I am Joanne, aka Joanie to my friends. For years I have been playing guitar, Irish Soprano and Alto whistles (penny whistles, or due to inflation 20,700-penny whistles and my mainstream whistles are Overton/Goldie Whistles - with a set of Genertions that I have tweaked to maximum performance) and have dabbled at several other instruments. Since my retirement from aerospace, I have wanted to learn to play the lever harp and I am considering the purchase of a 4-octave instrument. I would like to buy a 34-stringed instrument, however, considering that I play about 99% traditional Irish and Scottish music, and my back is not in all that good of condition, requiring a lighter harp unless I want to not be able to transport it, I figure that a 29-string instrument will be sufficient for my needs.
Right now my main candidate for acquisition is a Stoney End Briar Rose (Celtic Design) or Sara (Gothic) as it will allow me to go down to F (C2) instead of G (C2). I am also considering getting the harp with C,F and B Loveland Levers as, if I tune the instrument to the key of F (all B strings tuned to Bb), this will allow me to play in the keys of C,D,F, and G which are my most used keys anyway.
I have worked with several harpists in the past and most have told me that while a 34 stringed instrument is an ideal starter instrument, if one must live within their budget, a 4-octave instrument will be a satisfactory surrogate in the vast majority of cases. Any comments, observations or advice would be appreciated