Muzikkoin Hartps – Caveat Emptor

  • Participant
    Biagio on #221786

    In light of Stardust’s problems I went and took a look at this – lots of red flags raised:

    They claim that their harps are made in house and there are three groupings: Heartland, McHugh and Camac. Oops: The “Heartlands” and McHughs are all obviously Pakistani designs. Do they just get the parts and put them together in Dublin? They ceraintly do not make real Camacs in Dublin.

    Heartland Harps is a registered trade name for a well known maker in the US (Dave Woodward).

    Camac does not list Muzikkon as a licensed distributor in Dublin – they do list Walton’s which has changed it’s address – is this now Muzikkon? Dunno.

    They claim that their harps have “Sprucewood” sound boards. I can virtually guarantee that those Pakistani harps have plywood boards, certainly at the offered prices – definitely not real spruce (space) wood.

    For Stardust’s 27 the picture shows what appear to be Camac levers..but at the offered price of 569 euros real Camac levers would be 60% of the price alone.

    Perhaps when confronted with these observations Muzikkon might offer some dubious explanations (“those names are generic”, or “we were referring to Camac spruce boards” etc.) but I’m not buying that if it were me. As far as I am concerned this smacks of deceptive advertising.

    Usually I would keep my virtual mouth shut but I find this upsetting as a friend of many harp makers and one myself. We work long and hard to make beautiful instruments; it is upsetting to see this sort of thing, and upsetting to see beginning players misled.

    Biagio

    • This topic was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by Biagio.
    • This topic was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by Biagio.
    Participant
    naisha on #221806

    First of all, sorry if I made grammar mistakes, my native language is Spanish.
    I find this post very useful. I come from another forum for another hobby I have, (artist dolls and collectibles, nothing to do with music but anyway), the legitimacy there as well as here with harps is very important because artists and craftsmen are involved. What I mean is, if there are red flags about a seller, dealer or product, it’s important to let people know, especially for newbies, no matter what hobby or product we’re talking about. I don’t have any harp yet, and when I started doing my research I found Muzikkon, as I live in Europe and wanted to find a good harp maker/dealer. I immediately saw that site was a bit shady, maybe because I’m used to spot that thanks to my other hobby, but I didn’t really want to say anything here because I’m a total newbie myself, I don’t even have a harp and never seen one in real life.
    What I saw on Muzikkon that made me think it’s not a good choice is that they use names that don’t correspond to the pictures, like the “heartlands” they have listed there. If you go to Heartland’s official site, they’re completely different. That’s a sign of dishonesty, no matter if the product itself turns out good. I don’t know, taking advantage of a well known name to sell similar products and using generic words that lead to confusion for those who are not very experienced seems dishonest to me and I won’t support that. Thanks Biagio for saying what needs to be said.

    Participant
    Biagio on #221809

    Thank you Annie.

    Really, it is entirely possible that Muzikkon’s website manager simply does not know very much about harps, and I hope that they will make some corrections after this little snafu.

    Pakistani made harps have received a poor reputation but they seem to be improving and I give credit to their consultant, Aine, for agreeing to provide quality control. There is certainly room in the harp world for good inexpensive instruments!

    Nevertheless I feel a certain duty to point out where I think somethings seem “off” – I’ve repaired too many harps that were innocently purchased just because they looked nice and the seller over-hyped the product.

    Unfortunately, many harp teachers (and other musicians) do not understand harp design and construction beyond the absolute basics and that alone leads to a lot of confusion. That too seems to be changing. There are a number of fine economy harp makers in Europe, one just needs to do a little “digging.” Some US makers also have European distributors.

    As a rule of thumb, a well made but “inexpensive” lever harp will cost perhaps 20% more than the cost of materials; in the case of a 33-34 string harp with full levers it will be in the range of 2000-2600 euros. If a new harp of that size is priced significantly less it is probably poorly made.

    One US company (Musicmakers) sells excellent harp kits and that might be an option if you feel like trying that. I like the Voyageur model for a good inexpensive 34 string harp. They do have distributors overseas, you could ask them if any are near you.

    Best wishes,
    Biagio

    Participant
    harplynx on #221888

    Hi Biagio,

    Concerning Muzikkon. I once bought a small lyre, with a historic biblical design, from them through ebay. I wrote to them and asked where it was produced, and the answer was – in Pakistan. It was their design, they said, but they had them made in Pakistan.

