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PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 9:36 pm 
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I'm going to Ireland in July (a month-long stay in Donegal to study Irish...woo hoo!), and I'd really like to take my Harpsicle with me. I chickened out the last time I went to Ireland and decided not to bring it, and kicked myself the entire time because on my first day there I met another American who had brought his Harpsicle with no problem.

The thing is, it's so hard to find out information on specific overhead bin sizes. A harp being what it is, it's hard to tell if it will fit based on those rectangular box guides they have in airports. Delta's website specifically mentions that guitars and basses are welcome "if they'll fit in the overhead bins," and my Harpsicle is definitely smaller than any guitar I've ever seen, so it would seem workable, but I'm still paranoid. This is a multi-stage journey...if, at any time, it won't fit in an overhead bin or on-board closet, I'll be faced with either abandoning it or allowing it to be checked and praying it doesn't get smashed.

I do have a good, well-padded soft case for it, but no hard case (they don't make them...and even if they did, and if even if they were reasonably priced, hauling a hard-cased instrument all over Ireland isn't my idea of a good time).

The Harpsicle website does say "fits in the overhead bin or garment closet of most airliners," but they don't say anything beyond that.

Whatever I do, it's going to be a calculated risk, but I'd love to learn if anyone else out there has ever flown with an instrument of a similar size that lived to tell the tale.

In its case, the harp measures about 33 inches tall, and is about 22 inches wide at its widest point. It's about 7 inches deep. It weighs around 6 pounds in the case. It's a nice, padded, backpack case that's perfect for schlepping a small harp around.

Any input appreciated.

Redwolf

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 10:52 pm 
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I'd recommend calling the airline and asking the dimensions of their overhead bins. Some airlines are less likely to have problems than others. I recently read in another forum that a certain airline was letting people put instruments in the closet near the cabin, which was much bigger than the overhead bins even.

If you do bring it, I'd recommend showing up as early as possible for your flight.


Afraid I don't know too much about flying, but I'm interested to hear replies, as I'm about to be in the same boat.

If they say a guitar will fit, and if the harp is smaller than any guitar, I'd say you are probably save, assuming the width isn't too great.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 11:08 pm 
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Sirchronique wrote:
I'd recommend calling the airline and asking the dimensions of their overhead bins. Some airlines are less likely to have problems than others. I recently read in another forum that a certain airline was letting people put instruments in the closet near the cabin, which was much bigger than the overhead bins even.

If you do bring it, I'd recommend showing up as early as possible for your flight.


Afraid I don't know too much about flying, but I'm interested to hear replies, as I'm about to be in the same boat.

If they say a guitar will fit, and if the harp is smaller than any guitar, I'd say you are probably save, assuming the width isn't too great.


They don't actually say a guitar will fit...they say a guitar is OK IF it fits. The airlines are singularly unhelpful, actually.

What they give you are the overall dimensions, which don't help much if you're trying to figure out if your triangular object is too long or too wide to fit in the bin. They base these things on rectangular mini-suitcases.

Redwolf

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:24 am 
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What they give you are the overall dimensions, which don't help much if you're trying to figure out if your triangular object is too long or too wide to fit in the bin.
How about getting a couple of sheets of cardboard taped into a box of these dimensions and trying to fit your instrument in it?

Just do be aware that if bin-size differs between airlines/aircraft there is always the possibility that your original designated aircraft may be replaced at the last minute, due to technical difficulties.

Have a good flight :)

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:26 pm 
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Just thought I'd share that I contacted the Wm. Rees company (which makes Harpsicles) about this, and got a very nice email back from Pamela Rees saying she flies frequently with her Harpsicle, both internationally and domestically, and she's never had a problem. The only time it wouldn't fit somewhere in the cabin was on a little prop-driven puddle jumper, and then she was quite comfortable gate-checking it (and it arrived just fine).

I think I'm going to try it. The 'Sicle is a sweet little instrument, but it's not expensive as harps go (and it's not my main axe), and I DID buy it for travel, so it's worth a shot.

Redwolf

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:45 pm 
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Thought I'd come back and let you all know the outcome!

As it happens, I had no trouble at all. I was a bit nervous before boarding in San Francisco, and asked the gate clerk if she thought I'd have any trouble fitting the harp on board. She suggested I board the flight during pre-boarding (when they let all the people on who need "extra time or assistance") to give the flight attendants a bit more time to help me get it stowed. I did this on all my flights.

On the flight from San Francisco to New York, it was pathetically easy. I was the first person on the plane. As I boarded, I asked the flight attendant if he thought the harp would fit in the overhead. He said "I think so, but if it doesn't, let me know, and we'll find another place for it." It fit in the overhead with no problem...there was even room to fit several soft bags around it.

When I got on the plane for the New York to Dublin leg, I pre-boarded once again and asked the same question. Just as the attendant started to say "sure...no problem!" the lead attendant came by and said "Is that a musical instrument? Let me put it in a closet for you...it will be safer."

Coming back, the Dublin to Atlanta leg was a repeat of the San Francisco-New York trip. On the Atlanta to San Francisco leg, it would have fit in the overhead, but once again, the lead flight attendant suggested I put it in the closet (she let me put it in myself).

This was on Delta, by the way, and they get high marks for the pleasant and professional way in which their people took care of me and my instrument!

I'm so glad I brought it with me! I had several opportunities to perform (including playing it on An Trá Bán -- The Silver Strand -- in Gleann Cholm Cille), and in general simply enjoyed having my little harp with me to play on whenever I needed music. The little harp got a lot of attention (one thing I learned...if you're going to show up in a Gaeltacht carrying a harp, you'd better be prepared to play it in public...and to talk about it in Irish!) and gave me a lot of pleasure during my trip.

