Forum Replies Created

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 842 total)

Posted In:

  • Participant
    Biagio on · in reply to: Changing one set of levers for another #228027

    Christy makes a good point, which reminds me…..if anyone is seriously considering replacing Lovelands they might consider Rees levers, available from both Robinsons and Musicmakers. Rees need only one screw, like Lovelands, so you could probably not need to drill any more holes; except possibly for a stop (aka “retainer”) for the largest strings. They also cost less than either Truitts or Camacs.

    Not to be argumentative (well, OK, yes but in the interests of clarity): If the old holes are filled with glued hard wood dowels there will not be a degradation in the neck’s strength – in fact it might be slightly stronger. A skilled crafts person would also be able to hide that repair.

    On the subject of “do it yourself” – levers that engage the string from the back of the string such as Truitts and Rees’ are easy to mount – string tension holds them in place while you mark, drill and screw in place. Those like Lovelands are harder to keep in place if you have little experience, since string tension pushes them away from the neck when engaged.

    I suppose it is more feasible for most harp makers to stick with one or two types. However, if there is enough wood below the bridge pins there is no reason not to order a harp that you otherwise like unlevered and mount the lever type that you prefer. Or have someone do that for you – it really is not difficult.


    Biagio on · in reply to: lever harpists’ experience with busking? #228004

    Hi Evolene!

    I’m surprised that no one has remarked on this but what the hey, I will haha.

    I’m a very shy person when it comes to “performance” but on the other hand when it comes to just going out and playing for the heck of it – that has been more fun than I would have ever expected!

    In some places you can find a guitarist on every street corner and people just shrug and keep walking. But bring out a harp and no matter how small or how well they play (or not!) people are fascinated. Little kids come up and stare with huge eyes, their parents ask loads of question (“Gosh I’ve never seen but as pedal harp! How much would one like that cost, how hard is it to learn?” etc. etc.)

    And from this shy person’s stand point, it is just wonderful to get out of the daily practice and have fun without worrying how the music will be perceived, and to be honest it’s pretty nice to not have that internal critic whispering over my shoulder (grin).

    So… plan on just having a lot of fun, bring along a small inexpensive harp if you can for people to enjoy for themselves.

    Most of all – have fun!! That’s why it is called “playing” LOL.

    Harp Pusher Biagio

    Biagio on · in reply to: Removing & Replacing the SAME Harp String… #227944

    Hi Stardust,

    stringing a harp is sort of like sewing up a hem – it just takes a little practice but you really don’t need to be absolutely precise. If wind up too little or too much, just back up and try again.

    Most harp makers and beginner books give instructions; this one from Dusty Strings is quite good and it’s in PDF ready for you to print.

    Biagio on · in reply to: Removing & Replacing the SAME Harp String… #227914

    Ideally, when the strings are wound up to tension they should fall at a slight angle back from bridge pin to peg. Assuming those bridge pin grooves are 1/2″ (1.27cm) from the neck that suggests the pegs should project around 3/4″ (2cm).

    What’s more important though is to make sure that the string does not make too steep an angle from the bridge pin.


    Biagio on · in reply to: Experience with Music Makers Belle harp? #227646

    The Belle has essentially the same string set as the discontinued Studio, i.e. pretty light. They discontinued the “Gothic 36” because of the issue you mention – tension too high for the pre-curved SB.

    The Belle and Jolie are also lightly strung, the Voyageur is closer in tension to the Dusty FH34/Crescendo/Ravenna34. I know several teachers who choose the Voyageur, Ravenna, or Rubarth Merlin for rentals. Personally I never liked the Studio tension though one teacher I know did – but she bought the kits.

    That’s all I can tell you, hope it is helpful.


    Biagio on · in reply to: Changing one set of levers for another #227645

    Re that passage Evolene: I mean that often it is not necessary to remove the string completely and fill the hole left by a Loveland’s screw. With four slots to choose from (Truiit) versus one (Loveland) quite often there will be enough wood for the Truitt and the base will hide the old hole left from the Loveland.

    A professional would probably do as Charles mentioned (take off al the strings, etc), and charge the owner around $2000 for the job. Maybe more.

    Hmmmm….nah, not worth it right?

    Biagio on · in reply to: What to do with an old Aoyama? #227599

    If it is otherwise structurally sound, offer it for sale at a reasonable price and some enterprising harper will be happy to put on a new board.


    Biagio on · in reply to: Changing one set of levers for another #227598

    How much effort would go into replacing one lever type for another depends to a large degree on the respective brackets; the sharp point depends entirely on vibrating length not on the particular lever design.

    Lovelands have fairly wide brackets and a single long screw slot; compared to the Truitts in your photo which have for most of the range 4 small slots of which only two are needed. It is likely that many of the holes left from Lovelands would not need to be filled.

    Aesthetically one might wish to anyway and go through the filling/sanding/refinishing that Charles described. The same is likely true for Camacs, Teifi etc. and from where I sit, cost is the major drawback. I do not agree that “all the strings would have to be removed” – unless you plan to go through that aesthetic process from the start.

