Wanted: thoughts On buying a harp

  • Participant
    Andelin on #193914

    So…..for about 10 years I’ve been saving for a pedal harp. I have a few questions I hope to get some opinions about.

    Used or new? What are the pros and cons?

    If you’re only going to have one pedal harp in your life, is it better to buy new? In some ways, buying used feels like “settling.” But I know there are advantages too.

    There aren’t often harps for sale in my area, and the closest showroom for pedal harps (new and used) that I know of, is about a 5 hour drive away. We do travel that direction to see family, but we only get out there once every year or two.

    What are your thoughts on buying a harp from an individual across the country and having it shipped? Assuming I can hear it and have a technician look it over, and I feel comfortable that it’s what I want. My concern is bringing it from a humid climate to out here where it’s dry.

    I don’t really see myself buying a harp without seeing it in person first, but like I said, there aren’t many harps in my area so it will likely have come from somewhere else. Plus, buying new feels like buying “site unseen” because you’re buying an instrument that isn’t made yet. Unless you go to Chicago and pick one off the showroom floor. Is it more common to order them, or to buy from showrooms after they are made?

    What are your thoughts/perspective on buying harps?

    I’m just thinking and planning and dreaming of my future harp. Hoping it will come true before another 10 years have passed. I thought it would be fun to hear what other people think.

    Member
    Loonatik on #193916

    My impression is that you can go for any new harp of Salvi or L&H. Which model to get probably depends on what you can afford.

    Member
    Alyson Webber on #193964

    I would not buy a harp without playing it.

    I bought a used pedal harp. It was a very tough decision. It came up for sale at a “showroom” and I drove about 4 hours to go see it since it was my dream style in my price range. That, in an of itself, caused a lot of stress. It seemed so perfect, I felt pressure to love it and get it THEN. When I played it, I was uncertain. Did I really want it? Was I being biased because I got my financing in place and drove all this way? I liked the harp’s sound better than the other instruments available. However, committing to something when you don’t know what else may come available is difficult. It’s like deciding to marry after a first date.

    In the end, I purchased the harp. To further the marriage analogy, while sparks didn’t quite fly initially, I have a growing love and respect for my new companion. It is an above-average instrument. I have played only two that I liked better, so It suppose I’m doing pretty good. What it came down to was that my budget was for a used harp, a “Chicago” style, or a semi-grand. I don’t find semi-grands comfortable and I didn’t really want a Chicago. Finding a used harp that I was “in love” with would take quite a bit of time and effort, and in the end I would have to choose something anyway.

    So, I suppose that purchasing a used harp does have some degree of “settling.” Not because the instruments lose quality (in fact a 10 year old harp may be in the prime of it’s life), but because you lose options.

    If you don’t play pedal harp now, I would strongly suggest that you visit any showrooms that you can just to play. Just to experience different harps, get a feel for what you like and don’t like. On a road trip, I stopped at all locations of the Virginia Harp and Atlanta Harp centers and just played on almost every instrument. That way, I felt more prepared to make a decision when a harp came up for sale that was a good fit for me.

    If purchasing new, go to the manufacturers. They will have the largest selection of instruments (including used!). You can be sure to pick the one you like the best. Don’t order off the internet. I may be way off-base, but if I were selling harps, I would send the harps no one likes in the showroom to online purchasers.

    Participant
    Andelin on #194050

    Alyson,
    Thanks for sharing your experience and advice. I hadn’t thought about the chance that harps listed online might be the ones no one else wants. That’s a good thing to consider. I was also thinking about ones advertised by individuals, not a music store. But then you can’t really try them out, so I can’t seriously consider buying one. It’s still fun to see what’s on ebay now and then. They are so beautiful and once in a while you see something truly unique.

    I may end up taking a trip out to Chicago after all (assuming I don’t find one closer). We went to lyon and healy west last summer. Unfortunately the used harps they take in there are all sent to Chicago; they don’t keep them to sell from there. When we went, the selection in my price range was a little slim (they had sold a few harps the week before) but perhaps they will have some more in the next time we can make it out that way. I hope so.

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