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Harp.... Too Good To Be True?


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#1 JonB

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 08:30

Hi all

Im just starting out, really want to get learning to play the harp but as im sure you all know, cash is a pretty big factor. I found a set of listings from a (seemingly) reputable seller on ebay, with harps at crazy low prices. Have a look:

http://cgi.ebay.co.u...1QQcmdZViewItem

Im so tempted but I cant help asking myself how these harps can be so cheap. I mean granted they wont be as good as a pilgrim clarsach or similar, but theyre a quater of the price. I emailled the seller about the item and he says the strings are nylon (except the bottom octave) and the strings are the same width and spacing as a concert harp.

Any thoughts? It seems too good to be true.
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#2 mcm

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 12:02

Do you know the make? There are bad reports about some of those made in the east.

However it looks very like the Mitre harp sold by the Early Music Shop for £746 or £671 from DJMusic. So on the one hand the ebay seller is a bit dishonest saying you can't buy it for less that £1500 in the High St, but on the other it is still less than the EMS.

If it is the same harp then it is probably reasonable, as shops like the EMS don't sell junk, and the low price will reflect the low overheads of a purely internet business. As always, though, caveat emptor!

Can't you find a teacher or another player who could give you some advice?
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#3 JonB

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 12:29

QUOTE(mcm @ Jul 27 2007, 01:02 PM) View Post

Do you know the make? There are bad reports about some of those made in the east.

However it looks very like the Mitre harp sold by the Early Music Shop for £746 or £671 from DJMusic. So on the one hand the ebay seller is a bit dishonest saying you can't buy it for less that £1500 in the High St, but on the other it is still less than the EMS.

If it is the same harp then it is probably reasonable, as shops like the EMS don't sell junk, and the low price will reflect the low overheads of a purely internet business. As always, though, caveat emptor!

Can't you find a teacher or another player who could give you some advice?


I will ask my teacher when I get back up to uni, but I thought id ask here just incase someone could notice something obvious that I hadnt. I will have a look at the Mitre Harp at ems.

Thanks

Jon
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#4 harpist

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 12:29

Hi JonB,

Don't touch it!!!! Any good harpist will tell you the same thing - I know it is incredibly tempting though. When I first started the harp I looked on ebay and came very close to buying one. Nylon strings are rubbish and the sound quality will be very poor, the wood is bad quality, its not easy (or nice) to play...the list is endless. After a lot of convincing I decided to hire a harp and I would suggest that you do the same. I now have a pilgrim clarsach. I went to a harp festival to try out harps and there was a cheap seller trying to scam people into buying these Pakistan harps. When I played it I was so relieved I hadn't bought one off ebay.

I hope this post makes sense as I am rushed for time. My advice is stay away and save up your money. Hope this helps,

Lil_miz_music x
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#5 JonB

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 13:08

QUOTE(lil_miz_music @ Jul 27 2007, 01:29 PM) View Post

Hi JonB,

Don't touch it!!!! Any good harpist will tell you the same thing - I know it is incredibly tempting though. When I first started the harp I looked on ebay and came very close to buying one. Nylon strings are rubbish and the sound quality will be very poor, the wood is bad quality, its not easy (or nice) to play...the list is endless. After a lot of convincing I decided to hire a harp and I would suggest that you do the same. I now have a pilgrim clarsach. I went to a harp festival to try out harps and there was a cheap seller trying to scam people into buying these Pakistan harps. When I played it I was so relieved I hadn't bought one off ebay.

I hope this post makes sense as I am rushed for time. My advice is stay away and save up your money. Hope this helps,

Lil_miz_music x


I was looking at hiring a clarsach from pilgrim to start with, but buying a cheap one on ebay was almost cheaper than hiring for a few months. I can see that the pilgrim harps will be far superior, but a clarsach is over £2000, I dont really have that kind of money. I will probably start out hiring a clarsach and see how it is, but after the 3 months im not sure what il do.

Jon
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#6 over the hill clarinettist

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 13:16

Where are you based?

I ask because my daughter currently has a harp on hire from Cymdeithas Cerdd Dant, and the application etc was dealt with by her teacher. Their hire costs aren't cheap by any means (works out at just about £35 per month), but that is for a Salvi Daphne 40 pedal harp approx 5 years old (so in fairly good nick!)

Also, if you are in any way connected with Scouts or Guides, see if your County or Region or Country has a musical instrument load scheme, as daughter had an Erard from the Guides first, at a ridiculously cheap hire fee of about £75 per year. However, this one wasn't in such good nick!

