New Prelude 40 flaws

  • Participant
    Gregg Bailey on #255799

    Up until a few days ago, my 2nd-hand Troubadour V was my only harp. I recently decided I wanted to purchase a new Prelude 40 in natural finish. As luck would have it, one of the harp centers had one (the only new Prelude 40 in natural finish that I could find without having to wait 4-6 months to have one built!), so I ordered it after they sent some photos and made a couple of videos of it being played. It arrived last Friday. The whole experience has not been what I expected, and I’d like to know if all of this is normal or not.

    To start, I was told that it was (or would be) strapped to a shipping pallet. However, when the UPS Freight truck arrived, the box was NOT on a pallet but was instead up on top of some sort of metal A-frame structure in the truck that dug into the box as the harp box was being unloaded, and it had to be unloaded upside-down due to the way it was put up in the truck. The box was so mangled and punctured on multiple sides that I feared the condition of the harp. Fortunately, once I got it unboxed, the harp showed no signs of damage from the rough handling during shipping. I guess the cover and Styrofoam on the top and bottom were just enough protection! I did make sure to have the driver make a note of the box damage after I took several photos.

    The harp has what I would consider to be some relatively minor flaws (not referring to the natural wood finish). The main flaw that bothers me is that the base of the soundbox is not aligned properly on the harp base; the left side of the front of the soundbox is about 3/8” closer to the front of the harp base than the right side of the soundbox is.

    The string spacing is not even; in particular, the 4F string and eyelet are noticeably closer to the neighboring G than to the E.

    I’m surprised that the holes in the bronze-finished crown seem to be so haphazardly placed rather than symmetric placement; as a result, in certain orientations of the bronze crown, it sticks out much more on one side than the other or sticks out too far in the back, etc. The holes in the top of the column don’t seem precisely located, either. One of the holes in the bronze crown initially had a glob of the bronze coating in part of the hole, and I had to use one of the screws to ream that out. I’m also surprised at how asymmetrical the construction of the top of the column is under the crown, even though that’s not normally visible.

    On top of all that, the screw holes in the top of the column aren’t deep enough for the screws to be able to go all the way in when used with the thinner bronze crown. I’m told that I can use a drill to deepen them, but why aren’t they deep enough in the first place? Since the wooden crown is thicker, the screws go in plenty far with that. Is this a common issue when putting on the bronze crown? The screws hold the bronze crown onto the column securely enough, but the screw heads won’t go down into the countersinks. They’re not visible unless looking down into the bronze crown.

    I’ve already had to adjust one of the levers that was too tight and then was suddenly too loose, but I suppose that’s not so unusual…

    I realize that harps are handmade, so I don’t know if I’m just being too particular, though the misalignment of the soundbox on the base seems especially not right to me. I assumed Lyon and Healy had higher production standards than all this. Is there more quality control in their professional pedal harps than in their lever harps? The Prelude is in the “Professional Lever” category on harp.com, so I assumed it would have the same level of excellence in construction and craftsmanship as in their professional pedal harps (though I presently have no actual experience with pedal harps).

    And is it not customary to secure a shipped harp to a shipping pallet so that it can’t be abused as easily and so that it would automatically be kept upright?? For $450 shipping, I expected better protection of the package.

    I realize that it’s ideal to pick out a harp in-person, but that just wasn’t practical in this case. Overall, I really like this harp; I’m just surprised about some of these relatively minor issues. I’ve been in touch with someone at Lyon and Healy about all this, and I’m told they will review the photos I’ve sent. I hope they’re not hurrying through the manufacturing processes due to restricted employee hours caused by Covid restrictions.

    I attempted to attach photos of all this, but they’re apparently too large in file size.

    -Gregg

    Participant
    balfour-knight on #255816

    So sorry to read about all this, Gregg! At this point, I agree with Wil in the other thread—send this harp back! These things would bug me to death, and also my sweet wife, who just said “these things you are bothered about right now will ALWAYS bother you. Your eye will always go to that!” There is no excuse for this sort of thing from L&H. They should accept the responsibility and settle things appropriately with you, either repair/finishing, or with total replacement. Hope my opinion helps.

