Please Help – Which Model to Rent/Purchase?

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    Sarah Brooks

    Hi I’m a newbie and I’m looking to rent a harp for at least 3 months
    before buying. I know nothing about the sound/quality/longevity of the
    different makes and although I’ve listened to some being played on
    youtube etc. it’s very hard to work out what would be best for me. I’ve
    had various makes recommended (by two professional harpists and a
    beginner), but feel utterly confused and would appreciate advice from
    anyone who has played or owned these makes:

    Telynau Teifi Gwennol or Eos
    Camac Hermine, Melusine, Cambria, Korrigan, Stivell
    Lyon and Healy Troubadour
    Salvi Prima 34 (or a more professional model)
    Triplett signature 36

    want at least 34 strings and my musical tastes are very broad so I hope
    to play a mixture of traditional songs (Celtic-style pieces and early
    music), modern ‘chart’ (easy listening kind of things), hymns, and
    possibly some classical pieces. I’m going to have lessons to start me
    off, I’m 5 foot 5 inches tall and will be an adult learner.

    I’m based in the UK and hope to attend a harp festival to see some of
    the brands mentioned later this month, but the Troubador and Triplett
    models won’t be there.

    Any advice about type of strings (nylon or
    gut), levers etc. would be most welcome, but especially opinions on the
    makes mentioned above. I also posted this in amateur harpists. Thank you.


    Troubadours were originally intended for players who would go on to pedal harp, so they have a firmer tension, though they are perfectly capable of playing folk. They are also fairly large (currently 66″, though mine is an old model and only 63″), a consideration if you want to transport it in the back of a car.

    I played a Triplett just the other day, not that particular model. It had a good feel; the sound leans more to the warm/mellow than the bright.

    Question of tension: if you’re strictly interested in folk music, especially Celtic, you might be happier with a harp of lighter tension and folk spacing.

    Mine came with nylon strings and in this hot and humid climate (Florida), that was just as well. Gut strings cost a lot more and are more susceptible to temperature and humidity, but it’s generally agreed that gut strings sound better. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say “generally.” Another possibility is fluorocarbon. Some of the Camacs are strung in fluorocarbon.

    Levers: I like Camacs way better than Lovelands, and I’ve heard good things about Truitts.

    Sarah Brooks

    Hi Jessica, thank you for this advice, which is very helpful. Could I ask a couple of questions? I’d like to know more about the flurocarbon strings. How do they compare with the gut and nylon? What sort of sound, for example, and style are they suited to? Also could you, or anybody else, please explain a little more about the different tensions. Does a light tension produce slacker strings? Is there a great difference in how they play?


    All the harps you mention are good instruments (and there are many more around).

    Sarah Brooks

    Hi Tacye, thanks for this advice, especially about engaging the levers to hear the difference in sound. I will definitely do that.

    L&H can be hired from Holywell music, but they are located in central London and I live in the north and can’t really get down there at the moment, which is a pain because I’d really like to look at a troubadour and be able to compare it with the others. I guess renting one to begin with will give me the opportunity to visit other showrooms during my rental period and compare other models with whatever I’ve rented before I commit to buying.

    Are there any other makes available in the UK (not on my list) that I really should consider?


    Is there a reason Pilgrim are not on your list?


    Well, I’m not the person to ask about fluorocarbon strings, really: I had just one brief experience with them. They are denser than nylon or gut and therefore thinner, which felt strange to me. They are more resistant to humidity, aging &c. than nylon or gut. They take longer to stabilize (hold their tune). The sound is supposed to be “best of both worlds.”

    Someone else explained tension pretty well, so I’ll just recap briefly: higher-tension strings feel firmer/tighter, more like a pedal harp. Medium- or low-tension strings have more give, which can be good or bad depending on you. I think of it as like the difference between a classical guitar and a flamenco guitar.

    Sarah Brooks

    Thanks again Tacye and Jessica.

    Tacye, I did have pilgrim on my list originally but I prefer the look of the slightly larger harps that don’t really need legs. Perhaps I should still check them out to compare the sound, because ultimately that is more important to me.

    Jessica, thanks for explaining fluorocarbon strings and tension. I’m pretty sure the Eos has concert tension and spacing, so that will be useful to compare with the lower tension models.

    I have so much to think about and it’s so hard without having every make in the same room to compare! Thanks so much to everybody who has helped though.


    Sarah, I don’t like harps that require stands either, but there is this advantage to them: if you drive a VW New Beetle, as I do, you know they’ll fit in the back of your car with the back seats down. That matters if you’re going to go out and about with your harp–join a folk group, say, or take your harp to lessons.


    If you are able to go to the Edinburgh Harp Festival next Easter you will be able to try out most, if not all, of the harps listed in the harpmakers exhibition.

    Sarah Brooks

    Thanks Jessica and Jennifer. I’m going to try and go to the harp festival in Wales at the end of August and I’ll have a look at going to the Edinburgh festival too next year.

    I’ll try to take a look at the pilgrims then and think about practicality of moving a harp as well as the sound. Who knows I might be won over by a smaller one!

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