If you’re getting started on the harp, you may have noticed that harps cost a few bucks. Or maybe your son or daughter has been taking lessons on a lever harp and the teacher has told you it’s time to move up to a pedal harp. You check the prices of new pedal harps and …
After you regain consciousness, and pour yourself a stiff drink if you’re so inclined, you might ask yourself, “I wonder if I can find a good used harp?”
The answer, of course, is “maybe.” It depends on luck, timing, the number of resources you consult with, and mostly, luck again. While there are definitely some good buys out there, you may need to do some detective work, get to know the market, and educate yourself on what to look for when you look at an instrument to determine whether it’s a gem or should be sent to the junk heap. In this series of articles, I’ll tell you where to look for used harps, how to learn more about a harp before you go to look at it, and how to assess its condition.
In my idea of a perfect world, only experienced harpists would get into the used harp market. People who have been around harps for a while are more able to assess a given instrument’s sound, and may also know better how to assess whether it has reached the point where major repairs are going to be necessary. In reality, though, it is very often beginners who look to save some money and get into harp playing on an affordable instrument. This is a perfectly logical idea, but unfortunately I’ve seen a few occasions when beginners bought a harp because the price was right, only to find that it was in need of major structural repairs, which ended up adding thousands of dollars to the purchase price.
The answer, of course, is to get some information out there that will help harpists of all levels of experience make knowledgeable decisions about the used harp market, so that’s what we’re going to do here. If I’m scaring you, well, it would be a lie to say I don’t mean to. I would love to see every new harpist buy a brand new instrument with a nice warranty and no hidden issues. But it would also be a lie to say you can’t save thousands on a perfectly good harp if you know what to look for. So stick with me for the next few posts, I’ll see what I can teach you, and hopefully you will find the sweetheart used harp deal of the century.
Buyers should keep in mind that an old harp is akin to an old car. You can put a lot of work and money into it, but you’ve still got an old harp (or car, for that matter). This is the voice of experience.