Harp / Music


When I was five years old, I sat down with my parents one sunny Sunday and told them that I wanted to play the violin. And that when I grew up, I would want to play the harp and the accordion. I got my wish and started violin lessons soon after, but I’ve been grown up (haha, kind of) for a while now, and no harp or accordion in sight!

I’ve been playing my violin quite a lot for the last two years, and I sense that it’s time to move to another obsession for a while. So… why not play harp? First I’d need to get one, of course, and I didn’t even know whether I’d even like playing the harp… but I was quite confident that I would, and it would be a childhood dream come true.

I started looking around on the internet, reading up on types of harps, brands, prizes… oof! Harps are expensive! I didn’t want to spend that much on a hobby that I didn’t know yet whether it would stick. On the other hand, I wanted my own harp, not rent one, if at all possible.

Surfing the web, I found out about Pakistani harps. They are relatively cheap but are not usually recommended by harpists. The build quality varies, even the designs may not be up to scratch. Sure, they’re ‘cheap’, but you get what you pay for. However, getting such a harp is no longer as disastrous a choice as it was a couple of years ago.

I quickly decided that I would like to play the Celtic/Irish lever harp, not the classical harp. Harpists often say that you should buy the highest number of strings that you can afford. A standard number of strings is 34 (or 36): more or less 5 octaves. That should allow you to play most songs. But harps with 34-36 strings are often at least twice as expensive as harps with 27-29 strings (four octaves). I wondered if 29 strings would be enough for me, and thought that it would probably be plenty. Also, the harp wouldn’t be as large, which I found a plus.

I found an Irish brand, Muzikkon, that sells affordable instruments (not just harps) of which the parts are made in Pakistan. However, they do proper quality control and have improved the designs over the years as well. On eBay, I found one of those harps from a German reseller. It was the Muzikkon Boru 29 strings in walnut wood and I ordered it in early December. How exciting!

Muzikkon Boru 29-string walnut wood harp

The harp’s status changed to ‘Shipped’ and it was supposed to arrive a week or so later, but no delivery was made. I contacted the seller and they gave me a tracking number – the harp had not even left their shop yet. I was not impressed, but okay then. It took another week for the harp to arrive. It looked lovely, I really liked the wood.

Muzikkon Trinity 29-string walnut harp

When I opened the package, I found that damage had occurred during transport. Four of the levers of the harp had broken off. I immediately contacted the seller and included pictures of the damage. They promised to send me new levers straight away. I also noticed that instead of the Boru model, they had sent me the Trinity model. I didn’t mind that much, both looked fine and had the same ‘stats’, but I found it kind of sus that they didn’t send me what was promised in the listing.

Some levers have broken off
Some levers have broken off

The harp was still usable without those broken levers, at least for a beginner like myself, so I started to explore it. Around Christmas, I even recorded a video where I accompanied myself on the harp when singing a song. It was fun to play!

Gabriel’s Greeting

Two weeks later, the levers had not arrived yet. I contacted the seller again and they told me that they would send the levers right away. Sigh. So I waited. Again. After another week, nothing was there yet, and I was done with these people. I don’t like it when people lie to me, and they have done that three times already. Almost a month had passed since my harp arrived and I still had no replacement levers. So I told them I wanted to return the harp and get a refund.

The seller asked me to wait another couple of days for the levers, but I was having none of that. I asked them for a return shipping label and when they did not provide that within three days, I started a claim. eBay quickly decided in my favour and at last, I got the return shipping label. The harp traveled back and I got my refund.

But now I had no harp.

I did like the harp that I got (apart from the missing levers, of course), and also discovered a couple of things when playing it:

  1. The range (4 octaves, C3-C7) was plenty, at least for now.
  2. I preferred the lower strings, while I hardly used the highest ones.
  3. I loved the walnut wood the harp was made of. It feels solid yet open, lighter than you’d expect, and the tone is warm.
  4. The tension of the strings was relatively low, especially for the lower strings, which I did not particularly like.

So, when I started looking around for a replacement, I was drawn back to Muzikkon, but I didn’t want to buy the same harp necessarily. I looked at all the harps they offered and compared them closely. I found out that the McHugh series also had 29-string harps, but with a lower range: G2-G6. An extra three lower strings, and three fewer at the top of the range. Perfect! But… when my refund finally arrived, the McHugh 29-string walnut wood harp was sold out. Bummer!

I did not give up, though. I browsed eBay to see if I could find that type there, and was lucky! There was one available, only the text of the ad was in Italian, which was probably why it had not been bought yet. It was being sold by Liffey Music (Muzikkon itself). I ordered it and waited in anticipation.

The seller contacted me a couple of days later that I had ordered the last harp of this type, and that this particular one had a finish that wasn’t perfect. I suspect it was the display model.
If I still wanted it, I’d get a small discount.
I studied the photos they sent me and didn’t mind – I want a good enough harp that is structurally sound and has a nice tone. If it looks a little bit less polished, I don’t mind that much.

A package has arrived…

The harp arrived on Monday and this one did not have broken levers despite the box looking a bit rough around the edges (phew!). One string was missing, though. I let the seller know, and they have just shipped that string plus an extra set of strings to me, tracked. That’s how you do this, folks! And look, it’s so pretty:

Muzikkon McHugh 29-string roundback walnut harp

I’ve been playing my harp every day and it’s fun! The sound is deeper and clearer than that of the previous harp, I love that. It’s a bit louder too because of that. The extra lower strings give the sound a nice roundness. And I think it looks really good!

The kitties have also sniffed the harp, but they were more interested in the box it came in!

Pippi, the aspiring harpist

By the way, those levers that the first seller ‘had already sent out and would be delivered within the next few days’ (in early January)? They never arrived. Don’t buy from musikhaus-prince on eBay. They are lying liars who lie.

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