7 Best Harps For Beginners – (Comprehensive Guide & Reviews)
A harp with evenly balanced strings and pleasant resonant voice can inspire you to greater musical skills.
However, selecting the best harp gets murky especially for first time buyers since harps are among the musical instruments that are not standardized.
There's an assortment of harp models to suit various playing styles and desires.
The best harps for beginners include the following:
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1. Roosebeck Heather Harp ™ , 22 Strings
The Roosebeck Heather Harp TM, 22 Strings harp is the best beginner harp there is on the market today, as well as one of the most popular.
With a height of 36 inches it’s great for both adults and children and weighing only around 15lbs it’s fairly portable.
With 22 Nyl22 DuPont hard nylon strings which are color coded to help you tune. Which you can do with the tune key it comes with.
It also comes with an extra set of strings.
The notes range from C3 to C6. The wood features such as the engraved and inlaid rosewood frame with a birch soundboard it makes you feel like you’re playing a thousand dollar harp.
With it’s handcrafted, classy look you cannot get a better harp for the price as a beginner harpist.
2. Minstrel Harp TM, 29 Strings, Knotwork
This beautiful harp stands 38 inches tall with 29 DuPont nylon strings.
It comes with twenty-four sharpening levels with an engraved Sheesham frame. Very high quality finishing with a birch strong soundboard fliers.
Exceptional attractive Celtic design with a hand-carved panel which produces the best sound since the strings are always tight.
The harp has a hand-carved inside panel, thus making it very attractive: high quality and engraved finish birch.
Recommend for beginners interested with learning folk and classical songs.
For 29 strings at this price point it is great harp for beginners who really want to take this to the next level.
3. Rees Harps Harpsicle Harp
Perfect design and sturdily made with the best 26 string combination and spacing, thus one of the best Harp options available in the market.
Portable and made from high quality materials. It can be played with a set of Key C and that of A minor. It has no Bridge thus best for starters.
It will fit perfectly on the storage cabin in many airlines; therefore, you can move it to your new location. Easy to play while sitting on its optional chair.
If you want something well built and something you want to be playing for a long time then we suggest the Harpsicle.
4. Roosebeck Pixie Harp TM, 19 Strings
The Roosebeck Pixie Harp has 19 strings and is handcrafted with inlaid and engraved rosewood frame making it very beautiful.
Exceptional string strength with a birch soundboard for exquisite sound.
Extra string set is provided to ensure that in case of a broken string, you still enjoy your beautiful harp.
It is approximately 30 inches tall and featuring 19 DuPont nylon strings with octave C below, High C and Middle C.
It also comes with basic harp playing reading notes and fingering positions while playing your harp.
Caring and maintenance notes are included to ensure that you can replace your strings with ease.
This harp is great if you are on a tight budget and want a harp that can play most songs easily.
It also has a lot of reviews which you can look at on Amazon.
5. Rees Harps Sharpsicle Harp Natural Maple
The Rees Harps Sharpsicle Harp has 26 strings and similar to Harpsicle Harps but with a slight difference of a bridge of pins across all the strings.
Improved with the Robinson sharpening levels on all F and C strings. It is possible to play more than six keys at the same time. The harp laps and the straps are crucial when stabilizing your harp.
It can get it in either natural maple or black. It also comes with a tuning wrench.
It is a bit more expensive than the rest but you get what you pay for in quality. If you know you're going to be playing for a long time then this is the perfect harp for you.
6. Roosebeck Pixie Harp Irish Celtic Style
This Harp has 19 DuPont nylon strings. Strings range from High C, Middle C to F below. 19 sharpening levels included.
Approximately 30 inches tall with inlaid and engraved walnut frames, therefore, making it very beautiful.
The Roosebeck 19-String Pixie Harp Irish Celtic Style - Walnut, is made with high quality materials making it a very durable harp.
High quality soundboard ply for excellent sound and tone production and with a finished birch for strength — tuning tool with an extra string set provided at a little additional cost.
The Pixie Irish Celtic Harp is one for people who are just starting out and want a good looking harp for a low price but there are definitely better options.
7. Sturgis Irish Celtic Lever Harp
A 22 string harp which comes with a free carrying bag as well which is waterproof.
Very high level of creativity since the solid wood is hand-polished with beautiful engravings. Although not the best quality. Which is why this harp is so low on our list.
They also recommend to change your harp strings immediately after you purchase it to avoid these string from oxidizing which can reduce their service life.
It does come with an extra replacement pair of stings which is very crucial since your Harp strings can get broken on your way home. It also come with a tune key.
This harp does not have the best quality but it does come with a free carrying case which would usually cost around another $60 - $100.