Redwolf

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:40 pm 
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That's good to hear Redwolf.

I have occasionally brought musical instruments on flights, and sometimes it's a bit nerve-wrecking. Once I ended up on economy class on a completely packed European flight and there was no overhead space available at all. Luckily I had been given a free upgrade to business class when boarding, so I was reasonably close to the front section of the plane, the flight attendant noticed and made me pass the instrument over the heads of the other passengers so that she could put it in the closet just in front of the first seat row.

How many strings does your harpsicle have? I'm mostly just curious, but my GF plays harp and she doesn't like to be away from it even for just a few days. :)

-Tor


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:52 pm 
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Tor wrote:
That's good to hear Redwolf.

I have occasionally brought musical instruments on flights, and sometimes it's a bit nerve-wrecking. Once I ended up on economy class on a completely packed European flight and there was no overhead space available at all. Luckily I had been given a free upgrade to business class when boarding, so I was reasonably close to the front section of the plane, the flight attendant noticed and made me pass the instrument over the heads of the other passengers so that she could put it in the closet just in front of the first seat row.

How many strings does your harpsicle have? I'm mostly just curious, but my GF plays harp and she doesn't like to be away from it even for just a few days. :)

-Tor


It's got 26 strings (3 1/2 octaves)...no levers, but it's easy enough to re-tune quickly. It's got a soft, delicate voice, but a pleasant one.

BTW, I will definitely take advantage of the pre-boarding option in the future. It never occurred to me before this trip that I could do that, and it made all the difference in getting the instrument settled before everyone piled on with their "I'm carrying everything I need for a month-long trip and then some" oversized carry-ons.

Redwolf

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:13 pm 
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Good idea about the pre-boarding.
My GF's harp has 27 strings. I'll measure it (or rather the padded bag) and then do some thinking.

-Tor


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:41 pm 
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Tor wrote:
Good idea about the pre-boarding.
My GF's harp has 27 strings. I'll measure it (or rather the padded bag) and then do some thinking.

-Tor


The limiting factor on most harps is the base. Typically, they flare out significantly at the base (or, as my daughter puts it, "they have big butts"). What makes the Harpsicle easy to travel with is it doesn't have that flare...the sound box is the same width at the bottom as at the top. That's more of a factor than the number of strings (in fact, my Dusty Strings Ravenna and my Dreamsinger Bard both have the same number of strings as the Harpsicle, but you'd never get either of them in an overhead bin!)

It's nice, frankly, to have an inexpensive little harp that you can travel with. I even took the Harpsicle down onto the beach at An Trá Bán in Donegal...a gazillion steps with the little 'Sicle in its case on my back! I had a great time playing it on the beach!

Redwolf

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:25 pm 
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Thanks RedWolf.

Her harp's soundbox indeed has a flare.. well, the triangular shape. I shall look into Harpsicles! I don't know much about harps, I thought the only mobile alternatives were the mini harps or lyre harps.. I don't think they are useful alternatives for my GF. And they even have triangular soundboxes like their bigger cousins.

I just searched for Harpsicle and found images.. yes, I see the difference! That looks immensely more portable!
I haven't seen those before. Not that I know very much about harps (very unusal instrument in my country for some reason), I've only been exposed to them via my girlfriend and her teacher, who has many harps, large ones and small ones and mid-sized but nothing that looks like a Harpsicle.

-Tor


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:10 am 
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Tor wrote:
Thanks RedWolf.

Her harp's soundbox indeed has a flare.. well, the triangular shape. I shall look into Harpsicles! I don't know much about harps, I thought the only mobile alternatives were the mini harps or lyre harps.. I don't think they are useful alternatives for my GF. And they even have triangular soundboxes like their bigger cousins.

I just searched for Harpsicle and found images.. yes, I see the difference! That looks immensely more portable!
I haven't seen those before. Not that I know very much about harps (very unusal instrument in my country for some reason), I've only been exposed to them via my girlfriend and her teacher, who has many harps, large ones and small ones and mid-sized but nothing that looks like a Harpsicle.

-Tor


They're decent little harps. They don't have as full a sound as other harps, and the tension is very light (I'm finding I'm having to concentrate on pulling harder now that I'm home and playing my Ravenna again), but they have a pleasant voice. I DON'T recommend getting one with levers...that brings the price up to the point where it's much less attractive. If you're just using it to keep in practice, you can skip accidentals, and just retune if you want to play something in a different key. Rather than get levers, I'd spend the money on a good case, such as the one with backpack straps that Sylvia Woods sells.

Another benefit is they're very light. Mine weighs, I think, about four pounds...maybe five with the case. That's nice when you're carting it around through airports!

Redwolf

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 3:37 pm 
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Tor...here's a graphic example of why the Harpsicle fits in an overhead bin and most similarly sized harps won't. The harp on the right is the Harpsicle in its case. The harp on the left is my Dreamsinger Bard, also cased. The Bard has the same number of strings (more closely spaced) as the Harpsicle, and is even a little bit shorter because of the low head, but it's got that characteristic flare at the base that makes all of the difference. The Harpsicle fits into the bin with just enough room to spare on top to put a coat or something...no more than that. You'd never squeeze the Dreamsinger in...the only hope would be to persuade a flight attendant to put it in a closet.

Image

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:30 am 
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Thanks for the photo, it's very illustrative. Sorry for not replying earlier, I've been away from the web so didn't see the post before now.
Also, thanks for the recommendation about going for the non-lever version - it makes a lot of sense. I was looking at the full-levered version for my girlfriend but you're right, the non-levered variant would be perfectly sufficient for the intended use - to practice when on travel. I think she currently plays only a single tune where she hits the levers during the tune, everything else is in-key all the way (she's been playing for less than two years).

-Tor


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