    So, your hunch isn’t that far away from the truth. When I see harps from Muzikkon I think they look a lot like pakistani made harps, so I suggest they really are. The instruments from Muzikkon may be better than the more easier recognizable harps that we know are made in Pakistan, but I don’t know that. They certainly look like they could be better, but looks can deceive, so one only knows the answer by actually trying them out and seing for oneself.

    As to the small lyre, I am content with it. But it’s not an expensive instrument and I bought it mostly just for fun, not to use it a lot. I also put new strings on it that give a better sound. For that purpose, on cheap instruments, I use high quality fishing line in different millimeter-size. It works great, actually, even on the pakistani harps. Almost anything is better on them than the strings with which they come. Fishing line is softer and keep the tuning better.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by harplynx.
    Participant
    Biagio on #221890

    Hi Harplynx,

    Pakistani builders have an uphill struggle since the earlier instruments produced over there were universally condemned; most legitimate luthiers simply refused to work on them. I’ve seen and heard more recent ones that seemed good enough for economy instruments if the strings are music quality. They still appear to have trouble sourcing decent levers.

    The harp world is closely knit and much of a maker’s reputation is spread by word of mouth – Rees does not even have to advertise. A decent harp is really not all that hard to design, and we would do with more decent but economical harps – hopefully the builders in Pakistan are learning, as everyone has had to do.

    I’ve heard of fishing line used on some harps (and other instruments), most often South American ones. My impression is that standard nylon line would be fairly low tension – has that been your experience? The modern fluorocarbon lines can take much higher tension and indeed some builders just use the FC fishing line rather than the versions offered by Savarez Alliance and others.

    Best wishes,
    Biagio

    Participant
    harplynx on #221893

    Hi Biagio,

    Thanks for your reply. I have tried only a few different fishing line types, and ended up prefering Soft & Strong by Climax.

    It’s color is white/blanc (not green or blue pink, and I use a marker for the red C and blue F), and it is really soft and strong, which I prefer when working with paki-instruments (I fix instruments for others too).

    And of course, It’s cheap, meaning I can afford to experiment a lot without having to pay for expensive harp strings, which normally are better (exept for the one’s that come with the pakiharps, they’re really bad; hard plastic, sounding ’empty’ like ‘cardboard’).

    With the fishing line in differen mm-sizes I get an even tension that is pretty much alike for all the strings, making them keep the tuning well and sounding harmonious and pure. I have actually been surprised by how well this works concerning it’s a cheap solution, not professionally optimal. But for hobby players it’s good enough concerning the price.

    I love to see newbeginners get their harp dream fulfilled when they get a cheap, nice looking and good enought sounding harp in their hands. Their gratitude and the smile on their face is priceless.

    Some of the smaller, newer and better pakiharps can actually function ok with fishing line strings well adjusted on them. After having experimented over some time one several types on these harps and lyres, I have learned enough to be able to be a start-up assistant for newbeginners. It brings a lot of joy.

    If the line gets too thick, over 1,20 mm, they don’t give very well sound. But from 0,40 mm and up to 1,20 mm (perhaps even 1, 40 mm) they can work.

    The thinner strings break easier, of course, that goes without saying, but when I adjust the size to the string distance and tension, and try out different solutions, I always end up with a result I can live with.

    It just takes time. I have to let the instrument stand for a while, play on it a lot and see what remains steady and what doesn’t. Then I do changes according to the need. After a while I’m content.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by harplynx.
    Participant
    harplynx on #221895

    Hi Biagio,

    I use the fishing line Soft and Strong by Climax, and it works well. I just wrote a long message here, but it suddenly disappeard, I don’t know why. But this is my short version answer. 🙂

    Participant
    wil-weten on #221896

    Hi Harplynx, did your latest message just got deleted? If so, this happens regularly due to some silly, non-functioning spam algorithm.

    I did receive your message from a few minutes ago, though and if you haven’t got a copy, I am willing to upload it again for you (and send another message to the forum manager to do something about the spam algorithm).

    Participant
    harplynx on #221897

    Wow – thank you, wil-weten! 🙂 What a nice surprise. 🙂

    Yes, I would very much like that, you can copy and post it here, if you like. I haven’t got a copy of it myself. Or perhaps you should send me a copy so I can post it myself? Is there an inbox system here?

    It got deleted when I made an editing of the message. I submitted the edited version and suddenly it was gone and I couldn’t get it back. Next time I write a longer comment I should take a copy before I post it. Lesson learned. Thanks for your help. 🙂

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by harplynx.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by harplynx.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by harplynx.
    Participant
    wil-weten on #221901

    Hi Harplynx,

    Below you find your message that got deleted by the silly spam algorithm:

    harplynx wrote:

    Hi Biagio,

    Thanks for your reply. I have tried only a few different fishing line types, and ended up prefering Soft & Strong by Climax.

