Malfunctioning harp!!!

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    carl-swanson on #148826

    I’ll just state the facts here and let you draw your own conclusions. I just got a call from a harpist on a cruise ship in the middle of the Caribbean. The E pedal on her harp wasn’t functioning. After lots of questions and her going to the harp and then calling me back, several times, here’s what happened. It wasn’t a broken rod, nor a disconnected or broken pedal spring, both of which can happen on any instrument. What had happened was: The rivet that holds the steel pedal bar to the pedal bar fulcrum(at the opposite end of the pedal bar from the brass pedal) had come out and so the pedal bar was floating around freely! This happened because the MAJOR COMPANY that makes this instrument used a super hard rivet material that was simply press fit into the fulcrum, without hammering out the ends into a mushroom head that would lock the rivet into place. So the rivet got loose and worked its way out, thereby liberating the pedal bar and rendering it useless. Remember, this harpist is on a ship in the middle of the ocean.

    It doesn’t seem to be enough for this MAJOR COMPANY to have the parts cheaply made and assembled in China. In addition, even with slave labor making these parts, they have to cut costs further and assemble the parts incorrectly, setting the harpist up for a disaster that they may not be able to fix.

    This is not the first, nor the second time that I have heard of this happening. In addition to the pedal fulcrum rivet coming out, I’m also aware of steel pedal bars breaking into two pieces, again because they are not only making these parts in China, but also using inferior metal to make the part.

    It doesn’t seem to concern them that these harps could suddenly stop functioning when the harpist has no access to a repair facility. Malfunctions like this never happen on older harps. But the newer ones from this company have this and other things go wrong that never happened in the past. I have one of their most expensive models here in my shop right now because a rivet came out of the main action of the F chain. So the F sharp chain works, but not F natural.

    Do you really want to be in the middle of a recital or symphony concert and have something like this happen? Or be on tour as harpist with a show, or like the call today, on a ship, and have a malfunction like this happen? If your harp is made by this MAJOR COMPANY and is less than 10 years old, then it might happen.

    But this MAJOR COMPANY has such a strangle hold on the American harp market that they can make their harps out of 2 X 4’s and plywood and harpists will still buy them because they know the name. But as time goes on, there will be more and more of these disasters to report.

    Karen Johns on #148827

    Thanks for the heads-up Carl, and I have a pretty good guess as to who this MAJOR COMPANY is. They are literally turning into the Walmart for harps. Pretty sad. I’m glad I was never tempted to buy any of their models, preferring instead to deal with a smaller, one-man operation for my custom lever harp. The name means nothing without the quality to back it up. It must be frustrating for you as a harpmaker to have to fix the shoddy product this MAJOR COMPANY is now putting out. Hopefully other prospective harp buyers will take heed of your warning.

    unknown-user on #148828

    This doesn’t really relate to the argument here (though I agree) but I think it is pretty pointless to insert “MAJOR COMPANY” and drop such obvious hints. Actually, they are more than hints: it’s as if you described a CERTAIN MACHINE as one that freezes food, just because you don’t want to say freezer.

    If you feel you need to

    carl-swanson on #148829

    I wasn’t expressing an opinion. I was telling you how things have gone seriously wrong with a certain company. That’s not opinion. That’s fact. If you think you know the company I’m talking about then that’s fine. But I’m not about to set myself up for a lawsuit.

    mark-andersen on #148830

    I think that you’ve handled the situation absolutely correct Carl. And, by the way I totally agree with you. I got the opportunity to see a lot of “malfunctioning harps” by that certain builder this past summer.

    David Ice on #148831

    I’ve heard rumblings for several years about this sort of thing…..plywood, bad steel, etc.

