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Much older Triplett Axline, considering purchase

  • Tamara
    Tamara Murphy

    Opinions are appreciated. For all intents and purposes, i'm a beginner, though i studied pedal harp for a short while many years ago.


    I've just come across a roughly 20-year-old Triplett Axline 30. I'm renting it for the next few weeks to take lessons on, but I'd like to know your thoughts on purchasing an older model like this.


    I should say that what I fell in love with was the sound--so much sound for a reasonably small harp, and clear, bell-like tones.


    I "played" it next to a much newer R Harp, and a Dusty Strings FH 32, and while they were both gorgeous--such lush low tones on that R!--I found myself returning to the Triplett.


    It has a couple of issues, some cosmetic, and some which may become bigger issues--dings to the finish in a few places, a small crack in the fore pillar, and a grain line crack (no separation, yet) in the lower portion of the soundboard.


    Also, I know a little about Triplett's current construction methods from their website, but I'm curious about the older models, and how well they hold up. I love this harp, but I wonder if I'm finding it at the end of it's functional life? What is the "life expectancy rate" for a lever harp, anyway?


    Any opinions, suggestions, etc. are much appreciated. And if you can suggest a fair price to offer, I'd appreciate that too. ;)


    Thanks so very much for sharing your knowledge. I'm so looking forward to this journey.

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    replies to "Much older Triplett Axline, considering purchase"
    • Andee
      Andee Craig

      When I was shopping for my harp I also was going back and forth between the Triplett Axline and a Dusty 32!  They both sounded fantastic, but in the end I decided on the Dusty 32 because for the same size it had 2 more strings.  I am so glad I made that decision!  At the time I had only been playing 6 months, but it didn't take too many more lessons before I realized the wisdom of my choice.  30 strings just isn't enough.  Many (and many amateurs as well) might even say 32 is barely enough, but it's fine for me!

      My teacher has had Dustys and Tripletts I'm pretty sure they are all decades old and were lent out to countless students.  My Dusty has flown overseas and has done loads of gigs outside in all weathers (well, not raid!) and inside as well.  Harps are pretty sturdy beasts, I'm expecting mine to last a loooooooong time!

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    • Tamara
      Tamara Murphy

      Thanks so much for your reply. I've since "played"--and asked actual players to play for me--this battered and well-used harp alongside a gorgeous Rees Glen Aulin, and another Dusty, and I confess I'm still just enchanted by the sound of the old Axline.


      But will the cracked soundboard become an issue? There are two large cracks, each running with the grain, all the way across the width of the soundboard. Here's where my ignorance really bothers me: the voice of the harp is still gorgeous despite the cracks, but how will the harp hold together if the soundboard is broken?


      Also, the I have no idea (and the owner doesn't seem to know either) what kind of levers are on this harp, since they don't really look like any of the ones commonly used now. If one fails, I'd likely need to replace them all, wouldn't I?


      All in all, it's simply that I fell in love with the "voice" of this particular harp--and if I understand properly, that is a very individual quality. Even another Axline will have a different sound, right?


      So what to do when you've fallen in love with a harp which may or may not last another winter? And is there any way to tell?


      Thanks again, for your kind suggestions, and for listening to my rambles.

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    • Dwyn
      Dwyn .

      Tamara:  I wouldn't worry about the soundboard cracks.  If it's not pulling up (e.g. developing a "belly") it's in good shape.  This type of crack results from drying of the wood, and it could easily stay just as it is for another 20 years or more.  It's not the type of soundboard flaw that's given to sudden catastrophic failure, which is what generally happens when a "belly" finally goes too far. 

      The crack in the pillar might well be a different matter, depending on the location, size, and cause (e.g. is this a crack that has developed from the normal tension of the harp over the years -- and thus is almost certain to continue worsening? or did it result from a one-time accident a long time ago and hasn't worsened since?). 

      Since Triplett is still very much in the harp-making business, I'm sure they could tell you what type of levers these are, and if any of the same kind are still available as replacements.  I would guess that even if they aren't available through the normal channels, with a bit of effort you could probably track down a harp technician who has some spares on hand, left over from jobs in which an entire set of levers was replaced with newer ones -- you might want to do that in advance of an actual need.  I got some replacement parts for my 1820-something Stumpff pedal harp via eBay, from a harp maker/repairer in Wales.  When it comes to digging up spare parts (for a harp or anything else), where there's a will, there's a way.

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    • Andee
      Andee Craig

      My Dusty Strings has a crack in the soundboard similar to the one you've described on yours and like the poster before me said, it's nothing to worry about.  I did get mine filled in (I think that's the right description) just to be on the safe side, by a luthier (the gentleman who made Kate Rusby's guitar!), but it should be OK.  I guess you seem pretty set on the Axline, (are you sure 30 strings is going to be enough?)

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    • Tamara
      Tamara Murphy

      Nope, not sure at all. ;). I'm just enchanted with the sound of this one. It's not a rational process at all, really. I never intended to get a floor harp right now--it was just this one.


      My travel harp will be a cherry double-strung Brittany from Stoney End, so I'll have plenty of strings,, though not true bass range.


      Since I mostly want to accompany myself while I sing, I'm hoping it won't be an issue for awhile. maybe it will, though?

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    • Jessica
      Jessica Wolff

      If you have a low voice, as I do, an overly high-pitched accompaniment can be disconcerting.

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