Several of us are away at the Somerset Folk Harp Festival, and we may not be able to respond to emails and phone calls as quickly as usual. Thank you for your patience!
Our newest harp model is in the final stages of development, and though we're still testing and refining the design, we wanted to share what we do know so far. To start off, we thought you might enjoy hearing what one of our latest prototypes sounds like!
The FH34S is a solid wood harp, and will be available in the same wood choices as our other FH models - walnut, maple, sapele, bubinga, and cherry. It is very similar in size to the current FH34, but with a more petite, staveback shape and a narrower soundbox at the top. The shape makes for an especially comfortable playing experience, similar to the feel of the Ravenna 34. If you've played a Dusty 34-string harp, the nylon strings and string spacing should feel familiar to you.
The lightest-weight option will be walnut with Loveland levers and no stand, which we expect to weigh somewhere around 18 pounds. Camac levers will be available, though if you're counting ounces, be aware that a set of Camac levers is about three quarters of a pound heavier than a set of Lovelands. We expect some people will choose to transport and play the harp in its lightest form without the stand, but for those who prefer a little more height and stability, the four-legged stand will likely add about 2 pounds. We're also working on a nifty adjustable "performance" stand accessory for those who want to play standing up.
If you're considering traveling with a harp, the FH34S will fit in our carbon fiber flight case! We're finishing up a slight re-design of that case, and will have some more info on that soon.
We know that harp weight is a very important topic for many harpists, and there are always choices to be made when balancing weight and tone. If we could make a harp that sounded like the FH36S and had at least 34 strings, but was light enough to pick up with one hand and small enough to fit into the overhead compartment on an airplane, we'd be legendary. The reality is that the mass and other material characteristics of solid wood are major factors in the beloved Dusty Strings tone.
One of the reasons we've made so many different prototypes for this model is because we tried a whole host of creative ideas for removing weight. Ultimately, the lightest weight versions just didn’t have the sparkle and richness that we love in the FH series harps, and we weren't quite ready to make that trade. So we're ending up with something of a balance: as lightweight as possible while still having that "magic" Dusty sound.
Looking ahead into the mists of harp development, the next project in the works is a carbon fiber hybrid option for the FH34S. It’s still in the early prototyping phase, and if it works the way we expect it to, it will shave off some additional weight. We don't know yet what the impact will be on the tone, and we expect it will add significantly to the price, but it will likely be some time before we have any further information to share. We are focusing on the solid wood version first, and once we're up and running on that, we'll be able to devote some more time to testing the carbon fiber idea.
You're probably dying to know these pesky little details, and honestly, so are we! All we can say with any certainty so far is that the FH34S is likely to cost more than an FH34, and less than an FH36S. Until the design is nailed down, we won't be able to set an actual price.
Likewise, until our production processes are worked out, we won't be able to predict a timeframe. We do know that these won't be available until at least early 2022, and further delays are possible. We are not even going to attempt a guess at this point on the carbon fiber option.
Because we already have a six-month wait for FH harps, we want to give people the opportunity to get FH34S orders in the queue now, so we're doing something we haven't done before, which is to take pre-orders. If the solid wood FH34S sounds like the right thing for you, and you want to hold a spot in line, you can do so with a $100 order deposit starting on Monday, July 26th. Because we can't yet tell you the final specs and pricing, not to mention the timeline, deposits will be refundable should you decide the new model doesn't meet your needs after all.