Working as a full time harp tech has been great, and I don’t regret it. But sometimes things don’t always go like predicted, and managing time is a challenge. Nothing flaky going on here, and I’m not taking vacations with your deposit money. I have a lot of work stacked up, and I can only take it one reed at a time!
On the day I replied to your initial email with a target date, I may have gotten 10 inquiries. I can’t build 10 harps a day, even in a perfect world. But everyone gets the same estimate, it’s the best I can do. Many won’t follow through. Or, perhaps before you pulled the trigger, someone else sent a deposit for a few or even a complete set.
I’m not whining! But here’s the rest of my excuse list:
1) Building harps is not an A-B-C and “it’s done” type of thing, when done at a professional level. It needs to play and sound how I want it, and I’ll work on it until it does…period. If a harp is cooperative, it might take a couple hours to do the initial build (to be fine tuned later). If every reed is off center, not riveted flat to the plate, and the reed plates are wavy, it adds considerable time to the build before I even get started on the fun stuff!
2) Tuning. I originally scheduled to build x amount of harps a day, and one tuning day a week to tune/assemble/ship. This just isn’t enough time, as it turns out. I don’t rush tuning, it’s too important!
3) Tuning (again). When reeds are adjusted and moved around, the pitches immediately go flat. Over an unpredictable amount of time, they drift back sharp. We have to wait on them to do their thing.
4) Tuning (yet again). Sometimes the blow reeds in the upper register will blow sharp when played with harder pressure. You can’t properly tune octaves when this happens, and I don’t let the problem slide. I have solutions, but it’s one more thing that makes them take longer.
5) Repair work (on my existing customs) compresses my time to a great degree. After ten years of building harps, there are a lot of them out there. These often come in bunches. Literally someone sending a whole set, or everyone decides at the same time to send me one harp…that they broke the 4 draw on months ago, but need it for a gig this weekend. So it can really mess up a schedule!
6) Emails must be carefully read, and individual needs/questions answered. This can really suck a lot of time out of my schedule.
7) R&D. I’m still developing ways to extract a little bit more performance. The time invested in doing that can sidetrack me occasionally, but it’s how I evolve and provide a better-than-average instrument. Everyone benefits.
8.) Sometimes personal life requires attention. Wife, kids, fix the car, funerals, birthdays, the list goes on. Stuff that we all need to stop and take care of!
I was going to come up with a top 10 list, but really need to get back to work. All I can promise you is that I’m working hard and you will get great harps when it’s your turn. I’m not going anywhere! It’s all good!