Harps - Who knows about them?

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Unicorn Warrior
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Harps - Who knows about them?

Post by Unicorn Warrior » Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:07 pm

I've been toying with the idea of getting a harp to play around with. Perhaps use it for recording here at home. Long story short, I love the sweet pluck sound they make. I'm not, nor will ever be a harpist so I'm looking for something cheap (a few hundred)...the truth is I don't know where to even start. I can't recall if I've ever seen one in person before. Any advice would be appreciated.

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Re: Harps - Who knows about them?

Post by øøøøøøø » Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:46 am

Your budget is probably going to limit you to some sort of small Celtic harp, or similar.

A concert harp (the big ones with all the notes, pedals, etc) usually run well into the five figures.

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Re: Harps - Who knows about them?

Post by Unicorn Warrior » Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:34 pm

øøøøøøø wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:46 am
Your budget is probably going to limit you to some sort of small Celtic harp, or similar.

A concert harp (the big ones with all the notes, pedals, etc) usually run well into the five figures.
Yeah, ive kind of figured that much out so far. Mainly curious as to how they're tuned and all that. When buying a cheaper one if there was anyone who may know a slight amount to point me in the right direction instead of a blind eBay purchase. I know that harps aren't exactly popular by any means, but I figured someone on here may have some interest in them

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marqueemoon
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Re: Harps - Who knows about them?

Post by marqueemoon » Sat Jun 15, 2019 9:15 pm

I know very little, but here’s a link from a local company that makes em’.

https://manufacturing.dustystrings.com/ ... bout-harps

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Re: Harps - Who knows about them?

Post by fuzzjunkie » Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:07 am

I had a friend from Paraguay that played a Paraguayan Harp, which is that country’s national instrument. She played traditional Paraguayan folk tunes and jazz. I remember a shop in Seattle used to import them, but it’s been gone for years now.

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Re: Harps - Who knows about them?

Post by DrQuasar » Mon Jun 24, 2019 2:50 pm

My mom has one that stands around 4 or 5 feet tall or so and must have somewhere in the realm of 20-30 strings. It's in the key of C but has little levers at the top you can flip to move the string tuning up or down a half step so you can play in different keys. All the C's are red and all the F's are black. The strings are nylon and I'm guessing the big ones are metal-wrapped nylon. If you were to run your fingers up the strings from red to red, it would just be a C major scale. You'd have to move flippers to play in a different key.

It got boring to me pretty quickly, as is, within 15 minutes of playing with it. I was pretty much done after going up and down a whole tone scale a few times (the classic dream sequence riff) and doing the windchimey harp swipe sound effect thing. I would not be willing to put the time and effort into really learning how to play it.

I would recommend renting one if you can before you drop any real money on a harp. I wouldn't get one myself.

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Re: Harps - Who knows about them?

Post by Jaguar018 » Mon Jul 08, 2019 10:12 am

Probably better to just get some computer harp plugin.

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Re: Harps - Who knows about them?

Post by phutyle » Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:38 pm

My daughter (age 10) has been playing harp since she was 4. We have a Salvi Donegal Celtic (lever) harp with 34 strings. It cost over 3 grand, so not something to get just to dabble in, although you can get cheaper ones. They’re big, odd shaped and difficult to move around. We gave up trying to “store” it, so it sits in the dining room. That one is 136 cm (53 1/2”) high and weighs just over 10kg (23lbs). It would be a medium sized Celtic harp. There’s smaller ones and bigger ones. In terms of build quality and tone, It would be at the beginning of the “professional” range. Think US Fender territory in electric guitar terms, or a Taylor 500 series in acoustics.

This is her playing at my brother’s wedding 2 years ago. It was a logistical operation getting it and the family across the other side of the country for that.

Image

You can tune a lever harp to any key, but if you tune it to E Flat (with all levers down, or engaged), you can get it into 14 other keys just by disengaging appropriate levers. So E Flat is the most common “base” tuning. You basically tune each string to the notes of the E Flat scale (all 34 of them - I always laugh when I hear people complaining about tuning 12 string guitars!). When you disengage a lever, it drops the note by a half step. That way, you can set different keys by flipping levers.

Most important: Get lessons from a decent teacher if you do want to play. Like a piano, you’ll be able to figure out the rudiments of picking out a tune just sitting at it, but proper technique is everting if you want to be able to actually play it. The other thing is that many teachers will rent you a harp pretty cheap (or lend you one), saving you considerable outlay if you’re starting out.

There’s also small, simple instruments called a harpsicle that some beginners start on. smaller, cheaper construction and no levers:
https://harpsicleharps.com/harpsicle-harp

We’re in Ireland, so harp teachers are fairly common here. My wife’s cousin is a professional harpist and teacher (http://una.ie/)

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Re: Harps - Who knows about them?

Post by Invader Zim » Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:27 am

Zeena Parkins knows harps. Acoustic and electric.

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Re: Harps - Who knows about them?

Post by Unicorn Warrior » Tue Aug 06, 2019 8:17 pm

I should have posted this as a reference. Saw this performance of Florence and was super intrigued.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=k_dH6wp-qvQ


I would like the ability to change keys as the wife is a notorious key changer. May not be possible in my budget.

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