Rees Harps FAQ
We provide an enormous amount of information on this site but for some of the most common questions the short answers are below. Where appropriate, links will direct you to much deeper explanations should you wish to know more.
Are there Mp3 recordings available for all Rees Concert Line Harps?
Well, yes, but frankly, it will not do you much good. Here is why. First of all, any harp will only sound as good as the speakers and the bass and treble pre-sets of your computer. In other words, in many ways our harp will sound like your computer. Additionally, you have no way to compare one harp to another via Mp3 because you have no control over the recording conditions and variables. For instance, Rees harps are known for having a very, very even voices and recording engineers love them because all the controls in their booth can be set to neutral. This lack of having to compensate for an uneven voice has caused pros to get back to us to let us know the great things their recording engineers had to say. However, all someone else has to do to make their unbalanced harp have a nice even sound is for the recording engineer to "fix" it in the recording booth by adjusting the wolf tones down and the weak tones up. So, we are happy to provide you with Mp3 recordings but we strongly recommend that you take them with a grain of salt.
Do different woods change the voice of the harp?
For most other harp lutheries this is very much the case but at Rees there are only quite minor differences. This has to do with our harp design and with the way we handle harps made of different woods. Over time, for instance, most Rees Aberdeen Meadows harps will end up having extraordinarily similar voices. The real differences will be at the beginning. Cherry Aberdeens, for instance, open up faster than do maple Aberdeens but once our maple Aberdeen Meadows harps have settled in there is little difference between the voicing of the species of wood. In fact, unless you are playing two Rees harps side-by-side the difference is so minimal that you will probably not be able to hear it. Because of this we recommend selecting the wood you think is prettiest and letting us worry about the voice.
Are these Celtic harps or folk harps?
Funny you should ask! As it turns out the answer is both. They are also called lever harps. We tend to use this latter term but the fact is that in the harp world there is no agreement on this terminology. If you want to get into the nitty gritty of it take a look at Is a Harp a "Harp"?
Is there a standard size of harp?
The short answer is no. There is not a standard now and there never has been. Here's our joke about it: during the Middle Ages the violin luthiers all got together in Italy and, over several bottles of wine, they decided that violins were going to have four strings and be about so-and-so long. Shortly thereafter in Spain a flock of guitar luthiers got together, over some beers, and decided that guitars would have six strings and be about yeah long. Meanwhile, in Ireland the harp luthiers didn't want to be left out so they got together in a pub, over some excellent whisky, and decided...absolutely nothing because, you know...WHISKY!
How often do I need to change the strings?
We could be funny and just say, "when they break" but there is a little more to it than that. Monofilament nylon harp strings are not like guitar strings in that they do not "go dead" so you really do not need to change them unless they break. If you play several times a week, you will need to change the wire wrapped strings about once a year because they do absorb the oils from your hands and react with molecules in the air to oxidize. Nylon/nylon wrapped strings should probably be changed every eighteen months to two years. We strongly advise against ever changing all the stings at one time.
Where can I get replacement strings?
We have finally taken the step of making it incredibly easy to order replacement strings for any Rees Concert Line Harp. Just go to our Rees Marketplace. There you can order a full replacement set of strings, just a set of wound strings or even just a single string. We have strings available for all Rees Harps models both current and past.
What forms of payment of you accept and do you offer financing?
We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. We also accept PayPal and (domestic) personal checks. On our Rees Concert Line Harps we require a downpayment with the balance being due just before the harp is ready to ship. We do not offer direct financing. We do accept PayPal and they offer financing.
Can you safely ship a harp to me in _______________?
Yes. We ship harps all over the world five days a week. We have been doing it for decades now so we are really good at it. We pack the harps incredibly well and your harp will arrive safe and sound.
Are Rees harps considered therapy harps?
