Why are harps so expensive?

A harp is a wonderful musical instrument that produces distinctive beautiful sounds. It is also one of the most expensive stringed musical instruments. 

If you are a musical student or you have tried to buy one before, you would have asked the question.

Why are harps so expensive? There are many reasons but most notably are the amount of material and intricate detail that goes into crafting one of these majestic instruments. 

This is why this article discusses some of the reasons why they are so expensive.

Manufacturing

Most of them are made manually. A lot of manual labor goes into the production of every single harp. 

That also means its production involves a lot of hard work. Every string is manually fixed. Most importantly, like every manually done task, it is time consuming. 

Every piece of the harp is individually and inspected for any kind of damage that could possibly inhibit it from sounding the best and aesthetically pleasing.

It could take up to 2 weeks to make just one of it. Multiply the average hourly rate by 14 days and the harsh reality in its production will hit you. 

In other words, the manual craftsmanship and the time expended in making the instrument both manifest in its cost.

Especially grand concert harp that cost several thousands of dollars.

Materials

Harps are made of different expensive materials that are not easy to source. Here is a breakdown of all the materials that go into the making of every single harp.

•The fore pillar/column, neck, and body are all usually made of Maple or Mahogany woods. Apart from the fact that both are exotic woods, you should also remember that this requires felling of trees. Some makers may choose other types of wood but Maple is the best because it is strong enough to withstand the stress of the strings.

•The soundboard which amplifies the sound of the strings is made of spruce because it is pliable, light, strong, and evenly-grained. This is why it is able to respond evenly to the vibrations of the strings and produce pleasant sounds.

•The center strip at the middle of the soundboard is made of beech. Its toughness makes beech the best choice. It will easily bear the strings’ tension.

•The disks that determine the length of the strings and the curved plate of the neck are made of brass. The pedals that control the disk are also made of brass.

•The internal mechanism of harps which connects the pedals to the disks is known as “action”. It is made of either brass or stainless steel. 

•The strings are made of nylon, steel, and/or gut. You probably don’t know that gut is derived from the intestines of sheep, do you? 

•Add the wood finish to the equation and you’ll understand why the instrument is very expensive.

Their quality does not reduce with age

Harps are like wine. Their sound seems to get better with age. 

While the quality of sound produced by other musical instruments may diminish as the instruments get older, the quality of sound produced by harps remains the same or gets better. 

This is one of the reasons why they are very expensive and it is also the reason why the cost of a used harp is usually close to that of a new one.

Moreover, when a harp has a structural or mechanical issue, it hardly affects its sound except when the issue prevents you from being able to play it.

So, it is safe to say that the instrument is resilient. You can’t say the same for many other instruments.

They are not readily available

Unlike pianos and guitars, it is hard to see them on display. 

This is because they are usually made on orders probably because of the amount of hard work and time involved in making them. They are not as common as other instruments. 

If you need one, you may have to place an order and wait for a couple of weeks to get it delivered.

They are quite durable

Another factor that contributes to their cost is their sturdy frame. This makes them rugged and tough. 

They last for years even with heavy usage. Durability does not come cheap in any product.

Conclusion

Harps are quite expensive depending on which type and what kind kind of harpist you want to become but there is the right harp out there for you at the perfect price point.

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