Trying to decide which LEVER Harp to purchase?


  • Participant
    Biagio on #221821

    JS,

    Got here a little late and was editing while your latest was posting. But see my (edited) comment about the Magical Strings Oladion/Oran Mor – it’s a lot of harp for not too much moolah.

    Haha, I too filled in some time as a real estate agent – my experience has been that many buyers have only a vague idea of what they want until the agent figures that out and shows it.

    Biagio


    Participant
    Tacye on #221823

    You mention people being reluctant to make definite recommendations – I think it is partly because we don’t know you well enough. Some harps are better quality than others, which is easy enough to advise on and often follows the price, but then there is personal preference. For instance Dusty Strings have two similar models with similar technology and quality – the Ravenna and the Boulevard. Personally, I really like the Boulevard and am left unmoved by the Ravenna. But that isn’t really a reason to recommend one over the other to other harpists.

    Have you tried many gut strung lever harps?


    Participant
    JS Moir on #221832

    “my experience has been that many buyers have only a vague idea of what they want until the agent figures that out and shows it.”

    LOL – it’s among the reasons I didn’t STAY in RE.


    Participant
    JS Moir on #221834

    Tayce- I replied earlier, but my post seemed to disappear.

    So, I’m going to try and reconstruct what I initially said.

    As to ‘gut-strung’ lever harps. Yes, I did try out and investigate the Boulevard at the AHS conference. For what it is, it’s a very useable instrument. Cost is at a good price point, as well. But you know, apart from that, it’s rather had to find such a wild beast (gut-strung) in a herd of nylon-strung harps!

    I must say, your other comment was very odd. “…You mention people being reluctant to make definite recommendations – I think it is partly because we don’t know you well enough.”

    I wasn’t aware that one needed to be ‘vetted’ on this forum, for an honest opinion to be made. In the matter of commerce, opinions are like people – everyone has one. If my opinion is not yours, that’s fine by me. But when dollars are at stake (or pounds, euros, etc.), at least someone giving insights, is better than none at all. For example, if you don’t like a certain movie, you can tell people that, and even go so far as to say, ‘Don’t waste your money… or your time.’ Well, spending thousands of dollars, rather than $10, makes ANY opinion that much more valuable- in time, money, and worrying.

    But not allowing, or (worse yet) denigrating an opinion simply because it IS an opinion, is like the group mindset exemplified by the NPC meme- a chilling desire to stifle any speech, precisely because it is not ‘approved speech.’ Even (especially?) in the simple matter of buying a harp.

    Now, having said all that, I understand people want to know where a person is coming from. I’ve alluded to my background in prior posts, but perhaps you’d like to know more about me.

    I am an operatic basso, with a DMA in voice performance, and am a college professor of Music. I played viola in HS, College, and local community orchestras, before a bone degeneration thingy made that wrist torquing too painful. I’ve been an NPR announcer, and have sung on the stage, and even danced in ballet when younger! (which is why I love the harp part in Nutcracker) After some bodywork (Rolfing) my wrists are doing much better, and I find that horizontal or vertical hand positioning relative to the lower forearm, does NOT give pain- thus, piano and harp are viable options. I’m studying with a Salzedo lineage pupil, and want to play lever harp, to sing and play Celtic music, as this is my ethnic heritage. Hopefully, that helps with the ‘vetting’ aspect. Pax.

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by  JS Moir. Reason: additional text

    Participant
    Biagio on #221835

    JS,

    “But you know, apart from that, it’s rather had to find such a wild beast (gut-strung in a herd of nylon-strung harps!”

    Any nylon strung harp can be fitted with gut strings, if you (or a professional string maker) does an analysis for tension that the harp was designed for.

    “I wasn’t aware that one needed to be ‘vetted’ on this forum, for an honest opinion to be made.”

    I think you are taking umbrage out of misinterpreting Tacye’s comment. No one here “vetting” anyone. We all have our favorite harp models but the point to bear in mind is that we all have definite ideas which often may be very different from some one else. Speaking for myself, if I were asked to recommend only one or two specific harps, in good conscience and for the other’s benefit, I would need to know:

    Have the person located and “vetted” a teacher
    Preferred kinds of music
    Preferred tension and type of strings
    Preferred levers
    Your height, arm length and hand size
    Financial constraints if any
    Preferred tone and sustain
    Geographic location
    …and probably some others that do not occur to me at the moment.

