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Which Pedal Harp to buy!?

  • Unknown
    Unknown User

    Dear Forum,

    I am completely new here and asking this on  behalf of my daughter. She is now 14 years old and playing harp since she was 6 years old. Her teacher has told us that she should now move to a concert harp size and is advising us to buy a Aoyama harp. We have looked at some of them and liked the Aoyama Etude 47, Model 47E which has a "extended" sound case. It looks and sounds really good. However, here in Europe (we live in Germany) it costs €14500.

    My daughters teacher told us that the Lyon-Healy harps are (much?) better then the Aoyama harps but that they are much more expensive. However, I have been looking at these and other harps and their prices in the internet and noticed that Lyon-Healy has harps in the same price range. Or with the current rate of the dollar versus the Euro even cheaper. However, in Europe the prices have (not yet) followed the price drop of the dollar.

    So now to my question(s).

    1) Is the Aoyama Etude 47E a good harp to buy?

    2) Could I get a Lyon-Healy directly from the US. And is that wise buying a harp without having seen or heard it!?

    3) Any other advice for us "novices"?

    Many thanks in advance!

    Tim, an unknowledgable father.

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    replies to "Which Pedal Harp to buy!?"
    • tsin-tsin
      tsin-tsin Chui

      I'm definitely not an expert on pedal harp, but I've learnt that the Etude series is no longer produced by the Aoyama Company in Japan (and is now replaced by the Orpheus series).

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    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Is that good or bad!?

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    • Brook
      Brook Boddie

      Tim,

      I can't speak for Aoyama harps, because I've never seen or played one.  The Clive Morley website has video samples of Aoyama harps being played and is definitely worth a look.  They indicate on the website that they have a Etude 47 in stock right now, in fact.

      Lyon and Healy harps are great harps, and you may want to check their website to see who their European dealers are.  You may also want to consider a Salvi pedal harp.  They are made in Italy, so getting one could possibly be a little easier.  They are both very reputable and respected companies, so I don't think you could go wrong with either one.  It's always best to be able to see and play the harp you are wanting to purchase in person, but if that's not an option, I think you could still count on getting a good harp from either one of these companies.  Again, I can't speak for Aoyama, but you could probably do a search on the net and find soem posts about their harps on this website.

      Good luck with your search!

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    • Geri
      Geri McQuillen

      Tim,

      There are some posts regarding Aoyama harps on this forum.  I happen to love their harps.  I play their 36-string lever harp, but have heard their pedal harps played and I believe that their quality and sound is every bit as good as Lyon & Healy and Salvi.  You might be interested in checking the Aoyama website which gives a history of their company.  They have been making harps for more than 100 years and are dedicated to making world-class instruments.  Of course, opinions differ and others have their preferences.  It is such a personal choice and when you are not close to a dealer, the decision is even more difficult.  I wish you all the best in your search for a harp for your daughter.

      As someone else mentioned, Clive Morley's website has videos of all the Aoyama pedal harp models being played.  Well worth a listen.

      Best wishes,

      Geri

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    • Vince
      Vince Pierce

      Hi Tim,
      I can't speak for Aoyamas, but since you are in Europe I would recommend looking at either Lyon and Healy, Salvi or Camac. I own a Lyon and Healy harp, and their harps are always of the highest quality. You can't go wrong with their harps. They have a European dealer in Remagen, so I would highly recommend that you visit if possible. They should have a lot of harps in stock there:
      http://www.lyonhealy.com/europe.htm

      Salvi is based out of Italy and their harps are very good. They have several dealers in Germany: http://www.salviharps.it/index.pl?pos=01.03&lang=en

      Camac harps are based in Paris, and have a showroom in Röttenbach: http://www.camac-harps.com/camac-harps-eng/allemagne.html

      I hope this information helps. I don't know how far Remagen or Röttenbach are from where you live, but making the drive would be well worth it if you are making such an important and large investment. That way you can see a variety of harp makes and models and make the best choice for you. I drove almost 3,000 miles (about 4,000 km) to pick up my harp, and it was definitely worth the trip! Good luck!

      Vince

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    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Many thanks for all the posts so far.

