I play a pedal harp and have a friend who plays a Salvi Ana lever harp.
Posted In: Professional Harpists
It’s not so much a question of brand–most makers make both student and professional grade harps–as of models. But no lever harp is going to work in a medium sized venue chock full of people without being better for amplification (nor pedal harp, either). You can play any harp in an empty cathedral and it will project just fine. You can play the largest loudest concert grand in a small packed venue and not be heard. If she wants to play professionally, amplification is a fact of life, I’m afraid, except sometimes for wedding ceremonies.
For lighter weight harps, pretty nearly anything from a lever harp maker is lighter than a lever harp from a pedal harp maker (like the Ana or the L&H prelude or Camac Mademoiselle). Is she willing to trade the pedal harp shape of the Ana for the more basic triangle of a dusty, thormahlen, etc?
Personally, I would think the Ana, if hers is decent, is a pretty nice harp for gigging. I’d get a dolly and an am, if it were me, instead of a different harp, unless i hated the harp I had. In the US, other options would be some models from dusty strings, thormahlen, triplett, Rees, Kortier–there’s a whole long list. Since she’s used to gut strings, I’d probably say to start by investigating the folk-gut thormahlens, as closest to what she’s used to.
But are you in the US? That makes a difference, and so does the kind of playing she plans to do.
I was thinking maybe the pedal tension Thormahlens might have the oomph she wants. My teacher’s Troubador is plenty loud, though it’s probably taller than many other 36 string lever harps and I don’t know how much lighter than an Ana it would be. Heartland harps are generally known for a big sound, so that might be one to try out, especially if she likes the sound of their carbon fiber models, which are as light as you’ll get a harp with 36 or more strings.
Wow, Jerusha, that’s the first time I’ve heard anyone say that thorms are unsuitable for pro use. I’ll have to pass the memo around to Laura Zaerr and all the other pros who use them that we all need to throw them out and get new harps!
I totally agree that given the additional info that Amy provided a gut-strung thorm isn’t the harp for her, but really, now.
Oh yes, I wouldn’t deny that the big Dustys generally have a larger sound, for sure.
Amy, the best thing would be if you and your friend could get someplace to try different harps. Whereabouts are you located? Even if there aren’t harp stores/dealers in your area, there are plenty of folk harp events with vendors all over the place these days, if you’re in the US.
The fluorocarbon harps are definitely very bright. Besides the ceili/ceili mor, I think Larry Fisher is the only person who’s really specializing in fluorocarbon strung harps these days, but he’s seriously backordered, since his fluorocarbon harps are extremely popular in Ireland.