    If the person asking has not thought these things through members here, while more than happy to help (and Tacye is very helpful), could spend a lot of time trying to ferret out that information. So please, don’t be offended by Tacye’s remarks, and to be blunt, do not offend her or us by such comments. That is not very helpful for either.

    If someone has not considered these questions for themselves and is not prepared to provide definite answers I will always tell them “first you should find a teacher, rent a harp until you and the teacher have a better understanding of what would suit you.” Failing that, go to as many harp gatherings as you can and try out as many as you can.

    Alternatively, just buy the best harp that you can afford.

    Best wishes,
    Biagio


    Participant
    wil-weten on #221836

    I agree with Tacye, to be able to give someone valid recommendations regarding certain harps, one needs to know a lot about the wishes and abilities of the person asking for advice. The point is, as others stated before in this thread, is that beginners seldom know what they are looking for and how their fysique could influence their choice.

    People that love to play classical pieces would be happiest with a harp that is best suitable for that kind of music, while people dreaming of playing fast Irish music would prefer another kind of harp. And people that want one harp for all kinds of music, tend to make different choices than people that want one harp for each kind of music.

    Then the way one is built, plays a role. A very short person may prefer another harp than a very large person.

    Also, transportability plays an important role for some people and not for others.

    There are many more factors playing a role with the selection of a harp.

    One thing, which might deserve more attention: when one is a beginner, a harp with low tension string may feel and sound better than a harp with a rather hard tension. I think beginners really should ask a harp teacher, or a harp friend with a lot of experience on the harp, and/or the shop assistant to play on the harps for them. Every one gets a different sound from the same harp, but still, harps with hard tension sound quite different when played by an experienced harper than by a beginner.

    Edit: Biagio, I saw your message immediately after I posted mine and agree with you.

    Edit2: When one has Camac-levers or the new Salvi-levers on one’s harp, restringing the harp with a different material, would require a regulation of the levers and probably a replacement of some levers for levers meant for strings with a smaller (or larger) diameter.

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by  wil-weten.
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by  wil-weten.

    Participant
    JS Moir on #221840

    “The point is, as others stated before in this thread, is that beginners seldom know what they are looking for and how their [sic] fysique could influence their choice.”

    And I, (for my part) as a ‘beginner’ on harp, was trying to help other beginners. FWIW. I stated my preferences in harps, by specifically noting my physique (Large, long-limbed male) for that reason. Thanks.

    If you had read my post a bit more carefully as well, you would have noted I addressed many of the points you (tentatively) raised as not having been considered, when I DID consider them. In this era of soundbytes, sometimes a bit more attention to a post may be in order. Sigh.

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by  JS Moir. Reason: additional text

    Participant
    JS Moir on #221843

    “So please, don’t be offended by Tacye’s remarks, and to be blunt, do not offend her or us by such comments. That is not very helpful for either.”

    For the record, I didn’t start it. Who is this ‘us’?

    And yes, the comment was over the top. I considered my initial response to the question (in a forum over a year old!) to be informative, carefully considered, and respectful to the makers of the various types of harps, and to their desire to make a living. I get that. It also (I feel) was germane in speaking to new harpists, as they negotiate the field of relating to commercial transactions involving thousands of dollars (which was the topic of the post).

    Tayce’s immediate comment ignored all of that, and went right to an ad hominem attack. It was personally offensive, and rude.

    To then seek to ‘put me in my place’ for noting same on your part, sir, is unwarranted in the extreme. And only confirms the point I was making, about vetting! As they say in the Godfather, Fuhgeddaboudit.


    Participant
    Biagio on #221844

    Thank you Wil,

    Here’s an anecdote:

    I once was asked to make a custom double strung harp for a highly regarded player, who had very definite ideas about what she wanted (and no one made that commercially). I know her very well (in fact she was my teacher) – all the same we went through half a dozen iterations before she was satisfied. Trying different string types, taller or shorter profiles, etc. Take home lesson: even a very experienced player working with an experienced harp maker may well change her mind.

