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Vanderbilt Music Company FAQs

Below is a list of frequently asked questions for your information. If your question is not answered on this page you can email us at orders@vanderbiltmusic.com or call us toll-free at 800-533-7200 between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday, where our friendly staff members are always ready to assist you.

About Vanderbilt Music Company FAQ's

About Vanderbilt Music Company
Vanderbilt Music Company is a specialty harp store, featuring Pedal and Lever Harps, Harp Music, Harp Strings, Harp Accessories. We are an official distributor of Lyon & Healy and Salvi Harps. Our specialty is immediate, helpful service, and there's always a friendly, knowledgeable musician on staff to assist you.

Where are you located?
Vanderbilt Music Company is located in Bloomington, Indiana near the Indiana University Bloomington School of Music. Our address is: 312-A South Swain Ave; Bloomington, IN 47401. If you are going to be in the area, we would love to meet you

Can I come to your store to shop?
If you are going to be in the Bloomington area, you are welcome to visit our store. We have a wide range of music available for you to browse, and you are welcome to play the music on the harps we have in our store before you purchase it. We offer both Lyon & Healy and Salvi harps in our harp showroom. If you are interested in purchasing a harp, please contact our harp sales manager at harpsales@vanderbiltmusic.com, or by calling 800-533-7200 between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday. We look forward to meeting you!

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Ordering and Shopping FAQ's

How can I find out if you carry a particular piece of music?
The easiest way to search for a piece of music is by using the search function on our online store. Here, you can type in the title, composer, or arranger for the piece of music. We also have an updated list of competition and festival repertoire. We also have a catalog available, which we will send out at no charge. Please contact us if you would like to receive one. If you can't find what you are looking for, please feel free to call us at 800-533-7200 between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday, or email us at orders@vanderbiltmusic.com. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.

How can I order from you?
You can place your order through our online store; by calling us between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday, at 800-533-7200; or by emailing orders@vanderbiltmusic.com.

Do you ship internationally?
Yes, we ship harps, harp strings, harp music, and harp accessories to all countries. International customers normally order from us by using our online store, or by emailing orders@vanderbiltmusic.com. If you are a Canadian customer, we ask that you include your middle name when you place your order, due to new customs rules.

If I choose standard shipping, how long will it take for me to receive my package?
If you choose standard shipping, your package should arrive in 3 to 5 business days, depending on your location. This time frame is not guaranteed, and it may change depending on the speed of the US Postal Service. If you want a guaranteed delivery time, we invite you to request USPS Priority or Express Mail, or FedEx Overnight or 2Day delivery.
If you need an item by a certain time, we suggest calling our ordering manager at 800-533-7200 between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday, to discuss which shipping option is best for you.

Which shipping method should I use?
Generally, if we receive your order by noon Eastern time, we will ship your package out the same day, Monday through Friday. (Depending on volume of orders on a particular day, we may be able to process orders placed even later.) Most of our customers receive their packages very quickly. It is always best to give us a call if you need your order by a specific date/time, as we can usually accommodate shipping requests easily.

I entered my credit card information and received an error message saying “One or more fields were not filled out correctly.” What do I do?
This usually happens when the card number does not match the type of card you selected as your payment method. Click your browser’s back button (you will probably have to click it twice) and select the correct type of card from the “Pay via:” drop box. The default option is Discover, since it is alphabetically first. We also accept Visa and MasterCard. NOTE: We no longer accept American Express.

How can I search for items in your store?
The easiest way to search for a piece of music is by using the search function on our online store. Here, you can type in the keywords for the items you would like to browse. We also have a catalog available, which we will send out at no charge. Please contact us if you would like to receive one. If you can't find what you are looking for, please feel free to call us at 800-533-7200 between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday, or email us at orders@vanderbiltmusic.com. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.

I have already placed an online order, and I would like to add an item. What should I do?
If you have already placed an order in our online store, and you would like to add additional item(s), please call us as soon as possible at 800-533-7200 between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday, or email us at orders@vanderbiltmusic.com.
We pack our orders very quickly after we receive them. If your order has not yet been packed, we will include your additional items in the same shipment if at all possible. We cannot guarantee we will be able to add to your order before it goes out. If not, you will be required to pay a separate shipping fee. Therefore, please contact us immediately if you need to make a change.

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Harp String FAQ's

I need to order a harp string. How do I know which octave to order?
We identify the strings on a harp by octaves. To know which string you need, you first must know what octave it is in.
Octaves are measured from E to F from the top (shortest strings) of the harp to the bottom (longest strings).
To measure an octave, simply place your thumb on an E and your 4th finger on the first F below that E. The strings that your hand is spanning constitute one octave.
You may use the below chart as an aid for figuring the octaves on your harp. Please note: depending on the model and size of your harp, you may have more or less strings than those which are pictured below. Therefore, please use middle C (4th octave C) as your reference point.