Buyers’ Guide: Choosing The Perfect Harp
Choosing a harp, therefore, depends on what you prioritize: Sound, Price, Portability, Appearance or more.
Once you know your priorities, here's what to look for when buying your first harp.
Even though the larger the harp, the warmer and richer the tone, playing the harp is a physical experience so get something that’s comfortable. A well-fitting harp lets you enjoy every session with it while preserving your health too.
Otherwise, you don't want to practice for a gig and blunder on the day because of some muscle problems.
Beginners are advised to match their stature (height) to their harp size, so the harp fits the body comfortably. A well-fitting harp can be held rightly and played freely.
The guide to matching statures is as follows:
For adults, if you sit on 18-inch high stools, then get a floor size model with 34 strings on the maximum.
For small children, those in the 5-10 age bracket, a 12-inch stool is what they sit on, and the best harp model is a 28-string set floor model.
The sound your instrument makes is the feature that will make you satisfied with each playing session.
Before buying a harp, know that its voice and the music you make is what you're going to live with so get something that gives rich, resonant sounds when plucked.
Here's what you should watch out for:
Harps with evenly balanced strings are responsive and produce full range sounds.
The mass of the string affects how the plucking energy gets converted to vibrations. Low notes are generated by strings with large mass while strings with less mass generate high notes.
The back of the harp is essential too because it helps reinforce the vibrations of the soundboard leading to vibrant voices. Therefore, look out for harps with well-crafted backs.
Good design has the harp back running parallel to the soundboard, so every vibration gets reinforced.
Strings Composition and Configuration Affects the sound quality.
Most of the best harps have evenly balanced strings that are responsive to the plucking energy for rich vibration and pleasant resonant sounds.
What happens when you pluck the string of your harp is that the energy gets transmitted to the soundboard resulting in vibrations (notes) at specific frequencies.
What affects the energy transmission, therefore, is the string mass.
The string mass is affected by the string diameter, its composition, and construction.
Nylon strings have bigger diameter but are less in mass compared to thin steel strings. Wrapped strings, however, have more mass than monofilament.
When watching out for strings, use these guides:
Look out if the tension is consistent throughout the harp – bottom to top
The most common string number for all type of harps is 34-36 and allows you to play wide-ranging music.
Get harps with thick strings for low notes or thin strings for high notes.
Type of Harp
There are two broad categories of harps you can choose from depending on the music you make:
The Lever or Celtic Harps are the best for making folk music. They’re smaller in size and allow for manual maneuvering of the pitch across the range using some levers. They feature 27-40 lighter strings.
The Pedal Harp is suitable for playing contemporary music. It's a sizeable sized harp featuring brilliant pedal mechanisms for making key changes.
Beginners mostly start practicing on the Lever harp before proceeding to the Pedal as they master the craft. The lever harp doesn't involve a lot of key changes and features manageable numbers of strings for beginners.
The Material and Quality of the Craft Determines the Harp Price.
The price of your favorite harp goes for depends on the materials used, the quality of the craft and rendering done.
All in all, harps like all other handcrafted, stringed or solid wood musical instruments go for higher prices because great skills and quality materials are employed to design the product.
If you get lower priced harps, be prepared to compromise on voice quality because of poor designs such as unbalanced string mass, poor quality harp back and more.
If you want a harp with great musical potential, be prepared to pay more for the handcraft.
Do you wish to bring your harp along with you and horn your skills wherever you are? Or do you wish to share music at the bedside?
Small-sized harps for travel or strolling harps that you can play while moving around are your best option.
For novice players, however, practicing on floor size models is the best as you don't have to concentrate too much on balancing the harp on your lap, table or stand.
Larger harps are comfortable to play than the smaller harps.
What are you using it for?
Does your music involve lots of key changes, or is it diatonic? You should know the music you want to play before getting your harp:
As aforesaid, if you are into folk music, the lever harps allow for the playing of the traditional, hymn, Celtic or classical music that does not include lots of key changes. Including the lyre harp.
For contemporary music with lots of key changes, however, get the Pedal Harps with brilliant pedal mechanisms for convenient key changing. Go with this option if you want to play some romantic or popular orchestral and opera music.
Do you wish to be the stylish harp player in the room? Or you're more concerned with what you give your audience? Depending on your priority here, you can use the following guide:
Pedal Harps are more impressive in appearance, large sound boxes, and full range.
The lever harps, on the other hand, are not as impressive as Pedal harps but still get the job done.
In retrospect, learning a new instrument could go from exciting to a frustrating experience depending on the vibe you get from the session. Purchasing your harp for the first time is a big decision.
We hope you learn how to choose wisely to get exactly what you want.