Have you ever felt like you have done something wrong when you accidentally, unintentionally damage your harp in a small or a big way? That’s how I’m feeling right now. Let me explain.
Almost last year, I started changing and replacing some old strings on my Camac Athena harp “Grover” when I accidentally dropped a Dusty Strings Universal Tuning key, which I had since I rented a pedal harp a few years ago, and landed on Grover’s soundboard. It made two unsightly dents on it as shown in the photo below.
That started this whole mess with me struggling to try to find someone who can fix it and fix it to where it’s made as if the incident never occurred.
Shortly afterwords, I got rid of the Dusty Strings Tuning key and started to conceal those unsightly dents in a lot of ways. I even sought help from a lot of people. Some harp experts have recommended me to get a hold of Liza Jenson, an expert mechanic on the Camac harp and get her to help me fix the problem.
When I did got a hold of her, she told me things that gave me the impression that I did something wrong and made me feel guilty over what I did even though what happened almost a year ago was all an accident that could have been prevented if I choose not to do the string changing at all or if I used the right kind of tuning key that’s made for Camac harps instead of the Universal Tuning Key from Dusty Strings or the Lyon & Healy/Salvi/Venus Tuning Key, which I also had for a long time ever since my days of renting the pedal harp before I ended up getting rid of as well.
To be honest, it isn’t Liza’s fault that the incident occurred, leading me to have trouble fixing Grover. It’s really mine. Me and my struggle to care for a large musical instrument I spent 25 years struggling to buy with great care only to encounter goof ups, foul ups, and unfortunate accidents along the way.
What worked on other types of harps never really worked at all on the Camac. I wasn’t aware of it being cover with oil-based polyurethane, nor was I aware of it being made of certain types of soft wood besides pine and maple.
And after all this time, I’m still unfamiliar with the Camac harp, how it’s built and made, and what kind of material did they used to build this wonderful series. I thought the harp was, for the most part, the same as any other harp brand. But I was wrong. I had a hard time using certain methods to try fixing every cosmetic issue my harp is suffering from as the result of the accident and my various attempts to fix them. I could’ve gotten help from Liza, the folks at Camac harps in Mouzeil, France, and other instrument repair specialists, but they are all so far away and so busy with traveling a lot that I wasn’t able to get a hold of them long enough to work out a time when they can come over and fix my harp’s cosmetic issues.
Thankfully I didn’t have to go really far to find these guys. With the help of my Home Depot store, I found a place located in Saginaw, MI (north of where I’m at) where the people are experts in working with furniture and floor repairs. They agreed to help me fix Grover’s cosmetic issues. They came, took Grover to their workshop, and fixed all of the cosmetic issues beautifully except for one thing. The scars left behind by the dents created by the infamous non-rubber tuning key in the photo below.
For awhile I was able to live with those scars left behind by the repairs. But they turned out to be very unsightly and very disturbing, making my harp Grover look really bad with those scars.
So I went ahead and made another attempt to fix the issues by concealing the scars with Mohawk epoxy putty stick which not only patched the unsightly marks, they also took in paint, stains, and polyurethane — all of them oil-based and working great with Grover.
But I proved myself an amateur trying to work with poly, stains, and paint to conceal the patches only to make a mess of things with lots of stains, paint, and a little patience. I tried to be as neat and expert-like as possible, using paint thinner and sandpaper of various grit to remove the surface scratches and sculpt the patches I created with the epoxy stick to make them look good and have them ready to be covered with the right kind of stain/paint/poly of the right color that closely matches the color of my harp’s finish. I tried various styles of stain in liquid and gel forms. But I didn’t have a patience to wait for them to dry and they still expose the patches no matter how much coating I put on them. It never worked out for me at all.
So after spending the entire last month wasting money and time struggling to fix Grover’s scars with sandpaper, poly, paint, and stain, I finally gave up. I just can’t do it anymore without making matters worse for me and my harp and encounter a major disaster.
So now I’m starting to look for experts who will finish what I’ve started and do it professionally one more time. Thankfully I won’t have to go really far. Right now, I’m getting a hold of the Saginaw workshop again to ask them to help me fix Grover’s issues just one more time.
I would like to have Grover’s cosmetic issue fixed once and for all. So that when people, especially myself, come look at my pretty boys again and again, they will only see my harps as a whole and not the unsightly marks, nor the surface scratches, nor any other kind of blemish troubling my poor pedal harp. And then I can go back to enjoy Grover’s and Ernie’s beautiful music and have that awful ordeal involving unsightly marks created by the accidental tuning key drop, the surface scratches, the poly and paint messes, and other signs of an amateur wood worker way behind me.
I’ll keep you up to date with what’s going on with my harp Grover and his “boo boos” whenever possible.