Long-term effects of no regular maintenance on a harp

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    hmartfitch on #183502

    Hello there, I’m looking for some advice from harpists more knowledgeable than me. I am currently looking for a pedal harp for a student with a low budget, and we have found a decent looking option, but, when we asked about the harp’s regulation and string change history, the owner clearly knows nothing about how to maintain a harp. The answer was that “it has been 20 – 25 years since it needed any strings, and I don’t recall how many were replaced. As far as regulating it, it has never needed it.” If my student were to purchase this harp and have it regulated and the strings changed, are there any possible long-term effects that might come up of not having had the harp maintained for such a long period of time? I’ve never been exposed to a harp that had gone so long not being taken care of.

    catherine-rogers on #183504

    Not changing strings or being regulated doesn’t affect the structural condition of a harp, but lack of maintenance could indicate lack of care. If it has just sat in a room for years and not been abused, it could be in better shape than a well-used harp that’s been dragged to every gig in town. Have it checked out by a harp tech if you can. The buyer should set aside the cost of new strings and regulation in the money he or she will need to invest in this one.

    paul-knoke on #183508

    If the harp hasn’t been played in several years, the first thing is to move all the pedals through their full range of motion, from flat to sharp and back to make sure the action isn’t sluggish or seized up. If the action is still working freely and smoothly, then I would strongly recommend hiring a technician to look at it as the next step in evaluating the harp.

    Janis Cortese on #183509

    The big thing I’d worry about is that, if the current owner hasn’t taken care of it, it may have spent a lot of its life next to a fireplace, sunny window, heat vent, or something like that, and stringing it at tension could rip apart the soundboard or the body, or cause some sort of structural failure.

    hmartfitch on #183587

    Thank you all for your thoughts. As the harp is located quite a distance from us and, it seems, from any harp techs, I don’t think we’re going to risk a purchase since it would be difficult to have it looked at by a professional.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #183755

    If it’s a very low price, then it may be a very good deal.

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