    Best of luck with this,
    Balfour

    Participant
    wil-weten on #255830

    Apart from the visual issues, there are also the functional issues. These are not minor flaws!

    The worst thing for me would be that the string spacing is uneven. This makes accurately gripping the strings unnecessarily more difficult. You wrote: “in particular, the 4F string and eyelet are noticeably closer to the neighboring G than to the E.” This will make playing ‘près de la table’ awkward and I suspect that the levers at best will be noisy and perhaps be out of tune. I even wonder whether they could be adjusted in a way that would make them function as they may be mounted too much to the left or the right of the string.

    Apart from all this, you won’t be able [Edit: you will be having a hard time] to resell the harp later on [Edit: for a reasonable price]. At the moment, you probably think this is a harp for the rest of your playing life, but as many people here can tell you: a lot of us develop their taste in harps while playing and will own several harps in due time

    You can easily compress the photos with the completely free (no ads!) program paint.net You can choose to compress them to perhaps a 90% quality. You will see that this makes the amount of MB’s of the picture a lot smaller. Of course, you could also make the photo’s themselves smaller, perhaps by cutting some of the margins or by making the whole photo smaller.

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 1 day ago by wil-weten.
    Participant
    wil-weten on #255832

    Just curious, does it the metal plate on the harp state the factory and the number? Or does the text on the metal plate start with something like: “Designed by” [etc.]?

    Participant
    Gregg Bailey on #255833

    The metal plate reads:

    “Lyon & Healy
    Prelude
    62801”

    All centered, of course!

    Steve Fritzmann, sales manager at L&H, looked up the serial # and found that it was made at the end of 2020, just as I was told by the harp center.

    I’m told that the string spacing I’m observing is probably normal, because the spacing is supposed to increase below 4F.

    I would be happy to email you photos I’ve taken. Balfour now has my personal email address if you’d like to get it from him. I’m not sure how safe it is to post email addresses on the forum, particularly regarding spam bots.?

    Thank you!

    -Gregg

    Participant
    wil-weten on #255834

    Yes, the string spacing is increasing from the highest strings to the lowest, but this goes gradually, not suddenly.

    Anyway, please, do try to post the photos as there are several people on this forum who have far more knowledge than I on several technical aspects.

    And yes, it’s not safe to post email addresses on public forums if you want to avoid spam avalanches.

    By the way, I’ve got a Prelude myself and love it.

    Participant
    Tacye on #255840

    I can see ewhat I think is the string spacing you describe at 4F in pictures so that is not a feature just of your harp (see the bass close up here https://www.morleyharps.co.uk/prelude-40-natural-decorated-soundboard-lh62383-c2x34477294) Also the symmetry at the top of the column – harps really aren’t all that symmetrical because the strings go on one side of the column. So indeed I would not be surprised if the crowns to fit one way round only. I haven’t been able to find a base image online for comparison of that.

    Participant
    Gregg Bailey on #255841

    Here are 4 photos showing the misalignment of the soundbox on the harp base.

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    Participant
    Gregg Bailey on #255847

    Here are 4 photos showing the eyelet and string position for 4F relative to its neighbors (no levers engaged); while I understand that E should be a little farther from F than F is from G, I swear even the F-G distance looks SMALLER than G-A, unless that’s an optical illusion.?

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    Participant
    Gregg Bailey on #255852

    This group of photos shows the asymmetric hole placement in the bronze/brass crown, the construction of the top of the column with no crown and location of the drilled crown holes, the way the supplied screws won’t go in all the way with the bronze crown because the holes weren’t drilled deep enough, and the glob of bronze coating in one of the crown holes that prevented a screw from going through that hole until I reamed the glob out. Apparently, these issues with the bronze crown aren’t unusual.

