WHY GO WITH A PARAGUAYAN STYLE HARP?
Paraguayan Harps have the following advantages when compared to common North American, folk lever harps:
See John Kovac's short YouTube video on the advantages of the Paraguayan harp here.
1) Much lighter in weight than similar sized lever harps. This advantage is good for children & senior adults who cannot heft around the much heavier, standard folk, lever harps.
2) Are smaller than similar sized lever harps. This point means one can carry around a lighter weight harp with a smaller footprint, making it much easier for children & senior adults to handle their harps with far less difficulty. Moreover, this makes clinical harp work much more comfortable carrying harps around in tight institutional spaces with long hallways & stairs to have to deal with.
Plus, a smaller instrument is easier to stow in a car, aircraft or in the living room.
3) String tension is comparatively moderate to light, meaning players can get a louder & fuller sound with less finger pressure. This attribute is suitable for children or beginning adults to learn to play with higher quality sounds more readily.
4) String spacing is comparatively a bit closer together, making it ideal for children and smaller adult hands to play over the whole sweet spot of the harp.
5) Paraguayan harps subsequently experience less structural breakdowns. This is largely because the Neck/Harmonic Curve is centered precisely over the soundboard and sound chamber at a 90-degree angle. Thus, unlike various other style lever harps, the immense pressure the harp is under from the combined string tensions is more equally & evenly spread across the whole structure of the harp.
First, the string angle is steeper, pulling up more easily from the soundboard which puts less pressure on the soundboard; less cracks & tear away. See Figure 1Additionally, on a Celtic-style or other lever folk harp, the Neck is offset to the side where the strings attach. Therefore, it is continuously being pulled sideways down to the harp. The Paraguayan harp's strings pass through the center of the Neck, keeping all string tensions equalized, side to side, with far less chance to break the Neck & soundboard. See Figure 2 All in all, this means a typical North American folk harp is built far heavier than a comparable Paraguayan harp. Conversely, Paraguayan harps can then use lighter, but still musically responsive woods for its harp's superstructure.
The harmonic curve (the Neck) of a Paraguayan harp is rivaled only by that of a concert harp. Paraguayan harps are engineering marvels - exceptionally lightweight, which produces a brilliant sound. Since the strings run through the center of the neck, the tension of the strings actually holds the harp together in a balanced way. And, most importantly, like the Paraguayans, we should strive to make our harps as light as possible. A lighter harp means a well responsive sounding harp.
6) Paraguayan harps use conventional guitar type tuners for string tuning. These are faster & easier to use & identify than ones traditionally found on typical lever harps. Plus, this makes tuning a large Paraguayan harp far faster. (That is a big advantage when working with 36 strings everyday!)
And, one does not risk reaming out the wood where the string tuning pin is located on the Neck/Harmonic Curve (as on a typical lever folk harp), leading to expensive repairs and otherwise, continually slipping & de-tuned strings.
A Paraguayan string tuning mechanism is straightforward and inexpensive to repair or replace.
7) The most important reason is the beautiful, bright treble and efficient, crisp bass sounds that come from a Paraguayan harp. These harps are built lighter which means the resonance & tones are often sweet sounding treble with firm, balanced bass.