April 25, 2013 at 6:46 pm #76624
Hello great harpists!
I’m an amateur trying to find a right kind of harp to buy. I heard L&H and Venus make good harps, so I went to a nearby store that had L&H. I went there to try out Prelude 40 (lever,) but the guy wasn’t excited about it, but rather, introduced me to a Camac lever harp. He told me why Camac was better in many ways, and I’m now debating which to pick, and I feel I need second or third opinion on this. I hope you all can help me. Anyways, here are the advantages he said on Camac lever harp.
1. The round-shaped lever don’t wear out the strings as much.
2. The loudness of the sound is consistent throughout all range. He says L&H’s higher range sound smaller than the lower range, so a player has to adjust to it as she plays.
3. Many buy L&H because it’s been around for years and people trust the big name. Camac is rather a new brand, and it doesn’t hesitate to make changes on the instruments according to the players’ needs.
4. Camac harp blends in better with orchestra. Also, the sound can carry out further than that of L&H.
5. Camac harp is lighter
6. Camac harp parts are all made in France. Some parts of L&H are made in China.
7. Camac is more affordable, which makes me feel he’s being honest and right about the instrument.
He even said that the reason why he carries L&H is because many people trust big name brands. He also carries Camac because that’s what he likes and trusts.
Please everyone, I need more facts and I need to know the advantages of L&H as well so I can compare better and shop wiser. I’m not even sure what I wrote above is all true. As for the sound, I liked the brightness of L&H, but I also liked the dark sound of Camac. (Once again, I’m comparing the sounds of their lever harps.)April 25, 2013 at 7:41 pm #76625frances-stroscioParticipant
Listen carefully to the places where the Camac changes string material if it does. You should not hear too much difference in tone between string types. I am no authority but it does matter if you can hear a difference as the tone won’t be uniform. I experienced this problem trying out a Stivell with 3 different string types where you could clearly hear the tone difference between each and it was not uniform. Know nothing about L&H. I liked the Dusty Strings FH36 (this seems like a fabulous harp)and the Salvi Livia I tried and am probably getting a Salvi Egan as it is larger. Go by your ear and what sounds good to you. Of course your budget will dictate but get the most harp you can afford!April 25, 2013 at 8:51 pm #76626AnonymousInactive
Wow, you have an awesome harp journey ahead of you. I have the Concert Melusine harp with 38 strings. I chose this harp because I love the deepish tone. The higher octaves have a “thick bell like tone”. I also chose this particularly harp because the levers; I was told, are some of the best in the world…… this particular harp has gut strings for the lower register/octaves and nylon strings for the upper register. The harp is about 4.7 inches in height. I have had my Camac harp for 4 months and it goes great with my voice, I find. This particular Camac is a strong harp. It’s got a weight to it . I can carry it down the stairs from my apartment to my car. But I wheel it to my lesson.
For L&H harps I love the Troubadour VI. This harp also has a nice deep tone as well. If I could afford to purchase another harp, it would be the Troubadour. Actually, the real reason why I would buy this harp, is because Loreena McKennitt has it 🙂 Loreena McKennitt is my role model….(This may not help you factual wise, but may just inspire you) In fact I have a video here for you, if you would to like hear what the Troubadour sounds like.
Are you able to test some harps?April 25, 2013 at 9:29 pm #76627tony-moroscoMember
I like both brands, but what he is telling you is partially BS at least.
“1.The round-shaped lever don’t wear out the strings as much.”
People have their preferences on levers. These days all the main names are good so it is a matter of what you like. I like the Camac levers better, but I think his reasoning is faulty. I have both a L&H lever harp and a Camac Lever harp and the L&H does not wear out strings. In fact my L&H has never broken a string in all the many years I have had it. I only change strings when they start to get old and lose their tone, which has nothing to do with the levers.
I do like the Camac levers better, but I don’t buy his reasoning.
“2.The loudness of the sound is consistent throughout all range. He says L&H’s higher range sound smaller than the lower range, so a player has to adjust to it as she plays.”
Again, not in my experience. Harps are wood, and mostly hand made. There is much variation between individual instruments and it is certainly possible that here or there is an instrument from L&H that exhibits this. But I am sure that there are the occasional Camac harps that exhibit the same thing. But I own 2 L&H harps and neither have dynamic inconsistencies between octaves.
“3.Many buy L&H because it’s been around for years and people trust the big name. Camac is rather a new brand, and it doesn’t hesitate to make changes on the instruments according to the players’ needs. “
In the big picture it may be true that L&H have been around longer, but in practical terms Camac has been around for over 40 years. They aren’t new by any reasonable use of the term.
