Triplett harps

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    Anonymous on #237684

    Looking for input on Triplett harps. I’m not familiar with the brand.

    A local music store has a 10-yr-old Sierra 34 on consignment. I tried it, along with a new Dusty Crescendo and Salvi Una. Since I’m still Mr. Fumblefingers, I asked the harp expert there to play the DS and Triplett for me and recorded them.

    The Triplett sounded quite close to the DS, and the harp guy said that both the DS and Salvi were new and would change sound as they were broken in. While the DS definitely sounded nicer, I’m not sure it sounded $1,000 nicer. I want to concentrate on learning the pedal harp, so whatever Celtic model I end up with will be used for harp circles and workshops. My decision will probably come down to the Sierra or a DS Ravenna, so any inputs, warnings, etc. would be appreciated.

    balfour-knight on #237774

    Hello Kryptoleadonium!

    I would heartily recommend the Dusty Ravenna 34 over the Triplett Sierra. Also, as I have said on other posts here, I would urge you to get the Ravenna fully equipped with Camac levers, since they now offer that option. Check out the recent posts on “Webster Harp vs. Dusty Strings” for some “inside” information from some of us who are professional harpists and “in the know!”

    Best wishes for happy harping!

    Anonymous on #237775

    Tx for the reply. The music store graciously let me borrow a Ravenna for a few days. I’d read that it requires a lot of damping, due to higher than average resonance in the bass, and that does seem to be the case. Speaking of cases, the case is great–handles everywhere one wants them.

    I looked at the “Webster” posts, but there’s nothing about Tripletts. Would you mind putting a few thoughts on the brand here?


    balfour-knight on #237777

    Hi, again! The “Webster” posts concern mainly the Ravennas and the preference for Camac levers over the Lovelands. However, a few thoughts about the Triplett harps without saying anything too bad against them: on the used ones I have seen and played, sometimes Triplett used a “reversed” stringing around the tuning pins. Instead of the strings winding on to the pins toward the neck of the harp, they wound away from it! Also, the neck and column assemblies tended to warp and bend toward the string side of the harp from the tension, over time (many harps do this, but I did not experience it on my Ravenna 34 or FH36S cherry harp.) Also, and this is just my opinion, I just prefer the sound and feel of the Dustys over the Tripletts.

    Does the Sierra you are looking at have Camac levers? I know Triplett uses them on some of their harps, which is a great plus! Have you looked to be sure the neck and column (pillar) are straight? Is the soundboard secure? Other than these precautions, if you like the tone and feel of the Sierra, go for it. As you become a better and better player, you will develop your own opinions about which harps you like, and you may trade harps many times over the course of your career.

    Hope this helps!


    Anonymous on #237779

    I wouldn’t have noticed, or thought to look for, the winding. Now I will! Yes, the harp has Camac levers, which the store owner thinks are “over-engineered.” Levers all accomplish the same thing, of course, but Lovelands seem kind of clunky and brute force to me. Are there big differences in how far out of the plane of the strings a given lever moves its string?

    As for trading, I started out with an Ogden, primarily because of its spacing and string tension. As much as I wanted a pedal harp, I couldn’t imagine actually buying one, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to get used to the feel of one. That, plus my fingers are probably bigger than average. I consigned the Ogden, thinking I’d be getting a Salvi Una or a Merlin, but looks like I won’t get either.

    Biagio on #237807

    Triplett makes excellent harps and has for a long time. The tone is (usually) quite different from the Dustys although of course much depends on the model and age. I not long ago played a 30 year old Axline (the harp often pictured on Sylvia Woods’ books) and it sounded incredible. That was made when sharping blades were still quite common so that gives you an idea both of how it matured and how well it lasted – it looked as robust as when it was made. Steve Triplett made the first large double strung that Laurie Riley had and she says it was the best double she ever had and still regrets selling it.

    The Sierra series uses a birch ply sound board like other introductory harps such as the Ravennas and Crescendo. I’ve never played one but am told by those who have that it and other more recent harps from them have somewhat tighter stringing and less color that Dustys or Thormahlens.

    The Crescendo and Ravenna 34 both have that birch ply board and use the same string design, so you are mostly paying more than the Ravenna for the cost of the wood body and how it looks. There may be some marginal difference in tone between the two but with apologies to my friends at Dusty not enough to justify the higher price for me. Others may feel differently:-)

    If in some that Balfour has seen the peg windings are reversed, that would have been something the harp player did, possibly because the strings were slipping off the bridge pin. If that is the case it is not a good sign. It would mean that the string angle has changed, possibly as Balfour mentioned if the pillar has bent or the assembly has tilted.

    Regarding levers: I accept that many people these days love Camacs, particularly those who often need to play accidentals and I have nothing against them (except from a makers standpoint -they are a real pain to mount accurately). I would not however personally forego a good deal on a harp with Lovelands, Rees or Truitts just because Camacs have become the recent favorite – especially if levers will mostly be used just to change keys.

    My two cents,

    Anonymous on #237814

    Funny that you say the Ravenna is an introductory harp, as something about it says “cheap”. The price isn’t cheap, and I’m not saying the instrument isn’t quality, but that was my first impression–abetted by the metal rods inside. The more I’ve played it, the more I’ve liked it. A side-by-side comparison with the Triplett is in order.

