This is a really frivolous question I have… 🙂
All else being equal, would you choose the Style 23, the Style 11 or Salvi’s Iris Natural?
On a side note, has anyone noticed that the recent high-end Salvi harps (e.g Iris, Minerva, Arianna) sound amazing? They seem to have a very different sound compared to the old Salvis that I’ve heard that are usually darker and more contained. Or have I just been really lucky and met a bunch of amazing sounding ones?
This is a really frivolous question I have… 🙂
No one has written, so I’ll throw in my two cents.
Are you considering anything other than sound? Like weight, for example.
How much will you be moving it? Will it fit in your vehicle? If you’re young, you can move anything, but if you’re not, you might be setting yourself up for a difficult time. I’ve always been so glad I couldn’t afford a larger harp. Mine’s a LH15 with lots of miles on her.
I’m an LH person myself, so I can’t opine on the Salvis. I don’t know why people like naturals. They look like someone forgot to put the stain on.
Salvi changed their soundboard design a few years back it certainly changed the sound. I can’t remember exactly what they did but that’s probably what you are noticing.
I choose harps mostly based on sound – and that’s a personal thing, you either like it or you don’t. Generally I don’t like the sound of Salvis and I also find them too heavy. That said, I’ve played some gorgeous ones on occasion. One Minerva about 30 years ago and an Iris at the Dublin WHC I woukd definately not have minded owning and would have put up with the extra pounds!
So looks wise, I really don’t like the 23 that much! I don’t like the carving at the base of the pillar – too geometric. And I prefer a round base at the front. That little point at the front of the 23 is just asking to get chipped. The 11 is beautiful. I love the organic nature of the floral design. Not over keen on the domed crown though. Iris – the bottom of it is beautiful but those roses at the top of the pillar are a bit OTT for my taste. Soundboard decoration on the Salvis is beautiful. I also like the design on the 11. Really lovely. The 23 is just meh!!!! It’s just a bit heavy. I prefer the 23 in natural and the iris in gold. The 11 is lovely either way.
But like I said, that’s all just totally subjective and based on looks. I’m a sound girl. Which is why I sold my beautiful gold 11 and now play……you guessed it…..a 23 (ebony and bronze. And I LOVE him!!) I got lucky enough to lend him to Sivan Magan a few weeks ago and it was so lovely to hear him played by such an amazing harpist.
- This reply was modified 2 years, 11 months ago by emma-graham.
I have a Salvi Iris natural and Salvi Apollo. My first pedal harp years ago was an Aurora. Salvi has changed it’s soundboard design with the “new concept” soundboard. My six year old Apollo was one of the first harps to have it. My Iris is now five years old. It has an amazing sound that really penetrates and carries. I prefer the deep Salvi sound over the bright LH although recently the Salvi’s seem brighter.
In addition, I believe Salvi harps, particularly the newer one, are built much stronger. The finish is a polyurethane which just needs to be wiped to be clean. It is far more durable than LH lacquer. The finish on my 35 year old Aurora looked like new when I sold it.
My Apollo had no break-in period. It sounds fairly much now like it did when I bought it but the overall sound is bigger. The Iris took several years to develop its voice and volume. The Apollo works better with a mic and sound system in a church whereas the Iris is my acoustic and orchestra harp. The Iris is a little easier to move.
I learned to play on a LH 23 and it was the only harp I used during college for three years. Personally, when I first tried a Salvi l thought it was far better overall than Lyon Healy. When I bought two new harps six and five years ago, I looked again at LH and came to the same conclusion. However, I did try a gold LH 11 to die for but it was too impractical and expensive for the church playing and recording I use my harps for. Overall, I think Salvi is more consistent with their harp building and sound plus they hold up better. But, thank goodness for choices and having a discussion like this. Not part of the initial question of harp choices, but I would like to try a Kim Webby harp and the new Resonance harps.
Balfour, you are so kind. I have some videos on YouTube (nothing special!!) but I’m not in Sivan’s league. He was absolutely incredible. x
Gretchen, I played one of Kim Webby’s harps at the WHC in Sydney. It was the most amazing harp I have ever played. Just stunning. If money were no object it would be worth every penny…….and worth the many years you would have to wait for it to be made. Even the travelling box is a work of art.
Mandy, I greatly appreciate your helping me get in touch with Kim Webby. l am sorry to say I have three great concert grand harps so I am not in the market for a harp. I was writing out of interest and in case someone else is looking for a high-end harp. I only recently learned about Webby harps from another post of Emma Graham.
Well, the Style 23 has been considered the “standard” for a concert harp for over 60 years now, perhaps even more than that. It would be lighter than a Salvi harp, but they have those little wheels which help. They do have an improved sound, but I still don’t hear enough aftertones, ringing overtones, sympathetic vibrations that for me define the sound of the harp, though some call it “bright.” I am not hearing enough balance between the treble and lower registers, but I am hearing that on a lot of new harps. It is partly a question of newness, and how harpists balance the registers or don’t. That’s another reason nylon strings are preferable in the second and first octaves, they have better balance, and I like them in the third octave too, as they sustain longer, are more sensitive to nuance, and have better harmonics. One can even replicate the sound of gut strings by playing lower on the nylon strings and with a sharper articulation like that the gut strings require. It used to be that nylon strings held pitch and lasted longer than gut, but I no longer find that to be the case. They are less expensive, and the 23 is a bit less than the Salvi, I think. My issue with the heavier weight is not just moving the harp, but having more weight pressing on your shoulder. Over many years, that could lead to more problems in the shoulder.
Interesting thoughts Saul. Yes, that’s how I feel about the sound differences. I don’t have any experience of using nylon strings on anything but the top octave.
Weight-wise I was always taught that if the harp is balanced correctly there should be no weight on the shoulder at all. It is just sits lightly in the knees and you can move back away from the harp without it moving with you. That way keeps the arms very free and the shoulder relaxed. Maybe that’s a European method? Because of that, my concerns with the weight are purely regarding moving them around – especially loading and unloading and going up and down stairs. UK venues can often be 100s of years old with tricky access!! My first concert harp was a Salvi Diana and when I changed to a LH 17 it felt light as a feather!! Salvis are cheaper here – although not by as much as they used to be.
Emma, that was the way I was taught, by the French method, about finding the exact balance point of the harp. That way, very little weight is resting against your knees or your shoulder. Also, the right eye is supposed to be level with the highest C string on the harp. From my observations, most harpists have their benches set too high, which puts them farther away from the bass strings with their left hands. This, coupled with pulling too much weight against their shoulders, makes for very uncomfortable playing for long periods of time. The lower the bench can be for comfortable playing, the better, as this makes it much easier on the legs and feet.
Have a good day, all,
Well, the conversation is getting far away from comparing harps and perhaps a new thread is needed. But, Balfour I disagree that harpists sit too low. I am referring to pedal harpists. To avoid back and shoulder problems, one should sit with the hips slightly higher than the knees, preferably on a sloped bench. This is also important for pedaling. That is ergonomics. If anything, harpists sit too low. I am a Salzedo player but regardless of what style or method you play, the balance of the harp is the same. I think over time, harpists end up blending a lot of methods. I suggest to anyone interested to watch YouTube clips of harpists who have had successful careers over the years without injury. Watch how they sit, hold the harp, use their arms, hands and feet. Alice Giles is the master, to me anyhow, of good technique. She combines Salzedo with the Alexander technique.
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