    It’s color is white/blanc (not green or blue pink), and it is really soft and strong, which I prefer when working with paki-instruments (I fix instruments for others too).

    And of course, It’s cheap, meaning I can afford to experiment a lot without having to pay for expensive harp strings, which normally are better (exept for the one’s that come with the pakiharps, they’re really bad; hard plastic, sounding ’empty’ like ‘cardboard’).

    With the fishing line in differen mm-sizes I get an even tension that is pretty much alike for all the strings, making them keep the tuning well and sounding harmonious and pure. I have actually been surprised by how well this works concerning it’s a cheap solution, not professionally optimal. But for hobby players it’s good enough concerning the price.

    I love to see newbeginners get their harp dream fulfilled when they get a cheap, nice looking and good enought sounding harp in their hands. Their gratitude and the smile on their face is priceless.

    Some of the smaller, newer and better pakiharps can actually function ok with fishing line strings well adjusted on them. After having experimented over some time on several types of these harps and lyres, I have learned enough to be able to be a start-up consultant and practical assistant for newbeginners. It brings a lot of joy.

    If the line gets too thick, over 1,20 mm, they don’t give very well sound. But from 0,40 mm and up to 1,20 mm (perhaps even 1, 40 mm) they can work.

    The thinner strings break easier, of course, that goes without saying, but when I adjust the size to the string distance and tension, and try out different solutions, I always end up with a result I can live with.

    It just takes time. I have to let the instrument stand for a while, play on it a lot and see what remains steady and what doesn’t. Then I do changes according to the need. After a while I’m content.

    Edit: I just adapted the text to Harplynx’ wishes.
    Harplynx, unfortunately, it’s not possible anymore to send personal messages to each other (probably because of the spam problem), so I couldn’t send the original text to you for you to publish it again.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by wil-weten.
    Participant
    harplynx on #221902

    Thank you very much, wil-weten! 🙂

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by harplynx.
    Participant
    harplynx on #221904

    A couple of corrections on my writing errors:

    1) After having experimented over some time on several types of these harps and lyres…

    2) …able to be a start-up consultant and practical assistant for newbeginners.

    Participant
    wil-weten on #221906

    Hi Harplynx, I just adapted the text to your wishes. Unfortunately, I was not able to mail the text to you, so that you could republish it yourself as nowadays we can’t see each other’s email-adresses any more (because of too much spam, I guess). So, the only way was that I uploaded it again.

    Participant
    harplynx on #221907

    Hi wil-weten,

    Agian – thank you so very much for you help. Very much appreciated!

    And concerning my grammar faults: english is not my mother tongue. So I hope I am understood and excused for not writing perfect english. 🙂

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by harplynx.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by harplynx.
    Participant
    Biagio on #221909

    That is good to know Harplynx; thank you on behalf of all who own this harps. Diverging a little and reaching for my soap box (stand by for the pompous lecture):

    What, after all, is a harp? Simply put, it is an acoustic box as amplifier, a light but strong vibrating surface (or less so if wire strung but that’s for another time) and a fame to hold a set of strings at sufficient tension that they will neither break nor sound like rubber bands. If sharping is desired sufficient wood must be there below the bridge pin- as a practical matter the mathematical sharp point is defined as 0.055 x vibrating length.

    So far so good and this is why harp makers begin the design with the strings. At least two professional string makers us a Basic program originally written by Mark Bolles in the early 80s. There are other programs, some of them more sophisticated and some are free.

    To use those programs one should have a good understanding of different strings’ physical characteristics – density and tensile strength. From there it is a matter of determining the approximate height of the harp to guide in coming up with the appropriate vibrating lengths and then refining the result to produce a visually pleasing curve.

    One program (which, being cheap, I use) is a free Excel spreadsheet. It might be enhanced; it does not allow for yellow or red brass for instance, silver can only be used as a winding material, and it does not include a graphic interface so the designer can see the harmonic curve as it develops. Someone who is an Excel whiz or has time on his hands could enhance it but as noted I’m cheap and also lazy so I haven’t bothered.

    There are several good sources for further information – see for example Folk Harp Design and Construction by Jerry Brown, Rick Kemper’s discussion on his web site Sligo Harps, and for the thoroughly intrigued (or possibly bored) the Harpmakers forum, and the CD with early articles from the Folk Harp Journal (available from Musicmakers).

    OK, soap box gone:-)

    Biagio

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