Fullsicle Harp Review
Why choose Harpsicle’s Fullsicle?
The pros and cons of the fully-levered Harpsicle.
As a performer and teacher for decades, I’ve come across many styles of harps. I’m seeing more and more of these Harpsicle harps, so I got my hands on one and this is my review.
The Harpsicle company began out of a need for a more affordable harp for harpists. The starting price point for a good harp is around $3500, going up quickly and significantly from there. When I say “good” harp, I mean quality. Something that has a reputation of being a long-lasting quality product, something that has consistent string pressure, mechanical integrity, decent weight, ideal size, and a beautiful tone. You need a harp that has the same distance between the strings, like most upscale harps (Lyon and Healy, Salvi, Camac). A good harp also entails one that has at minimum 24 strings! Anything less will significantly limit your repertoire.
There are certain sizes for certain needs. A casual player who isn’t looking to join an orchestra may not need a full-sized pedal harp (starting around $20K). A harpist who wants ease of portability will focus on a lighter-weight, smaller harp, maybe carbon fiber, maybe no more than 30 strings.
I know many harpists who have many harps because there are many needs!
When it comes to a harp under $1500, I am quick to judge its quality as a lower price usually means lower quality. At least when it comes to harps!
I came across a Harpsicle that has a full set of levers (called a Fullsicle) starting at $1065. This isn’t a bad price, in fact it’s low. So what gives? Why all the hype?
The company makes larger harps as well, but let’s focus on the smaller 26 string Fullscicle.
It weighs 6.4 lbs. That’s it! I couldn’t believe it. I have a small 21 string lap harp that weighs 12 lbs. It’s not heavy, but they certainly have made them lighter these days. This means less back aches as you carry the harp around while playing, as well as ease of transport when traveling.
At $1065 you can’t find a 26 string harp that has the following and reputation that a Fullsicle has. An affordable harp is a biggie for a lot of harpists.
The strings shift when you manipulate the levers. What I mean by this is, as you’re looking at the plane of strings, they should all be on the same plane with levers up or down or mixed. But when you move a lever, the string shifts to one direction. Meaning that as you’re playing, some of the strings will be further right (or left) depending on which lever is up or down. It’s hard to describe, so I’ve included a picture…
This picture shows the harp with E, A, and B levers up. In this picture we have manipulated middle C (the 2nd C from the bottom) to make it C#. You may notice how it can be seen here, in relation to the B string right below it.
In the following picture, we have lowered the lever on the C to make it C natural. Now, you can see how it has shifted left and can hardly be seen behind the B string.
A small amount of shifting is not uncommon in lever harps, but I noticed a greater shift in space with the Fullsicle.
The website boasts a more even tone because their soundboards are made from poplar instead of spruce. Most soundboards are made from a softer wood like spruce, which gives it that even, rich tone. Harpsicle chose a harder wood, poplar, in part because spruce was becoming a threatened species. It’s admirable, but the tone is less even throughout the range. On the particular harp I played, the upper register had a lovely tone, but it felt deadened the lower I got on the harp.
When all is said and done I would only recommend these harps if budget and portability were the main concerns of my students. Otherwise, if they can afford a little more, you get increasingly better quality in the $2500-$3500 range through other brands.
Keep in mind I haven’t played their bigger harps, so I’m not saying anything about them here, just the 26-string Fullsicle.