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My first generation Troubadour needs a makeover.

Home Forums Harps and Accessories My first generation Troubadour needs a makeover.

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  • #76119
    anna-jacobeen
    Participant

    I have a first gen Lyon & Healy Troubadour gathering dust in my house that needs some love, and I’m trying to figure out if it’s worth shelling out the cash to refurb it. When I acquired the harp – around six years ago – it still had the original dinosaur levers on it. I was new to harp at the time, so I followed the advice of my first harp teacher and purchased a new set of Loveland levers which he then installed. Unfortunately, that didn’t go as well as we had hoped. Probably 80% of the new levers are useless because they were not properly placed. I continued to use my Troubadour until I moved on to pedal, but now it’s unbearable to try to play because I can only use a handful of the levers without buzzing or being majorly sharp or flat. I love the tone of the harp though, and very much would like to use it again. Does anyone know of someone on the NE coast who’d be good to talk with about regulating/replacing the Lovelands? Because it’s an older harp, I’m hesitant to spend too much on it for fear that I’ll not get my money’s worth out of it. Thoughts?

    #76120

    I can’t recommend a technician in your area, but I took my Troub I to Tom Bell in Akron, OH who took a good, long look at it, played it, listened to it. It has a beautiful mellow voice. The neck is slightly off from age, and he pointed that out. He told me if it were his harp he would do the work I wanted done. I had oversized pegs installed so that it would hold tuning (because the tuners just slipped from the holes growing too large over the years of tunings), Camac levers and mostly gut strings (except for the low wires). It is an amazing, useful harp. I had the work done in 2007, and it continues to go on strongly. I use it at church regularly, where I keep it, as I have a Webster lever harp and a concert grand Camac at home. If you can find a really good technician, have him/her assess it.

    #76121
    anna-jacobeen
    Participant

    I frequently pass through the Akron area, so I’ll look up Tom Bell. Thank you! Do you mind telling me aprox. how much he charged for the services you had performed?

    #76122

    His company is Bell Harp Tech. I paid $1500 for it. That was reasonable for me as I only paid $300 for the harp. 🙂

    #76123
    jessica-wolff
    Participant

    I had the original “dinosaur” levers adjusted on my Troubadour I and that helped. Sharp edges filed too–those levers are apt to chew up strings and spit them out. The gent who did the work is from the Midwest though.

    #76124
    Tacye
    Participant

    How much do you like the harp when playing it with all levers disengaged?

    #76125
    anna-jacobeen
    Participant

    Thanks, Briggsie!
    Tacye: I like it alot. It has a full, rich, tone that sounds more like a pedal than lever harp. It’s playable if I disengage all the levers and tune it in C, but that really limits what I’m able to play.

    #76126

    In consideration of that fact that your harp has a beautiful voice, as my does, then these are the steps I would take: Consider what you paid for it. Add to that the cost of the repair and then decide if that’s going to be worth it. Is it more worth it to just sell it for what you can get for it now and move on? I have found that a Troubadour I sounds a lot like a pedal harp. Therefore, if I were going to play something, I would go straight to my pedal harp. However, when working on Celtic tunes or folk tunes, it’s nicer to have a harp that really shows that music off…..and for my ears, it wasn’t a Troubadour. I ended up getting a Webster Cecelia, which really works well for Celtic/folk music. I use the Troub at church for pieces that work well for preludes or offertories there. But really, to my ears, it sounds like a small pedal harp.

    Secondly, I’d talk to the technician after he has had a chance to do a thorough exam of the harp and see if it is stable enough to consider putting more work into. Is the soundboard okay? Is the neck not too pulled to one side? Since you have already had Lovelands put on, will it even be possible to change those or adjust those?

    Good luck….keep us posted on it, because I find this really interesting. Here’s a pic of my Troubadour I with the new levers. It’s not a great shot, but it is what it is. 🙂

    #76127
    Tacye
    Participant

    I see from Sylvia Woods’ website that some Ogdens were sold with lever gauge strings. I would want to double check with L&H that they were made to the same specifications and will withstand the pedal gut.

    You will not be happy with the results if you change them over at random. If you have a mixture of pedal and lever gauge strings with their different tension and sound you will find it near impossible to get a consistent sound as you play. You could change only part of the harp, either the top or bottom guts – just as your harp has wires at the bottom and then gut which you are used to playing, though a mixture of wire and gut over the whole harp would be unlikely to be a success.

    Don’t just follow ‘what people say’ – do YOU like and want a pedal tension harp?

    #76128
    bay-lee
    Participant

    Thanks Tacye, for the advice! I was just going by what other people with more experience with my harp were saying. But you are absolutely right. I shouldn’t just “follow the crowd”, so to speak.
    The Ogden is a harp that was made to have a more “pedal” sound, as apposed to the more “tinty” sound of other lever harps its size. But this extra tension on the soundboard and neck make the strings pop more frequently than other levers. And so I just didn’t know if changing it to pedal string tension would save me some string replacing.
    And I understand what you meant by it not having a consistent sound when the strings are mixed. That was something I honestly hadn’t thought of, and I will keep that in mind.
    Thanks so much!

    #76129
    Tacye
    Participant

    You have it a bit backwards – the harp is designed to be ableto withstand the higher tension from pedal harp strings, which are thicker – it is not putting more tension onto the strings it has on it. Changing to pedal gauge strings will not have much effect on them popping. Do you keep the harp at a fairly constant humidity?

    #76130
    bay-lee
    Participant

    Yes, I probably do have it a little messed up. People have been telling me so many different things, I am beginning to get pretty confused. In the winter, the harp is kept at a pretty constant humidity. It is in the summer that it will change more often. I try to keep it at the suggested humidity for a harp. (Although not always possible) I am beginning to think that pedal verses lever harp strings is more of an opinion, rather than one actually being proven to be better than the other. (Not exactly what some people were saying)
    I am pretty new to the harp, and very inexperienced when it comes to its care. So I really appreciate you getting back to me with your advice. It always helps to hear from someone who has “been there, done that”

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