What is the best ‘cheap’ harp for a beginner?

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    liz-cooke on #76267

    Ok, I know ‘cheap’ and ‘harp’ don’t belong in the same sentence, but at 50 I’ve finally decided to get a present for myself instead of for the family to share. I’m rebelling against the drum kit, piano and numerous basses and guitars of all types cluttering the house and need something that will help me find a corner of serenity. I’ve only got up to £300 to spend so I know I’m not going to get anything very good, but I’d like to hope I’d get something that can help me master the techniques and learn the notes. I have no aspirations to be anything other than an occasional tinkler, and have no room with all the ther instruments in the house. I’ve come across the following :
    Any recommendations/comments/other options within my budget? How many strings should I be looking for to meet the above criteria?
    Thank you

    william-weber on #76268

    Liz, I noted that rosewood is used in this instrument. You can expect many to recommend some other make, the Harpsicle family in particular, for better sound quality and greater durability, for the amount you are willing to spend. If you do buy the one you linked to, you may want to restring it with some help from Laurie at Markwood Heavenly Strings, to get better quality nylon for clearer tone. Good luck.

    Alison on #76269

    With a limited budget you might as well rent something for 6 months, take lessons and get some music, then you’ll be better informed to take things further and choose a harp to suit your ability and musical goals.

    liz-cooke on #76270

    Thanks William, I also saw an almost identical looking instrument at the Early Music Shop so figures it would be adequate, but I guess I’ll spend a bit longer looking. Thanks for the tip on the strings – great looking website but unfortunately I’m in UK not US!

    liz-cooke on #76271

    Thanks Alison, I’ve been looking at lessons but local teachers don’t seem keen to return my calls. I’ve looked at the renting route but with the very limited time I’ll have to play I’d rather not have the deadline of a rental period/extra cost to rent for longer.

    Alison on #76272

    Consider this then, my main reservation is that the levers are missing on the top 5-6 strings http://www.earlymusicshop.com/product.aspx/en-GB/1000680-ems-minstrel-harp-29-nylon-strings and the low tension of the lower strings. I meant to say I’d just seen one earlier the same day, someone has had hers for 7 years and still in mint condition, that’s how I noticed the missing levers at the top. You could arrange to speak to the owner or view it (HP6 area).

    Allison Stevick on #76273

    I agree with what William said. For “cheap harps” the harpsicles are better made and higher quality than the rosewood harps.

    However, I actually started with a MidEast Heather harp (very similar to, and same brand as the one you linked to, as well as the minstrel harp Alison linked to) and it served me very well for 3 years. I may get blasted for saying that in this forum, but I was quite pleased with it. It actually held a tune, had a pretty good tone, and gave me something to learn on. The levers were terrible, but once I regulated them, they were ok enough to play with F and/or C levers engaged. I have since sold it to a friend, and she hasn’t had any trouble with it, either. So, 5years and counting for that harp, and no structural problems have presented. I’d say for the $350 I spent it was a good deal.

    Good luck in your harp adventure! 🙂

    robert-hanson on #76274

    I too got my start on a MidEast harp. The Pakistani harp was the only way to go for a “cheap harp” until the Harpsicle came along. It’s slightly above your budget but you’ll find it worth it. There are actually top name harpist (Sylvian Blassel, Patrick Ball, Cheryl Anne Fulton) that play or perform with them. In the UK you can find them at Pilgram Harps. They make their own harps but the Harpsicle is the only harp they carry that they do not make. Troubadour Harpen sells them in the Netherlands. There are outlets in Spain, France and Germany but I don’t know who they are. I hope that is some help and good luck.

    liz-cooke on #76275

    Thanks to you all for your comments. I’ve taken the first step and booked a harp lesson for this week (can’t wait!) – probably wise to see if it’s as lovely as I think it will be before I spend the money. Then it will be a debate between saving up for the Harpsicle or going for the Heather… Pilgrim is fairly local to me, so I’ll pop up there and have a play – I suspect that may sway my decision! Maybe hire since only 3 months to commit there.
    Appreciate all your help.

    lyn-boundy on #76276

    Liz, I do hope you’re still checking in here because I’m new to the site and have been so hoping someone else from the UK might show up. I’m in my 50s, living in Devon and have been having lessons on my Harpsicle for just over a year. First of all, I can highly recommend the Harpsicle (and have done so on a couple olf ther threads – apologies to anyone who is starting to think I’m being paid by them – I’m not). Of course, living in the UK, the price will increase quite a bit by the time you add carriage, taxes etc. Do also keep an eye on ebay in case anything 2nd hand comes up.

    I’d love to hear how you get on with your search and your playing. As someone else has said, I would avoid rosewood – there are just too many cheap and badly made rosewood harps around to risk that unless you are going to see it with a real expert to advise you. I have found the Harpsicle’s 26 strings to be the least I would be comfortable with. In fact, I’m now upgrading to a 34 string but I would always hang on to my original harp for portability and a lovely tone.

    I do hope you’ll be back here to report on how your lesson went and I’d be very happy to exchange email addresses if you’d like another beginner in your ‘homeland’ to chat to any time. Good luck!

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