L&H Style 85 E vs. 85 CG

  • Participant
    Karen on #253883

    I am looking at getting a pedal harp for my 13 year old. I am not a harp player. So this research is a little daunting so apologies in advance for the newbie questions. First a little background on us:

    1. Three families are going to be joining forces to buy a pedal harp [us (the parents) and 2 sets of grandparents]

    2. I do not yet know the exact budget we are working with. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we near a price point where we are suddenly debating the pros and cons of buying new (at the LH 85E or CG level) or buying used.

    So here are my questions.

    (A) I have heard if you buy a new harp you do not know the sound you are getting because harps have to break in. How long does it take for a harp to find its voice? As a new harpist will that be less enjoyable to play during that break in period? Is it not worth the hassle?

    (B) What is the difference between an LH 85E and CG besides seeing that the CG is $2k more and the sound board width is bigger? (Is that the same thing as “extended soundboard” is it something else? Why does that extra soundboard width matter to a harpist?)

    (C) Any other considerations we should be thinking about as we get closer to figuring out what we want and can afford?


    balfour-knight on #253885

    Dear Karen,

    Do not feel bad about asking these harp questions–we all have been there before. I will try to help out with some thoughts I have about what you said above.

    First, your child evidently is studying the harp with a good teacher. What is the teacher’s opinion about a possible pedal harp? Since you have only mentioned Lyon & Healy, would that be your only brand option?

    I have owned some L&H 85’s and played many other 85’s, plus all the different models made by L&H. They vary greatly in tone, volume, size and feel. For example, how tall is your child? The 85 E/Concertino may fit your child’s size better than the full concert grand would. The E and the CG both have extended soundboards, but the CG is larger all around. I love the somewhat fuller tone of the CG, with its longer strings and increased size and resonance, but have always found it heavy and tall to play, since I am only 5′ 6″. My current pedal harp is a Camac Atlantide Prestige, which has a lower shoulder end and a perfect balance which makes it very light on my shoulder, also. The Camac concert grands are the only brand of concert grands that feel really comfortable to me at this age (66 with arthritis). If I play a L&H, I prefer a semi-grand for this reason.

    In the case of L&H harps I have owned, they seemed to come into their “mature” tone in their second year. My Atlantide was perfect from the beginning!

    It is wonderful that your child’s grandparents are going in with you to buy this pedal harp. We wish you all the best, and if you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to ask. We will try to answer them.

    Harp Hugs,
    Balfour (and Carol Lynn)

    Karen on #253886

    Hi Balfour and Carol Lynn,
    Thank you for your experience. It is greatly appreciated. My daughter’s harp teacher has suggested it is time for a pedal harp and that we would be fine with a semi-grand but we might consider a concert grand if the right harp/price comes along. Our harp teacher has advised a 46-47 string pedal harp from one of these makers: (1) Lyon & Healy, (2) Salvi, and (3) Camac. Our daughter is currently 5’3” with really long arms and growing (but as her parents we aren’t very tall so I wouldn’t be surprised if she stops growing at the 5’7” mark).

    I have started with researching Lyon & Healy first and know I am naturally biased towards it because my husband is from Chicago and we visit his parents in Chicago often (before COVID) so I like the idea of a harp from Chicago and know we would someday get to visit their showroom. Also my daughter’s harp teacher plays the L&H Style 23 and it is the brand she tends to favor…although again she advised us that all three brands are great.

    So L&H is a maker we will likely check out first but would like to actually check out the comparison models of Salvi and Camac. That is really helpful to hear your experience with Camac Atlantide Prestige. Thank you.

    balfour-knight on #253891

    Hi, Karen,

    Thanks for your kind reply. Your answers to our questions clarified much. This is so exciting for your daughter! We hope that you all can see/hear/try out a lot of different pedal harps so that your daughter can fall in love with one special harp. We all have different tastes, which explains why there are so many different harps and harp makers.

    My lever harp, a cherry Dusty Strings FH36S, is totally different from my pedal harp, since I prefer it that way. If both harps played and sounded alike, there would be only one harp, ha, ha! This lever harp has slightly lower string tension than my pedal harp and a brighter tone. I have often described this beautiful tone as comparable to biting into a chocolate-covered cherry, my favorite candy. Also, this harp goes out on gigs more because of its portability.

    The amazing tone of my Atlantide is more like a delicious smooth creamy white chocolate, without that “burst of cherry” bright tone of the Dusty, although I can produce a bright tone on the Atlantide when needed. The 22″ wide large extended soundboard makes this harp very full and resonant with almost effortless playing, and it usually needs no amplification in concerts I play.

    We hope you get to go to the L&H factory in Chicago soon. That would seem to be the ideal place to pick out a new harp, and a tour of the factory would be very informative and enjoyable!

