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What is it that you get out of harp rental (first harp)


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#1 RoseRodent

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 10:38

I always read the same advice to rent a harp before buying one, which seems like sound advice, but I'm curious now as to what you actually learn from the renting. It seems that if you rent a harp and buy the model you rented then you may as well have bought it at the beginning. If you rent a harp and you don't like the one you are renting then how are you further forward as to what to buy? Or do you rent one for 3 months then return it and rent a different one so you get to try lots? Which would be a serious investment in couriers back and forth! By the end of a a year doing that you would have a harp half paid for but instead most of the money would be lost rather than spent on a harp. If you rent from the same people you eventually buy from you get credit against the purchase price, so it would seem to make sense to try to rent the harp you think you want to buy, so I would like to get the rental as right as possible. I am pretty ready to sign on the line for a rental harp, but I don't understand what it's teaching me.

What do you get out of the rental process?
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#2 Norway

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 11:42

I rented one first (from Pilgrim). There are different stringing tensions available - it's worth trying in case you wear your fingers to the bone! I stuck with my higher tension model, but could have switched to a lower tension one if needed. My Pilgrim harp has been great - the fact that a company allows a rental first shows that they have confidence in their product. At the time I was looking, I tried some other makes too - some were good but some had tuning pin slippage problems.
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#3 Collyermum

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 12:23

I know what you mean about courier charges - they are what put me off renting, but I was lucky and was able to rent an Ashdown (Pilgrim) from my teacher for 6 months.

From this, and the 6 months playing experience (and listening to my teacher play different harps) I learnt:

Which string spacing I preferred (Wide - concert spacing, or narrower - folk)
Different looseness of string tension - tight (ouch, but similar to a pedal harp if you want to move one day) pr looser (easier for fast work, not so hard on the hand muscles as well as the fingerpads) or really loose "folk" (good for fast folk or latin american type harp music)
Different tone - lighter/brighter/deeper
More or less damping required on different harps - some people like their harps light and bright sounding, good for fast work, need less damping, but less sonorous. I like lots of richness and sonority myself - not something I could get out of a pilgrim clarsach harp but could from other makes, both with concert and folk tension.
Ergonomics - some harps are just more comfortable for *you* to play than others!
Strings - gut or nylon, what proportion of metal wound strings you want on your harp
Number of strings on the harp - as many as possible, but this does impact on ergonomics and string type/mix

You really can't tell these things without playing them. If you are a beginner on the harp, you need to play something for a good few months so that you can start to know your own personal preferences for these things. Its hard to judge before you start playing - you can tell what sound you like before you start, if you are a musician already as you are, but what feels right and will work for your style and preferences of music for the harp will take some time for you to know.

HTH, PM me or reply if you have any more questions!
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#4 GMc

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 12:38

Well, for kids and adults there is quite an attrition rate. So parents are naturally keen to see if kids are committed. We had a rental for a few months from our teacher then ordered a fully camac levered 37 string Andrew Thom from Tasmania. Also liked our local maker Tim Guster who makes lovely Native aussie wood harps. Then a year or so later started the hunt for a concert grand pedal. Clearly not uk options! Harp owners tend to start collections....

Some people do start with a "cheap" harp and buy it but then they usually want an upgrade fairly fast. And they like to play loads to make the right choice. Tensioning varies with the type of music the harp is intended for. And by cheap I mean something like a Ravenna or a harpsicle not a rosewood ebay job that is almost invariablly a disaster.

Lyon and healy do a buy back trade in scheme for their lever harps if you end up going for one of their pedal haps so a lot of people we know have an ogden!

Sizes vary a lot so you need to think about how many strings you want too. And if it fits in the car....that becomes dodgy around the 37 mark for smaller cars. And anyone you plays other instruments would want fully levered I would have thought. So lever preferences come into it too. Camac are a very popular lever (and are put on loads of harps not just camacs).

So i think the answer is that it gives you time to choose a harp you really want.









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#5 RoseRodent

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 16:54

Lots to think about there. Most people I asked at the festival seemed not to have really thought about it, just assumed that renting was a good idea because they had been told it was a good idea. If you remove from the equation the worry that a child will suddenly quit or will grow or require a move to a pedal harp then they couldn't think of any reasons to rent.

I am fortunate (if you call a broken body fortunate!) in that I need never investigate a pedal harp. I tried one to see if it was possible for me to physically shift the pedals and it requires far too much work from my legs, so that's an all-time no to the pedal harp market.

