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MERLIN harp: really that special?

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  • #142672
    Rachael Rosenbaum
    Participant

    BS”D

    Okay. I’m in the market for a new harp and I am definitely on a budget.

    Currently I am renting a Merlin harp (Rick Rubarth’s Merlin model). In a few days I plan to be at the Somerset Festival in NJ. I am looking forward very much to meeting many harps I have never seen before!

    I am really enjoying the Merlin! I think it sounds lovely, it’s a perfect size for me, and like how it looks a lot!

    I am also very impressed by its special durability features. The braces inside the soundbox to relieve the tension, so as to prevent soundboard problems, and well as the neck truss-rod system…. Basically, the idea of a harp built to last for as long as possible very greatly appeals to me.

    And the price, while difficult for us, is still better than most quality harps out there, and among those I’ll be able to try at the festival.

    My question is, if I fall in love with a different harp at the festival… well, how should I feel about the fact that it won’t have these braces in the soundbox, these special durability features?

    For example, my current harp is 22 years old and the column is bending over significantly, plus the string-eyelet area has hairline cracks…. It makes me sad. I’m actually replacing it because it is waaaaay too tall for me (it was bought third hand before I knew much about my harp needs.)

    #142712

    I think some of those inner ribs for the Merlin allow it to be so light weight. I think a typical harp doesn’t need that extra bracing. This is my opinion. I’m not a luthier, or do I play one on TV 🙂

    There is a fun story on Sylvia Woods about how a woman’s Dusty Strings saved her life. I would assume that the harp was pretty sturdy to be able to stop the car 🙂

    http://www.harpcenter.com/category/harp-life-saver

    I have a Thormahlen Serenade that has been beat around a fair amount (I have kids and have played in all sorts of weather). It’s definitely sturdy.

    Hope this helps.

    Jennifer

    #142803
    diane-schneider
    Participant

    I am a performer/teacher who used a Merlin for a few years, too, but when you hear a Cunningham (great full sound, light-tension gut & only 20 pounds), Thormalen (very nice), Dusty’s (always good), and others, you will notice how thin the Merlin sounds; it also falls over easily & mine has broken badly. Other harps don’t need special braces, & feel much more stable when playing. It is all about the sound, and other harps have so much more warmth, strength and resonance, that I say be open to “falling in love” :-)–go with one that “fits”, feels good, and really makes your heart sing! (and there are good prices in used harps from private owners or experienced sellers like Virginia Harp Ctr, etc.) You will find a wonderful new harp, I’m sure!

    #142867
    Rachael Rosenbaum
    Participant

    BS”D

    Jennifer and Diane, thank you so much for your respective perspectives. They have been truly helpful!

    I went to the Somerset exhibitor’s hall on friday and I hope to go again tomorrow. I liked a couple of harps but I think the Stoney End Marion was a sound I was definitely intrigued by. I’d like to try it again… The funny thing is my husband didn’t think it was anything special at all. But I… Well, we’ll have to see…

    I’ll try and post when the decision is made.

    #142869
    diane-schneider
    Participant

    Rachael, Don’t forget that this won’t be your last harp, either! If you find one you love or for a good price, you know there will be many uses for having more than 1 harp–and different voices for different purposes. I bought a used L&H Prelude from Va. Harp Ctr at a conference, used the heck out of it for 10 years, and sold it to a student who loved it, too. Have a great time harp-seeking! Look forward to hearing what you find…

    #142916
    Rachael Rosenbaum
    Participant

    BS”D

    Thanks Diane!

    Ooh, don’t tell my husband that. He wants whatever harp I find to last me forever! :0)

    Actually, the experience was a little crazy. I finally found what looked and felt and SOUNDED like the most perfect harp on earth (to me). My technician recommended the company highly. It would normally been at a price I couldn’t have afforded, but since it had been sitting in a shop for a few years without a home, it was discounted. I truly loved it. Bought it… when I got home I realized that it had a couple of significant problems (the worst being a serious crack in the center strip). I guess the shop didn’t take care of it well…

    The harp was sadly returned to a kind harp-builder who had no idea of the problems with it. I don’t blame him and I still think his harps are absolutely fantastic, I just can’t afford them now. And I’m back to square one.

    That being said, the Somerset exhibitors’ hall was one of the most wonderful experiences of my entire life! I learned a lot too. And that can only be positive.

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