Thank you, Catherine, for your helpful reply, too.
Thank you, Catherine, for your helpful reply, too.
I really appreciate your thorough response and thank you for generously sharing your knowledge.
I think I’m getting close to figuring out what route I’m going to take on the strings. I’ll also find out when I can have the Camac tech look at my pedals (don’t worry, I’ll get the string thing figured out first).
This is a really helpful reply, Andy. Thanks a lot.
I’m with you on your comment about you not thinking your harp is the most beautiful sounding harp you’ve ever heard. I’m actually a pianist and organist before harpist. There will ALWAYS be a bigger, newer, better piano out there, but it’s unrealistic for most of us to think about purchasing a $90,000 Steinway concert grand. The organists have it figured out a little better. You make due with and exploit the virtues of whatever instrument you’re playing on–most venues don’t have five-manual organs with 206 ranks, and that’s totally fine and nobody loses sleep over it. Most organists in the world play on two-manual instruments and learn to deal with it.
Katherine and L&H West is my neighbor, and I’ve heard her say a number of times that it’s more beneficial to start making music and stop talking so much about how many strings you have or whether you’ve got levers or pedals. So yeah, we’ve got to make the most with what we’ve got and shut up and practice!
By the way, I wasn’t smitten by my harp in the showroom, but for reasons already explained, it was the right harp for me. Once I got it home and played it where it will stay 363 or 365 days per year, the sound was very pleasant, and I was SO happy I paid $13,900 for it and not $36,000 for the red Salzedo. I can sleep much better at night and won’t hesitate nearly as much to move the thing around or encourage visitors (especially children) from having a go when they visit. It’s also more than $24,000 that I have now for retirement, travel, sheet music, string replacements, art, hobbies, social excursions, eating out, etc.! Go Camac!
I live in Salt Lake City and sing in the Tabernacle Choir where I sat less than ten feet from Emmanuel as he played the red Salzedo on our weekly, live TV and radio broadcast on the last week of January (BTW, that’s the oldest network broadcast in world history, I’ll shamelessly plug). It inspired me to get back into harp playing (I’ve been a Troubadour player for about 15 years), and I went harp shopping the next day.
I ultimately bought a Camac Athena (mostly because of the price factor–it was used and it in excellent condition, it was priced excellently because they wanted it off their floor to sell some newer harps, I liked that it was so sturdy, and I’m not a professional harpist and didn’t feel I could sacrifice retirement savings for the L&H 30 which most spoke to me).
Anyway, I very seriously considered the red Salzedo. It looks stunning on stage and up close. I think the color is tasteful–flashy, yes, but it’s certainly not in animal print or neon green. It’s a lovely matte finish, not glossy. On my final visit to L&H West, Melanie, the wonderful sales clerk, set up the three harps that I’d settled on considering (an 85, a 30, and the red Salzedo) in a blind test. A non-harpist friend and I sat with our backs to the the instruments, she shuffled the harps around and then played a series of different types of music on each harp (arpeggios on all three, then chords, etc.). My friend and I made notes (Melanie had a sheet with different characteristics we were supposed to rate.)
When I’d first played the Salzedo several days previously, I raved about how “exotic” (that was the word that came to mind) the Salzedo sounded. It sounded like it had a charming foreign accent–it was also sophisticated, I thought.
Anyway, back to the blind test. Over and over I kept hearing one harp that I liked the most, and one harp I liked the least. The one I most liked (and my friend, too), had a full-bodied sound. The one we like least had a weak, tinny sound. I was ambivalent to the sound of the third one.
I finally turned around, dreading seeing how much I liked the Salzedo (which was priced about $12,000 more than each of the others–but in the same range as a 23). Guess what? I liked the red Salzedo least and the 85 most! Realizing that I’d let looks, perhaps, play a factor, I sat down to each harp myself with, hopefully, renewed objectivity. It was suddenly clear that the 30 was the harp that sounded the best under my hands. We even moved the harps around to see if it was the acoustics. It wasn’t, and all three of us (Melanie, my friend, and I) agreed that the 30 sounded like the harp for me. (By the way, I think you can hear a little of the red Salzedo’s metallic characteristic I didn’t like in the link to the video of Emmanuel playing with MoTab that some posted above.)
Lyon & Healy was very nice when I didn’t buy any of its harps, by the way. (I buy lots of music from them, though.)
This isn’t to say that the red Salzedo sounds bad. I think my demonstration indicates that each harp, as you all know, sounds different under different players. It just didn’t have the wow factor that I initially thought it did.
I also need to plug for Melanie that she’s an excellent sales person. The harps were tuned to perfection, so that was not a factor in my listening. She was also very knowledgeable and did not pressure me toward any harp in the store. (She certainly could have put it on thick to make the Salzedo sound better to me, had she wanted to resort to any such subversive tactic). She also confirmed what I was hearing and made suggestions to me about how to make sure I was arriving at the best conclusion.