Some firms will take hire fees off the cost of a subsequent purchase within a certain amount of time - I'm pretty sure that both Salvi and Clive Morley harps operate like that.

Best of luck
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#7 harpist

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 15:42

QUOTE(JonB @ Jul 27 2007, 02:08 PM) View Post

I was looking at hiring a clarsach from pilgrim to start with, but buying a cheap one on ebay was almost cheaper than hiring for a few months. I can see that the pilgrim harps will be far superior, but a clarsach is over £2000, I dont really have that kind of money. I will probably start out hiring a clarsach and see how it is, but after the 3 months im not sure what il do.

Jon


Completely agree as to why you were thinking about purchasing the harp off ebay. It is incredibly tempting but but when a girl I knew got one, the levers started falling off and she had to hold them on with rubber bands! You would be fed up of your harp after a week!
Look around to see who is offering harp hire. If you are in Scotland then try 'The Clarsach Society' - I'm not sure that they do loans outside of Scotland. They have very reasonable prices although the waiting list can be very long. Near me there is an adult learners group which offers cheap harp hire if you go on one of their courses. There might be something like that near you. If you are in full-time education then there is a scheme that you can purchase a vat-free instrument if your school/place of education buys it for you and you pay them back. Also look into second hand harps for sale - you can sometimes get some real bargins if you hunt around. Are you studying music at University? Maybe one of the teacher there could advise you or you might get free lessons if you take a course in the instrument. Whatever you do - don't give up! The harp is a wonderful instrument. biggrin.gif Good luck and feel free to PM me if you need any more advice.

QUOTE(over the hill clarinettist @ Jul 27 2007, 02:16 PM) View Post

I ask because my daughter currently has a harp on hire from Cymdeithas Cerdd Dant, and the application etc was dealt with by her teacher. Their hire costs aren't cheap by any means (works out at just about £35 per month), but that is for a Salvi Daphne 40 pedal harp approx 5 years old (so in fairly good nick!)

Also, if you are in any way connected with Scouts or Guides, see if your County or Region or Country has a musical instrument load scheme, as daughter had an Erard from the Guides first, at a ridiculously cheap hire fee of about £75 per year. However, this one wasn't in such good nick!



Do Cymdeithas Cerdd Dant do harp hire outside of Wales? I am hiring a clarsach at the moment but am looking for a reasonable price for pedal harp hire. Also, how can I find out more information about loan schemes through places like Guides. I'm not a member but I would happily join to get a harp! tongue.gif laugh.gif
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#8 over the hill clarinettist

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 16:51

Not sure about the Cymdeithas Cerdd Dant hiring outside Wales - can't see any reason why they wouldn't as long as you're a member (I think that's a condition of the hire, but membership is only about £10 per year). Won't see teacher until September but can ask at the stand in the National Eisteddfod which starts a week today in Mold (I'll be there on Tuesday and Thursday at the very least as I have volunteered to help out at one of the stands).

Guides - well she was a Guide and I'm a Rainbow and Brownie Guider. If you look on the Girlguiding UK website (www.girlguiding.org.uk) I'm pretty sure they have links to the different Regions although they do tend to operate a central membership number. Or ask around your town or friends to see if anyone knows anything about a scheme. Doesn't matter why you join, but you should continue to be a member whilst you're hiring (IMO) - having said that, you might well really enjoy it anyway!
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#9 Guest: petrat_*

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 17:00

If you have a teacher perhaps you could arrange to go to see these harps before you buy, or perhaps you could ask the seller if there are any folk in your area who have bought that you could talk to. If he offers a decent guarantee they might be worth looking at. If you are wanting to play folk music only the nylon strings could be ok. I use them on my small harp and love the sound that they produce. I use mine for playing mediaeval drones and things and it is good for that purpose. There are good second hand instruments to be had from players who are upgrading and a teacher may well know of some instruments that are for sale.
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#10 JonB

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 20:07

Thanks for all your responses! In regards to hiring I am happy with pilgrim to hire from, they are close to me (I live near oxford and I go to uni in leeds) and their harps are good quality by the sounds of it. I want to play classical pieces, so if money wasnt an option I would get a pedal harp first but I really cant afford it. I could buy second hand but even then its £4000+. Im glad I didnt go ahead and give in to this harp on ebay, instinct says its cheap for a reason.

Unfortunately im not based in particularly harp friendly societies, suffice to say ive never been in the same room as a harp before, and its a long days march to find a harp to try or buy. Hiring a pedal harp might be an idea but it gets pretty expensive, credited against a new harp or not, I still need to play for a fair few months before I shell out that kind of cash.

