Salvi, L&H, Camac, R-harp, Sandpiper, Webster harp?

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    califa on #189711

    I am looking for lever harp, I play lever harp for 3 years, then stopped last two years. I learned all the technique of lever harp, I get bored of it.
    I decide to play harp again, because I want to become a harp composer, I do consider R-harp, Sandpiper harp, Webster and Camac harp. Only played Camac lever harp, but havn’t tried other harps.

    I am looking for sound has good resonant, clean, warm, no muddy, will sing, good base, long sustain.

    I do not trust recording, R-harp, Sandpiper and Webster harp do not support buyers, feel disappointed, nowhere to try locally, do not want to fly to their studios, do not want to take risk for online order.

    So I went to Salvi and Camac showroom near my city. I do not like Salvi lever harp, when I tried Salvi pedal harp, I am impressed, I like Salvi Arion SG Gold harp, like the sound quality and maximum budget I can go(under $ 20k).

    Played Camac last week, I like their lever harp, Mademoiselle is my choice, but do not like the base sound, too thin, well, it is not pedal harp….
    Not impressive of Camac pedal harp sound, ‘no depth’, Athena too sweet, feminine for me, I am a guy. I do like Atlantide and Big Blue, but my pocket is not that deep.

    This weekend I am going to try L&H, do not like straight sound board, may I ask, L&H Chicago is same level as Salvi Daphne and Camac Clio? If so, I won’t consider.

    What is your comment of Style 85E, and 85CG? are they same level as Salvi Arion? If yes, I will consider.
    How about style 100, is it same quality as Salvi Arion?
    I may not consider style 100 because of my budget, unless the sound totally conquer me.

    Have you played all of these harps? like to hear your review.

    Alyson Webber on #189748

    Each harp is going to have it’s own “quality” regardless of the make or style. Yes, it is probably harder to find a good Chicago, but they are out there, I’m sure. It is probably going to be easier to find a good 85CG than a Chicago, though. One of the best harps I ever played was a 100. (Of course, all statements are to my own particular taste in sound and response).

    I am not good enough or patient enough to get the Camacs I tried to sound the way I wanted. I have heard others make magic on them, but that magic doesn’t seem to be in me 🙂

    It’s going to come down to which individual harp you like the best, as another Arion won’t be the same as the one you tried in person. What held you back from the Arion? Wanted options?

    carl-swanson on #189749

    Dearest Califa- A couple of comments came to mind as I read your post. Please understand, I am writing as a harpist, but also a harp builder and restorer who has dealt with many harpists over the years.

    1) There are no “good” harps, and no “bad” harps. There are harps that you may like or not like. But what you like someone else is not going to like, and visa-versa. I have heard harps that I thought sounded like banjos, and the owners thought they were the greatest harps in the world.

    2)I don’t pay particular attention to the “sound” of the instrument itself, because so much of the sound is tied to the way I play it. At least 50% of the sound equation is due to the technique and touch of the harpist playing it.

    3) For reason number 2, I never get involved with the discussion of sound for any instrument I have for sale. People will sometimes contact me and ask if a particular instrument has a “big” sound for example. Well, that depends on whose playing it, and also on an individual’s concept of what a “big” sound is. So when I have instruments for sale, I can vouch for the structural integrity of the instrument, but not the sound. I always encourage people to make the trip to Boston to try the instrument they are interested in, so that they know exactly what it sounds like to them, and whether or not it is a sound they like.

    4)It’s clear that you have very strong opinions about what pleases you and what doesn’t. I would ask you to not make demeaning comments about any harps or their makers. The fact that you do not like one model of harp or one harp maker does not mean that everybody is going to share your opinion. Just say that this or that instrument is not exactly what you are looking for and leave it at that.

    susan-ash on #189761

    I have the “R-Harp”. Wonderful harp, with beautiful tone and tension. Great customer support as well.

    califa on #189783

    I did play L&H style 100 yesterday, sound very nice, little brighter than 23, am I correct? I saw a two years old style 100 sell for $18,000, should I buy it? I love style 100 look, so beautiful!
    For new 100 similar price comparison to Salvi Aurora, which do you prefer?

    My first consideration is Salvi Arion, the size is similar to L&H style 85E, but less expensive. They are both good for me, what is your comparision of these two harp? do they both have good base sound? I like Arion look more than style 85. Are these two harps semi grand?

    I do hear difference Salvi Arion SG and Arion SG Gold, Salvi said the glossy paint make the harp sound brighter, do you agree? New Salvi does not sound little at all, the Arianna is amazing! Arion SG do sound less than grand, but Gold model sound bigger.

    The style 85 CG sound nicer, bigger than 85E, but for extra $2,000 is it worth? what is your feeling?

    Someone said Salvi sound more ’round’, L&H sound more ‘expressive’, what is your feeling? too bad, I am not able to compare these two at same time.

    Salvi and L&H have no pedal to pedal upgrade program?

