I am in the process of deciding what harp to buy.
The harp is the instrument I’ve always wanted to play.
I play a little piano, guitar, bowed psaltery and dulcimer.
The Lyon and Healy Prelude is certainly a beautiful harp
and I love its classical romantic style. I’ve also tinkered with
the Troubadour, Dusty Strings but also just loved
the William Rees Aberdeen –the clear tones, great bass,
and craftsmanship of the harp is superb. I also met Mr. William Rees
himself when I visited his harp store in Rising Sun, Indiana.
What a bright, helpful, cordial man and such a knowledgeable luthier.
It was great to hear him explain how he came up
with his idea of the “asymmetrical soundboard to remedy the
wave cancelling in symmetrical soundboards ” to produce great tones.
Anyway, I was wondering about how others who have the William Rees
Aberdeen feel about their harps. Oh yes. I did buy a little
gold harpsicle to practice on while deciding on what floor lever harp
to buy. What a delight! I would appreciate any reviews. And thanks.
I am in the process of deciding what harp to buy.
Thank you for your response Meg.
You sound like you’re a physicist?
I think Mr. Rees was a science teacher and works
with a Physics consultant and has been a luthier for
many years. He is also a multi-instrumentalist.
It would be interesting for you to try
his harps since you know your Physics and be able to
let us know what you think. And perhaps even have
a conversation with Mr. Rees about his theories.
Again, thanks for your thoughts.
I know this response is much after the question has been asked but I wanted to say something for posterity if nothing else.
I started playing a harp on February 15, 2004. so I have been playing just over a year. I started playing in my 49th year. I had about 3 years of piano lessons between the ages of 11 and 15. That is about the extent of my musical background. I have been wanting to play a harp since 1987 or so but they are very expensive.
My first harp is a 30 string Count Mayo harp by Jeff Gaynor. It is a nice instrument but doesn’t have as much range as I really wanted. So I bought a second harp in early May.
I went to the Michigan Harp Center and selected one that I thought sounded the best. There was another one that I thought was prettier that cost about a thousand more, and if I’d really wanted it I suppose I’d have found a way to buy it. The one I selected had a flat back. I didn’t like the looks of the flat back. I liked the looks of the rounded backs. I didn’t select my harp based on looks. I selected my harp based on sound. How did it sound. I tried many harps at the shop. I tried them over and over. I’m sure Kelly was thinking I might never make up my mind, but I settled on the harp that had enough range and the one that I thought sounded the best. I looked at it and noted that it had the plano parallel back and the asymetrical sound board and said to myself, “That explains it”. I had done some research before buying harp number 2.
So, without knowing anything about the Aberdeen Meadows harp or the William Rees harp company I purchased this Aberdeen Meadows harp and have never been unhappy about the decision. I love this harp. It is a beautiful instrument. Since then I have learned a lot about the Rees harp company and the harp I bought. It has not been a mistake.
Afterwards my harp needed some small waranty work. I met William Rees and family at the Sommerset Folk Harp Festival last summer (2004) and explained the problem with the harp. They said it needed to be fixed and so I sent it home with them. One week later I drove to Rising Sun and picked it up better than when I bought it. They were so helpful and I really enjoyed the chat with Willaim Rees. He told me about the design issues, sound board construction and some new ideas he had been experimenting with. I was take for a tour of the shop. I really appreciated the attention and friendship I experienced there. They are a good group of folks there, every single one.
I am considering designing and building my own harp someday. I had shared that aspiration with William. I had done lots of research and am still collection information. Not to compete with anybody just to say I did it. So the conversation I had with William was quite informative.
About the asymetrical sound board, If it doesn’t help anything, it certainly doesn’t hurt anything. Personally after thinking about it briefly, without an explanation from anyone I thought it made sense. I have had some physics. I can’t say as I have done more than look at some formulas about string tension and pitch when it comes to sound but to me, I could certainly visualize sound waves reflecting off the sides of the sound box as they radiated from the base of the string. It made sense to me that in the plane of the sound board, waves could conceivably reflect off the sides of the sound box and a certain portion of that energy could travel back to the center where (if that was the point of origin) they may indeed cancel each other out. It certainly wouldn’t amount to much of a loss in the big scheme of things but then again if this could happen, well every little bit contributes to the total effect.
To be convinced this could not happen, I would have to do a lot of reasearch and work out the problem on paper or generate a computer mnodel to satisfy myself of the situation.
So I will say it again, if there is no physical basis for the asymetrical soundboard it certainly does not hurt. William’s Poplar sound board probably makes a big a contribution as anything.
After the fact, I believe that Rees harps are very popular and I was quite lucky to walk in and find an Aberdeen Meadows harp on the shelf as it were. When I went to the folk harp festival, William had sold all the harps he brought along well before the end of the festival. they continued to take orders from their booth. They were the only vendor that I observed to be in this state of “sold out”.
Meg – Just a couple of quick notes. First, I received my PhD in Physics from MIT and I’m not sure where you get your information on physics but I have a feeling MIT is probably a higher source and since I wrote the article from which you are quoting, though you failed to mention me in your comment, you may want to reconsider your knowledge base. Sound, from any stringed instrument, does not come from the string, it comes from the air oscillated by the soundboard as it vibrates against your eardrum. Soundboards, again, in any stringed instrument, do not act on a single frequency. Guitars, violins, harps – it’s all the same in terms of the physics of the soundboard function. Wave canceling occurs when one part of a soundboard is moving in a manner which is in direct opposition to another part of the soundboard – mathematically. It’s easy to see with the proper sensing equipment or, as luthiers have done it for hundreds of years, with sand. Asymmetrical soundboards, when done properly with an understanding of the math involved, eliminate the possibility of wave canceling entirely. That is why violin and guitar luthiers have been doing it for generations. Look inside any violin or guitar and the bracing is a testamet to the long held knowledge, by luthiers, that wave canceling is not a positive attribute and can happen to any imporperly made stringed instrument.
Get over yourself. Are you also a luthier? Are you saying these harps are garbage or do you just like to hear yourself talk. There is no room for this sort of posturing on this board when someone is seeking assistance. Wm Rees must be doing something right as their harps are almost always sold out and some pretty lofty hapers and harpists use them.
Do they teach rudeness at MIT too???
Linda, did ya see the last name on that post? I dont think Ms Rees was trying to say Rees harps are garbage. While her tone didnt necessarily come across as politely as it could have, I think she was trying to defend against possible ‘mis-information’. (by all means, correct me if I’m wrong)
Asymmetry in placement of sound sources and reflective boundaries, to prevent standing waves, has widespread use in both musical instruments and loudspeaker enclosures. Cancellation is not the only effect of excessive symmetry; selective resonance of certain frequencies or pitches can also result, impairing the instrument’s clarity.
(BTW, a put-down coming from a MIT student does not necessarily have substance, but I tend not to sail through their races.)
Hello Linda –
I know Pamela Rees. She is brilliant – she is an off-the-charts genius. I’m talking intelligence test-wise; Mensa-wise.
The post she wrote to you is simply the way she thinks and speaks. It seems pretty straight forward to me; just a statement of fact.
Pamela is one of the most generous, thoughtful, caring women I’ve ever met. She will put quit to unfairness, cruelty or injustice if she encounters it. She’ll also bite down hard on mis-information about her company and her product.
And Pamela and William, as business owners, are ethical, honest, hardworking people and employers.
Now Pamela is going to go nuts trying to figure out out I am.
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