THE BEST OVER ALL HARP

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

  • Participant
    GEORGEHarp Technician FLORES on #162926

    HI, I am a True professional pedal Harp Technician. I live in Chicago Il, U.S.A. I have been a Harp Master sense 1998. I have worked with the best Harpist from all over the world… I began working and at the age of 9 years old and have done many things in my life to help fine tune my skill, to eventually find my way to working for Lyon & Healy in my home town of Chicago. I studied the harp under the best in the business Peter Whiley. and became a Road Technician for “L&H” for a few years, finally finding my way to Venus Harps. I later became a independent Technician.
    I WANT TO GO ON RECORD AND SAY I HAVE WORKED ON MANY MAKES AND MODELS OF HARPS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD. AND YES “L&H” IS STILL THE BEST. HOWEVER, THE BEST HARP FOR THE MONEY IS BY FAR A “VENUS”. THE QUALITY AND CRAFTSMANSHIP ARE VERY CLOSE. THE TONE AND OVER ALL SOUND IS WONDERFUL ALSO VERY CLOSE, BUT AS ANY TRUE HARPIST KNOWS. EVERY HARP HAS A SOUND OF ITS OWN.. AND “VENUS” IS NO DIFFERENT. TO REALLY DECIDE FOR YOURELF YOU NEED TO PLAY BOTH, AND FIND THE TONE AND PRICE THAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU.
    George Flores
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    Participant
    unknown-user on #162927

    I would love to see some more new designs.

    Participant
    Audrey Nickel on #162928

    Well, I guess that takes in pedal harps.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #162929

    Saul (or anyone),

    I’m intrigued by the gold harp in the photo.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #162930

    Some people certainly consider gold a problem as it can flake off and there is nothing you can do to maintain it except to avoid touching it, as I understand. I like the look of worn harps, the vermilion color under the gold adds beauty, so I never expect a working harp to remain pristine, and I don’t think they should, because the harp is not about its surface appearance, that’s not its beauty.

    Participant
    rod-c on #162931

    Re: Gold leaf on harps

    Maria: When I toured the Lyon Healy factor about a year ago, I saw them making the gold harps. There were two or three ladies in a room, applying little ( maybe 2″ x 2″) sheets of gold leaf by hand (using hand tools, that is. They would take the little sheets and sort of rub them onto the harp column.)

    Participant
    unknown-user on #162932

    As one who has worked in the antique business, I can assure you that real gold never discolours or tarnishes in normal use, but it can certainly flake off. The only other way that there might be a discolouration risk is if the gold leaf is thin enough

    Participant
    unknown-user on #162933

    Thanks Saul, Song and Rod.

    How does the gold flake off?

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #162934

    You’re correct that gold does not tarnish. But all gilding has to have a clear protective coating over it or it would wear off very very easily(regardless of which company does the gilding). The protective coating can darken over time. Years ago the protective coating was shellac, and under certain circumstances( in a house with a smoker, by the sea, etc.) the shellac can turn a really toxic orangy color.

    I recently bought a 1915 style 22 with gilding that was in virtually perfect condition. But the shellac was dark and streaky. I managed to carefully wash off all of the shellac without damaging the gilding. My gilder will recoat it with another protective coating after she does some minor touch up work.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #162935

    Carl,

    I’m curious about a couple of things.

    Participant
    barbara-low on #162936

    Maria, There are lacquers that will not yellow or darken over time. I think they’re a relatively new development, so you won’t find it on older harps. Water gilding has been known to last from 3 – 4 thousand years, judging from what’s been discovered in Egyptian tombs, so if the harp isn’t touched the gold should last a really long time. And probably a regilding job would have to depend on how extensive the work is. The difference between a natural 23 and a gold 23 is over $17,000, but I’m sure you could have it done for much less.

    The picture posted is from the L&H final assembly room. I don’t know Mr. Flores, but my husband was able to point out to me, “Reggie’s old bench, the fire escape exit, the cabinet that holds the action, and the window where you could see the gilders, and the fan in the window.” The harp being worked on is an 11, and an action stud is being hammered in. Not having ever been to the factory, it was like being given a mini tour.

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #162937

    Barbara- There isn’t a finish in the world that won’t change color over time. Some take more time, some take less. Also, the conditions in which the finish is kept has a large bearing on this. If it’s in a sunny window, it will deteriorate faster. A smoker in the house, or salt air will also cause the finish to change.

    If the gold harp is never moved, the gold never touched, the humidity constant between 40% and 60% roughly, it should last indefinitly.

    I have a gilder here in Boston who is a genious at restoring the gilding on banged up harps. Many times I have brought her the parts of a gold harp that was badly dinged, scuffed, abraded, and whatever else one can do to a harp, and when she is done, the harp looks like nothing had ever happened to it. But each regilding job is different. When she gets an instrument in, she has to first do some tests to see what she is dealing with. Is the gesso deteriorating, loose, or cracked? Has the gilding already been repaired? Many other questions as well have to be answered before she can decide what she has to do with the instrument and how much it will cost. Trust me, you don’t want anyone but an expert to work on gilding.

    Here’s an example of what can happen when gilding is not done correctly.
    A client of mine brought her gold 23 to me this year. It was actually my first harp, built in 1917. It had been rebuilt many years ago(but after I sold it) by a VERY FAMOUS COMPANY, and they had completely regilded it. The gilding was looking pretty sad now, some 25 years later. She wanted the gilding repaired.

    My gilder studied it and ran some tests. She almost turned white as she did this. She kept muttering under her breath ‘Oh my God, Oh my God.” Rule number one of repairing gilding is that you cannot put new gesso on top of old gesso. It won’t stick. You have to clean old gesso off right down to bare wood and then start again. The VERY FAMOUS COMPANY’S gilders had removed most but not all the old gesso and then re-gesso’d the entire column. Now, 25 years later, the gold and gesso were pealing off the column in long strips! My gilder, who thought originally that this would be an extensive repair job told the client that the only way to repair this was to strip the entire column (again) down to bare wood and start over.

    A less experienced gilder, or a con artist would have given a low-ball price and done repairs that would have lasted less than a year. There are so many things that can go wrong with gilding that you should not shop around for the lowest price, but rather the most experienced gilder.

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #162938

    Honest to God, I wish this site had spell check. Sorry about the mistakes.

    Participant
    Cheryl Z. on #162939

    What is water gilding?

    Participant
    Tacye on #162940

    A variety of sticky substances can be used to fasten the gold leaf down.

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