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Time to buy a pedal harp for my daughter. Help!

Home Forums Harps and Accessories Time to buy a pedal harp for my daughter. Help!

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  • #78373
    allyson-rider
    Participant

    My daughter’s teacher says it time for a pedal harp. Because she is tall(5’8 at age12) with long fingers, she feels the larger harp we get – the better it would be for her. We live near enough to Chicago that going to Lyon and Healy or Venus isn’t a problem. We’ve tried out a couple of different harps (Salvi and some LH) , and she likes the Lyon and Healy 150 the best. Her instructor mentioned that we need to consider the width of the upper strings? How do I know which will work best without going crazy price wise?

    #78374
    Gretchen Cover
    Participant

    I suggest to beginning harpists to rent for a while and look for the right harp over time. At age 12 and just starting on a pedal harp, your daughter could change her mind many times about what she likes. I am 5’7″ with very big, long fingers, and a concert grand would be best IMHO. I have never had a problem with upper registers on any harp I’ve played – even lever harps. Buying a harp is a big investment so don’t rush into it.

    #78375

    If you live near Chicago, and can afford a new Lyon & Healy, Salvi, or Venus harp, then you have many, many wonderful options available to you! A trip, or series of day trips into town to try as many harps as possible would be a great idea. Have your daughter’s teacher evaluate any instrument you are seriously considering purchasing. You can also look to the staff for guidance. in my experience, they are knowledgeable, thoughtful, honest and analytical about what will meet your needs, and fit your budget. I’ve never been given a “hard sell” by the staff of any harp center or manufacturer.
    Additionally, there are many fine instruments available in the pre-owned market. Often they have had only light use, and are priced well below the cost of a brand new harp. If you are interested, check the classifieds on this site, the “certified pre-owned” section of the L&H website, and the used listings for the Virginia Harp Center.
    I am not sure what you mean by the ‘width’ of the upper strings. Assuming she is referring to the spacing, which is most likely, what, exactly, does her teacher want you to consider about that? Does her teacher think your daughter needs extra room up there? If so, why? Is she accustomed to playing on an instrument with wide spacing at lessons? I would try to find out more.
    You can definitely find something which will fit your daughter’s body comfortably, sound great, feel good to play, and have a design which is pleasing to her (and your) sense of aesthetics. This is an exciting juncture in her life as a young harpist! Best of luck to you! And if you get a chance, let us know what you ultimately choose!

    #78376
    john-strand
    Participant

    Hi – I have a feeling that your daughter’s teacher is not referring to upper octave string spacing, but the amount of room in the top octaves to get your hand in to play those strings – it doesn’t seem to be standard and an extra half inch distance between soundboard and the mechanism can make a great deal of difference in playability especially players with larger hands or longer fingers – somewhere on the discussions, Carl Swanson has talked about increasing that distance when he re-necks a harp and what the ideal distance is – David Williams put a shim in my harp between the neck and body of about 1/4″ and it made all the difference in the world getting up into those upper registers –

    #78377
    allyson-rider
    Participant

    John, I think you’re right. Is there a particular pedal harp that might have the extra room there already? Gretchen, We have been renting a lever harp until now. Unfortunately, finding a pedal harp to rent for a reasonable fee in Indiana has proven difficult. So, we are looking at different options. Eliza, we have been looking at all of those options and will be taking another trip to Chicago soon, I hope. I am hoping to find a used one. My daughter is blessed in that her grandmother and aunt have decided to help with this purchase, otherwise it would not be possible. I was just wondering if there were any specific models she should try. Thank you all for responding. As a non-harpist, it is a bit overwhelming to figure this out.

    #78378
    kay-lister
    Member

    Allyson,

    The folks at L&H have YEARS of experience fitting people with harps. Mine was 1 year old and looked as if it had never left the show room floor. Natalie was GREAT to work with as well as Steve. This is what they do.

    Can’t wait to hear what you get!

    Good luck,
    Kay

    #78379
    kay-lister
    Member

    Also Allyson – at a Masters Class, Yolanda Kondonassis talked about her OWN huge hands and long fingers. You might contact her to get some suggestons as well – I’m sure she would answer you.