String Chart

If you have a lever harp, the highest E on your harp is probably a 2nd octave E. With this in mind, every string above that E must fall in the first octave. (Note: If your lever harp is a Salvi Ana or Lyon & Healy Prelude, your first E is a 1st octave E). Following the above explanation, measure the octaves. We identify each octave as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th.
TIP: Middle C is the 4th octave C

If you have a pedal harp the highest E on your instrument is a probably a 1st octave E. If you have any strings above that, they are called the 00-G and 0-F. Following the above explanation, measure the octaves (thumb on E, 4th finger on the following F). We identify each octave as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, or 7th.
TIP: Middle C is the 4th octave C
Tip: The highest wire string is 5th octave G

What kind of strings should I use on my harp?
This depends largely on what type of harp you own, and in what situations you play it. Nylon strings tend to sound very bright in tone, they are cheaper, and have a very long lifespan. Because they last longer, many harpists use nylon in the 1st and, sometimes, 2nd octaves. Many lever harps use nylon strings in all the octaves. If you own a different brand of harp, please consult with the manufacturer before changing the string type, to make sure that the string gauges are similar to those that were sold with your harp.
Often, our pedal harp customers will use a combination of nylon (1st and/or 2nd octaves), gut (3rd-5th octaves), and wire strings (5th octave and below) on their harps. Gut strings have a richer, warmer tone which is preferable in the middle register of the harp. We sell four different types of gut strings.
For a detailed explanation of the different string types, please see our strings page. If you are interested in changing the type of strings you are using on your harp, please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about the differences. Also, you may wish to check with your harp teacher before making any changes.
If you are unsure what kind of string you need, please contact us before placing your order. We fill orders exactly as they are placed, and cannot be held responsible if you order the wrong item.

I own a harp that isn't made by Lyon & Healy or Salvi. Can I still order strings from you?
If you own a harp made by a company other than Lyon & Healy or Salvi, please contact us to inquire about the strings that can be used on your harp. Our strings work on many different harps, including Venus, Aoyama, and Camac. If you are unsure, you may wish to call our store or you may contact the manufacturer of your harp. There are many different brands of harps, all which use strings of different gauges and lengths. Using strings of an incorrect gauge can cause damage to your harp, so it is always best to call us at 800-533-7200 between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday, and ask which strings to use on your harp.

Is it alright to use nylon strings in the 5th octave?
This depends upon what type of harp you own, and what type of strings are used on the rest of the harp. Lyon & Healy and Salvi pedal harps come with gut strings in the 2nd through 5th octaves, and many Lyon & Healy and Salvi non-pedal harps now come with gut strings in the 5th octave. Gut strings have a warmer, more resonant tone, especially in this lower register. In many cases, you can replace these gut strings with the less-expensive nylon strings on your lever harp. However, you will notice a great difference in tone. In the 5th octave, both gut and nylon strings have very long lives, so longevity is not an issue in this case, so you may wish to weigh cost versus sound quality.

How high on the pedal harp should gut strings be used?
Most pedal harpists use gut strings in the 3rd through 5th octaves. However, there are several different opinions on whether to use nylon or gut strings in the 2nd octave and above. Nylon strings are cheaper and have a longer lifespan. Since the 1st and 2nd octave strings break more often than lower strings, this makes nylon strings appealing. However, their sound is slightly inferior to gut. Gut strings are richer in tone, a bit more expensive, and more fragile. Your decision will rest on a balance between cost, longevity, and performance, depending on where your harp is being played.

How do I tie a string knot, to secure the strings in the back of my harp?
Please view our String Tying Instructions page, and contact us with any questions you may have.

What is a "skeleton set" of strings?
When purchasing a lever or pedal harp, many of our customers will want to keep a spare set of strings on hand. If you would like to keep your costs down, you can purchase the minimal amount of necessary strings, by purchasing 4 strings rather than 7 for each octave of non-wire strings. Your skeleton set will consist of the colored C's and F's for each octave, as well as the D string and the A string. This way, the D string can be used to replace a D or an E string, and the A string can be used to replace a G, A, or B string. If you are looking at keeping your costs down, you might consider purchasing Burgundy Gut, which is a more economical alternative to Bow Brand Gut. These strings are the same as Bow Brand, but they have very slight visual imperfections.

What is the difference between Bow Brand Gut, Bow Brand Concedo, and Burgundy?
You may view the differences between these strings on our string information page. Bow Brand are premium quality strings, known for producing a bright tone. Bow Brand Concedo strings are brighter in color, which makes them an ideal choice for harpists who perform on stage or in dark settings, like orchestra pits. Burgundy gut strings are factory seconds, produced by Bow Brand. Usually the difference in quality between Bow and Burgundy is a matter of discoloration or other visual imperfections. Because of the somewhat lesser quality, Burgundy strings are a more economical choice.
If you are unsure of which type of gut string to buy, please feel free to contact our staff at 800-533-7200 between 5am and 9pm, Monday through Friday.

