Neck split :( How should this be repaired?

  • Participant
    David Kitamura on #229083

    My first harp that I bought April 2018 has suffered a bit of splitting to the neck joint when just sitting in the room I play it in. There’s additionally splitting along the column along one of its carbon fiber layers. This is a Blevins Reve 34, which doesn’t use a completely solid wood neck, as can be seen. I need advice on how to repair this and who to bring it to in my area, hopefully. I still live in Philadelphia.

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    Participant
    Gretchen Cover on #229089

    Is your harp under warranty? I would contact Blevins about this first.

    Participant
    David Kitamura on #229090

    I don’t believe it is still under warranty as I bought this preowned and not from Blevins. As far as I know the Reve 34 is also an older model and no longer in the original warranty period. I am awaiting a response from them for their opinion on repair but I doubt I’d be able to get warranty service from them since the brand also changed hands recently.

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #229093

    David- The first two pictures clearly show that the actual neck does not extend as one piece, into the kneeblock. It is a glue joint that has given out. There is not supposed to be a glue joint there. So I’m wondering if that neck was repaired before you bought it, and if it was, it was done by someone who didn’t understand the tension on the neck. It’s harder for me to tell what is going on with the column. But I suspect that the crack in the column is because the neck is giving out. The neck has to be replaced with one solid piece of wood that extends the entire length of the neck (from the column straight through the kneeblock). There is no way to “repair” the current neck,

    Participant
    Biagio on #229095

    I agree with Carl; it would be much easier to replace the entire neck/column assembly than to attempt a repair. You would have to remove it entirely anyway so use it as a template for a new assembly.

    The easiest replacement would be to construct the new assembly as one piece by gluing together two 3/4″ thick “Ls” out of Baltic birch or maple ply, then cutting the finished shape out with a band saw, drilling peg and pin holes, etc.

    That is actually quite easy to do, and is the way many fine harps are made today, believe it or not. Depending on the overall tension some may add a stiffener of some sort to the column. That may take the form of a 1/4″ thick fore pillar or simply a strip of carbon fiber.

    Biagio

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #229098

    David,

    I live in Boston. So if you can get it up to Boston I can take a look at it.

    Biagio- I personally would not use any kind of laminated material for the column. I’ve seen too many lever harps with laminated columns warp terribly. I think you really need to have solid maple for that.

    Participant
    David Kitamura on #229100

    Thank you for the offer, carl. It is sadly well beyond my means to get the harp or even myself to Boston. I do not drive, and a significant part of my spare resources was put into this harp.

    Failing everything else, how do I keep this in storage in its current state? I’ve been gradually tuning it down to reduce tension all throughout the range, but should I work towards unstringing it completely?

    Participant
    Biagio on #229101

    True enough Carl, depending on the tension and type of laminate of course. The Reve was designed as light tension and light weight but it would be wise to reinforce the column anyway. Ply can take a lot of force at the neck but will bend over time across the column laminations; that was a common problem with early Troubadours.

    Dave Thormahlen uses piano pin block with solid wood laminations on both sides. David Kortier used to make wire strungs with five overlapping cherry lams – those are both incredibly strong.

    There are many ways to build a neck-pillar joint besides mortise-tenon or dowels, with modern materials…. as I am sure you know but other readers may not.

    Participant
    wil-weten on #229104

    I am so sorry for you, David.
    I read that you bought this harp May last year at the used market for a very reasonable price : https://harpcolumn.com/forums/topic/anyone-seen-heard-a-mikel-38-yet/page/2/#post-220908
    Was it a price too good to be true?

    Did you buy it second hand from a reputable harp shop? In that case, I would certainly call the shop and explain the situation. They may be willing to offer you a fair solution. If you bought it directly from a private person, they may be less inclined to be forthcoming. Nonetheless, it may be worth trying.

    Though Blevins is now in other hands, the previous owner of Blevins, Dwight and Cindy Blevins may still be willing to help out, as it says on the Blevins site:

    Dwight and Cindy Blevins continue to be involved in the business to ensure a seamless transition. We are honored to carry on the great legacy of building Blevins harps with the same beauty, quality and superior sound.

    We are available to answer any questions you may have and are ready to help you to choose the perfect harp. Call us at (970) 261-2458 or email anytime at blevinsharps@gmail.com.
    Dale, Laurie and Jamin Wright” at: https://www.blevinsharps.com/

    Participant
    David Kitamura on #229110

    Hi wil. I bought this from a private seller/harpist so I don’t expect any recourse that way. The price was quite good as she’d been trying to sell for a while, and I and someone else didn’t notice anything immediately wrong with its playability or tone before this happened.

