Suggestion for my First Lever Harp…

  • Participant
    occalichika on #223033

    Hello everyone!

    First of all, I’ve been renting a Tripplet 30 string harp for the last couple months and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve played many instruments and this one is by far the most enjoyable right from the get-go. As I’ve progressed in my lessons, I’ve been realizing it might be time to look into purchasing my own harp with more strings (34 minimum). I was hoping some of you would have some advice for me.

    I’m not planning on moving the harp very much so mobility isn’t a huge priority either.

    I’m not planning on playing pedal harps in the future, So having similar tension and string spacing for easy transition isn’t a priority. So Lyon and Heal might not be the best choice, maybe? I’m not sure what everyone means by this specifically.

    I’m a little confused on why many harps use a birch laminate or any laminate for the sound board (like the lower quality Dusty Strings). Wouldn’t this produce a poor sound or am I off? I’m very attracted to the warm tones of Cherry and Mahogany, but obviously, I would like any sort of solid wood sound board.

    My teacher swears by Tripplet harps, but they seem so expensive and I can’t find a used one anywhere. (Probably a good sign.) This is also what I’ve been playing and I enjoy the sound of the solid wood.

    I apparently have expensive taste, but I’m hoping to not pay over $3,000…

    Any Suggestions?

    Thanks for any advice!

    • This topic was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by occalichika.
    harpist123 on #223038

    I purchased a new Triplett Eclipse (fully levered with Camac levers, 38 strings, and gorgeous figured Walnut), which was on order for nearly 10 months, and just recently arrived. I special ordered the wood and trim wood, as well as getting the built-in amplification system. I have been playing this harp for only a short time, but the sound is exceptional. I played a gig for 150+ people last night, in a huge wonderfully acoustically friendly open building, and did NOT need to amplify the harp. Yes, it cost more than $3,000. But I did get special wood and the built-in amplification system. If you can hold out and rent, and possibly try a few other larger lever harps, it is well worth the wait (and expense), if you choose the one you love. I also own a Pratt Chamber harp, 36 strings, fully levered with Camac levers, complete with an extended soundboard and strung high tension as a pedal harp with pedal gut from A-5 thru E-3. The sound is TOTALLY different from the Triplett. And I am not letting it go for that reason. I get a wonderful “pedal harp sound” with a smaller lever harp. I wish you all the very best in your next purchase of a larger lever harp. It is a joyful thing!!!

    Biagio on #223045

    “I’m a little confused on why many harps use a birch laminate or any laminate for the sound board (like the lower quality Dusty Strings). Wouldn’t this produce a poor sound”……

    Sound is in the perception of the listener but to answer directly: a harp with a laminate board will cost less than one with solid wood for two reasons.

    First, that kind of board just costs less than one of solid wood (spruce, cedar, cypress etc.). The latter takes several days to make and the wood is more expensive.

    Second, there remains a (false) perception that the laminate is “just plywood” and indeed some early models did use lower quality ply.

    Finally, some (many) use a thin hardwood veneer over solid wood because they got tired of explaining that thin cracks in an unveneered board are to be expected and may actually improve the tone. Those cracks are still there – you just can’t see them.

    Some harps with laminate boards are modeled exactly as are their solid wood cousins: same width (vibrating surface) etc. and the maker masy not taper the board. Those who take more care will do it differently: strings in the treble placed lower down, the board will be double tapered, and tension is often higher. As with everything else in harp design, it takes some practice – part art, part science.

    Getting specifically to tone:

    Wood fibers under tension stretch over time and there are chemical changes to the cells; most would agree that the solid wood board’s tone will deepen and develop more color after several years. The laminate does not react much that way so how it sounds at first will be pretty much how it will sound 5+ years later. So if you want to save some money and like the sound of a new harp with a laminate board, that’s a good choice. If you expect to keep the harp for a long time and can afford the solid wood board, go for that.

    I certainly would not say that the laminates sound “poor” : two of the most beautiful harps I’ve heard are the Harps of Lorien Raphael (26 strings) and the Boulding Concert Oran Mor with 36. On the other hand, and speaking of Dusty Strings, so does the FH36.

    Both an Oran Mor and an FH36 are owned by Harper Tasche and I’ve heard (and played) both side by side. He uses the first mostly for outdoor concerts because it has more volume and the board does not react as much to changes in climate. The Raphael is a favorite of Laurie Riley for therapy playing.

    So I’d say it pretty much comes down to how much you can afford and how long you expect to keep it. Try as many harps as you can if you are not convinced of your teacher’s preferences – how they sound in your hands will be very different from how they sound in another’s.

    Hope that helps!

    evolene_t on #223049

    Hello there!

    I have never played Triplett but I feel that you’re asking yourself all of the right questions. And the good news is that you seem to want a rather stardard model so theirs plenty of choices.

    First a great link that sumps up the basics :
    Celtic Harper

    Second, the name of a few reputable brands that have 34 + sting harp.
    – Camac harp : French harper, good value for the price. I’m not sure where you live but you can easily find a few of their models for less than 3000$ fully levered
    – Dusty Strings : the FH36 models have a great reputation
    – Salvi harp : Italian harp maker, loved by those who also play the pedal harp in my experience. Again not sure of the price in the US

    After that I haven’t tried the brands but there is of course Triplett, Thormalen, Stoney End, Heartland Harps etc etc.
    Definitely check all of their websites and have fun comparing what you want.
    However, my recommendation is to find a way to play as many of them a possible before buying. Seminars and festivals are the best way to find a lot of harp makers and players together and peuple will often let you try out the harp. Videos and sound samples simple don’t give the most important part, which is : does that harp make you vibrate?

    occalichika on #223136

    Thanks so much for all the advice! I think I’ll scoot around and try a bunch of different harps.

    Anyone have advice on Lyon & Healy harps? Would it “mess me up” if the string tension is similar to pedal harps when I don’t ever intend to play a pedal harp?

    wil-weten on #223137

    I can switch very easily between ‘celtic’ tension and pedal gut tension.

    You have mentioned L&H harps before, so I wonder what makes you feel attracted to them?

    The question is: do you like the warm and full, almost pedal harp sound of the L&H harps? If you like to play classic pieces, the L&H’s may be what you are looking for.
    If you prefer to play celtic pieces, you may prefer another kind of harp.

    If you live in Europe, sells L&H harps. The L&H Ogden harps there have a significantly lower price than at some other shops. And, depending on where you live in Europe, you may get them delivered for free and, if they don’t suit you for whatever reason, you could return them without any costs within two weeks (and then another two weeks in which you would have to pay the return costs).

    evolene_t on #223158

    Definitely try L&H harps if they work for you! They are just as reputable as the others. Again, do try to play them yourself to make sure that this is what you want, it’s simply not the same online.

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.