    Often, especially if replacing Lovelands with Truitts, you just have to loosen the string, remove the old, retighten the string and slide the new lever in. Check the sharp pitch, mark new holes, drill and screw. If the old screw hole shows but does not block a new one, just fill it with a dab of wood paste. New finish if needed may be applied with a cotton swab.

    If you (or anyone) just prefers a longer throw than the cams on those original Lovelands they can just replace the cams with the newer ones. All you need for that is 1/4″ offset wrench and patience.

    Lovelands are not my favorite lever for a new harp but they have long been a mainstay and work perfectly well. Dusty is quite accommodating but they might charge a large premium for Camacs on a new 2x- their necks are pre-drilled for the Lovelands so that would mean a custom jig. If someone wanted to go to that expense I’d suggest a new Rees 2x. Much as I like the folks at Dusty, I like the Rees doubles better.


    Biagio on · in reply to: Levering an Old (Blade) Harp #227088

    Hi Tess,

    I left the Clark with the original blades (except the 1-3 that had to be made). If you love your Clark I’d suggest keeping it as is. There really isn’t any way to improve the sound though other than by bending the shaft a little or adjusting the bridge in if the problem is that they are not accurate.

    There are no blades on the last few strings anyway on my harp (which I’ve since sold).

    Biagio on · in reply to: Musicality/Improvisation Tips #226938

    Wood’s book is excellent; Arranging for the Folk Harp by Kim Robertson, while shorter, goes into greater depth on alternatives: inversions, arpeggios etc. of the same chord.

    Two fun exercises shown by Harper Tache might also be useful. Exercise 1: set up a rhythm using just the tonic and two dominants, then start to improvise a melody around them. Exercise 2: play a phrase from the melody and listen to how the harmony sounds using first major chord, than a minor one (e.g. if the melody “wants” a Cmaj try instead an Amin).

    It’s tempting to try to rush this sort of thing but that can end up being frustrating – understand that much of modern music especially choral, might be thought of as two or more melodies played or sung simultaneously.

    Biagio on · in reply to: Learning the harp at 47, need some advice please. #226896

    I soon discovered that why teachers and most teach yourself books emphasize harp technique and exercises/etudes so much. Sure, you can pluck out a tube from the score or by ear.

    But the way to raelly learn and progress lies in “muscle memory”. Ideally one should be able to a) recognize a pattern b) place one finger and c) let the rest of the fingers fall where they should while looking ahead.

    Scales, exercises and etudes will make that happen; just struggling with tunes will not (or at least, not very quickly or easily).

    Biagio on · in reply to: Venezuelan Harp Technique #226792

    Alfredo Rolando Ortiz discusses that and other South American effects in his DVD “Special Effects for All Harps.” Unfortunately it is no longer offered by Dr. Ortiz but you may be able to find a used copy somewhere. Alternatively, there may be instructive videos on Yutube – for instance by Edmar Castaneda. It’s a harp version of Slap Bass which is more commonly seen by guitarists – but then SA harp music imitates the guitar in many ways.

    You could also study this piece by Jonathan Fanganello – the video is taken from the side which makes it easier to visualize.

    It’s true that the SA harp is characterized by very loose bass strings and a very wide sound box which enhance that booming percussive sound; but you can certainly use the technique on any other harp (not metal strung though haha).

    If you feel you really want to play an SA harp they are not expensive; happily Dusty Strings has recently come out with their version.


    Biagio on · in reply to: Non cliche music for harp? #226791

    An interesting thing to do: put aside music written specifically for the harp and focus on what you like in other genres and/or instruments. For example, two pieces I rather like are “Heart of Glass” by Blondie (Debby Harry) and “Memory” from the film Departure, composed by Joe Hasashi.

    At first glance one might never consider either as a harp solo piece but they both sound great when played that way. Neither is particularly complicated’ while lending themselves to interesting harmonic improvisation.


    Biagio on · in reply to: Learning the harp at 47, need some advice please. #226442

    Thanks Will and I agree on all points. First, while the “McHugh/.Muzikkon” sdeem to be an improvement over earlier Pakistani harps, they have a ways to go before proving themselves IMO.

    Second, levers: when you consider that each one adds about $20 to the cost, most beginner books assuming open C tuning, and that one will spend several years mastering technique a fully levered first harp seems to me an extravagance. You can always add levers later – it is not difficult.

    Third, kits: I am indeed a fan of a few kits most particularly the Voyageur by Musicmakers if you have some minimal woodworking ability and tools:

    Check the building instructions to see if it seems within your ability and don’t be intimidated by the photo of multiple clamps when gluing on the sound board. Since it is also nailed and screwed you don’t really need them. Earlier instructions suggested just taping it down until the glue had cured. Jason seems to be moving the company more toward finished harps and the picture represents how they do it in their shop.

    Best wishes,

    Have fun!

    Biagio on · in reply to: Any options for retouching a black music stand coat? #226376

    Krylon(r) offers a wide variety of colors and finishes; probably the black “hammered” finish would be closest to what you want.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 842 total)