Test routine! (everything you check when you try harp before you buy it)

  • Participant
    lili-monogatari on #77397

    Hi!
    I’ve a test routine when I try harps (lever or pedal harps) for myself or students.
    But Maybe you have a different way?and new ideas?

    1) I check the appearance of the harp: are there cracks, impacts, etc, how is the harmony table, the column, etc

    2) tune and try the mechanics: are they in tune?easy to move?or hard?noisy?are there some buzz?
    if is something wrong, is that something I can check by myself?

    3) I play different things: slow arpeggios and hear is the sounds is equal, feel the tension of the strings, chords and hear the sustain, play loudly or soflty to see if the harp is responsive, try as much techniques as possible to see if I feel at ease.
    Is the harp confortable for me?

    4) subjective feeling, what does the harp say to me when I play it? 🙂

    Participant
    rosalind-beck on #77398

    Lili, I make it a point to play in keys with lots of sharps to check the regulation, especially in the upper octaves. I play excerpts that test both extremes of the instrument, very high and very low. Most harps will sound good in the middle, but only the best have clear bass notes and full high notes. I also check to see how much space exists between the bottoms of the sharp discs and string nuts, especially under the curve of the neck. This is an area that is notorious for notes that become too sharp over time. If there is insufficient space when the harp is brand new, there’s no way to adjust the regulation to compensate for poor construction.

    I also find that harmonics that pop out easily seem to indicate a good-sounding instrument.

    Subjective feeling/raw emotion: I ponder whether I could see myself owning and being happy with a particular instrument. Does it just feel right? There’s an indefinable chemistry that draws you to a particular instrument, that makes you feel like you’re home, or could be after a short break-in period.

    Participant
    nicoletta-terzi on #77399

    Hello! I’d like to ask a question: next week I’ll see a used harp which hasn’t been played for four years and unfortunately there are 11 strings missing (five strings between first and second octave, five strings in the third octave and one string in the fourth octave). Looking at the pictures that the owner has sent the whole structure seems to be in eccelent condition even if the harp is ten years old. So my question is: how much this missing strings can affect the playability of the harp? Can I put knew strings on the harp without breaking the soundboard? This harp is a Russian harp and it seems very solid (and the soundboard seems to be in perfect condition). Thank you in advance!

    Participant
    Tacye on #77400

    Hi Nicky, those missing strings wouldn’t worry me much – though I would probably budget for a complete restring. Of course, I would give the harp a very thorough inspection for everything else that might be a problem!

    Participant
    nicoletta-terzi on #77401

    Hi Tacye, thank you very much for your answer. I’m worried about missing strings because I’m not sure that the harp has been kept in tune during the years. The owner is not an harp player, he didn’t replace the strings because he doesn’t know how to do it and the strings have broken during the last four years. I’m aware about other problems (such as mechanism problems or structural problems) but I’m afraid about intonation issues that cannot be fixed. So another question: how can I understand if the harp has intonation problems? Anyway I hope that restring the harp will help to understand if the instrument is playable or not.

    Participant
    Tacye on #77402

    Is there any way you can get the harp assessed by an expert? It is probably in need of a service anyway and some method of getting the current owner to deliver it to the workshop and you buy it unless major problems are revealed might be ideal. I do expect Russian harps to have a shorter life than more expensive makes, but some can be good value for the price.

    Participant
    nicoletta-terzi on #77403

    Unfortunately the owner lives in another city quite far from mine and I don’t want to ask to my teacher to travel eight hours by train in a day if I’m not sure it’s worth. The harp is sold at a very low price (something like 4.000 euros) and I admit the best thing is calling a technician even if I’d like to avoid to call him as he’s very difficult to find and very expensive. Maybe I can make the first trip to see the instrument and if I like it calling a technician. If I want to make a good deal this is the only way to be sure it is a good deal isn’t it? 🙁

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