    Best wishes in this adventure!
    Balfour (and Carol Lynn)

    Karen on #253892

    Our daughter’s lever harp is a Dusty Strings FH36S in Maple. She loves it. (It is a rental though). So we won’t be able to keep her exact lever harp. But we had so much fun going to Dusty Strings and would love to go to L&H for the pedal. Thanks so much.

    balfour-knight on #253907

    That is so good to know, Karen. Maybe your daughter can pick out her very own favorite Dusty after she advances with the pedal harp and really knows what she wants in a harp. Many professional pedal harpists besides myself own a Dusty FH36 as their lever harp of choice! You might enjoy looking at Dusty’s testamonial page and reading some of the reviews–I am on there several times, with a photo of my sweet wife and me playing my “Cherie” at a Christmas concert. I have another Christmas concert coming up shortly, ha, ha! My, how time passes when you are having fun!

    Best wishes and holiday cheers,
    Balfour (and Carol Lynn)

    Biagio on #253908

    As Imentioned things seem pretty slow but just as an FYI there is a used Salvi Daphne advertised on the Reigning Harps site:


    This is the orgab of the Puget Sound Folk Harp Society and though it’s name implies a focus on lever harps tjere are more than a few pedal Harpists members. Well worth joining – it’s free and when not in pandemic mode we have two conferences, and an annual picnic in Ravenna.

    The monthly newsletter always has items of interest to all “harperists” from concerts to period regulations by traveling technicians.

    balfour-knight on #253998

    Hi Biagio my friend!

    I enjoyed looking at that website you posted above. I also love the “picnic in Ravenna.” Since I think so highly of the Dusty Ravenna harps, that is pretty cool to have a town with that name!

    Karen, I hope things are going well in your search for a pedal harp for your daughter. Is this maybe going to be a Christmas present?

    Happy Holidays friends,

    Karen on #254053

    Hi Biagio and Balfour,
    Thanks for your notes and the potential lead. We haven’t bought a harp yet and anticipate it might take a couple more months (after the holidays). It would have been amazing if we could have pulled it off for Christmas but it is such a big purchase that we are taking some more time. Right now we have a call into an L&H harp technician who served our area and hope to hear back from her to get some advice for our search and any potential leads since she sees all sorts of pedal harps.

    But in other exciting news….my daughter, husband and I went to Dusty Strings yesterday to get a harp so I could take lessons because I have been so inspired watching my daughter’s growth. Last week I talked to my daughter’s teacher about being nervous about picking up a new skill and seeing if it would be realistic to learn at my age (I am in my 40s and last time I read music I was 15 playing the clarinet in junior high school band). She assured me she has had successful students older than me with similar or zero music background. My first lesson is on Sunday and I will be playing on an FH36S in Walnut. My daughter is trying to help me with my hand position before my first lesson…she tells me my hand position makes her cringe. Fingers crossed that I fix that soon.

    Biagio on #254054

    Congratulations Karen!

    You’ll do just fine. I too had my last musical exposure in high school (55 years ago – gosh), having ditched clarinet in favor of saxophone thanks to loosing two teeth in football. Tough to form a strong embouchure with implants haha.

    So at the tender age of 54 I made my first harp on a whim and have been hooked ever since. Your Dusty is a wonderful instrument and you will catch on to harp technique quickly, especially if you practice the “harp fist” frequently. This can be done while driving, reading…anything that leaves one or both hands free. Ask your daughter about it.

    Happy harping!

    balfour-knight on #254055

    Karen, that walnut Dusty sounds like a wonderful harp! I agree with Biagio, you will figure out how to play the harp with great technique, but it generally takes some time, especially for your callusses to build up.

    Happy harping and hope all of you have great holidays!
    Balfour (and Carol Lynn)

    Veronika on #254260

    Congratulations on starting to learn! Just to add one data point, I started at the age of 41. Compared to my childhood piano lessons I’ve progressed much faster on the harp. I think adults have a great advantage in that they are able to practise far more efficiently. (This is itself a skill that needs to be learned – I’ve found The Bulletproof Musician blog very helpful. In addition to my teacher’s guidance, of course.)

    Biagio on #254264

    Hi Balfour an Karen,

    Interesting factoid: The Mooers (Dusty owners) live in Ravenna which is a Seattle community and it was in their garage that Ray started building hammer dulcimers and harps.

    Karen, with deference to my friend Balfour your fingers may not develop calluses on a DS harp with its nylon strings. I’ve been playing now for a long time – look Ma no calluses. On a higher tension harp with gut strings though calluses are guaranteed.

    Best to all,

    Karen on #255734

    Hi. It has been awhile and just wanted to update you all on where we landed. We bought a Lyon & Healy 85CG in natural direct from Lyon & Healy in Chicago. L&H was fantastic!!! We had many Zoom meetings with L&H, our daughter’s teacher, and our family. We compared lots of harps. It may sound crazy to buy a harp virtually but it worked out for us. My daughter’s harp teacher in Seattle actually runs in the same professional and friend circles with our L&H rep so there was a lot of trust as a foundation for this purchase. Our daughter is happy. The sound is gorgeous. Biggest purchase we’ve ever made virtually. The hardest part was waiting for the temperature to warm up to safely ship the harp. Thanks everyone for your help.

    balfour-knight on #255735

    Congratulations, Karen–how exciting! Are you still taking lessons and enjoying your Dusty?

    Best wishes,

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 17 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.