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.