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Harp Sales and Rentals FAQ's

What are the advantages of buying a pedal or lever harp from Vanderbilt Music Company?
When you buy a pedal or lever harp from Vanderbilt Music, we want you to receive the best possible harp. The pedal harps we sell are all personally selected for you, either at the Lyon & Healy factory or at our Salvi distributor's showroom. The harps we sell are thoroughly checked for their quality of sound and mechanical excellence. If your harp has the Vanderbilt seal of approval, then you know that you have one of the highest quality harps available. We want your harp purchase experience to be enjoyable.
Also, we offer bounty trade-ins for Lyon & Healy and Salvi Lever harps that are less than 5 years old. If you rent a pedal harp from us, you will also receive credit towards the purchase of a new harp!
Along with your pedal harp, you will receive: a cover, tuning key, and warranty, one free warranty regulation between 12 and 18 months after you purchase your harp, and Carl Swanson's Guide for Harpists.
Along with your lever harp, you will receive: a cover, tuning key, and warranty. Also, you will receive Samuel Milligan's Fun From the First (vol. 1) and David Kolacny's Troubleshooting your Lever Harp.
Above all, you will receive the personalized and experienced service of our Vanderbilt Music staff. We look forward to hearing from you!

What kinds of harps do you sell?
We sell Lyon & Healy and Salvi pedal and lever harps. We keep several harps in stock, and you are welcome to visit our showroom to play our harps. We are also happy to order any pedal or lever harp that we don't currently have in stock. In order to do so, we ask for a 10% fully-refundable deposit. We thoroughly check every harp we sell to ensure that you are receiving the best possible instrument.

Do you have a rent-to-own program for harps?
We are happy to offer a harp rent-to-own program on all Lyon & Healy and Salvi lever harps for our domestic customers. Please view our rent-to-own page, and contact our harp sales manager at 800-533-7200 between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday, or by emailing harpsales@vanderbiltmusic.com. Additionally, we can offer financing on any of our harps through Allegro Acceptance. Please contact us to find out about current rates and to receive an application.

Do you sell used harps?
Occasionally, we will have used harps available at our harp showroom. Please view our used harps webpage to see our current stock. If you are shopping for a used harp, you may like to check The Harp Column's classified ads, both in their publication and on their website. Additionally, you may wish to read Carl Swanson's tips for purchasing used harps in his book, A Guide for Harpists.

Do you offer financing on harp purchases?
We offer financing on new pedal and lever harps through Allegro Acceptance. Please contact us to find out the exact rates and to receive an application.

I want to buy a harp-- where do I begin?
Well, if you are reading here you are already on the right track. There is a wide variety of harps available. We specialize in selling some of the finest pedal and lever harps available, made by Lyon & Healy and Salvi Harps. You will find a lot of varying information online, as you research pedal and lever harps. You may enjoy viewing the Useful Links that we have listed. You may also wish to check for harp events in your area. You are welcome to call and speak with our experienced staff anytime at 800-533-7200 between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday. We want you to enjoy your harp purchase experience, and we look forward to hearing from you and working with you!

Is it too late for me to start harp lessons?
It's never too late to begin to learn the harp. In fact, adult beginners often progress very quickly. We have customers who have begun the harp at nearly every age. The most important part is that you enjoy playing the harp.

Can I trade in my lever harp if I purchase a pedal harp from you?
We are happy to offer the bounty program on pedal harp purchases. Please view our bounty page for program details. Special conditions may apply if you purchased your Lyon & Healy or Salvi lever harp after January 1, 2005. Please contact our harp sales manager with any questions you may have.

Is my child too young to start harp lessons?
Children can really begin the harp at any age, although many are age 5 or older. Many young students start out with a lever harp, and later progress to a larger pedal harp, using the trade-in program. Pedal harps now come in a wide variety of sizes, from 40 to 47 strings, so young students can even begin on a small pedal harp if they wish. A harp teacher is an excellent resource for these questions. Depending on their method of teaching, they may wish for your child to start on a particular size of harp.

How do I find a harp teacher?
If you live in the United States, the American Harp Society has an excellent website which lists harp teachers by region. Many harp teachers will travel, or their students will travel to them. If your region is not listed on the American Harp Journal Teacher's Directory, you may also contact your local university or symphony in order to find a teacher.

How do I sell my used harp?
If your harp is in good condition, you will probably find a very good market for it. Our best suggestion is for you to list your used harp on The Harp Column's website: www.harpcolumn.com. The value of your harp depends mostly on its condition, and also its sound. Has your harp had any major repairs, such as having the neck replaced, or the action rebuilt? How old are its strings? When was your harp last regulated? These are the questions that you will probably be asked. In order to assess the value of your harp, you may find Carl Swanson's Guide for Harpists useful. Please feel free to contact our Harp Sales Manager with any questions about selling your used instrument.

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Other Harp Resources FAQ's

Lyon & Healy Harps
Salvi Harps
The Harp Column
The American Harp Society
Harp Insurance through the American Harp Society and the Anderson Group