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Beginner harp advice please!


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#1 VickyB

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 18:30

Hi All

Does anyone have any experience with the imported harps that are available on ebay and from some other stores?

I bought one on ebay a few months ago and I'm having a few problems with it. I'm a complete beginner, and there is no way I could afford to buy anything else or even rent.

I need to get some of the levers fixed and some strings replaced, but I've tried three different places advertising harp repair and they all say they don't work on them. I'm not sure if this is because they want to sell me one of their own harps!

I just want to get it to a standard where I can play it and have a few lessons. If I decide to pursue the instrument in a couple of years I'd be happy to invest in a better one, but at the moment all my money is going into daughter's piano!

Is it possible to get started on these instruments or are they really not even good enough to play? Would be a shame to have to give up all together! If anyone knows anybody who might be prepared to do a few basic repairs and show me how to restring, please let me know. I'm in Glossop, Derbyshire.

Thanks

Vicky
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#2 GMc

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 21:12

You almost certainly have a "pakistani" harp. If you google that you will find a lot of discussions on sites like harp column forums....Sit down with a glass of something fortifying first though.

Upshot is that some have major structural defects and die a very quick if not immediate death. Others can be persuaded into playable state. Their levers are usually problematic and the harps never come ready to play.

Try Troubleshooting your Lever Harp by David Kolacny (I think ours came from harpcenter site (roughly $11) but likely to be at all the major on line shops like Sylvia Woods and harp.com for DIY advice. And a tuning app or tuner will be required.

Also at the low end of the price range of harps there are unlevered harpsicles and cardboard harps. I know a few people whose cardboard ones have proven to be surprisingly study and pleasant to listen to and lasted them for a while until they could upgrade. Havent seen a harpsicle. Then Blevins have a bargain page that is worth keeping an eye on but shipping adds to that a lot. And Ravennas, although not rock bottom, are more positively reviewed.

Repairers are far more likely to be trying to save you throwing good money after bad than they are to be hoping for a sale. Assuming it to be reparable at all the time they would spend on it would have you ending up paying more than for a better harp. And clearly not worth a new soundboard or neck etc if those are broken.


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#3 erard

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 18:21

My advice would be to give up on the levers, life is too short. Either leave them disengaged all the time or take them off if they rattle. As a beginner you will be able to either work in C major much of the time, or if you really want to be in a different key retune the relevant strings.

What is wrong with the strings that you only want to replace a few? The early music shop sells these harp shaped objects and could presumably provide strings.

Please don't let the sound of these harps put you off the harp. I assure you a better instrument sound much more musical.
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#4 VickyB

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 19:35

Me again! Well I've been learning for 6 months now and so has my daughter, and I think we've reached the limit of what we're going to get out of the harp we have now.

Previous posters were right that it is a cheap import. I don't really regret buying it as it's been a great stepping stone to prove we're both committed and actually the sound isn't so bad, although I might not think that when I've tried a "real" one!

Anyway the lack of levers is now starting to be a real problem, and my daughter is starting to talk about doing grades so it's time to bite the bullet and get something better.

Questions:

Rental - how does this work. I've seen the Hempson 34 is available to rent at ?40 / month. If we decide to buy how much of this is discounted?

What would I be listening / looking for if we go to a stockist and try the harps? It's still early days so I'm not really experienced enough to know what I like.

Any other suggestions of harps in the up to ?1500 price range? What did others start out with?

Thanks

Vicky x
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#5 AWebb

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 08:05

QUOTE(VickyB @ Oct 3 2012, 08:35 PM) View Post

Me again! Well I've been learning for 6 months now and so has my daughter, and I think we've reached the limit of what we're going to get out of the harp we have now.

Previous posters were right that it is a cheap import. I don't really regret buying it as it's been a great stepping stone to prove we're both committed and actually the sound isn't so bad, although I might not think that when I've tried a "real" one!

Anyway the lack of levers is now starting to be a real problem, and my daughter is starting to talk about doing grades so it's time to bite the bullet and get something better.

Questions:

Rental - how does this work. I've seen the Hempson 34 is available to rent at ?40 / month. If we decide to buy how much of this is discounted?

What would I be listening / looking for if we go to a stockist and try the harps? It's still early days so I'm not really experienced enough to know what I like.

Any other suggestions of harps in the up to ?1500 price range? What did others start out with?

Thanks

Vicky x


I started with the Hempson 34, mainly as this is the one my teacher teaches beginners on. I also went for the ?40 rental initially. I believe that if you decide to purchase the harp after 3 or more months you are credited with 3 months' rental off the price. There is some sliding scale that this increases by but it's not month for month, so the best time, if you want to buy it, would be after 3 months.

