How long does a rebuilt harp really last if it’s well-cared for?

  • Participant
    o. t. on #151934

    I think this is the right forum to ask this. I’m curious about the rebuilding work.

    I’ve read on Harp spectrum that a new harp lasts about 40 years before it needs some major repairs/rebuilding and a rebuilt harp lasts about 10-15 years. According the the site, rebuilding is about $8,000 or even more.

    But if the rebuilding is done correctly and the harp is being well-cared for, shouldn’t it last longer than just 15? I mean if it did not, then a cheaper pedal harp (say it’s $15,000 or less) wouldn’t be worth rebuilding, right? A new one is like $15,000 and lasts around 40 years. A rebuilding costs around $8,000 or more and lasts around 15 years.

    I’ve heard that some harps are still in good condition even though they were built in 1800’s and I’ve seen some beautiful antique harps. Do those need the be rebuilt every 15 years, too? Or are they just built well and need less repair/rebuilding?

    Anyone has experience with an aging harp or a rebuilt harp?

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #151935

    I don’t know where you got any of these numbers, but they are completely wrong. There is no way to predict how long a new instrument or a rebuilt instrument is going to go before needing major work. A new harp used say in a full time symphony orchestra or by a busy free lance harpist is going to get moved around a lot, be moved in and out of different temperature and humidity environments, and this takes its toll on the life of the instrument. A new harp might belong to a music school, and be played 14 hours a day by students who don’t have their own instrument at school. That action will age 80 years in 5 actual years. In addition, there could be engineering defects built into a new instrument that are going to require attention in as little as 7 or 8 years. Half of my career has been spent repairing one of these defects made by a specific harp company for the last 50 years. I usually see the instrument 10 to 15 years after it was built.

    The instruments that last 80 years or more without any rebuilding do so because they were not used for the bulk of that time. They were bought new, played for a few years by a kid who eventually gave it up, and then sat in the corner unused and unstrung until the descendants decide to sell grandma’s harp. I’ve bought many harps over the years that fell into this category.

    So the bottom line is: Don’t base your decision to buy either a new or used harp based on false information. If the harp is built or rebuilt correctly, and you take very good care of it, making sure it is properly humidified year round, then there should be no difference between the durability of a new or used harp.

    Participant
    o. t. on #151936

    Thank you for the info. on that, Carl. I guess a harp is in a way like a car. Being left along is not good and being so used up is not good either.

    I’m just curious. There’s a specific harp company that makes the same defect over and over again? Is that company still in business? I don’t live in the U.S. and getting a repair for the harp would cost a fortune (shipping, insurance,…).

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