I’m looking at buying a harp for my daughter, 26 + strings. I’ve found some inexpensive ones at Muzikkon that read well and look good but I’m abroad in Australia and can’t visit the showroom. The company seems to have started in April 2016, so not around for long and I can’t find any negative reviews online . I’m wondering if anyone has had any experience with these harps or knows some who has?
First off, I have no experience with that particular harp. However, at that price point, which is a fraction of most new harps, one is suspicious that they are Pakistani (or other far east) “harp-shaped objects”. Note in their text that they are careful never to claim anything but design and set-up in Ireland, not manufacturing.
The levers are clearly designed to mimic Truitts–but they aren’t. The levers alone would cost as much as the harp.
All that being said, others have posted here that they have been satisfied with some Pakistani instruments–but there have been horror stories as well.
Personally, I wouldn’t buy any harp without listening in person–or having a local harpist go with you.
There are several respectable US builders making entry instruments. I am sure this is true for other countries, as well. At a similar price is the Harpsicle. Harpists have them for portable instruments. Blevins harps also builds a number of simple models. Major builder Dusty Strings makes the Ravenna 26 at not much more money–and if you can turn one pre-owned, you might be very similar in price.
Some of those are definitely Pakistani, and I would not buy any harp based on price alone. Some people have had good luck with the smaller Paki harps but it should serve as a warning that no harp maker I know will agree to work on them if they break. As for levers….as Charles noted good ones cost the most on a decent harp – anywhere from $12 – $17 (retail), and a shoddy lever is worse than useless.
In addition to the harps that Charles suggested, let me add the Musicmakers kits. They are excellent entry level instruments, easy to put together, and you will save a lot of money in shipping.
I’ve perused this a bit for several years- Yes I would say that most of these are Pakistan harps- My own view is that perhaps the longer reputation may lag behind the later reality- They are inexpensive- and not as nice as say a Dusty or Camac might be- but they are not that bad in my own opinion-
they made a major step forward a few years back, generally going to a birch soundboard and a more responsive sound- Know it by it’s lighter color- used and older stock is out there withholder sound board- still the decorative sides of the sound box are usually relatively heavy and so that deadens the sound a bit. The designs vary and there seems to be a more diverse manufacturing and/or exporting than just a few years back.
Most of these here appear to be “Roosebeck” or closely related- some were put out a few years back as “DMT” with a different lever- usually red white and blue– no experience there but I had a Roosebeck 29 for a short time and the levers didn’t seem that bad to me- maybe clunky and weighty-
The future is certainly alloy, fiberglass carbon fiber and aircraft aluminum Benjamin at least for hardware and pillar. A pound off the harp just on tuning pegs and pins alone!
An unfortunate development seems to be the omitting of levers at the upper end. My Minstrel 29 only had 25 levers or so- as if the larger levers won’t fit? Yet I think the 22’s are not that way- Oil monopoly corporate pecking?
Anyway the “Emblem” harps- pictured in “category” but not apparently in stock- appear to be Mikel Celtic in origin- yet I think there may be clones of that going around. The round backs are fair- heavy and of far resonance- the bases of the two round back Mikels I have are really really overdone- a good inch and a half of solid wood that extends up in the cavity and then further capped lower by anther weighty 3/4 inch of heavy wood- several pounds of heavy wood that weighs the harp a little heavier than necessary and diminishes the sound chamber. I think it’s there mostly to support the round back wood formation- which is also just a shade excessive, for a homeward bound harp especially. Other than that I’m fairly happy with the harps I have- the last one a Mikel 27 I got on e-bay Delivered for $300 with full levers- don’t go hunting – you WON’T find it now- but I got it just after last Christmas. I’ve been drilling the base/s- it didn’t even have the two inch round hole the others usually do- and it lightens the base quite a bit and lets more sound resonate out.
Anyway- my recommendations? The 26 or so category is a great size- I like 29 myself because it is an even number of octaves to resolve to high and low- but suspiciously almost- NOT that common
I also like all the levers upwards if they are included otherwise- 29 for 29 strings, 26 for 26 etc- so watch for that because they downplay this
I think a squared off back actually may be more cc’s of volume than a roundback when it’s all said and done and they can probably use thinner wood if the maker has a mind to. Newer Roosbecks also seem to have thinner lighter wood backs, and even a bulge for more volume and resonance but perhaps still focused on marketing appearance of the sites which ARE attractive.
And another nice thing about this size- you can configure it with all monofilament strings- available at Dusty- and it still sound decent- less expensive and less breakage than nylon wound- The Roosebeck 29 Minstrel was all monofilament- as is my Mikel 27 at the moment- though I may go back to at least three lower wound strings- only the lowest C feels slightly soft to me – I’m really wanting to focus on playing and not on changing strings frequently- and the original wound nylon base strings broke really quickly.
sorry for typos- the text box here still giving me fits- but not as bad as before
As you live in Australia, I would search for harps that don’t need to come from the other end of the world, as shipping costs, VAT and duties may make the price of the harp much higher than one would guess at first glance.
The first question, though would be, why would you buy a 26 strings harp for your daughter right now? If she is having harp lessons, her teacher may have an idea of where to get a decent and affordable harp. Or advise her to hire first before investing in a good harp (probably with at least 34 strings).
When your daughter wants a travel harp, I would be inclined to choose a Camac 27 string Troubadour or a Dusty string 26 string Ravenna. Both these harps, as well as others with more strings can be bought from
http://www.harps.com.au/ . Branddon Lassells has a good reputation and he also builds nice harps himpself.
In your case, I would find out the possibilities of buying (or renting) a harp in Australia. I don’t know about the Australian situation, but in Europe one usually can hire a harp and get a very nice discount when one buys that (or another) harp later at the same shop. It’s a great way of learning the harp and finding out in the mean time which kind of harp one likes best.
Just thought I’d weigh in on this chat and introduce myself. I am an Irish Harp teacher here in Dublin. Muzikkon brought me on a year ago to help fine tune their harps and work with them on their development. Like everyone here I was weary of cheap harps but my students were buying them anyway so I thought rather than fighting against it I should work with a company to make these pieces of furniture into functional instruments. Its been a fun journey and the harps are now a playable affordable option. I would never discourage a person from buying a hand made harp or a more professional harp (Like Camac) but sometimes at the beginning this isn’t an option and I have worked hard to make these harps the best they can be at their price point.
Each harp is tested before it goes out to a customer, this was the missing step with so many companies, the quality wasn’t being assured.
Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions. I also work as a Rep for Camac Harps and my aim is just to give my students and other students options.
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