    I did email Dwight Blevins for his opinion, and I did get a response today. Here is a pastebin link of it for those interested: https://pastebin.com/jAV74eKy
    The main thing I took from his response was that the glue joint mentioned seems to be part of its original design as he was not surprised about its existence.

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #229111

    David,

    I just read his response to your email, and I don’t even know where to start. Let’s try this:

    1) What he calls the “harp arm” is called the neck. What he calls the “harp arm heel” is called the kneeblock.

    2) It doesn’t matter whether you are building a pedal harp or a lever harp, the entire neck of the harp has to be one piece. There’s no way on God’s green earth that a glue joint anywhere along the neck is going to hold for the long run.

    3) You can’t re-glue a joint that already has hardened glue on it. It won’t hold. You can only use wood glues-any wood glues- on raw wood surfaces. So that isn’t going to work either.

    4) Reinforcing screws or dowels will not do anything positive in this situation. There will only be more of a mess when it comes apart again, and it will come apart again.

    5) The only way to repair this is to replace the neck. The whole neck, including the kneeblock, and possibly the column as well. Anything short of this is a waste of money. I have no idea what you paid for it. But the repairs would likely cost more than what you paid for it. So this is probably a total loss on your part. Why don’t you rent something instead? There are doable monthly payments, and if anything goes wrong on the harp, it’s up to the owner, not you, to deal with it.

    Participant
    Biagio on #229114

    I don’t know exactly how Dwight made these, but I do know that the neck and pillar were essentially an “inner mold” of light weight material which was then layered with carbon fiber. So I think he left out something i.e. after repairing the crack (probably pine or poplar) add carbon fiber patch over the repair.

    As Carl suggests, I would be very uncomfortable about the integrity of doing that – better to just make a new (solid) n/p assembly out of solid wood. That would seem to me be easier and more reliable.

    I have repaired a few cracked necks – it can be done in some instances – but it is something that I would not advise the average player to try.

    Referring to earlier remarks: if one goes with the ply approach, it is best to reinforce it – the easiest way is with a fairly long patch of solid wood on the LH side. Rees does that even though they use solid wood for the neck and pillar, for example.

    Participant
    David Kitamura on #229115

    For reference, I paid about $2200 shipped for this.
    I am at a loss for what to do. I certainly cannot afford to repair this with how much servicing costs are expected to be or get a replacement instrument right now. Should I attempt to sell this as-is to a woodworker or builder who believes they can tackle the task at a kit-like price? For the time I was able to play it, I was quite pleased with it.

    I am certainly chalking this up to another learning experience, if nothing else. I am grateful for the responses from the harp makers here.

    Participant
    wil-weten on #229117

    I am sorry to hear, David. Were I in your shoes, I think your idea of selling it to a woodworker as-is with a link to this thread so that they know in advance which problems they would have to tackle, would be my personal choice. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about the harp developing new problems later on. As to getting a relatively cheap, but rather sturdy and always easy to later sell on harp, I would choose a Dusty Ravenna, which is great for the price. You may find them easily second hand.

    I would prefer buy them from a reputable harp shop that has serviced it before reselling it. I bought two of my harps second hand in such a shop and I even got a whole year of guarantee by the shop on these harps. And if I didn’t like the second harp enough, I could return it witin the first three months and buy another of their second hand harps with at least the same price no money lost. I don’t know if other reputable harp shops have more or less the same great extra’s. Yes, buying from a private seller would have been signifantly cheaper, but then I had run all kinds of risk I didn’t want to run.

    I hope you will find an adequate solution soon.

    Participant
    Biagio on #229121

    I’m sorry David, but it is doubtful that you would be able to get very much for the harp in it’s current condition; certainly not if you tried to sell it via the internet.

    I’m sure it COULD be repaired so in your shoes I’d either hang on to it or give it away to – for example – Lisa Lynne’s harp healing program. Lisa knows many luthiers in the SF Bay area. Here’s her website:
    https://lisalynne.com/

    As for a replacement harp well that’s a toughie if a Ravenna is out of your price range and you really want a 4+ octave instrument. If you could afford more then aside from the Ravenna Rees has a few very nice harps on sale unless they have been snapped up by now. Or you could tackle one of Music Maker’s kits.

    Very sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but “it is what it is.”

    Best wishes,
    Biagio

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