New 44 string Harp – BUYER BEWARE


  • Participant
    markoharps@gmail.com on #210022

    Fellow Harpists. I wanted to share something with you if you are looking for a mid-range (44 string) pedal harp. There are very few companies making this size. Lyon and Healy has made of few this size but they are now out of that business. I had one built by a company in Chicago with over 45 years experience in the field. It took a few months and $12,250 but the harp is physically beautiful with a huge body and soundboard giving it an amazing rich and warm sound with terrific projection.

    But when the harp arrived I noticed something with the F string in the second octave. The second octave on pedal harps is right where the harmonic curve in the neck changes direction and the action is all “crowded together” in this area. Some harps are difficult to regulate because of this design. The tech tried to fix it but it would just “thump” instead of ring in the natural and sharp pedal position. During the next week the entire second octave had this problem. This is because the (nylon) strings all stretched to their final position. The tech came back and did what he could but the problem keeps getting worse. Also, the neck has started twisting which is alarming in a brand new harp. So the harp is not useable and is sitting in the corner of my studio.

    I contacted the factory and they insist that I drive the harp to the factory and pay for any repairs myself. Remember, it is a brand new harp and there is a warrantee. But that did not seem to matter to them. A new neck and relocating tuning discs is not a cheap affair (about $10,000) and there is no guarantee that I will have a playable harp. So that is not happening. This venture was a total loss for me.

    So if you are looking to buy a 44 string harp – I strongly suggest you buy a used one and play it first. Some of these harps are truly amazing. But if you have a new one built, it is a gamble. I would like to think that mine is a unique story but, sadly, I know of other buyers with similar experiences from this factory.


    Participant
    wil-weten on #210039

    I am sorry for your sad situation.

    I wonder whether you spoke to a random employee (like the technician) of that company or to the highest approachable person in the hierarchy of that company. This could make all the difference.

    If that doesn’t work, you could try and send a letter addressed to the highest person of that company personally and explain the situation.

    There must be several other ways to get an adequate solution for your problem.

    I would refrain from exposing them (like you have been doing in this thread and in another thread) before you have tried any other means to make them do the right thing.


    Participant
    carl-swanson on #210042

    I just would like some clarification. Do the second octave strings sound fine in flat(when the action is not engaged)? Or is the problem there in all three positions(flat, natural, and sharp)?


    Participant
    markoharps@gmail.com on #210043

    I have been dealing with the president of the company. Naturally, he is being very protective of the company.

    The strings ring beautifully in the “flat” position. It is only when the discs (try to) engage that they go “dead” and sound like a ukelele. I have been told that this is because the discs are not engaging the strings properly. The tech tried to fix the problem but to no avail.


    Participant
    charles-nix on #210044

    You may find it helpful to study what a company can and cannot exclude from their warranty. The FTC has a guide here: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/businesspersons-guide-federal-warranty-law. I am not a lawyer, but an owner of a company that manufactures instruments (not harps).

    You have the right to an implied warranty of merchantability, which they cannot change. They are within their right to require you to transport or ship to their facility–as annoying as that is. They may also refuse to pay for warranty repairs by non-authorized technicians–but they can’t void the warranty just because someone else worked on it. Why are they saying you should pay for the repairs?

    Following up to Carl’s question, I’m wondering “how” they are not engaging properly? Are the natural and sharp discs not centered under each other? It seems like you could get the adjustable lined up with the center of at least the natural disc.

    You are rightly frustrated, and feel wronged. Yet one wonders if the company misunderstands the true nature of the problem. Is it possible there is too much anger in the air for clear communication?


    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #210052

    I can only guess that the discs are overgripping the strings to be able to cut off their resonance, or there is another problem not to do with the action. Or they are being displaced enough to affect how they interact with the body. Or is the string length too short to reverberate? Any company must stand by its warranty. Having to pay for shipping, though, is typical.


    Participant
    Sylvia on #210061

    You don’t say how you contact and communicate with the company. You need to document all calls…day, time, who you spoke to, what was said. Write to them and get them to respond in writing. Have the tech who came twice to visit the harp write a report for each visit…day, time, the condition of the harp.
    Keep a file of all communication and details of the situation, and make copies.
    If the company does not honor the warranty and continues to disregard your situation, contact the attorney general of your state and file a consumer complaint.


    Participant
    carl-swanson on #210062

    Your comment that “the strings ring beautifully in the flat position” tells me that the problem is with the action, not the wood harp frame. Normally when there is a dead sound of a string in either natural or sharp position, it means that the back plate screw for that disc is not pushing the spindle hard enough against the front plate. If the back plate screw is too loose, the result will be either a dead sound to that pitch or a kind of buzzing, especially if it is on one of the wire strings. If the back plate screw is too tight, then it can bind up that chain and prevent the discs from moving at all. So it’s a tricky adjustment. I don’t understand why the technician has not tried that already.


    Participant
    markoharps@gmail.com on #210090

    You are exactly right. It is a problem with the action for those strings. The tech did try to work it out. But there is another problem that compounds the issue. Because the neck has already started twisting (remember, this is a brand new harp) the forks BARELY even reach the strings in the first place. The tech says that they plan to use a newer disc with longer forks soon but, sadly, I got stuck with the “last of them” (his words).

    A brand new harp with a twisted neck and discs that don’t engage properly does not sound like a harp that will support my busy performance schedule. I need a harp that is reliable from a company that supports its customers.

    I have given the harp away and purchased a new Lyon Healy concert grand with an amazing sound. I really wanted a smaller harp but, alas, there are simply no options out there. My hope is to help other harpists avoid such a costly mistake.


    Participant
    Sylvia on #210096

    You must have a lot of money to keep buying harps!
    Your last post sounds like the company sent their own tech. What a scam job, covering themselves.
    The 44 was a defective product. It is not your job to fix it. If you bought a TV or other product and it didn’t work right, you would take it back and either they would replace the product or give you your money back…you wouldn’t take it to a TV repair place and pay them to try to make it work.
    I don’t understand why you let that harp company get away with selling defective merchandise and not having to refund your money.
    Like I said, the attorney general’s office should have been notified of what the company did. They could stop that company from ripping off other people.


    Participant
    carl-swanson on #210103

    I guess there are not any smaller pedal harps being made now. I’ve heard this a couple of times from several different people. That’s too bad. The alternative is to buy a smaller used harp in good condition. Keep an eye on my web site(www.swansonharp.com) for used harps that I have for sale. I’ve got to put some more up there soon, and later in the year, or the beginning of next year I’ll have another 6 to put up there. So you might find something there that meets your needs.

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