Would appreciate comments about either of the two harps – new Salvi Ana 40 v Lyon & Healy Prelude. Im finding it difficult to decide between the two….how are the L&H levers rated? Im only familiar with Camac levers. The new Salvi levers look similar to Camac ones. Cant inderstand why Salvi is more expensive than L&h also and £1000+ more expensive than Camac Mademoiselle…..
Hi Sarah, some time ago, you started here : https://harpcolumn.com/forums/topic/camac-mademoiselle-or-salvi-ana/ a thread in which you wrote a little more than two years ago: “, i love my Korrigan. It is about 4 yrs old with new Camac levers but i feel i would like the harp to have a fuller more mellow sound from a larger harp. I will go to a Camac harp exhibition next month and hopefully try out a Mademoiselle.”
So, how did you like the Mademoiselle? When I was looking to replace my Camac PH38 with a new harp, I thought of buying the new Mademoiselle, but there was only one in the shop, and I didn’t like it at all… I think that if there were more Mademoiselles in the shop then, one of them could have stolen my heart. Every harp, even of the same make and model and kind of wood used does have a unique sound, as every tree and perhaps every branch of a tree produces it’s own sound.
When you still are looking for a fuller and more mellow sound than your Korrigan provides, the L&H Prelude seems to be a great choice. I ended up buying an L&H Prelude. 🙂 The L&H lever harps sound more mellow than the Camac Mademoiselle and the Salvi Ana.
Beware, though that the L&H, though strung with pedal gut tension, just like the Camac Mademoiselle, pulling the strings feels tougher. Perhaps, this has to do with a thicker soundboard, but that’s just my guess.
The L&H harp have ‘performance levers’, and though they are not so great as the Camac levers, they still are nice enough, as they work smoothly and silently. In a little more than a year’s time, I lost 3 strings, all in the first three months that I had the L&H. When the performance levers were new on the market (already several years ago, they had some starter problems (they ‘ate’ strings), but now these problems have been long solved.
When you try a Salvi Ana, listen carefully to the click-clack of the ‘plug-and-play-levers’. It is said though that these Chinese levers have improved recently. Also, you need to listen carefully if you like the more or less piercing sound of the higher strings. I much prefer the mellow and still ringing sound of the L&H Prelude, also in the highest register.
I think Salvi is more expensive than the L&H’s and the Camacs, because of Salvi’s price policy, not necessarily because of the cost to build them.
I’ve owned multiple Salvi Ana’s through the years, along with several Preludes. The Ana’s have gone through changes, especially in the last few years, that improved the harp’s overall sound quality, volume, and appeal. While the harps do look alike, there are some subtle differences that make the Ana’s the more appealing harp to me of the two.
L&H uses sitka spruce, while Salvi uses spruce from the Fiemme Valley. In general, I find the Ana’s to be the warmer of the two models. The Preludes are warm as well, but in general, I think Ana’s have a more robust, warm, and resonant sound. Some people may prefer the sound of the Prelude, which is certainly just fine. But if you’re looking for warmth, I’d stick with the Ana. I have an Ana right now, and the church I work far also bought one so I would not have to carry my own personal harp back and forth. They both sound quite nice to my ears with a good balance of darkness but also brightness when the music/setting call for it. I usually replace the 2nd octave nylon strings with pedal gut from the 2nd octave F up to C (thus, five strings). This practice helps to warm up what can be a sometimes-bright 2nd octave.
The best move that Salvi has made recently, in my opinion, is the redesign of their levers. I am not a fan of the L&H performance levers–at all–and Salvi was using these for a while after they discontinued their old silver levers, which I actually liked. The newer levers rival Camac’s in their ability to keep the string’s timbre, volume, etc. unaffected when engaged. My biggest pet peeve with the performance levers is that they can end up really affecting a particular string’s tone. Too many of these on one harp can really affect the harp’s overall volume and resonance. The newer Salvi levers are smooth, silent, and quite beautiful in their appearance (gold-colored finish). One of the best parts–they don’t produce that horrible crunch sound when engaged that the performance levers do at times–the one that literally makes me cringe anytime I hear it!
If you can’t tell, I prefer the Ana over the Prelude for these reasons I mentioned. However, I have heard plenty of Preludes that I could have sworn were Ana’s and vice versa. I’ve also played some Preludes that have had especially good levers on them. I do not begin to claim that one harp is “better” than the other–only different. I also believe you are right on the pricing. The Ana’s come in several different versions now based on the lever type and soundboard decoration. Also, I don’t know if this is still the case, but the Ana’s destined for North America are strung in pedal gut while the ones for Europe and eastward use lever gut strings.
In short, I don’t think you can go wrong with either harp, but if possible, try to play them side by side to see if you can notice the difference. That very small difference in lever function or the degree of warmth may be enough to sway you one direction over the other.
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