The art of harp price negotiation

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    Harper10 on #252950

    Hello! I’m a lever harpist looking to purchase my first pedal harp. I’m looking at one used pedal harp I want to make an offer on. I have done some research on the model. The private seller is asking the 2020 price for their 9 year old harp. The seller is throwing in a few accessories: a bench and a case. The harp is in great condition and has been regulated every year, except for this year.

    How do I negotiate for the lowest price? How low do I make my first offer? $6k off the asking? (Factoring in the cost of a regulation?) How would you go about it?

    Thanks in advance!

    Biagio on #252954

    It sounds as though the seller is not particularly anxious, but maybe not. If, as you say, the harp is in great condition and has been recently regulated, I would offer what I could afford and if they find that acceptable – great. If they counter that will give you an idea of how motivated they are. In my experience, a person selling a good or great harp is not going to want to dicker much and trying to really drive the price too low will turn them off.

    Harper10 on #252956

    Thank you for the quick response! I appreciate your insight. How much is too low? I don’t want to insult, but I too recognize the price they are asking is too high. It seems the harpist does have motivation to sell as they are closing their harp studio and moving overseas. Thanks in advance.

    Biagio on #252957

    If you can make a price comparison on other used harps offered for sale that might be helpful in determining an opening bid. For starters, check the harps on consignment at the Virginia Harp Center, The Harp Connection and Kolacny Music. An hour or two of googling will lead to other sites.

    Think of it like house hunting: the seller will have probably made some comps (or their agent will have done), so you do the same. But it is probably not a good idea to low-ball if you already like the harp as it is.

    If time runs out for the seller they can simply put it on consignment. They might not get the price they want but OTOH they can leave the bargaining to the dealer. If the dealer gets an offer they will then contact the seller, but he or she will not be stuck with storage or shipping.

    It is worth mentioning that a used harp may actually sound better than a brand new one of the same model. It takes a few years for the SB to reach it’s optimum tone.

    Harper10 on #252959

    Thanks, Biagio! I appreciate your insight. What you have said is helpful. Fun fact, 4 years ago when I was a new harpist looking for my first harp, you were a helpful voice here on the forums. I check the forums here periodically and I always find your words encouraging and helpful. Thank you for being a force for good in our harp community and on the forums here. I you have had a positive impact on my harp journey. Thank you, Sir! Wishing you great health, abundant joy and great success in all things.

    Biagio on #252960

    And thank YOU! It is gratifying to learn that my remarks have been helpful – at least most of the time, haha Sometimes I babble.

    I have found that harpists and harp makers are among the most generous people in the world so one might say that I am just returning the kind guidance that I received.

    Best wishes in your harp journey!


    Gretchen Cover on #252980

    Excellent advice above. FYI If the seller consigns the harp, he/she will need to pay shipping one way (think $300-400 one way plus $100 for the shipping box). Then there will be a 20% sales commission. You should get the price of the harp new and work from that. A 9-year old harp would be at its prime. But, asking the price of a new harp is unrealistic. You would simply buy a new harp. Like cars, harps depreciate as soon as you buy it. The value goes up only due to inflation over time.

    Biagio on #252984

    Great observations Gretchen! That will give you an idea of some bargaining room once you have decided on an opening bid. You do not mention the strings’ age but the cost of a new set and new regulation are other negotiable items.

    To give you an idea, an in-house regulation by an L&H technician runs around $400 before required materials. It is hard to estimate the string cost without knowing the model So as a low ball park let’s say $500. So there you are as a possible starting point:

    Cost new less 10%-20%
    Less regulation and strings $900
    Shipping and insurance is usually paid by the buyer

    So I guess you have a few thousand dollars negotiable.

    Harper10 on #252985

    Ooo, excellent points. I didn’t even think about the consignment costs. I didn’t realize it was so expensive. You have both given me great insight into the process of selling a harp, which is extremely helpful. Also, wonderful price breakdown, Biagio! By your calculator I came in at the same price I was thinking of starting my offer with. Perfect! Much appreciated.

    Biagio on #252996

    This is always an exciting period – please let us know what happens!

    Gretchen Cover on #253022

    Biagio, a minor addition to your post. The buyer needs to purchase full replacement value insurance from the shipper which adds another $100. So think of shipping as costing from $490 to $700 in the US.

    Biagio on #253024

    Didn’t I mention that Gretchen? Thought I had, but you are of course correct. Also I don’t know what it would cost to crate the harp, but for a pedal instrument I guess it would not be trivial???

    Gretchen Cover on #253025

    Biagio, harps these days most often are shipped in cardboard boxes that have foam at the top and bottom. The box is about $100. I don’t know the cost to ship the box. As an aside, it is important the harp be packed tight so it does not move at all. I recommend putting the base in an old t-shirt before putting in the foam base. Protects from scratching. Do not warp anything wood in bubble wrap without cloth or soft tissue under it. Bubble wrap can damage the finish.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #253103

    I don’t know that there’s an art to it, but if someone is selling a harp, they probably need the money, and trying to get the price down is not the most considerate thing to do.

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