Our Harpsicle® Harps line is the most popular therapy harp in the world and widely recommended but the fact is that any harp can be used for harp therapy. If you are going to be in a hospital environment, space and mobility are a must so a small harp which can be easily moved or carried on a strap is especially useful. Therapy harps also end up being carried a great deal so the weight of the harp is generally important to players. In the Rees Concert Harp Line our Morgan Meadow and Morgan Meghan harps are often used for therapy as is our Shaylee Meadows floor harp.
What are string spacing and string tension?
The shortest answer is that string spacing is the distance between the strings of the harp. String spacing can either be graduated, meaning that the lower strings are farther apart than are the upper strings, or the spacing can be all the same. Graduated spacing is common because the lower strings move a greater distance when they vibrate than do the shorter strings. You may also hear pedal harp players referring to something they call "standard" spacing. So-called standard spacing is a complete misnomer in the harp world and you can safely disregard it entirely. For more information on string spacing go here. String tension is, essentially, how tight the strings feel when played. harps range from very heavy tension, as found on pedal harps, to very light tension, as found on historical harps. Generally, modern lever harps are somewhere in the middle. The key thing to know is that just as bigger is not better, lighter is also not necessarily better and correcting problematic technique often entirely resolves a so-called string tension problem. For more information on this, see String Spacing and String Tension.
There seem to be lots of different kinds of sharping levers. Which are best?
Our page on types of sharping levers covers this in depth but for the most part it is six of one, half a dozen of the other. We use Rees Sharping Levers on all of our harps because they perform comparably to Truitt and Camac levers but save our customers a considerable amount of money. We are happy to install either Truitt or Camac levers on your harp for an additional charge. We no longer recommend and will not install Loveland levers.
How often do the levers need to be regulated on my Rees Concert Line Harp?
This varies widely and depends upon how much a harp is played, how stable the humidity is in the environment and the age of the harp. If a harp is played a great deal it is reasonable to expect that the levers will need to be regulated after about five years and again, perhaps ten years later. In other words, not very often at all.
Can I play in keys with flats since lever harps only have sharping levers?
Think of it this way, how often do you use B-sharp? Not very, right, because B-sharp is C. So, this means that the B sharping lever is, essentially, extra. Harpers, however, are a creative lot. Instead of just having an orphaned lever, they tune their B string down to B-flat so that when the lever is raised (sharped) the string is B-natural. Having B-flat, means that the harp has easy access to the key of F. It is becoming increasingly common for harpers to tune in E-flat. Here is the well-known harpist, Sylvia Woods, demonstrating how to tune a harp in E-flat and why this is an advantage. For those who prefer the written word, Ray Pool, has written a terrific little book on the subject, Tuning in E-flat Major, which, of course, you can order from us.
What is the difference between a "harper" and a "harpist"?
There was a time when the term "harpist' applied to pedal harpists and "harper" applied to all other kinds of harp players. In recent years, that distinction has become somewhat less defined. Pedal players are always called "harpists" but other types of harp players now use the term as well. Neither term is associated with the gender of the player.
What is a tulip brace?
Not to be rude or anything but who was the idiot, four thousand years ago, who designed the harp?!? Who ever thought that putting all the strings on one side of the arch was going to be a good idea mechanically? Argh! Think about it, in a modern, concert quality lever harp there can be well over a thousand pounds of string pressure and all of that is on one side of the harp doing its very best to pull the harp apart. Every lutherie compensates for that force in some way. Many use a metal plate at the joint between the neck and the pillar. At Rees we use what we call a tulip brace. It starts above the neck/pillar joint and runs down the pillar on the side opposite the strings. We like it because it supports the joint, adds strength to the pillar without having to have the entire pillar be thicker and we think it is prettier than having more metal.
What is a butterfly brace?
This is another Rees invention. Inside the soundbox there are a number of possible ways to brace harps. We use a brace William developed which prevents the sides of the harp from mechanically pulling in over time. A butterfly brace also thwarts a sound often referred to as "boxy" by stiffening the harp in the appropriate areas and helps to transmit the vibrations between the soundboard and the back of the harp which, when done properly, increases the volume and resonance of the harp.