From there onwards i start to get a bit stuck, though. When we get into the usual quiestions which help you to decide, the answers are fuzzy:

What type of music do I want to play? well, excluding things which are overly chromatic and blatantly unsuitable for a lever harp - everything. I don't stick to one genre on my viola and don't see the need to do that on a harp either, so Mozart, Scottish traditional, jazz and pop are equally on teh table.

Do I want it portable or not? I don't know! I play various portable instruments and fully enjoy getting together with others to do that, but my main harp-related aim is to make that lovely sound. I don't think I have any great need to do it anywhere but my house, and if I attend festivals and such like that will be nomore than quarterly so if I have to arrange to move a giant harp so be it.

Tension and spacing: I don't think I'm that bothered at this stage. With no desire to go pedal I have no need to get used to a particular sort, although I remember playing one harp once and it actually putting me off the instrument completely as I thought if this is what folk harps feel like you can forget it, so very light tension is probably not for me.

Much as I want to say it's about the sound, I have to love it. Don't you BUY no ugly harp! (A reference those who have never lived in the Southern states of the US are unlikely to get, but you might) and no offense to people who adore theirs but nothing with a roll thing on top and nothing gothic.

So, onto more specific things: does anyone have or know someone who has a Camac Madamoiselle? I don't seem to have come across anyone who has any experience with one, which seems odd considering that it seems I've come across owners and former owners of every other harp. I don't know if it's because people who like the pedal harp look just end up getting pedal harps, or perhaps it's the fact that when I have asked Telynau Vining to bring it to various harp events the answer has been a resounding no, so people don't get to see them, and having never seen them nobody buys one and thus nobody recommends one and they just end up never being sold. You always have a certain suspicion that if nobody has something that can't be good, but it could be for any one of these reasons or more.

and finally, I know this is something of a "your mileage may vary" question, as some people have great experiences with them but are in the minority, what do you think of having a rosewood "harp" as a SECOND harp? If I bought something like a Progress lever or a Madamoiselle and found I couldn't bear not being able to carry it about to places where I wish I could have it, how practical might it be to own the likes of a 22-string Heather as a backup which is primarily for the purposes of making a noise in a group? Not for playing in concerts, etc. the harp is an instrument where I want that experience of being an amateur player, I'm a bit jaded with being the semi-pro sitting through hours of repetition for the sake of the amateurs, I have no desire for the portable to be any great shakes, but it would need to - broadly speaking - stay in tune, and hopefully not warp or explode within the first 12 months. With those aims in mind, would you still drive 100 miles to avoid them or is a shorter barge pole worth considering?

Thanks!
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#6 Collyermum

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 18:18

As far as the rosewood harps go, my understanding from the discussions I have seen online is that they don't hold their tune well at all. I wouldn't imagine that travelling with them would improve that, so no, I wouldn't recommend one for session work or similar as a second harp. Something like a harpsicle might suit that better.

You might like to try the Virtualharpcircle on Yahoogroups, there are lots of friendly lever harpists of all experience levels on there from all over the world, and one of them may well have experience of the Camac Mademoiselle.

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#7 erard

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 19:53

Rosewood harps are inconsistent. Some are playable within their limitations (the round backed ones are generally better) and others are just discouraging and if you are buying new or by mail order it is very hard to ensure you get one that is definitely above average.

For a cheapo harp my preference is for one of the various cardboard style harps - they are quiet, generally don't have levers, but are light, cheap, and even feeling. I can put you in touch with a Teifi Dryw Bach that is probably for sale or to try outable if you want one sooner rather than nebulously in the future.

I have not met all these models in person:



http://www.featherwo...truments.co.uk/
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#8 Collyermum

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 21:03

QUOTE(erard @ Apr 8 2013, 07:53 PM) View Post


For a cheapo harp my preference is for one of the various cardboard style harps - they are quiet, generally don't have levers, but are light, cheap, and even feeling. I can put you in touch with a Teifi Dryw Bach that is probably for sale or to try outable if you want one sooner rather than nebulously in the future.




I can add my vote to cardboard harps. My daughter has one until she gets bigger, and its really quite good, it holds its tuning and has a surprisingly good tone.
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#9 soccermom

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 21:55

Perhaps I'm unusual, but I bought a harp without renting first. My daughter had wanted to play for 9 years before I gave in, so I decided that she was unlikely to go off it. Because by then she was 12, it didn't seem worth starting with a lever harp so I bought a 2nd hand Pilgrim Progress, which was the cheapest pedal harp I could find. At the time we couldn't afford to buy new, so there was no advantage in renting first.