      Just to clarify. We had an Aoyama dealer visiting us with two harps. From those two she left the Etude 47E, which was clearly the better of the two, at our home for "testing". It is really a nice harp and the sound is great. It is just that I wonder about the price if it is really "value for money". The Lyon and Healy harps here in Germany are clearly more expensive but if I look on the US web site and consider the current dollar to Euro conversion rate buying a Lyon and Healy directly in the US would give a similar price. This coupled with the fact that the teacher of our daughter told us that the Lyon and Healy's are better just makes me wonder if I should really go for the Aoyama or be "adventures" and try to by a Lyon and Healy directly in the US.

      Did not know about the Salvi, will check those out as well. Will also have a look at the Venus harps which I learned about reading the forum here.

      Meanwhile we remain open for any comments and advice!

      Tim

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    • Sam
      Sam Karlinski

      Hi Tim,

      I've heard that Aoyama harps are nothing special (I can't remember exactly but someone might have told me that you'll get a better harp for your money with L&H or Salvi). You will also need to check if there is a harp tech near you that can regulate an Aoyama - I hear that they have a different type of action and not any harp tech can work on them... if something serious broke you might find yourself having to send your harp a great distance to get it fixed.

      ~Sam

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    • Jerusha
      Jerusha Amado

      Tim,

      Also check to make certain that Venus has a regulator in your area who can service their harps.  I have heard that they only allow approved regulators to work on their harps while under warranty.  Check with them to see if this is true.

      Jerusha

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    • o.
      o. t.

      There's an Aoyama Monarch 47D in my school and that's the pedal harp my teacher uses for our lessons. I don't think it's a "bad" harp like some people have said. I'd say it's a very decent harp.


      I bought my Lyon & Healy 23 without having seen it first. I have to admit that it's a risk. There was a little adjustment that had to be done when it arrived. I talked to the agent and she called L&H. The next day, my school staff made the adjustment for me. That's the best part of having a good agent order a harp for you. You might have to pay a bit more than ordering one yourself but then they can help you if there's a problem with your harp.


      I love my L&H 23. It sounds and looks great. It attracts me. But that's the point. A harp that attracts me might not attract you. So you have to choose it yourself.


      I think it's worth going to the showroom and try out all different brands possible, you'll get some ideas of the sounds. Then for the brand you like best, pick the model. That's what I did. I don't have a chance trying all L&H models. My school only has L&H style 100, Salvi Aurora, Salvi Daphny, Aoyama Monarch and some Camac pedal harps... They're not ones I'd buy, but they did give me some ideas about the sounds and projections of each brand.


      Also, L&H has a bounty program. If your agent has that, I'd ask about it. Your daughter's only 14. When she grows up, she may change her preference. If you can trade your harp in for another model and get a 90% or more on a refund, then that's a good deal.

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    • Tacye
      Tacye Phillipson

      When looking at the US prices of L&H are you remembering to add on VAT (19% in Germany?) import tax, shipping etc.  I doubt if the price will come out as low as you are hoping.

      Aoyamas have very good specifications for the price and harpists seem to either like them or not!  Other pedal harp makers in Europe who have not been mentioned are Pilgrim, Riedel, David, Horngacher (who will make you realise all the other makers are not that expensive after all), Liuteria Artigiana... just to complicate things more.  You might also find it interesting to look at 2nd hand prices at http://www.harfe.de/angebote-add.php

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    • Philippa
      Philippa mcauliffe

      Tim, from one parent amateur to another I would now say that I would never buy a concert pedal harp for my daughter without listening to it in person.  We have just returned from Italy (we live in Australia) and as it is so easy in Europe comp with Aus we visited harp showrooms where my daughter tried a number of Salvi, L+H and Camacs.  They are very different in sound.  They also vary from one to another even within one model.  Then I listened to a pro play them  and they still have very different sounds.

      I assume this is probably a one off  purchase!  Even if you had to go to Italy and France I would do it.  Video all trials for later comparison.  Listen blind to different style pieces on each.  Your daughter needs to fall in love with it.  Mine fell for a Salvi Diana or a Camac Atlantide BTW.

      Georgina

       

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    • Saul
      Saul Davis Zlatkovski

      All I can say is that my teacher insisted that we buy the best standard harp, which is/was the Lyon & Healy Style 23 harp. I am so grateful that my parents listened because I have never been able to buy another harp, and it has served me superbly, and has become a truly great instrument. One cannot read the future, so I recommend following suit and buying the best possible harp now. They also retain their value the best, we were told, should you want to sell it later on. The style 100s can be as servicable, and the style 30. But you get the best quality of wood and workmanship on the more expensive harps, too. I would recommend a 23 or a Salzedo as the top choices.