    I’m not the only maker who has experienced this with her (or for that matter with other players), BTW. Hopefully this illustrates the point that EVEN IF THE PLAYER KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT HE OR SHE WANTS, conveying that may not be easy, even when the harp maker knows them very well.

    Happy harping all,
    Biagio


    Participant
    wil-weten on #221845

    @ JS Moir, thanks for correcting my spelling mistake. It’s not meant as an excuse, but perhaps you like to know that English is not my mother tongue.

    By the way, there’s quite a lot to say about which physical aspects may play a role in one’s choice for a harp. Not only regarding build, but also about muscles and earlier injuries.

    I am sorry that you are dissappointed in the quality of the free help several people wanted to give you.


    Participant
    wil-weten on #221846

    double

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by  wil-weten.

    Participant
    Biagio on #221848

    JS,

    “Us” means those people who sincerely are trying to be helpful.

    “To then seek to ‘put me in my place’ for noting same on your part, sir, is unwarranted in the extreme. And only confirms the point I was making, about vetting! As they say in the Godfather, Fuhgeddaboudit.”

    Thank you, I will. If you are going to take that tone with people who are trying to help you, I can only suggest that you do the research yourself, or cool down and be grateful that anyone takes the trouble to try to help.

    I was going to mention a forum specifically intended to help beginners. Given your tone, however, and speaking as one of the owners/moderators, you would not be accepted. We insist on courtesy and respect over there.

    Biagio


    Participant
    charles-nix on #221852

    I am continually astounded at the things people can be offended by and “read into” written communications–especially on an internet platform.

    People here know how much investment a harp is. Many have owned several harps that they later wished they hadn’t purchased–because they didn’t turn out to suit musical needs. It is perfectly appropriate to not advise another without at least finding some information.

    Many people seem to think there are good harps and bad harps, and experienced harpists should be able to make a list of each. Rather like automobiles, though, there are few that are truly good or bad, but many which may not match the owner’s needs and driving style. The same harp, played by three different people, will sound different. Additionally, three harps of the same model, by the same builder, will each respond differently.

    That it is inconvenient, or requires a lot of travel, while true and unfortunate, is immaterial and irrelevant. The cost of the travel is miniscule compared to the cost of purchase and ownership–especially if the wrong harp is purchased.


    Participant
    Biagio on #221853

    Thank you Charles for calming things down with those wise words. I really do wish that someone someday would write a book for players about how harps are designed and built and how different approaches produce different outcomes. That sort of information is either scattered over forums such as this…or else it will only be found on platforms directed at other harp makers.

    I would add that a beginner might be best served if for some reason they cannot do that research, by purchasing one of the many good, but not concert quality harps. As we all also know, the harp and the player will “grow on each other” over time. If in the future the player finds it no longer suitable, if the harp is good quality it will be easy enough to sell. That in fact was my experience: after perhaps 8-10 years with nylon/gut strung harps I finally realized that it was the wire harp I actually liked best.

    Incidentally for anyone else following this thread: “my” forum and several others do in fact vet prospective members before approving them for membership. They do this principally to weed out scammers or those who are merely interested in selling their product or gaining access to the forum files. But on occasion as well membership may be denied if a prospective member has a known reputation for being argumentative or even (in two cases I can recall) offensive.

    Oh well,

    Biagio

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by  Biagio.
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by  Biagio.
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by  Biagio.
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by  Biagio.

    Participant
    charles-nix on #221862

    When asked for a recommendation for a first harp, I almost always suggest a pre-owned instrument from an experienced builder. That way little depreciation is lost, and the instrument can be heard having developed its mature voice.

    I learned on my first harp–when I didn’t know better. I thought I wanted portable, and cost was a real issue. I ended up with a 29-string, all nylon mono, down to 5th C. Fortunately, the construction, strength, and stability of the instrument were (are) excellent. Within a year, I had new stringing on it down to 5th F, with wires and wound strings up to middle-C.

    The advantage I had was years of working with other instruments to know that it could be changed, and to not be scared by the process because I fully understood the physics involved. Otherwise, that harp would have been a huge mistake (learning experience!). I still have the reconstructed and revised instrument, and enjoy playing it, when portability is needed.

    But I love the concert grand more 🙂

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