    Yes, Stardust, I do understand you are looking for a harp that would last you several decades, and it technically and economically, should, but musically, you may prefer a different sound after you have been playing for several years.

    Stardust, I don’t know why gut is out of the question for you, but have you thought of nylgut? That is a synthetic string which sounds warm and richt, almost like gut, though a bit more clear than gut, but nylgut is much cheaper and seldom breaks.


    Participant
    Stardust on #222163

    Biagio,

    Sally’s price calculation for the Balder, with a full set of Universal levers, is (I assume you live in the US, so I put it in dollars) 3500 USD. That includes everything; materials (including one of MusicMakers’ gigbags) shipping, customs, sales tax, building and lacquering.
    Funny thing is, I found it listed, available for ready-built purchase, on the harpkits website, for 3800! They must charge a lot more for their work than Sally does… That, anyhow, makes me feel less reluctant about the shipping costs.
    (Oops: I see you mentioned this in your updated answer.)

    As to the warranty, she says she gives no formal one (normally). But the harp is welcome to her anytime for the rest of its life for repairs and adjustments. She says no one has needed any major repairs to date, only small adjustments to the levers and replacements of strings. She leaves a note with the harp, detailing how it must be taken care of; if damages that are due to trauma or extreme circumstances occur to the harp, I’ll have to pay for the repairs. She also says the natural ageing processes of the harp are not covered by her, but none of her harps have exploded to date…
    Perhaps I might also get an insurance for the harp, or check if the house insurance might cover it.

    Good idea to compare the warranties. 🙂

    Wil-weten, that’s a sensible point you’re making too. I suppose though I’m slightly biased in Sally’s favour by now…. She’s such a super nice, friendly person and I like the idea of making a purchase off of somebody I’ve actually met and spoken to personally. I like supporting local businesses as well. But I take your precautions to heart.

    Gut is out of the question because (don’t shoot me!) I’m a vegetarian 🙂 And after that, because I’ve heard they break more easily and are the most expensive kind.
    I hadn’t heard of nylgut before, or if I did, I probably assumed it was some kind of mix between real gut and nylon! I’ll have to do some research on it and see if I can find out how it compares to nylon, price-wise.

    Thanks both,

    Stardust


    Participant
    wil-weten on #222166

    Hi Stardust,
    Yes, gut is rather expensive and breaks more easily than other kinds of strings. Nylon strings are cheapest.

    Universal levers are rather simple levers. I would very much prefer one of the more sophisticated levers, preferably from Camac (they sell them to small scale harp builders). They work very fast and well without changing . There are other fine levers like those of Truitt and Loveland. But they would make your harp even more expensive.

    By the way, as Aine is probably rather busy, the problem of your harp may have slipped her mind. As it is already ten days ago that she must have received your mail, I think that in your place, I would call her and try to find a solution that is both acceptable to you and to her. She may not be aware that this Pakistan harp model comes with a structural flaw as the string tension is uneven and unbalanced.

    Anyway, take your time to find the harp of your dreams. In Europe one can find so many different real quality harps for prices from 2200 euro (Camac Hermine 34 strings, nylon) and upward.

    Edit: I just discovered that there was a Camac Harp event in Sweden in June 2018 : https://blog.camac-harps.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2018/04/sweden.png But I couldn’t find a Swedish store at: https://www.camac-harps.com/en/#

    Edit: This seems to me good to know: https://blog.camac-harps.com/en/news/6e-edition-des-sweden-harp-days/ Apparantly, Camac comes to Sweden too, now and then. The great thing is that one can get the levers adjusted and have other small services performed for free.

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 2 days ago by  wil-weten.
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