Camac is very innovative, that is definitely true. And I appreciate innovation. But the idea that L&H never changes things is false. They discontinue some harps, introduce others periodically, and they developed the first production electric harp. While Camac may be at the forefront of innovation as far as major harp manufacturers go, Lyon & Healy is not making the same harps they did in 1900. They have innovated and improved as well.
“4.Camac harp blends in better with orchestra. Also, the sound can carry out further than that of L&H.”
This one I call absolute BS on. You will find that Lyon & Healy harps are a favorite among orchestral harpists. Certainly there are harpists who have their preferences and play other makes, but you will find no shortage of L&H harps in orchestras, and that’s for a reason. They set the standard for the sound of an orchestral harp.
“5.Camac harp is lighter”
As a general rule, regarding their pedal harps, and newest solid body electric lever harps that is true. For their acoustic lever harps of comperable size, not really. At least not by much.
“6.Camac harp parts are all made in France. Some parts of L&H are made in China. “
I don’t know if what he says about Camac harp parts all being made in France is true or not. It is true that some parts for L&H are made in China. However that doesn’t automatically mean that they are not good quality. While some industries that outsource manufacturing parts to China skimp on quality not all do, and if the licensing company demands high quality from their Chinese manufactures that is what they get.
“7.Camac is more affordable, which makes me feel he’s being honest and right about the instrument.”
If by that you mean you can get a harp from Camac for less than a L&H of the same size, that is true. But that doesn’t make them the same quality. An Athena may be less expensive than a L&H style 23, but it doesn’t even come close to comparing in terms of sound quality.
The Camac Oriane is somewhere around $59,000 US (and that is 2009 prices which is most up to date price list I can find for Camac harps) and is the closest in quality to a L&H Style 23, which in gold leaf as well is $51,000 (current price). So the closest quality harp Camac has to the venerable Style 23 is actually more expensive.
By all this I am not trying to talk you out of a Camac. I love Camac harps. I think they are great. If you like the Camac feel, sound and look then you should get a Camac, and you won’t regret it.
However, once someone starts picking apart one of the major brands and extolling another over it as superior in every way you can be sure they are working from bias. Camac harps ARE fantastic harps. But so are Lyon & Healy. So are Salvi. So are Venus. So are Swanson.
Find the harp that sounds good to you, that feels good to you, and that resonates with you and buy it. So long as it is from one of these makers you are not going to go wrong. But don’t buy a harp based primarily on the brand name.April 26, 2013 at 4:12 am #76628
Thank you Frances, Elizabeth, and Tony!!! Thank you so much for the advice and your knowledge!! Tony, I really appreciate you filling me in on L&H harp. Yes, the guy did sound a bit too biased since he didn’t spend any minute explaining why L&H was also great. Thank you again for all these facts, I really need it so when I do make the decision I can feel good about my investment. Please feel free to write again if you come up with more things that I ought to know about Camac or L&H lever harps.April 26, 2013 at 3:27 pm #76629ellen-beckermanParticipant
I have a Dusty Strings FH36; actually I have two! And I think they are just brilliant. Sweet sparkling tone, seamless up through the entire register. It might be worth checking it out! Have fun! There’s nothing like playing the harp.April 26, 2013 at 10:00 pm #76630gena-mcclureParticipant
I have a Venus harp and I love it! It’s about 25 yrs old but has a very FULL sound. My advice is to try out several harps and see what resonates for YOU! We are all so different. The RIGHT harp will FIT you and you will just know its the right harp for you.April 27, 2013 at 1:39 am #76631
Ellen, I looked up where I should go to try out Dusty Strings, and it happened to be so close to where I live! (Seattle area.) So I’ll definitely go try them out. Thank you!
Gena, I went to Venus harp website, and I couldn’t find lever harps. Do they make lever harps? Was I just in the wrong page? I only have one friend who plays the harp, and she said that’s what she has and she loves it. It’s amazing that the instrument is as old as 25 years and still have great sound!!! I’ve read the old post and found out the strings need time to ‘mellow.’ That could explain why an super old harp can cost as much as a new one!
Thank you ladies for your advice!!April 29, 2013 at 1:38 pm #76632frances-stroscioParticipant
WOw – since you are near DUsty Strings – GO THERE!! I just bought the FH36S!!! We went for the 9 hour drive to Salem Mass to try out the only Egan I could find on the east coast and I loved it – but the Dusty was there for comparison and I FELL IN LOVE. It has the most gorgeous full throated resonance and rich tone. DO try it prior to buying anything if you possibly can. Have fun . I sure did. I want the Salvi Egan too, but that would take very deep pockets…!
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