Who is Venus™
“VENUS Harps” is the trade name for a full line of premium quality pedal harps manufactured by W&W Musical Instrument Company in Chicago Illinois.
In 1957 Walter Krasicki Sr. was hired by Lyon & Healy Harps’ Raymond Durham, brother of L&H President Gregory Durham, who recognized his expertise in wood craftsmanship. William Becker, VP and Comptroller promoted him to foreman of the harp shop in 1967.
About 1968 Lyon & Healy was sold to CBS Corporation and by 1969 Walter Sr. had seen enough of Corporate America’s approach to harp manufacturing. His belief in hands on production methods and the quality of old world craftsmanship led him to leave L&H in 1969 and open his own company. His company would be dedicated to harp repair and the pioneering of a new pedal harp line in the USA, to be known as VENUS. This new harp line would be based on the tried and true old way of pedal harp making. With his wife and son, Walter Sr. established what is now known as W&W Musical Instrument Company.
The first VENUS harp was a large lever harp known as the VENUS Baroque. This lever harp was produced for about 2 years until the prototype for the first pedal harp was complete and debuted sometime between 1972 and 1973. Once pedal harp production was in full swing, the Baroque Lever harps were discontinued but many remain in use today around the USA and Europe.
The original factory was an old wood shop on Clybourn Avenue in Chicago. This location didn’t last too long though. The harp world quickly recognized the craftsmanship and quality of Senior’s new line of pedal harps. Expanding production and employees forced him to look for a larger facility. The location he found is the current location on Grand Avenue. From this location W&W Musical Instrument Company manufactures 100% of its harp line and displays them in a showroom within the facility. The Krasicki Family has designed the complete line of VENUS harps, beginning with Senior’s first designs and continuing with Walt Jr. who began designing production harps in the mid 80’s. Walt Jr. went on to become the current owner and President of the company.
In 1976 a true “student model” pedal harp, the “Cherub”, was introduced with 44 strings and a straight soundboard. At the 1980 AHS Convention in Fredonia, NY, VENUS introduced a new highly carved model to the harp world called the “Paragon”. This model is a Gothic six-sided design emulating a section of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.
In 1981 VENUS was available in 6 models – the always-popular “Premier” concert model was first, followed by the carved “Traditional” concert model and its gold counterpart the “Angelus”. Next came the sleek “Diplomat” grand concert model, followed by the company’s most popular model in its history, the cascading carved roses known as the “Classic” and its gold counterpart the “Aquilan”. The “Aquilan” was originally named for the company’s long time friend and mentor, the late Professor Peter Eagle of the University of Indiana, Bloomington.
In 1999, after two years in the making, Walt Jr. introduced his newest design named the “ARIA”. This beautifully ornate, Art Nouveau style highly carved harp, is in the VENUS Grand Concert Series. Along with the Classic, known by most as the VENUS “Roses”, the “Aria” is one of the all time top selling carved harps.
At the turn of the century, VENUS introduced 3 NEW models: The Millennium, or “Milli” as its makers and owners affectionately know it, a 42 string, straight soundboard TRUE pedal harp for students; the very popular “Prodigy” student model with 44 strings with an extended soundboard; the highly popular carved concert series harp, the “Protégé” with its Celtic style carving. In 2002, Junior presented his latest design called the “Penti Series”. The “Penti C” is a full 46 string, extended soundboard concert model and its big brother, the “Penti GC” with 47 strings and extended board, is the grand concert model. This series has a sleek updated design for the 21st century.
Walt Jr. unveiled a highly carved harp in the Grand Concert Series at the AHS Conference in Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota in 2002. The “Baroque Polonaise” is a highly ornate Grand Concert Model harp only available in a limited series of woods and in a gold version. The Polonaise has intricate and highly detailed carved ornamentation reminiscent of the Rococo era of both Art and Music.
Over the years VENUS has continued to introduce new models to their line of handcrafted pedal harps. We now offer sixteen models: three student models, six concert models, seven Grand Concert models and eight 23K Gold versions (three concert and five grand concert models). Specialty finishes can be requested on VENUS Harps and are produced as “one of a kind” or limited edition harp.
In addition to new column designs and specialty finishes, Walt Jr. and his technical staff continue to work on new innovations and updates beyond mere appearance. This includes the design of better sound quality and harp function. The harp community continues to expand both in its classical roots as well as in the direction of pop, jazz, and beyond. VENUS reacts to current and future trends by designing new harps to complement these changes.
VENUS harps are made with the best materials available. This includes hard maple for major components, Sitka spruce for soundboards and beech wood for the center strips. These quality materials go into all of the harps we make. From a student harp to the Grand Concert 23K Gold Leaf models and everything in between, VENUS harps exude excellence in harp manufacturing. We carry that excellence into the repair and maintenance of all American and European harps as well, including Russian harps and the Erard, when parts are available.
An assembly line production process originally instituted by Senior in the early days of VENUS is still used in our current day production. Our harp makers, as was their predecessors, are all European Craftsmen with backgrounds in all types of customized woodworking, many with wood instrument backgrounds. They specialize in specific production processes on each harp, rather than one individual making one harp. In addition, many craftsmen are cross-trained in multiple skills to insure the efficiency of the entire production process.
VENUS also employs a technical staff of trained harp technicians. Many of these technicians are also musicians and/or degreed professional harpists who work both in-house and in the field. As the VENUS staff of harp technicians continues to grow, we opt to make personal deliveries of our harps to clients in as many areas of the country as possible. We also provide annual field regulation trips by our staff technicians.
VENUS Harps is a family owned and operated business in all sense of the tradition. Beginning with Walter Sr., wife Eva and son Walt Jr., to the current leadership and direction of owner Walt Jr. as President/CEO, wife Denise as Company Business Manager and their daughters Nikki and Michelle, the tradition continues. Youngest daughter, “Nikki” has attended the last two AHS conferences on the sales floor working with Dad meeting and greeting clients. She is an amateur harpist who works as an Administrative Assistant in the Business Office with mom. She can also be found in the factory or showroom learning harp building from the ground up the way her father learned from his father over 32 years ago. In her spare time she is pursuing a degree in education. Oldest daughter Michelle lives in the upper Midwest and prefers to work behind the scenes with Mom via computer and the Internet. She also serves as a company representative for Venus as well as having attained a degree in the Veterinary Technical Field.
The cornerstone of a family owned and operated business is the ability to provide personalized service to all our clients. We are not members of the Corporate America paradigm nor do we want to be. Such membership often results in mass-produced products of inferior quality and workmanship. We believe in the hands on approach to quality control of our products and personalized interaction with our clients. This belief results in a small company that grows slowly to keep it in touch with what the every day mainstream harpist needs and want. We make a high quality, sound consistent, reliable product, and stand behind every product we make with pride.
“Our company philosophy is to make the harp available and affordable to as many as possible, having a love for the instrument no matter who they are or where they hail from. We congratulate those that have reached the realm of celebrity but the mainstream of our industry is the every day harpist, teacher and their students and we are proud to be their harp maker and here we honor them! “
We thank all of you for your continued support and interest in our products and will continually strive to meet your needs and requirements. The Krasicki Family and Employees of W&W Musical Instrument Company, proud manufacturers of VENUS Harps 100% USA owned and produced.