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44 Strings Extended or 46 String Straight?

  • S
    S Chaler

    Hello,

    I plan to buy a pedal harp for my 11 year-old daughter. She's been learning harp for a year. Since harp is her third instrument (after piano and cello) and I'm not sure how long she will continue to play, I limit my budget to $15,000, within which I think I can choose a good student level harp from a few reputable brands. Should I buy a 44 strings one with extended soundboard or 46-47 strings with straight soundboard? For instance, Camac Clio-Ex 44 is the same price as Athena -St 47 and a bit more expensive than Schola-St 46. The harp will be placed in a loft and does not have to be moved for lessons, nor used in the school orchestra. It will be for her practice/pleasure only.

    Thank you in advance for any suggestions.

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    replies to "44 Strings Extended or 46 String Straight?"
    • Barbara
      Barbara Low

      I would recommend your daughter play the harps you are considering and let her pick the one she enjoys playing the most. They will all respond differently to her touch and technique. That being said, I'd personally go for the Clio extended board. It'll look more substantial with the extensions if she does eventually play for the public. If she goes further in her pursuits with the harp, it will be a good gigging instrument because of the light weight while her concert grand stays safe at home. Again, this is just my opinion.

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    • Catherine
      Catherine Rogers

      I agree your daughter should play the harps if possible. However, it also depends on the music she wants to play. There are some pieces which require bass notes not available on the Clio so you have to either omit them or play them an octave higher (not always possible). One example is "La Source" by Hasselmans. If her teacher doesn't plan to assign works like that, no problem.


      Also consider how tall she may become. She's still growing at age 11. If her parents are each 5' 7" or taller, she may be that or taller, and she may eventually find a Clio too small for comfort, if the harp you buy now will be her only one. Is she tall enough now to comfortably play a larger harp? What does her teacher advise? On the other hand, a 44-string harp may satisfy any need she will ever have.


      I'm not trying to talk you out of any particular harp. All three you mentioned are fine instruments. I own and use both a Clio and a concert grand. Everyone's needs are different.

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    • S
      S Chaler

      Thank you Barbara and Catherine.

      I forgot to mention we do not live in the US. In our area, there are only two dealers (one with limited selection, the other with no stock) so there isn't much chance for my daughter to try playing on several harps. I'm more likely to order the harp unheard directly from the maker.

      My daughter is now 5'2". She barely supports the weight her teacher's concert grand with her foot reaching the pedal while the heal touches the floor. I do hope she will be at least 5'6".

      Her teacher is away for two weeks so I haven't discussed this with her.

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    • Briggsie B.
      Briggsie B. Peawiggle, Esq.

      If she is that small, I think the Clio would  be better. The Athena, even straight, is a pretty big instrument for someone her size.

      Briggs

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    • Saul
      Saul Davis Zlatkovski

      I think it is vitally important to buy 46 or 47 string harps, because you have no guarantees that you'll have enough later on to buy a concert grand. Some people get stuck on 40 or 44 string harps that just don't have enough to play on. I suggest you get a second-hand Style 30, 100, 17, or 85, which I think you can find for that price.

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    • Sid
      Sid Humphreys

      I agree with Saul here. Check with the dealer and see what your monthly instalments would be on the different sized instruments. You may be surprised at what you can afford. I started with a Salvi Daphne 40 and within 2 years was needing lower strings for the music I was playing. Luckily, Lyon and Healy has a great turn around program and credited me almost the full cost if my Daphne for an L&H 23. Fifteen years later, I would like to have a smaller harp for some on site rehearsals and giging but it isn't in my budget. I'm very glad to have the 47 strings right now. Hope this helps!

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    • harp
      harp guy

      If $15k is your budget, I would definitely take a look at some secondhand instruments. Also, Venus Harps have a few Semi-Grand pedal harps with extended soundboards for about that much money. And these are new harps. I personally haven't played a Venus, but from what I hear they are every bit as good as L&H, Salvi, and Camac.

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    • Bonnie
      Bonnie Shaljean

      Where are you based? I echo Harp Guy's suggestion that you should also look at some secondhand ones, though be sure to get the teacher's first-hand (i.e. she's played it) opinion before making any commitment.  I also think there's no point in buying something that's too big for your daughter.  If she has difficulty coping with it now, and gets put off playing because of this, there's not going to be a Later.  And if there is, you'll have plenty of time to save up (plus a saleable instrument to help fund a new one).

      If you're based in the UK there are two websites you should have a look at, both with secondhand harps advertised:

      http://www.affairsoftheharp.com/

      http://www.secondhandharps.co.uk/



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    • S
      S Chaler

      Thank you all for your nice comments.

      We live in Bangkok, where the harp community is really small. There are neither renting/rent-to-buy plans, nor second-hand harps for sale that I am aware of. 

      Today I took my daughter to the only dealer/harp school and she got to play a Salvi Arion. She tried the three songs she has been practising (on pedal harp) with no problems size-wise and enjoyed the experience. 

      I also contacted Venus and Aoyama. I will gather all the information and discuss with the teacher again later.