I had assumed that if we could never afford to get a full sized pedal harp, the Progress would do indefinitely. I think in retrospect I was wrong. As she continued to get taller, my daughter found the Progress less comfortable to play. I would therefore recommend that you try out as many shapes and sizes as you can, to see what suits you best. It's got to be about the sound, and you have to love the look of it, but there's not much point buying a perfect sounding and looking harp that is uncomfortable or even painful for you to play.

I seem to remember a recent thread about the difficulty you have sitting comfortably at the piano so I imagine that will be a particular consideration in your case.


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#10 GMc

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 02:42

Yes another cardboard vote for tiny and cheap. We heard Jakez Francois walk on playing one that he hd been given as a gift at a concert and he sounded amazing!

We know one person with a Camac Mademoiselle and they love it. Not their first harp either so it impressed them enought to change to it. It is a lever harp that looks more like a pedal harp and competes with the L+H prelude and Salvi Ana. Have heard a couple of other lovely Aziliz Camac lever harps and a gorgeous salvi Livia if you are in the higher price ranges.

But make sure you can get comfortable at whatever you choose and that the tone suits you and is even throughout the range. Occasionally you can get a dead patch that stands out and it isnt usually altered by new string. Harp speak for ttone is bright or warm. Too much bright is tinny, too much warm is muddy at the bottom. In between people vary as to what they like though. My daughter has said in the past the the large camacs seem to sit very lightly on the shoulder and seem to have quite a large angle where they balance and feel weightless on you. All harps have a balance point however so no matter what they weight you are not meant to support the weight yourself.
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#11 RoseRodent

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 16:25

QUOTE(GMc @ Apr 9 2013, 03:42 AM) View Post


We know one person with a Camac Mademoiselle and they love it.


I suspect this answer is going to be as inconvenient as the other options, but where in the country does this person live?

I am going to have to do some digging around for funding organisations for disability arts projects to see if I can up my budget to the completely perfect (practically, if less beautiful to look at) Desire carbon fibre harp. I hope to get through the funding nonsense (or squeeze the Bank of Daddy) before they sell their current demo model which has lights and no pickup, as the standard one has a pickup and no lights and lights would cost extra.

So, I have rented a Progress lever, will be back with a Googolplex of questions soon.

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#12 GMc

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 13:41

Its actually In the US! Not convenient Ai suspect. . But we will be at camac paris in late June so if they have one in the showroom we can pass an opinion on that and anything else that is there and take a bit of ipad video for you if you want. if DD can remember what to do with levers! Her own pedal harp came from that very showroom tested by a wonderful french friend who sent us clips of her top 3 to choose from.

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#13 RoseRodent

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 22:36

Though some sound information would be great, unfortunately the question is "How well do the sound holes at the back line up with the brake lever on my wheelchair" which is not really something that can be researched by a third party! I might go to Paris myself to see it, they have 3 in at the moment, and at least if I go there rather than have someone get it in for me in the UK I am under much less pressure to buy it. Telynau Vining will match the offer from EMS to get one just for me if I'm 99% sure I want it but there will be no commitment to buy, but I'd still feel awkward if I found I didn't want it, if I go to Paris then I can freely take it or leave it.

I am now wondering if I managed to walk straight past a Salvi Ana at Edinburgh as I didn't realise they made a lever harp in that format. I hope there was not one there under my nose, otherwise I'm going to feel like the biggest twit.

I wish I could rent one of these, though, having the Progress here has thrown up a lot of questions about handling and storage which I *think* will not apply to one with front castors or one with a wood finish rather than gloss, but I can't be sure. The carbon fibre Delight is probably the way forward, though. I hate its picture but I liked it in person. Might investgiate going to the US to bring one back myself, as the difference in US and UK pricing is a further ?1,770 even after adding VAT!! I think I could get a return ticket and adequate packaging AND excess baggage charges and still not spend as much as ?1,770 fetching it, which puts that one back on the table again.
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#14 soccermom

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:20

I'd never heard of the Delight so I googled it. I think it looks great, and what an incredible weight! Personally, I prefer the other model - the Legend - I think because of the straight soundboard.

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#15 Pickle

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 09:04

QUOTE(RoseRodent @ Apr 11 2013, 10:36 PM) View Post

The carbon fibre Delight is probably the way forward, though. I hate its picture but I liked it in person. Might investgiate going to the US to bring one back myself, as the difference in US and UK pricing is a further ?1,770 even after adding VAT!! I think I could get a return ticket and adequate packaging AND excess baggage charges and still not spend as much as ?1,770 fetching it, which puts that one back on the table again.


I investigated buying the Infinity in the US and shipping it back myself. I found I would only be saving a few hundred pounds after paying import duty, shipping and then they charge you VAT on the total. Painfully expensive!
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