I dont actually study music, theory wise I am not at all musical but I taught myself bass and guitar (acoustic) an used to do clarinet (grade 2 distinction). I study cybercrime and security funilly enough, nothing to do with music but in my spare time music is a big part of my life. I also DJ for myself, so ive pretty much got the genres covered biggrin.gif .

Incidentally can you learn classical harp pieces (up to a certain grade) on a lever harp?
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#11 over the hill clarinettist

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 23:00

Have a look at the Syllabus for Harp on the Exam part of this site - they're in single grade files, or you can get the whole lot in one file (all Adobe pdf)

Each piece is marked on the left with a symbol. The asterisk (*) means that it is suitable for both pedal and lever harp, the sword (†) means that it is for pedal harp only and the double cross (‡) means that it is for lever harp only. There's usually a good mix of all three in each list.

You may notice that the scales requirement for lever harp is significantly less than that for pedal harp, as it is so much easier to change a note (either sharpen or flatten it) with a pedal harp. Grade 4 for pedal harp included all scales, and arpeggios in root and first inversions. When I saw this I was horrified - for clarinet, we don't even have to do both harmonic and melodic minors until grade 6!!

If Pilgrim is quite close to you, see if you can go there one day and try a few harps out, or sign up to Clive Morley's newsletter, as they attend events around the country - the last thing we had from them was advertising the Derby Harp festival in late October this year. That's not too far from Leeds. If you want more details of this PM me - but I'm at Stalybridge Adult Learners concert tomorrow , so you might not get a reply until Sunday.
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#12 harpist

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 18:43

QUOTE(JonB @ Jul 27 2007, 09:07 PM) View Post

Incidentally can you learn classical harp pieces (up to a certain grade) on a lever harp?

Yes, before 2005 ABRSM only allowed non-pedal harps up until Grade 5 but since then non-pedal harps are allowed to be used up until Grade 8 biggrin.gif (as long as they have a minimum of 34 strings). As over the hill clarinettist has said, look in the syllabus and instead of printing off hundreds of pages you could go down to your local music shop and see if they have a copy of the syllabus (which comes in a nice little blue book!) Try getting some books which contain the grade pieces (making sure they are suited to your harp!). The only thing that may get in your way is the lever changes because classical pieces can have many accidentals in them. Good luck!
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#13 *Pianola*

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 12:50

Camac Harps have beautiful lever harps at very reasonable prices. I played one on Thursday in a competition at the Eisteddfod in Fflint on Thursday and got 3rd!
I think that they are based in Cardiff.
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#14 over the hill clarinettist

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 16:34

Hey I was there on Thursday! I did spend the afternoon working on the Unsain stand, though. My daughter went in to watch the under 16 harp competition and saw a couple of players before she had to run off to something else - as usual the competitions were running a bit late.

I think one of the harpists she saw play was Glain Dafydd (Texaco Young Welsh Musician of the Year). As I told her - next year, Glain will be 16 so will have to play in the 16-19 competition, so you could go in for this if you want (she'll be 15 at Xmas). I think the thought of having to drag a harp down to Cardiff next year, with the probability of being in the caravan as well (!), was rather daunting, so she probably won't go for it.

Thursday was a long day for us, we arrived at 8:45 and left at 19:15 - but the last 2 hours was spent by the bar watching performers on the Tesco stage there. It's so much more relaxing now that one can buy alcohol on the Maes tongue.gif

We were there on Tuesday and again yesterday. Yesterday my hubby was in charge of the slideshow that went along with the talk on "Mendelssohn in Mold" - his aunt and uncle were in the choir that sang some of the works. Was so completely enthralled by "Evening Bell" that I forgot to take any photos during it (so did daughter!) - in case you don't know this is the only piece that Mendelssohn composed for harp (with piano) and the speaker, Goronwy Wynne, couldn't find any trace of it, aprt from in Groves dictionary, until someone contacted him to say that it had recently been published on the continent and they had a friend in Switzerland with a copy. It was also nice that although the choir was mostly made up of pensioneers (that's a local word, not a typo!), the solo harpist, pianist and the duetting soprano sisters were all young (late teens - early twenties) and all from the local area.

Although it's physically exhausting going round the Eisteddfod, I can't wait until next year!

Well done on the third place!!!! Did you have to do a prelim? Were you in the Paf or one of the other competition tents?

PS Got some great Dr Who ringtones via free Bluetooth from BBC too! Anyone for "Exterminate! Exterminate!" ??
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#15 hello_cello

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 19:48

I would buy it if you want to
BUT
ONLY if it has like a 7day money back refund policy or something similar
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