      It is best to go and choose the harp, but you can have someone do that for you, a harpist in Chicago. I believe if you speak at length with someone like Natalie Bilik at L &H, she will be able to pick out a suitable harp for you. But they also have European showrooms, one right there in Germany.

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    • Helen
      Helen Tang

      Hi Tim,

      I haven't tried the Aoyama Etude 47E, however I have had a little play on the Aoyama Vega. I noticed that I needed a lot of strength to push the pedals and to pluck the strings, overall it wasn't easy to play.

      Due to where I live, there's not many harp technicians around, so I bought a Camac Athena, unseen and unheard. I got a good deal for it too, 13100 euros including heavy duty travel cover, dust cover, trolley, tuning key, tools, manual and shipping from France to New Zealand. For the Camac harps you can regulate it yourself without a harp technician. It is easy to play and the pedals are great. If you play it regularly, the sound will develop very nicely. I got my teacher to play on it, she said the pedals are even better than her L&H and said all her students should get one. By the way, the harp was shipped securedly packaged, it arrived without any problems.

      I would suggest that your daughter try different brands and models of harp first before buying, some are more comfortable to play than others. The sound could be different between harps of the same model too.

       

      Helen

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    • Briggsie B.
      Briggsie B. Peawiggle, Esq.

      Helen,

      You really did get a good deal. Did you buy it directly from Camac Harps? Times change, and products change, and I seriously don't think anyone can do better than a well-made Camac harp. I think they are getting better and better, too. I am away from home and have been for over a week now. I brought my Webster lever harp along with me, but I can just not wait to get back to my Camac. I miss it so much!

      BTW, you can regulate the Camacs yourself with the gadget they give you, but it's also a good idea to have  a professional regulation done if you are playing/moving them a lot. I still get mine done every year or so by Tom Bell.

      Briggsie

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    • Helen
      Helen Tang

      Hi Briggsie,

      I bought it from the Australian dealer at http://www.harps.com.au

      The Camac harp is indeed very nice. I wish I could play on it the whole day.

       

      Helen

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    • Katerina
      Katerina King

      I don't either recommend Aoyama or Camac. 1st sometimes very roughly made and sound is far from delicious. Second... hmm, they are big and heavy, construction is strange and the sound... well, I've seen sounding Camacs and not sounding as well. What I really don't like is that they make some abstract idea of harp, where wood exists very episodically. And the mechanism is very high-tech, but quite strange.
      I can rise 2 hands up for L&H. Take Style100 - I brought several of them for Russian harpists and completely satisfied with their price/quality equivalence. As I remember, it lives in the same price level and mentioned Aoyama.

      Where in Germany do you live? L&H Europe based in Remagen (near Bonn) and headed by Antoni Gralak; probably you'd better call him and make an apointment to see the harps? If you do, tell him hello from me :-)

      Good luck with hunting!

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    • Tony
      Tony Morosco

      Camac harps are big and heavy?

      If someone likes the tone is a personal and subjective thing, as well as if they care for the technological differences between Camac and most other harps, but Camac pedal harps are known for being light and no heavier than the average Lyon and Healy. In fact a quick look shows that most Camac harps are around 35 kg, the same exact weight as the Lyon and Healy Style 100.

      A L&H Style 23 in gold is 188 cm and 37 kg.

      A Camac Oriane in gold is 186 cm and 35 kg

      I don't think characterizing them as big and heavy is a fair statement. Objectively they are on the lighter side and no bigger than most other makers' harps.

       

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    • Saul
      Saul Davis Zlatkovski

      All harps, it seems, have gotten heavier. When I was young, they weighed a mere 78 pounds or less. The necks are bigger, the bases are heavier.

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    • Tony
      Tony Morosco

      Saul, that just confirms that Camac are lighter than average. If you are saying that  most harps are now more than 78 pounds then the Camac average, which converts to slightly over 77 pounds, would be on the light side by both modern and older standards.

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    • Dwyn
      Dwyn .

      As the owner of a 44 string Stumpff Grecian and a 44 string Venus Cherub, I'd roughly estimate that the Grecian weighs half of what the Cherub weighs.  Maybe two thirds, but I really don't think it's more than that.   I really can't quite fathom why modern pedal harp makers have found it necessary to make their creations so heavy.  I can see where it makes some sense to have the base weighted more, to minimize the risk of the harp getting accidentally knocked over, but that could be accomplished with removable iron weights, like the ones found in the bases of floor lamps.

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