Kortier Electric Pedal Harp

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The next big thing in pedal harp development is a true electric pedal harp. By this, we mean a harp that is not acoustic, has no soundbox.

Think about it- the reason we need massive strings on pedal harps is to supply the oomph needed to set the big soundbox into motion. The reason we need such large and heavy soundboxes is to withstand the huge tension of the pedal harp strings. The reason our joints and tendons give out is from pushing and pulling this system around year after year.

But what about Harp Sound?

The acoustic soundbox has a profound effect on the sound of any given harp. The quality of the sound we hear depends on how efficiently the energy from the strings is radiated from the surfaces of the soundbox. A solid body harp can be engineered to present the same interface with the strings, and the resulting vibrations (the sound) are reflected back and captured by the pickups. With pickups against all the strings, all vibrations are converted instantly into sound, nothing is lost. There is very little inertia to overcome, because we are not pumping that big heavy wooden box. The result is a delightful harp sound using a greatly scaled back system. Think in terms of lighter gauge strings, easier to pull, capable of more nuance, yet filling the hall with beautiful harp sound.

To take this next step (something the guitar world did generations ago), I am focused on building harps without soundboxes, true electric harps.

The first Kortier Electric Pedal Harp available for sale was this 40 string instrument, larger than most lever harps, but smaller than most pedal harps. This instrument is particularly useful to jazz harpists and others who love the harp but want an instrument that is a better visual look, and is more accomodating to the venues they most often play in.

This is an important factor to consider in choosing an instrument to play on stage or with a band- FEEDBACK. We have all heard electronic feedback, that high pitched noise from a maladjusted sound system. But there is another kind- If you have a harp with an acoustic soundbox it will vibrate according to the sound waves bombarding it from all directions. If you have a pickup system installed in or on your soundbox, it will capture these random vibrations. They are amplified by your sound system, and fed back acoustically to your harp, intensifying the situation. This is often heard as a low rumble, or rough sound. At the least, your harp sound will be less clear. The solution is a solid body on the harp. It will not vibrate sympathetically with the suroundings, and your output will be pure clean harp sound.

A further option is the addition of MIDI controller capability. The electric pedal harp is particularly suited to implementing this exciting possibility. The MIDI software (from other vendors) is installed on your PC with an interface box to route the audio from the harp into the computer, and to route the synthesized sounds back out of your computer. What this means is that you can play with normal harp sound, with synthesized sound, or with a combination of the two. The possibilites are without limit.

The advantages of a solid body electric pedal harp apply to all harpists.