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FH34S: Our new lightweight, solid-wood, 34-string harp

March 24, 2022
Posted by
Dusty
Meet the FH34S!
  • 34 strings
  • All solid wood
  • 17 ½  pounds (in walnut with Loveland levers)
  • Sleek and petite staveback shape
  • Removable stand

At long last, we have a final prototype and are ready to announce the details of our newest harp model! We never expected to build 23 prototypes, but that's what happens when you have creative minds brainstorming lots of ideas for saving weight and retaining the beloved Dusty character. We’ve ended up with the lightest 34-string harp in our lineup, and the sound is sweet, warm, and beautifully balanced, with a full bass and clear, singing treble. It’s a highly flexible and fun-to-play harp that is easy to transport and will be equally at home on stage, in your living room, at the therapy bedside, or in a pub session.

See more photos and specifications here

Questions we're anticipating:

Could we have made it even lighter?

Yes, and we tried! The resulting harps didn’t quite have the depth, responsiveness, and tuning stability that we were looking for, and we didn’t want to abandon those features in favor of saving more ounces.

What about carbon fiber?

We are in love with the sound of solid wood, and don’t have plans at the moment to make a wholly carbon fiber harp, but we are experimenting with incorporating carbon fiber components into a solid wood design. We have more to do on this before we know what the impact could be on the weight or the tone or the price, so we don’t have a timeline, but we look forward to working on it!

What is the lightest weight option?

The FH34S in walnut with Loveland levers averages about 17 ½  pounds. Because each walnut tree is a little different, the weight can vary by a pound or so in either direction. Choosing the Camac lever option adds about three quarters of a pound. Once we have built more of these in other wood species, we’ll have more data on the range of weights, but cherry would likely be the next-lightest wood choice after walnut. Bubinga and maple will be the heaviest choices.

What’s the string spacing?

The FH34S has string spacing comparable to most of our other harps, and within the range of what’s considered standard or concert spacing. Based on a 4-inch octave span, the lowest octave is 4-1/16” and the highest octave is 3-5/8”.

What about string tension?

The mid and treble strings are one gauge lighter than on our other FH harps, but it will be easy to adapt. You can still dig in without distortion if you want to, and you might notice your fingers can dance around a little more nimbly on fast melodies. Overall, it feels comparable to any other medium-tension Dusty.

Can you adjust the height?

There are 5-inch and 8-inch legs available for the removable stand, and we are also working on a standing-height option that we’ll have more news on later.

I have short arms and have a hard time reaching the lowest notes on other Dusty FH harps. Will this one be more comfortable to play?

We think so! The size and shape are similar to our Ravenna 34 – narrow at the top of the soundbox and comfortably rounded overall. It nestles into your body, is easy to reach around, and has even been described as cozy and cuddly!

Does it sound like my beloved FH36S?

Yes, but scaled down. The FH34S sounds like a characteristic Dusty harp, with the familiar bright, sparkly tone and resonance, but it does have a smaller soundbox and less overall mass than the FH36S. Where the FH36S has a big, lush voice that feels like it can easily fill a concert hall, the FH34S is a little quieter and more intimate, with some more distinction between the notes. It’s wonderfully easy to play, and you’ll have no worries about filling a concert hall once you have the Dusty Harp Pickup installed! In the words of a local harpist, the FH36S is a luxury sedan, while the FH34S is a nimble, compact sports coupe. Both are fun to drive!

Does it sound like an FH34?

Again, it has similar characteristics, but the staveback FH34S is more balanced and gentle, while the square-back FH34 has a more powerful and projecting presence.

See more photos and specifications here

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