    Do these harp showroom offer floor model sale or annual sale?
    Do they keep fresh model every year? Harp is not like car?

    I did try Dysty FH36, suprise the sound, so much fun to play, but get bored easily with lever harp, feel the limit, less challenging; some very sensitive feeling only pedal harp can make it. I am in S. California, no chance to try R-harp, hate to drive to N. california. So my conclusion is only 25% will consider lever harp.

    I do agree Carl said the touch make sound different. However, I do need expert’s help to get the best quality harp and affordable. I do envision when I climb to the top of hill, I will see difference. You are already on the top of hill, why judge me? The journey to become harpist is very difficult. No reason no time to gossip in this forums.

    I feel that is OK to express our opinion of the harp. I do like Camac harp, but I also play piano and electronic keyboard, for the technology, I can “easily imitate the Camac sound”, but Salvi or L&H sound feel like good wine.
    I am looking for decision between these two.
    Sorry for my poor writing.

    Alyson Webber on #189793

    Each harp is going to have it’s own sound. Since each is made from wood that is a natural product and will have variation, I would never purchase a harp I haven’t played personally. Not just the style, the individual harp.

    For Semi-grand vs concert grand, I would go with whatever harp you find to sound nice and fits your body. I, personally, didn’t feel comfortable behind a semi-grand, it didn’t fit my proportions well. Which is unfortunate because I really preferred the smaller size to try to fit into my Prius!! That being said, you have a different body than I do and may feel equally comfortable behind both.

    It seems to me that you have access to many quality instruments. My advice would be to choose the one you don’t want to stop playing. I know you can’t put the Salvi next to a Lyon and Healy, so maybe it will take a couple return trips to begin to sort out what you like and don’t like.

    I played a lot of pedal harps, even before I was ready to purchase, when I changed from lever harp. I wanted to get a feel for what is “normal.” After a while, I started to identify the things I liked and didn’t like. I was looking for an evenness of sound (some harps boom really loudly in a small range that I was hoping to not always be accounting for), a degree of projection (some feel like the sound gets absorbed back into the harp), but not too much (I think some harps get muddy because they resonate so long). But those are all the things that I found were important to me. Honestly, I found I was able to identify things I didn’t like more than things I DID like. I guess I’m a pessimist. 🙂

    You seem to be concerned about quality. All of these harps are well made, by trusted manufacturers, so don’t get caught up in who makes what. Also, price doesn’t have any reflection on how much you will like the instrument. Since every instrument is different, I have played an 85CG that I liked better than a Salzedo model in the same showroom. Again, my preference.

    I haven’t seen a harp dealer sell off “last year” models. Every now and then a style may go on sale.

    In short, I’m afraid we will not be able to tell you what harp to get. The decision comes down to your preference. While harp sound changes with the player, it may be advantageous for you to do a blind listening to some of the harps that you are interested in. Go the the far side of the room, close your eyes and ask someone to play a few harps for you. Write down notes, come up with a score sheet and rate their sound. You are not deciding between Salvi or L&H. You are deciding between individual harps.

    Biagio on #189798

    Apparently Califa you have ruled out lever harps as too limiting for you, so there is no need to discuss those here. All of the pedal harps you have mentioned are by excellent makers with excellent reputations – so it seems to me that the only question is which you personally like best. As Carl has already written, how one sounds in you hands will likely be very different in how it sounds in anothers’.

    I have to disagree with you that a lever harp is less challenging than a pedal harp. It is in many ways an entirely different instrument and at the advanced level capable of things that a pedal harp is not. And vice versa of course. A double strung for that matter is capable of music than neither a pedal nor a single course lever harp can achieve.


    balfour-knight on #189810

    Biagio, I would even go so far to say that the lever harp is much more difficult than the pedal harp! Things that I can play with ease on the pedal harp, like The Swan by Saint-Saens, are very difficult on the lever harp because of having to change so many levers! Thanks to Carl, Susan, and Alyson, too, for their posts. Each harp is unique, and it depends on how YOU play it!

    Best wishes to all,

    Biagio on #189812

    Since you mention it my friend…yeah!

    One of these days I really should take Ray Pool’s “Clever Levers” course if only to see how inadequate I am – grin.

    Best to all,

    duckspeaks on #189818

    Dear Califa, for the Mademoiselle u can do 2 changes.

    1 use gut for C, B and A. A is a bit marginal and this needs redrilling of holes for lever screws.

    2 use slightly thicker bass strings. this fixed what I didn’t like.


    eliza-morrison on #189999

    I wholeheartedly agree with those who say that each harp is different. It comes down to what sounds and feels best to you (the feel of a harp is very important; it must fit the body well and be comfortable, not tiring, to play). Just because one Athena sounded “too sweet” doesn’t mean that all Athenas will have that exact same quality. Trust your instincts! In addition to playing the instrument(s) yourself, ask someone to play for you any harp you are considering buying. Stand some distance away and evaluate the sound from that perspective. I consider this an essential step in the process, and it surprises me how few people do it.

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