Pedal harps for petite players

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    lisa-davis on #69834

    Thoughts on pedal harps that would be good for short players?

    The players in question are both under 5 feet, and most definately not growing any taller — hence short arms, short legs, short fingers, small feet. this will likely be their first and only harps, but as a non-professionals 40-42 strings are ok. It’s easy to research size & weight on harps, but harder to find out about string & pedal spacing and Even how much impact that has on a smaller player.

    Any petite harpists out there with experience to share?

    Or people with experience teacher younger children on pedal harp?

    does smaller spacing benefit those with shorter fingers? (obviously it could make switching to another harp more difficult….. But if one doesn’t ever plan to switch?)

    Any models (new or old) known for being small-player friendly?

    come June, we’re taking a two-woman cross-country harp-vacation aimed at trying out Lots of harps with the goal of bringing home 2 very large & expensive souvenirs. Any suggestions on good models to keep our eyes open for would be appreciated.

    catherine-rogers on #69835

    For pedal harps, string spacing “should” be fairly standard. One does occasionally find wider spacing in some much older harps.

    Lyon & Healy, Salvi, Venus and Camac all make very good quality smaller pedal harps. I like the Camac Clio because of the lighter weight, but you should try as many as you can find to see which you like best.

    If you consider used harps, Lyon & Healy has some models no longer being made which might suit: the 15, the 17 and the 100 which was originally a semi-grand but is now available new only as a concert grand. Happy hunting!

    carl-swanson on #69836

    Older Lyon & Healy models that are smaller pedal harps are the style 12, which was the smallest pedal harp ever made, the style 14-larger than a 12 but smaller than a 15- and the style 18(same size as the 14 but with different decoration. Wurlitzer also had a smaller instrument too, but I don’t know the model name.

    The 12 had string spacing that was closer than it’s full size models. The 14 and 18 had spacing much closer to the spacing of full size instruments. The Wurlitzer model had spacing the same as full size instruments. I happen to have a 12, a 14, and an 18 for sale at the moment. I’ll have pictures up on my web site in a week or two.

    Tacye on #69837

    I find the Pilgrim Aldeburgh and Malvern models have a great balance for a shorter player – if you do want 47 strings, extended soundboard and quite possibly an international trip to try them…

    lisa-davis on #69838

    If I took an international trip, I’m not sure I could still afford the harp. :-) It does sound like it would be a wonderfully fun adventure though.

    lisa-davis on #69839

    Thanks, I got your private message & will check out your website.

    tonie-ogimachi on #69840

    I’m 4’11 and I have played harps of all sizes, including a Lyon & Healy 23 in college, and a Salvi Electra during my teenage years. It never occurred to me that I might need a smaller harp because of my size!

    But now that I’m older, I don’t see myself lugging around such heavy harps! I have an L&H 85 P, as well as a couple of lever harps. I’ve also just ordered a carbon fiber harp to play on my boat during my commercial fishing seasons.

    With all the different harps I’ve played, I always seemed to adapt with my small hands, short arms, and legs. I had great teachers, which I think helped quite a bit.

    I love my 85P, because it fits in my 1996 Rav4. With a cart, I can load it and unload it without help. My small feet are also happy with the closer together pedals.

    I’ve also played an old L&H 12. Pretty neat little harp!


    jessica-wolff on #69841

    Agreed, pretty neat little harp! I’m just a smidgin under 5’0″ and would love to have one.

    However, I think it wasn’t the smallest pedal harp ever made. It was the smallest L&H pedal harp ever made–but I think the Pilgrim Progress pedal harp was the smallest. Still being made, and it sounds pretty good. However, importing a harp costs an arm and a leg.

    Some of the Tyrolean harps are pretty small–but they’re single-action and not intended for classical music.

    lisa-davis on #69842

    If I had been seriously harping as a younger student I probably wouldn’t have worried about size either. But now I find that my body lets me know when chairs are too short or too tall, shoes don’t fit as well, foot doesn’t reach the gas pedal without being held off the floorboard….. :-) And the transportation issue is a huge factor. I find I now spend more time looking for things that already fit me, than trying to make myself fit the rest of the world. maybe that’s just because I’ve gotten more stubborn and set in my ways. ;-)

    tony-morosco on #69843

    I’m with those who say that unless you are talking significantly shorter than 5′ then it really doesn’t matter.

    My teacher was barely 5′ if she was that tall, and she played a L&H 23 her whole career with no problems at all. Sure, it may be harder to lug around, but that is a different issue from playing.

    lisa-davis on #69844

    Yes, I had looked into Progress harps as well, but I think once shipping is factored in, I could get something stateside for the same price that I would be equally happy with — and I just can’t stomach the thought of shipping in a harp I haven’t had a chance to play. Now If I ran across a used one for sale here, that might be a different story…

    And I think those Tyrolean harps seem so light and small, perfect if your repertoire is lever harp friendly. seems like you could tune in Eb and run with it. But I definately want double action — harpist on call for a wind ensemble & frequently playing piano music without time to rewrite for harp. right now I’m lucky to have an old Salvi Angelica 46 string down the road from me that I’ve been able to lovingly borrow in return for free piano lessons for the harp owner’s twins. Unfortunatley, they are moving out of state this summer — hence the harp shopping. And I haven’t ever really made use of that handful of extra strings, but I sure have felt the weight when trying to get the harp up the handful of stone steps into my house.

    jessica-wolff on #69845

    Quite true, Eb is the way to go. That gives you the same choice of keys as a lever harp, but frees your left hand. A curiosity–some of the smallest, intended for kids, have only FIVE pedals. Can’t help wondering what they are and how you tune the darn thing.

    Julietta Anne Rabens on #69846

    The Venus chamber harps like the Prodigy have 44 strings, but they go down to 7th octave D, so the size doesn’t limit repertoire choices. These also weigh less like 67 lbs. These harps also have a full base sound. I’m average to small, but plan to eventually buy one of these. Their chamber harps are also really beautiful in the visual design.

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