The Dusty Harp Pickup was specifically designed for Dusty Strings harps, but can be installed in any lever harp for a balanced and natural-sounding amplification solution.
*Note: Certain lever harps (the Lyon & Healy Prelude is a good example) are built like pedal harps, with similar styling, heavily-reinforced construction and pedal harp string tension. Although they have levers and not pedals, in all other respects they are much closer to a pedal harp and we would recommend the P30 pedal harp pickup for these harps. The P20 is designed for more lightly-built lever harps and may not be the best choice for a pedal-style lever harp.
Most harp players who perform decide at some point that they need to amplify their instruments, so they go shopping for a pickup. They soon discover a confusing array of options that can make it daunting to determine what will work best. We've gone through that process ourselves, spending a lot of time testing various pickups. Not entirely satisfied with what we found, we took on the project of developing a pickup system specifically for harps. We call it the Dusty Harp Pickup.
Originally designed specifically for Dusty Strings harps, it has since been installed with great success in a wide variety of harps built by other harp makers. If you'd like to install a Dusty Harp pickup in your harp, you'll want to be sure that your soundbox is large enough to accommodate it. The P10 (for 24-30 string lever harps) is 24” long plus an 8" lead, the P20 (for 32-40 string lever harps) is 28.5” long plus a 10.5" lead, and the P30 (for pedal harps) is 35.5" long plus a 24.5" lead.
Using three (P10) or four (P20) carefully selected and placed piezo elements, our pickups achieve a clean, focused, natural and lush sound. The rich, full bass notes balance and blend with the clear, musical mids and high notes. It's simply the sound of the harp, only bigger. This pickup works at any volume level without feedback.
The pickup is discreetly mounted inside the soundbox, invisible to the audience. A single jack mounted on the back of the harp makes for "plug and play" ease of use. An instrument cable connects your harp directly to any amplifier and most PA systems. In most situations a preamplifier is not needed, but if you are playing in situations requiring very high volume, you may want to add one. In addition to boosting the signal, it will give you direct control over your volume and tone if you aren't near your amplifier. With some amplifiers it will also sweeten and smooth out your sound.
We can install the Dusty Harp Pickup for you in any new or existing Dusty Strings harp for $100.00. It can also be easily installed by harp owners who are handy with tools or by any instrument repair technician. Installation involves attaching mounting clips to the internal braces or sides of the harp, snapping the cable harness into the clips, gluing the elements in place, and drilling a hole and mounting the jack in the back of the harp. There are detailed instructions and a template for placing the elements in Dusty Strings harps; if you are installing it in another make of harp, it is good to experiment with the element placement to confirm the best sounding attachment points. The only tool you will need is a ½-inch brad point drill bit, available at most hardware stores or through Dusty Strings. If you prefer not to drill a hole, you can simply connect to the jack through the bottom soundhole on your harp, or purchase our Pickup Jack Clamp for a clean, elegant and removable solution.
Curious about the installation process? Download and read the instructions: Dusty Strings Lever Harp Pickup Installation. Harp sizes vary quite a bit, so feel free to call us for advice on ordering the correct size of pickup.
The price for us to install a pickup in a Dusty Strings harp is $100.
"I was amazed hearing the internal pickups when amplified. After I play, the sound guys are always first to rush up and find out what I'm using to get such great sound. These guys are the ones that know and who give the system the highest marks. Thank you again for making quality your priority. It shows in every aspect of my beautiful harp."
-Jeannie Page, Albuquerque
"This pickup is the closest thing to getting an electric harp! It covers the harp's full range and I don't have to worry about internal rattles like I did with my former pickup. When I'm playing with other amplified musicians, I finally feel like the harp is in equal balance with the other instruments. It makes a clean and rich connection with the sound system. If you're in need of a harp pickup, this is the best investment."
-Monica Schley, Seattle
"It was so nice to just plug into the church sound system, and not have to worry about a separate microphone for the harp."
-Balfour Knight, Balsam, NC
The Dusty Harp Pickup system utilizes 4 piezo pickups that are "high ohmic," meaning that they operate optimally in a high impedance circuit. Consequently, results will be best when it is plugged into an amplifier (or pre-amplifier) that has an ultra-high input impedance of about 1 megohm or higher. This will provide a flat and balanced frequency response.
If you plug this pickup into an electric guitar or bass guitar amplifier, you may hear a thin sort of "quacky" bass response and there may be other frequencies that are filtered out. You will not like the sound! This is not the fault of the pickup, but is the result of the mis-match of this ultra-high impedance acoustic pickup with a high impedance electric guitar amplifier.
In short, coupling the Dusty Harp Pickup with an amplifier optimized for acoustic instruments with piezo pickups will give you the best sonic reproduction. This will give you the full rich acoustic sound of your unamplified instrument, only louder!