Mine has served me very well for the year I have been learning and I am about to take grade 3. I'll probably be moving onto a pedal harp after that so I'll be looking to sell mine. My teacher also said that harps don't lose too much value in the second hand market, so if you do decide to sell it again you shouldn't have lost out too much.


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#6 VickyB

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 19:56

Thanks AWebb. That's good to hear. I have also been advised that they hold their value well.

I was wondering about looking out for a second hand one, just because it really will be quite a big commitment for me to buy one and if it saves a few hundred it would really help me out. I don't really want to just go through ebay or similar though. I'd rather know it had been checked over.

Anyone know of any shops that sell ex-rental harps or who check them over before sale?


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#7 soccermom

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 21:13

Any of these take your fancy?

http://www.pilgrimha...ryevents/2.html

http://www.affairsof...com/forsale.asp


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#8 VickyB

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 11:36

Thanks very much for the links. I have had a look and I'm thinking of taking a trip up to the Early Music Shop in half term to have a try of a few harps there.

I've been trying to get on the Little Welsh Shop website today but can't get on. Does anyone know if they are still open or if they've just got a problem with the site?

It's very easy to let the budget creep up isn't it!
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#9 soccermom

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 14:59

QUOTE(VickyB @ Oct 5 2012, 12:36 PM) View Post

It's very easy to let the budget creep up isn't it!


Oh yes!
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#10 erard

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 18:02

Can you buy through your daughter's school or LEA to get the harp VAT free? If you can this is likely to work out better than 2nd hand, especially once you take the cost of replacing old strings and such like into account.

Do you have a teacher? His or her advice should be most useful.

For grades you will want 34 strings and full levers. If you might ever go towards pedals or are interested in classical music many teachers prefer gut strings. Telynau Teifi, Morley, Telynau Vining, Holywell, Salvi all have 34 string harps in your price range and the Pilgrim Skylark is not much above if you can get VAT off. Can you get to a harp festival, such as the Edinburgh one around Easter to see what you fall in love with? I don't know what has happened to the Little Welsh Shop- the website has been down for a while. I am sure Pilgrim or Teifi whose harps they stocked, would be able to tell you.
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#11 Collyermum

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 12:51

QUOTE(erard @ Oct 5 2012, 07:02 PM) View Post

I don't know what has happened to the Little Welsh Shop- the website has been down for a while. I am sure Pilgrim or Teifi whose harps they stocked, would be able to tell you.


I do know that they lost the rights to be the sole dealers in the UK, or to deal at all, in Triplett harps. Which is a shame as I bought a beautiful Triplett harp from them a couple of years ago and I am now finding it hard to get spare strings without having to get them direct from the States. It may be that they have stopped trading altogether?

There are other dealers selling Triplett harps in the UK and selling strings for the models they stock, if you come across one I can recommend them, they are lovely harps!

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#12 soccermom

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 07:16

If you're planning a trip to the Early Music Shop you might try to visit http://www.holywellm...co.uk/harps.php on the same day so that you and your daughter can try out some Lyon & Healys and Salvis.

It's worth phoning in advance a) to get a price list (there isn't one on their website) and b) to make an appointment so that they can spend time with you while you try out different models. You might find the perfect harp for you and then hang on to see if one comes up second hand (or delay buying until you can afford it)!

I'm no expert, but I get the impression that most harps from the big names keep their value pretty well, so if you buy a reasonably new one second hand it is not particularly cheap - think list price minus VAT, though if you buy 2nd hand you might also get covers and a few spares strings included - but you are likely to be able to sell it again at more or less what you bought it for.

If you can get the VAT off, you might as well go for a new one


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#13 VickyB

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 21:13

Thanks everyone for the replies.

Soccermom - I was planning to visit the EMS in Saltaire, as I live in the north west. I rang them today and they said they have quite a few harps in stock - the EMS and the Camac ones in particular. I think it'll be worth a day out to have a look. I also spoke to Morley today.

At the moment the Hempson 34 is top of my list as it looks like a good harp for the money. I will do a bit more research before making a final decision though.
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#14 soccermom

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 21:41

QUOTE(VickyB @ Oct 8 2012, 10:13 PM) View Post

Thanks everyone for the replies.

Soccermom - I was planning to visit the EMS in Saltaire, as I live in the north west.


Oh I didn't realise there was one outside London (and neither did I know there was one in London until this morning when I googled it)!

Hope you find something you both like.
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