L&H Prelude- sharp/too loud in upper register?

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    katewilde on #195551

    Hi there, I’m considering buying a preowned Lyon & Healy Prelude, the 38 string model, that I found nearby on craig’s list. I played it the other day and truly enjoyed it, it projects amazingly! However, although I really liked the clarity& brightness of its overall sound, I felt like the upper registers were a little sharp and too loud. Is this classic of this particular harp? Or is it due to the fact that the lady hasn’t ever changed the strings, in over 10 years?

    I’m also wondering if anyone has experience with the Salvi Ana, and the difference between that and the L&H Prelude. Any insight is much appreciated! Thanks!

    Andelin on #195557

    How an instrument sounds is affected by so many things.  I don’t consider my prelude to be sharp or harsh in the upper register.  I have played one or two other preludes also, and didn’t have a problem with how they sounded up top.  :). But this is all subjective; in the end it’s about what you like.


    did you check the tuning before you played?  Perhaps it actually was a little sharp?  Also, if it has not been played much recently, that could be a factor, especially if it sat out of tune for a long time.  Changing the strings is most likely to change the sound for the better.

    one thing to be aware of is the room it is in, and even the placement of it in the room, as well as what else is in the room.  For instance, I recently moved to a new house.  In the old house I kept the harp (a prelude with 38 strings, built in late 90’s, so probably very similar to the one you looked at) in the larger front room, which has a vaulted ceiling.  In my new house I have put it in a bedroom, a much smaller space.  It sounds very different!  I would suggest you bring the harp to the biggest room if the house, if you didn’t already, or if they are willing, they may even bring it to your house so you can try it in the room you usually play harp in, to get a good sound comparison to the harp you currently play on.  ( they may or may not be willing to move the harp, but I don’t think it’s asking too much for such a large purchase, assuming it’s close and they are able bodied enough to transport it.)


    or, or, it could simply have seemed loud or sharp because it’s so different from what you’re used to hearing.


    best of luck in your decision!  Let us know if you decide to buy it.  🙂

    MandyB on #195567

    Hi Kate.

    I own several Lyon and Healy harps, though I do not own a Prelude.  I totally agree with Andelin that changing the strings (especially when they are that old) is a great idea and will improve the sound quality. Take note if the top octave has been strung in gut or nylon.

    I do suspect however that if you apply too much pressure to the strings in the top octave this makes it sound harsh.  I always lighten the pressure I apply to the strings as I head to the top of the harp.  I suspect if you change the strings and lighten the pressure you apply to the strings (do not alter the speed of your finger movements) you should improve the tone somewhat.

    All the best with your decision.


    katewilde on #195620

    Andelin and Amanda, thanks so much for your input! It’s good to hear confirmation of some of my suspicions, hehe :). I played the Prelude at the seller’s house in their kitchen, which has hardwood floors and granite countertops and such… I have a feeling the room wouldn’t be warm for any instrument. And the Prelude does seem to have great projection so the sound was probably bouncing around all crazy on the walls, with old strings and my improper technique, haha. My current harp is a Dusty Strings Ravenna 26, so although  I hear those harps have higher-ish tension, I have to pluck it harder than I’d imagine I need to pluck the Prelude, to get good projection.. I’ve read in a few places that each harp has its own distinct character, strengths, weaknesses, etc., so you have to learn how to play to its strengths. Makes sense to me! I eventually would like to progress to pedal harp, so I think this instrument would be a great thing to have for a few years to gear myself up for that 🙂

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