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Buying a small harp

04 Apr 98 - 12:24 AM (#25083)
Subject: Buying a small harp
From: Suibhan

Hello everyone, I am thinking of getting a small harp (and learning to play it). It has to be as small as possible to fit in my tiny condo. I am not blessed with an overabundance of musical talent and I understand some harps are easier to play than others, so this is another factor. Price is not a major consideration. Does anyone have any suggestions or advice for me?

04 Apr 98 - 01:06 AM (#25087)
Subject: RE: Buying a small harp
From: Helen

Hi Suibhan

There have been lots of discussion about this at different times on the harp mailing list (e-mail), and you can subscribe to the list by e-mailing, and then sending questions and replies to

You can look up the archives and search for this topic at:

There are also links to harpmakers pages and other sites.

A quick response now is that the smaller the number of strings, the less versatility the instrument has and the harder it is to play. (26 strings would probably be my absolute minimum but I'm very happy with the range of mine which has 34 strings.) Also having levers on the harp means that you can change key and this is especially useful if you are planning to play with other people.

It's very very frustrating having an instrument which takes 10 minutes to retune (with an electronic tuner) when everyone else is jumping around from key to key without much warning, but the levers mean you can change within a few seconds. You could get away with just enough levers to play the most used folk keys, and in our session group we stick to C Major, G Major and D Major most of thentime, and sometimes do things in A Major.

You can find kit harps which you can build yourself which cuts down on the cost, and mine is a Markwood Harp made from their plans. I am very happy with the sound quality of it, but other kits are available. Most harpmakers have varying sizes on offer, whether kits or fully made, and even harps with the same number of strings can be different sizes from different harpmakers.

My main advice is to get as many strings as you can above 26, get as many levers as you can, shop around, and come and talk with us at the harp mailing list, they'll jump at the chance of helping you out, and they'll all give recommendations of which harpmakers have goodharps.

Happy harp hunting Helen in Australia

04 Apr 98 - 10:21 AM (#25098)
Subject: RE: Buying a small harp
From: Susan of DT

See celtic instrument hread refreshed

04 Apr 98 - 04:30 PM (#25138)
Subject: RE: Buying a small harp
From: Helen

Thanks Susan,

For reposting the Celtic instrument thread - I have had trouble getting into Mudcat lately so I didn't know that there was a question for me there, and also for pointing readers of this thread to the other one. You beat me to it - I came in here to do exactly the same thing.