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choosing a harp

  • Deb
    Deb L

    My husband was confounded when I told him I have an appointment in Sept to try different harps because I love the Ogden rental.  I told him buying a harp is like getting married you have to date others and you wouldn't buy a car before test driving the all the ones you're interested in.  I'm worried the Camac will feel like spaghetti and I'll want a large classic lever harp I have no room and go home and realize the Ogden is perfect, but I have to know, and I just can't tell till I play them.  I am really looking forward to trying different models! 

    Any one else have such dilemmas choosing a harp?  This is my 4rth.

    replies to "choosing a harp"
    • Andy
      Andy B

      Hi, Deb:

      Actually, it's very common to go through several harps, either renting or buying, before settling on one. There are so many brands, sizes, and voices in harps that it is difficult to choose - and many harpists have more than one harp for that reason.  I was in one of the harp showrooms last year when a family came in to look at harps for their daughter. The father didn't see the point in trying out different harps until he got there and heard the difference for himself. Then he understood completely. Make sure you take your husband with you and I'm sure he'll understand once he sees and hears them all. I'm not going to tell you how many I've had in the last 15 years myself!

      Andy

    • Deb
      Deb L

      I am wondering if I'd be better off ordering the Pilgrim Clarsach than trying more harps.  If I try a Pratt Princessa, or any large classic lever harp, I will probably have a hard time fighting the urge to buy it.  But that will not work for my life right now.  I'd have to keep it in a room where I can control temp an humidity and won't be able to play it in my family room, which means I will not be able to play as often.  I keep saying I want a Celtic harp but the degree that I loved the harps of my past correlate directly to how much string tension there is!  If there was one thing I could change about the Ogden it would be to be more portable, but other than that it is the best sounding harp to my ear that I've ever played.  So I can't imagine I would actually be happy with the Melusine, which is around the same size and weight as the Ogden but with folk lever tension.  The Clarsach is 43 " tall and 18lbs, it's classic strung.  It's like a perfection of all the things I love in the Ogden, because it has the classic strings and tension, same range, Celtic music sounds great on it, and it is even much more portable.  It was commissioned by Derek Bell, whose Carolan arrangements will always be my favorite.  In a few years when my kids move out and I have more room, I can get a Pratt Chamber harp or a Salvi Ana, and keep the Clarsach for it's portability.  It just seems like such a perfect plan that I hate to confuse things by going into a showroom and acting like a kid in a candy store.

    • Jessica
      Jessica Wolff

      Keep in mind that increased portability may mean that you either have to stick the harp up on something to play it or lower your seating. Do you expect to actually have to transport your harp a lot?

    • Karen
      Karen Johns

      I consider myself extremely fortunate that my harps found me, rather than the other way around. I knew the first time I set eyes on Musicmaker's Voyageur harp that it was the right harp for me at the time. And then, the Limerick grabbed me and I had to have it (wire-strung of course). Then, finally (but this was always my first choice) the Heartland Dragonheart. I always go with my instincts on these type of things, and have yet to have "buyer's regret". Each of my harps have their own unique and amazing sound. My only real dilemna was coming up with the $$! LOL

      Best of luck Deb, what a delightful dilemna to be in! :-)

      Karen

    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      I can't speak more highly of Pilgrim harps. They are a lovely and fine crafted instrument and the people at Pilgrim are a joy to deal with. I especially appreciate that they are a small company and that so much hand crafting goes into their work.

      They do have "legs" that you can use to raise the instrument, and yes, they are very portable.

    • Deb
      Deb L

      Ann, that's good to hear, thanks for mentioning their reputation, I have not heard much of them.  I am happy to hear a lot of hand crafting goes into them too.  

      Jessica, I have to move my harp from one end of the house to the other every time I play it.  I keep it in a temp/humidity controlled room  and move it to the family room to play it to a spot that is free of drafts and whatnot but not a safe place to leave unattended.  I think I will play less with a less portable harp because even moving the Ogden to play twice a day puts me off sometimes.  Whereas with a more portable harp I can take it out to play for 15 minutes here and there if I want to. 

      My first harp was a small Blevins Cindy.  I measured the height that it needed to be raised by and searched thrift shops until I found a stool of just that height.  I thought it was prettier and more personal than using the legs.  Or I could ask my husband to make a wooden box with some rubber grip on it once I figure the best height for my seating.  He likes doing stuff like that for me. 

