Update on the Serrana 34 (formerly Mariachi 34)

Posted by Dusty Strings - 2017-06-01 17:29:24

Man playing the Serrana 34 harp with its extendable legs

There have been some developments since we introduced our mariachi-inspired harp earlier this year, and we want to keep you in the loop about what’s going on!

The Inspiration

If you missed it, you can read a lot more about the origins of this harp (and see some video demonstrations) in our previous blog article. The short version is that this new model was inspired by a need we saw in school mariachi programs for affordable and low-maintenance harps with sharping levers. To address this need, we combined our popular Ravenna harp body with a new neck, a carbon fiber pillar, and a string set with the lighter tension and closer spacing of the traditional mariachi style. The result is a big, open voice on a portable, sturdy, and high-quality harp that functions well, stays in tune, and can handle the everyday bumps and bruises of the school environment. A full set of Loveland sharping levers is included, and we also added a nifty pair of built-in extendable legs, allowing easy height adjustability between sitting and standing.

Applications Beyond Latin Music

The more people we showed our prototype to, the more they convinced us that it wasn’t just for mariachi music. They talked about the benefits of the softer-tension strings and closer spacing for young students with small hands, or for any player looking for a harp that’s easy on the hands. They drooled at the thought of an affordable 34-string harp that was under 20 pounds, including the legs. And they were charmed by the look and the big, open, and responsive sound!

The Name

We realized that calling it the Mariachi 34 could limit this harp’s potential, so we sent around a survey a few months ago asking for help with a new name. We’re sincerely grateful to everyone who voted and sent us suggestions! After much hair-pulling (and some calm deliberation), we have settled on the name Serrana, which has lovely associations with mountains and with the spicy serrano pepper.

The Timeline

We initially thought our new harp would be in production and ready for sale in the spring, and we’re still hoping to squeak in under the summer solstice deadline! A couple of things took us longer than we expected, and we prefer to take our time to really get it right, rather than rushing to meet an expected release date. Developing the extendable legs was quite a complex process, involving sourcing parts, computer modeling, and 3-D printing some of the custom components. We also flirted with the idea of squeezing 36 strings onto the same harp body and changing the range to give the harp a low G, which is a common configuration in the Latin harp world. We tried several variations on that idea with different string designs, but none of them possessed quite the same magic sparkle that the 34-string model had. We concluded that in order to incorporate a lower range and still meet our standards for tone and playability, we would need to develop it on a larger harp, and since this would greatly increase the cost, it would no longer meet our original criteria for a school program instrument.

So, we are officially proceeding with the Serrana as a 34-string harp that goes down to a C, and we think it will have a wide appeal beyond Latin musical styles. Our best guess is that the first Serranas will be available starting in late June, but we do already have a waiting list! Due to some unexpected complications (like the legs), we’re not sure how long we’ll be able to hold our introductory price, which is $2595 for the harp with full levers, legs, and a deluxe case. Let us know if you’d like to be put on the list, and we’ll get in touch as soon as there is a harp available!

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