      We are in no rush to change to the pedal model. I'd just like to have as much information as possible before investing in one. This forum has been my main source of knowledge about harps. Thanks again!

       

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    • Kathy
      Kathy Chanik

      I LOVE those Salvi Arions.  I've tried a couple at harp festivals.  They are a great medium size, not too big or too small.  And they have the new soundboard design, where the extension of the board starts up higher than older harps, and it makes for a very nice sound.  Plus they're pretty.  I think this would be a good choice for your daughter, and it would certainly last her a lifetime-Kathy Chanik.

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    • don
      don morin

      you should check out virginia harp center.. they have an amazing selection of used in great condition for cheaper...or you can phone this lady in ottawa, ontario, canada, her name is kathy elarte...you can check her website at www.vixenharps.com she can help you out.....if your daughter is that small try the lyon healy     style 85 gp grand petite...its 14900.00us...it has the extended soundboard, it has 44 strings, its shorter, is lighter than a normal pedal harp, pklus is has a bounty program that if you buy a harp from them, you can trade back up for something better, and thell apply original or close to original purchase price to your next purchase, ...its pretty much the same with salvi harps.....

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    • Brook
      Brook Boddie

      I love the Arions also.  I've played two of them, and they both had a great sound.  If I were looking to purchase another pedal harp, I'd definitely give this model serious consideration.

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    • Sharon
      Sharon Avis

      I just read about your search for a pedal harp.  I tried out a Venus Cherub and bought it.  It's about the size of a Lyon & Healy 15 which isn't made anymore.  I went to the AHS Conference in Michigan and tried out as many harps as I could.  This Cherub had the best sound, it was new and it was under $15,000.  I'm a professional harpist and play many different kinds of music.  This harp has 44 strings and I sometimes have to adjust my music for the lowest bass notes.  However, the weight of the harp is much less than a 47-string harp and we all know that most of them weigh at least 80 lbs.  If you can go to any of the harp workshops this summer, there are tons of harps brought in by the different manufacturers and that would be an ideal time to try out harps.  I know that there are some workshops in Canada so if you're checking this forum, try to get to one!  Good luck!

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    • Briggsie B.
      Briggsie B. Peawiggle, Esq.

      She lives in Thailand.

      I wonder what she ended up with.....would be nice to see the follow-up on this.

      Briggsie

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    • Sherry
      Sherry Lenox

      Tne Salvi Arion 44 has been discontinued, and the 47 string harp is pretty big. I wonder how the two differ from one another. They're very pretty.

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    • S
      S Chaler

      Thank you everybody who has kindly contributed to this post.

      My daughter’s teacher suggested we look at 46-47 strings rather than 44 for more complex pieces in the future, seeing that my daughter is likely to be quite tall soon (she is now almost 5’4” at 11).

      Since we are not in the US, the harp would have to be ordered unseen/unheard either through the local dealer or by myself. We finally chose to go directly with Venus after months of numerous email messages between me and Denise at Venus. She has been tremendously helpful, always replying to our emails promptly with detailed information and providing us with updates of our 46-string Encore. She sent photos of parts of our harp in progress. She and Wally also tried to find nicely grained curly maple, a little gold crown for the harp, etc, as per my daughter’s requests.

      The hours of research we spent in search of the harp have been worthwhile for my daughter. All harp companies, distributors/dealers, and harpists I contacted in Asia and the US were helpful, so are many posts on this Forum. My daughter doesn’t have the chance to try a lot of harps at conventions like in the US. She’s only seen about a dozen of pedal harps in person and played on just a couple of them. I think to witness her own harp in the making through the photos and updates Denise sent makes it more special for her than ordering a ready-made one. We are really excited to get it soon.

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    • David
      David Ice

      Congratulations on your new harp purchase.  I've had Venus make two custom harps for me, and I'm absolutely delighted with each one--not only the sound (!) but also finish, woodworking, mechanics, and service.

      Dave Ice

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    • Darhon
      Darhon Rees-Rohrbacher

      Venus harps are the BEST....they are the only pedal harp I buy!

      When in doubt, and if a harp will likely be your ONLY harp, I always recommend a 46 string model. It's large enough to play most anything, but not quite as cumbersome as a full concert grand 47 string.

      In fact, I have another Venus 46-string harp on order as I write this....

      Darhon

       

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    • Barbara
      Barbara Low

      Congratulations! I'm sure your daughter will be delighted with her harp.

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    • S
      S Chaler

      Hello,

      Since this post has been revived, I would like to give an updated feedback on our Venus Encore.  My daughter has been very pleased with the warm sound and the look that the kind people at Venus catered to the description of her dream harp.

      We thought the Encore sounded very nice from the beginning. It has been pretty much problem-free and settled quickly, considering the transport from the US and drastic change of weather. In the past few months since it has been with us, the sound has matured some more and it is such a joy to listen to.

      When we have some minor problems, like a repetitively broken string, we email Denise at Venus, who normally gets back to us right away with helpful suggestions or even sending a repair kit. I cannot ask for more.

      Thank you and Merry Christmas!

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