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    Participant
    Gregg Bailey on #255857

    This last group of photos shows the horrific condition of the harp carton upon arrival (UPS Freight). The pallet was removed by the harp center in order for them to be able to unbox the harp so they could take photos for me and make short videos of it being played as I requested. They said there was no way they could reattach the shipping pallet. Couldn’t they have taken the pallet with the carton to UPS and had UPS reattach it? Granted, the pallet would’ve been no guarantee of lack of damage to the carton, but I feel it would’ve given the carton a better chance. Thank goodness the harp cover and foam blocks on the top and bottom were enough protection, especially since it had to be unloaded upside-down!

    -Gregg

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    Participant
    wil-weten on #255862

    Hi Gregg, I understand you must be shocked by the damage of the box, but the harp itself looks fine at first glance. I guess you fear that the harp has suffered some invisible damage, similarly to a harp that has fallen from the stairs and which looked fine at first, but after some time developed more visible damage. We don’t know how roughly the harp was treated while in transport, but the fact that it ended up with the wrong side up, would give me a bad feeling too (at the box of my Prelude it said very clearly which way would need to be up).

    As to the misalignment at the base of the pillar. The picture isn’t very clear, but it’s obvious, it should not be like that. However, I lack the technical knowledge to say whether this is only cosmetic or not.

    I looked especially at the distance between the strings, as an uneven distance would be a serious flaw. However, I couldn’t discover something like that at the angle you made the pictures. Perhaps it would show better if you made a photo with your camera perpendicular to the strings, so not in an rather narrow angle. But as far as I can see now, the string distance just looks fine. And yes, a black string between white strings may cause some misleading effect in the real distance between them.
    Therefore, it would be necessary to measure the distance in mm from the core of the concerned strings to the core of their neighboring strings (in Dutch we would call this, literally translated, ‘heart to heart distance’ no idea about the English).

    I agree with what Tacye says above about the symmetry at the top of the column.

    Now, at this forum there are some people with way more technical insights than I have, so I do hope for you that they will shine their lights on these issues in the coming few days and perhaps, they can take away some of your fears.

    At first glance your harp looks just fine. Only the base connection is not what it should be (mine doesn’t have any opening there and yours does have a kind of asymmetrical opening), but, as I said above, I don’t know whether this has functional consequences or is only aesthetic. And, if it’s only aesthetic and the harp is functionally fine, you could ask the shop for a reduction of the price.

    Anyway, if the harp gives you bad vibes, just return it to the shop. If you can’t be happy with it now, chances are you won’t ever be happy with it.

    Participant
    Gregg Bailey on #255863

    Thanks, Wil; your message actually makes me feel much better. Regarding the misalignment, though, I wonder if you’re confusing what I’m referring to. It’s not the base of the pillar that I’m talking about; it’s the locations of the corners of the sounbox (body) on the base. As you can see in the first 3 photos, the left-front corner of the soundbox is nearly 3/8″ closer to the front of the harp base than the right-front corner of the soundbox is. The 4th photo is meant to show the slanted angle of the front edge of the bottom of the soundbox/body relative to the harp base that results from the misalignment.

    Thank you,

    Gregg

    Participant
    wil-weten on #255864

    Hi Greg,
    Sorry, I misunderstood. I saw the asymmetric opening between the column and what’s under it and looked no further.

    I just had another look at the pictures and you are right: it looks like the whole body has turned and stands now significantly asymmetrical to the front side of the base.
    I had a look at my own Prelude, and the body is perfectly symmetrical to the front side of the base.

    I don’t know whether this shift could have been the result of the rough transport it has suffered. I do hope some of the harp technicians and other technically knowledgeable people at this forum, will shine their light on this case.

    Participant
    wil-weten on #255865

    In addition: I guess that, if the turning of the soundbox happened by the rough handling of the harp in transport, one would have seen traces of friction. It all looks very smoothly, so I think this harp must have escaped quality control, both at the manufacturer’s as well at the shop’s.

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