    Karen Johns on #148832

    I agree wholeheartedly with your statement “We have to be careful consumers”, David. I wrote a whole paper on this in college in fact. It was entitled “Buy an import, buy a job”, and it was all about consumer responsibility. We can belly ache all we want about jobs being sent overseas and shoddy parts built in China, but really it’s all up to the consumer- we’ve gotten into the mind-set that everything should be cheaper than it is. Until consumer sentiment changes we’re stuck with this predicament, I’m afraid. We have literally devalued ourselves through our spending habits. As far as America is concerned, if this trend doesn’t change soon, the only way you will be able to buy American will be at an antique store. So save those old harps, people- they’ll probably last longer than the brand-new ones being made by those major companies now…

    carl-swanson on #148833

    I would like to add one last thing. I did not make the above post to simply snipe at another harp company. I don’t bad mouth anybody for the sake of finding fault. I did it to issue a warning to those who may own one of these instruments or are thinking of buying one. They need to know that there are consistent problems cropping up that technicians are having to deal with. If you have your harp regulated from time to time by a harp technician, ask him/her to look at the rivets that hold the pedal bar and pedal bar fulcrum together to see if there is any sign that a rivet is coming out. If any of these 7 rivets are rotating when the pedal is moved, or is sticking out on one side, then it is loose and needs to be replaced. You need to ask the technician to look for this because he/she would not be expecting something like this and would not see it unless looking specifically for it.

    I spoke to my good friend Bill Grant about the harp on the boat. Bill is the resident harp technician in New York City. When the boat comes into New York harbor next week, he’s going to have to get on it with a small anvil and riveting hammer and change all of the rivets on the pedal bars on this harp. And he only has about 6 hours to do it before the boat pulls out again. He has a bag of replacement rivets supplied to him by the MAJOR COMPANY. They are fully aware of the problem but so far I’m not aware that they have fixed it. There’s a fundamental rule of business that goes: If your product has a flaw or problem, but it is not hurting sales or causing you to loose business, then don’t spend the time or money to fix it. Just keep selling it as it is.

    mr-s on #148834

    Carl you should ask wikileaks to scandalize them instead of you :)))) , i know i company that make a very beautiful looking harps and use a cheap accessories made in china, Carl you are exactly right , you dont need any problem,i still remember when the talk goes about harp companies a big quarrel and fight starts , so no need , and let every body discover that by it self.

    phoebe-powell on #148835

    I’m actually searching around to buy a harp and would like to know what company this is, so that I don’t buy a “wrong” harp! I have been warned by a few technicians that newer harps are not as well built as they used to be, but the problem I have is that the older CG harps (L&H are what I am looking at right now, and the harp I’m borrowing is a L&H 23, which was built around 1940) are smaller than the newer ones! So, it’s a question of saving my back or saving money on constant repairs…hmmm……any thoughts?

    Philippa mcauliffe on #148836

    Why not an older one as long as you get it properly checked first and find out whether you are looking at major renovation in the near future?

    David Ice on #148837

    Amen, Carl.

    barbara-brundage on #148838

    >but the problem I have is that the older CG harps (L&H are what I am looking at right now, and the harp I’m borrowing is a L&H 23, which was built around 1940) are smaller than the newer ones!

    Just curious as to why this is a problem? If the sound is there I’d consider it a bonus, myself. 🙂

    carl-swanson on #148839

    The Ford pinto gas tank fiasco is the one that I remember. When that went to trial, it came out that 1)Ford knew that the gas tanks could explode in a rear end collision and probably kill everybody in the car, and that 2)after doing a cost analysis, Ford decided it was cheaper to let people get killed and pay the law suits that would result than to fix the problem. That is why the jury awarded what was at the time a stupefying amount of money to the plaintiffs in the case, in effect saying, the damages Ford has to pay have to be much more than the cost of fixing the problem. It was a landmark case and showed the callousness that business is capable of. Unfortunately(in a way), in the harp world, there are no bodily injuries associated with badly constructed harps. So we don’t have the same leverage. But by making the problem public, maybe harpists can exert pressure on the company to mend their ways.

    catherine-rogers on #148840

    I don’t think they’re noticeably smaller, and the sound is often richer and fuller. I personally think the carving is better, too. Like Barbara said, if you like the sound, “it’s a good thing.”

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