    Kay

    #78380
    allyson-rider
    Participant

    Thanks, Kay

    #78381

    If it is a question of room for larger hands in the upper octaves, you might want to consider a Camac harp. They are built to be roomier in there. I have very small hands, but even so I enjoyed the feeling of spaciousness in the top octaves when I played a Camac.

    #78382
    Sylvia
    Participant

    1. I wish I had bought a harp that had been in the showroom and already had settled and had its first-year regulation.

    2. Who will be moving it? (At some point, your daughter will be going places to play.)

    I bought my first harp many years ago. I wanted a concert grand, but I couldn’t afford anything but the LH 15, what with the down payment and the monthly payments for three years. After I started going out to play, I was SO GRATEFUL I didn’t have a bigger harp.

    3. Later, I bought an Aoyama Etude (no longer made, I think), which is even smaller, which I use for outdoor playing, house parties, band rehearsals, etc. It’s very practical.

    4. I’m 5’7”, 130 lbs, and have big hands. The 15 is a little tight at the top, but I manage OK.

    #78383
    allyson-rider
    Participant

    Sylvia, thank you you for your input. It’s helpful for me to hear another viewpoint. We do consider moving the harp as part of the deal. One of the things we considered was getting a 40 string pedal harp first, but her teacher feels strongly that shouldn’t unless it be for a very short time. Right now we have a 50lb. We’ll definitely look at the 15 when we go to Chicago.

    #78384
    Philippa mcauliffe
    Participant

    I got my pedal harp when I was 10 and was about 5″5 but am now about 5″ 10. I took a long time to decide what I wanted. I could play all the concert grands OK but had trouble getting my arms round the Apollo when sitting low enough to reach the pedals. That’s a fairly expensive harp anyway! I would let her play everything you can find in your price range and she will probably find one that she loves that feels and sounds right. As they vary a fair bit from harp to harp even in the same style it is best to go in with an open mind. Some people are very determined on a colour and style beforehand but that limits your choice quite a lot. I ended up choosing sound over colour in the end when deciding between my final two of the same style. Many wait and see which one they fall in love with. There is usually someone available to play them for you blindly (you cant see which is which and just listen) if she cant make her mind up. And its good to hear a pro on them too. They give you a better idea of the tone and evenness over the whole range. Perhaps wait until there are some interesting ones in the preowned section before you go? The widest top to bottom top end space are Camac. It is unlikely your teacher is talking about actual string spacing – very, very few harpists play special models ordered with the strings further apart than usual. Camac are really nice and comfortable to play at the top end but I can adjust to any other harp OK and I have pretty big hands for a female. Just make sure she tries playing scales and arps up to the top as a lot of intermediate lever repertoire doesn’t actually go that high. You may have to ask around to see who has a camac you can try if you are interested in that. Will your car fit the harp? Most fit people can move their harps single handed but if you have stairs it gets harder. My mum often moves mine several times a week and is glad its one of the lighter concert grands.

    #78385
    brook-boddie
    Participant

    Allyson, I know your daughter’s teacher suggested not looking at a 40-string pedal harp, but you may want to consider the L&H Chicago 40 model. If you purchase a new one, you can trade it in for its full value up to five years after the purchase. I owned one, and they are great little harps. They’re not much bigger than a Prelude and aren’t difficult to move. Hopefully they’ll have some at the factory for you to try out. Good luck in your search!

    #78386
    Sylvia
    Participant

    My 15 was born in 1971. Alas, I think they make them bigger and heavier now.
    You can see and hear mine on my website (which is also on my Harp Forum profile).
    I’m playing the 15 for the music samples.
    WeddingHarpMusic.yolasite.com

    #78387
    allyson-rider
    Participant

    Brook, that was my initial plan – to buy a 40 string and then bounty up to CG later. Not sure what to do now. She has had the opportunity to play a Salvi, a Venus, and a few Lyon and Healy models. We will continue to look. We can hold to our rental for another 1-2 months.
    I think I’m a little nervous about buying something so expensive from an individual because my knowledge of harps is really limited to my research. And while I think I could spot obvious problems, anything subtle would be missed. It’s a big investment for us and I don’t want to make a mistake. 🙂 Going to a factory/ dealer seems a little less scary but more expensive.
    Philippe, I will definitely have her try a Camac (somehow) before we buy one. Her favorite right now for sound is a Lyon and Healy 150. But that’s a little more of an investment than I was hoping to make at the moment. So, we’ll see.

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