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Switching harps

  • Margaret
    Margaret Helminiak

    Hello to you all.  I am a new harpist and new to this group.  I currently am playing (trying to) a Ravenna 34, which has a beautiful sound.  I thought she would be mine forever, but then my instructor had me play her concert harp and covetous thoughts are running through my head.  At what point does one switch harps?  I know some people set goals (when I learn X pieces of music...), but what are your thoughts on the matter?  Have any of you thought about making the switch and what is your decision process?  If it makes a difference, I am lusting after a Venus Penti Chamber model...

    replies to "Switching harps"
    • Andy
      Andy B

      Hi, Margaret:

      I think very, very few of us actually go through our harp journey on only one harp.  The convenience of having something easily portable makes smaller harps desirable, and the range and resonance and beauty of the concert grands have their own appeal, and every folk harp in every wood will strike a chord for someone. I think most of us get a new harp when that special harp "grabs" us when we're in a showroom or at a convention or workshop and we decide we just can't live without it.  It would make an interesting survey to see how many harps people have!  All of us go through "harp lust" at some time or other, it's perfectly normal!  Just don't bankrupt yourself, lol! 

    • Briggsie B.
      Briggsie B. Peawiggle, Esq.

      Margaret, like you I was new to harp. I had 3 lessons on my teacher's Camac Atlantide Prestige, and I just had to have a pedal harp. I was already pretty advanced in music, as a teacher with a master's, but not on harp. I knew I wanted to play concert music....lots of impressionism.....lots of French stuff. I began lessons about January 15 on an old Troubadour I, and I had a pedal harp in my living room on February 16 of 2006. For me, it was the right thing.


    • HarpGlo
      HarpGlo Jean

      Welcome to the harp world Margaret!....I don't think of it as making a "switch",(to pedal) but more of an "addition," and of course, additional learning to use the pedals...I love all harps! and although I've only been playing for 2 years now, and have a small repetoire, I'd add a pedal immediately, if finances weren't so limited...(Currently, I have two Dustys, a 36S & Ravenna 26)...and if I add a pedal (I also love the Venus Penti, and Salvi Arion) that would be great!...I love classical music played on a pedal, and celtic/medieval on a lever...so don't get rid of your Ravenna 34!

    • Kay
      Kay Lister

      Hi Margaret - Welcome to the group.  I have been playing a Thormahlen Swan for a bit over 5 1/2 years now.  Started with lever for price purposes only ($5,000.00). Oh yes - I do want a pedal harp! That's where the $ from all the gigs is going - in the good old harp fund.  When I get my pedal harp, it will stay put in my music room and I will continue to use my T-Swan for gigs.  For me the pedal harp is the Icing on the Cake.  Am I drulling?  Youbetcha!!!  There IS tons of music to be played on the lever harp.  Just ask our forum buddy and music writer herself - Barbara Brundage.  There is NOT a stamp on lever harps that says "Celtic only" trust me.  I still love the thought of that pedal harp in my music room.  in my opinion - one can NEVER  have to many harps!

      Again - Welcome,


    • Rod
      Rod C.


      I, too, am starting to think about a pedal harp. I''ve been playing for six months, and got a new Lyon Healy Prelude in March, thinking I would never need or want a pedal harp. Well...that was before I started learning to play glisses. Yes, I can retune the pedal harp to get the nice bright sounds...but oh, the pedal harps sound so nice.

      I am currently checking out a Lyon Healy 23 Concert Grand that belongs to my harp teacher. She just picked it up (she rents it) from another student and asked me if I wanted to try it for a month.  So, I got it on Monday.  That is one big harp!!

      I do see a pedal harp in my future.


      Rod C.

    • Samuel
      Samuel Milligan

      After over 60 years of dealing with harps and harpists, I do have one serious word of advice for new harpists.  Don't let the thrill of getting a new harp tempt you into getting rid of the old one, either selling it or trading it in.  You will have only one 'first harp' and countless harpists over the years have told me that getting rid of their first one is a major regret. 

      My own first harp has been played to pieces, and so at this point just decorates my nephew's living room, but it deserves its dignified retirement.  It served me well, and I couldn't abandon it. 

      Samuel Milligan, Brooklyn, NY 


    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Oh boy, does this ever strike a 'chord.' ducks!

      I approached my interest in the harp with the desire to be a Celtic/folk player - no real interest in going pedal at all. After just a couple months of renting a lever harp I knew it was time to take the plunge and invest in one of my own. I am the proud owner of a lovely neo-Celtic instrument that has already provided me with hundreds of hours of enjoyment.

      Then I started taking lessons on my teachers Pedal harp. The second I sat down at it I knew I was in trouble...!

      I love the Celtic harp and the sounds it is able to produce. There are some really lovely melodies that, to me, just don't sound 'right' on the pedal harp. However, the same is true in reverse! Likewise, my musical horizons have been broadened to include a deep appreciation of classical music. I'd kill to be able to play Clair de lune and La Source. (One day my pets... one day!)

      Thus I know that it is only a matter of time until I go for a Pedal harp. Now, if I win the lottery (Oh, that reminds me! checks tickets I won $10. Well, I'm getting closer!) I'd buy 1 tomorrow. Heck, I'd buy 2! But for now it's a more of a long-term goal.

      Whoever said "the best things in life are free" clearly didn't play the harp! ;-)

      Also, I agree that one should not sell/trade in their first harp. I've also been advised by people who learned that hard lesson from experience! Besides, I'd be loathed to part with my "firstborn."

    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Like Ted, I also mainly play celtic music, so I play a lever harp which is my first harp, now I'm determined to get a new one because I want a more "celtic" sound, different levers and a lighter harp to carry around but  I'm not gonna sell  my first harp, and I think that, unless you really need the money for the switch ("Whoever said "the best things in life are free" clearly didn't play the harp!" That's so very right Ted!) it' s good advice not to sell it.  I never thought of pedal harp...Never...Never before...But it's happeneing, it' shappening right now, oh noooo!!!  So, my plan: first, get a small harp for outdoor and travelling, second, get a new lever harp, third...Get a pedal harp teacher and if it's financially possible rent a pedal...One day maybe buying one?

    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Or there's the idea that I have, which is that I really don't desire a pedal harp at all. I'm sure my perspective is limited, but after spending many years as a classical pianist I am finding great release in the Celtic/folk/traditional styles. Also I love the portability of the lever harp. 

      Sam, thanks for the advice on not selling a first harp. I'm now harp shopping for another lever floor harp and a nice lap harp and had considered selling my current one when I get the others. Now I'll think more carefully.

      And Margaret, most of the harpists I know have more than one harp. My teacher's living room is full of harps of all sizes, pedal and lever. How great to have different harps to play different music. I wish you the best as you ponder buying a pedal harp.

    • Sherry
      Sherry Lenox

      AND, if you are on the fence, there is some wonderful contemporary music written for lever harp, and approaching some of that work is my goal. Unfortunately I was not able to hear Laura Zaerr's new piece at Somerset, but my teacher did look at one of her (LZ) books for me, and said she thought I would be able to start some of the pieces in about a year.

      So no one should ever be ashamed to feel one way or another, or to stay on the fence. It's all good.

    • Barbara
      Barbara Brundage

      Sherry, Laura has recorded many of her solo works as well as the Celtic Concerto. "A Thousand Dreams Away" has a lot of the stuff from Dancing with the Stars (named long before the TV show).

      I would have loved to have heard her new concerto, too.

    • Sherry
      Sherry Lenox

      ......and I have a birthday gift certificate that will go right to that recording! Thank you for reminding me Barbara!