    I should reiterate, especially to myself, that this whole discussion is about whether or not to grab the Triplett. It’s been in the store for some time, and of course now that I have expressed interest in it, all the sudden, it will be “discovered”. Just the other day, I was comparing it with a new Crescendo,and someone walked in and wanted to “play a DS”. Someone did buy it a day or so later. There’s no hurry, except if the Triplett is a hidden gem that should come home with me.

    As to the soundboard, I read here that the laminated ones will not mature; they will continue to sound as they do when made. Really? The people in the music store told me that part of the difference I was hearing is that the Crescendo and Una were new. Ironically, they’d had a used Cresc in, but it needed restringing and I ignored it. It’s been sold.

    As for levers, I find Lovelands clunky, but they’re also hard to read. The Camacs and whatever the Ogden had are in your face about it–no hiding behind other levers, bearing a little spot of color for one to discover.

    Biagio on #237815

    Introductroy does not in my book mean “cheap” – just not up to concert quality. It takes about twice or three times as long to make a solid wood sound board as it does to use the aircraft grade ply and fine grain tone wood is itself expensive. Truly “cheap” harps have been discussed here: for instance the Mikels. “Nuff said on that score

    >As to the soundboard, I read here that the laminated ones will not mature; they will continue to sound as they do when made. Really? The people in the music store told me that part of the difference I was hearing is that the Crescendo and Una were new. <

    Yes, really. As a harp frame settles the tone will change somewhat but that has little to do with the sound board. Lever choices are very much an individual preference.

    There are excellent harps made with those ply boards – the Ravennas, Allegro/Crescendo, Boulding Oladion etc. There are both physical and biochemical changes that occur with solid wood over time under tension, which will not with 5 layers of thin (3mm) laminate.

    On this issue one should ask IMHO “will I play mostly inside and in a concert setting”?

    If so, spend more for the harp with the solid wood board. If not, and especially if often in ambient temps outdoors, probably better to go with the laminate, which will not react as much to temps and humidity


    Anonymous on #237816

    Oops–didn’t see the last part of your post.

    Biagio on #237818

    “Now I’m really confused. If not the soundboard, then what most affects the tone?”

    An excellent question and at the risk of getting into lecture mode, let’s start with how a harp is designed:

    First we decide on some generalities – size range, how much sustain, what wood for the body and frame, the choice of strings for desired sustain, the depth and shape of the box, audible harmonics, and market (eg expense to the buyer). All will have an effect on the result, strings first in importance, sound board second assuming the harp is otherwise well made.

    The very next thing is to design the string band; that comes first in the design process and first in how it will sound.

    Second is the choice of sound board and that is also second most important in tone. Some use the laminate and if they are concientious will make the body a bit wider than if they used solid wood and double taper it just as they would a solid board. Not all are made with Elgelmann or Sitka spruce although those are traditional. Some use poplar (Rees) some basswood or mahogany like the pre-carbon fiber Heartlands or Dustys in some part of the range, etc.

    But if a salesperson tells you that a laminate birch board will improve over time just like a solid wood board one of three things are possible: they do not know what they are talking about, they are misinformed, or they are trying to sell a particular harp. For more discussion on this topic and the debate among actual harp makers:

    Harp Soundboards: Plywood vs Solid Wood

    It’s great that you are doing this research!


    Anonymous on #237819

    I really appreciate the help. The article you linked is now “open in a new window.”

    balfour-knight on #237835

    I invite you kind folks to go to the Triplett harps website. Click on “About.” Now go to the left and click on “About Triplett Harps.” Read and scroll down until you get to sharping lever options and click on that. In the photo showing the Camac levers and all the good things said about these levers, notice the stringing on the tuning pins! They are wound toward the outside, not toward the neck of the harp! I assume this is still the way they do this, unlike most other harp makers.

    Biagio on #237837

    I could only see the wound strings Balfour, in particular those with metal, in the lever picture. No problem with that there is no need to cinch the peg winding but a good big reason to have those fall more or less directly to the pin to lessen the chance of kinking.

    I did notice that the windings went past the peg though – that’s a no-no if one can avoid doing it. The monofilament string are wound as everyone else does: with a bight over the first one or two away from the neck and then cinched to the neck side. One can see that on some images of particular models.


    Edit (late): I misunderstood Balfour’s comment about “reversed winding” – I thought he meant the direction, rather than where they were in relation to the peg hole and neck. Whoopies!

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by Biagio.
    balfour-knight on #237841

    At the risk of belaboring this point, please look on the Dusty Strings site under Camac levers and compare the photos of their beautiful, neat stringing with that of Triplett. I feel this speaks for itself.
    Cheers, my friends!

    Biagio on #237842

    They do nice stringing, yes indeed. Did you notice that the Triplett has tapered pegs and the Dustys have their own threaded ones? The holes on Triplett’s pegs are set much further back. I kinda do not believe that after over 30 years of harp making Steve and Debbie would be sloppy; I’m sure they have a reason for how they do it.

    Cheers to you too, my friend,

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by Biagio.
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