      Karen, I was wondering if you got your Dragonheart!  When can we see pictures?  Tell us about it!

    • Karen
      Karen Johns

      Deb, check out the post in Coffee Break called "I am in Harp Heaven!"- I posted links to pics near the bottom.

      On that note, it is time to tune Gwydion again!

      Karen

    • Deb
      Deb L

      oh dear I just found an 06 Prelude 38 for just 3,600.  Now I'm thinking I should just get a dolly and a ramp instead of a portable harp.  what a deal, that's not much more than my Ogden.

    • Sherry
      Sherry Lenox

      Anyone looking for a harp in the US owes it to him/herself to keep an eye on the CPO column on the Lyon&Healy site. Some of the bargains there are amazing.

    • Deb
      Deb L

      I agree Sherry!  I usually overlook the Prelude because the Salvi is so drop dead gorgeous (and pricey though).  But I saw some videos of the Prelude and it has a very nice tone.  Some people decorate the column, I love the way that looks, gives them character.  What great deals there are to be had on these harps that have been traded in for the bounty program.

    • Deb
      Deb L

      the battle of classic vs folk lever is over! 

      drumroll please..

      I ordered the Camac concert de Melusine in cherry fnish today.  When I hear John Dalton play Song of Tirioski on it, it gives me chills.  Always wanted to dapple in Ortiz too, wonderful harp for flamenco.  Nylon strung, folk tension, can't believe it!  no idea when it will be in yet.

    • Deb
      Deb L

      I found a great deal on a Rees Glen Aulen.  I had overlooked this harp as my dreams got loftier and confusion set in with all the choices.  But it is simply the best choice for me.  I'm bringing the Ogden back Friday and coming home with my Rees.  The Camac was still on hold so I was able to take advantage of a great deal.

    • Jessica
      Jessica Wolff

      Deb, do you have any prominent planets in Gemini? That's the sign that has trouble making up its mind. Whatever you end up with, here's hoping it's a good choice for you.

    • Deb
      Deb L

      no Jessica, nothing in Gemini..  just a person on a low budget wanting a nice harp.

    • Deb
      Deb L

      just want to add that Peter Reis with Harps International was so wonderful to work with, very flexible, great financing.  He was willing to ship the Camac from California for me to try in CT, no obligation to buy or rent, with up to 8 months rent going 100% towards purchase price, no obligation to rent more than a month.  I think the Camac would have worked out well, but the Glen Aulin is $900 cheaper and more portable.  Harps do get heavy when you have to move them every time you play.  When my kids are out of college and I can turn one of their rooms into a music room, I'll go to Harps International find my full size harp.  They have some lovely Pratt harps too, maybe by then I'll get over the gut string video!

    • Tony
      Tony Morosco

      I have to second your comments about Peter. I purchased a Camac from him several years ago and he was incredibly helpful and accomodating. A similar situation. The harp I was interested in they didn't have in stock in their CA location so he had it shipped to me from New York to try. I ended up buying it.

      I would not hesitate to do business with them again. They are a great resoruce.

    • Leslie
      Leslie Davis

      Oh, yay!!  I'm so glad you found a harp that you want.  Problem is..........Friday is still a few days away.  How are you ever going to be able to wait that long?!?  LOL!

      Please post some pictures as soon as possible and......congratulations!

    • Deb
      Deb L

      thanks Leslie, actually, I wanted all of them LOL..   When I brought the Ogden to the family room to play tonight I was such a wreck as usual worried about dinging it or something, and looking forward to a smaller, lighter harp.  Sitting outside thinking how nice it will be to be able to bring it outside to play and over to my Mom's and friends houses for fun.  But when I started playing I know I will miss the way the bass really rings out on this harp.  I feel like a traitor.. like I'm sending him back to the pound! 

    • Leslie
      Leslie Davis

      Haha!  I know - It is such a tough choice and I'd love to have one of everything.  Perhaps when I win the lotto!

      LOL!  Taking it back to the pound!  I'm still laughing!  Well, I'm sure he's a good boy and someone will adopt him real soon!

    • Deb
      Deb L

      the Ogden is not such a bad pup, he just needs to loose 10 lbs and a few inches off the top.  Never broke a string.