Buying my first harp…

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    edmond-jensen-dietz on #77889

    Hi everyone,

    I’m a 30 year old guy about 6 feet high or 183 cm. I would like to start playing the celtic/irish harp (30-38 strings). The type of harp is more a logistic/economical decision. I will likely play different styles of music. Weather I’m going to take a class or learn buy book/instructional videos I’m not sure. Regarding purchase which is going to be relevant sooner or later, I would like to get a sense of what to do and what not to do.

    I’m from Denmark and here it’s completely hopeless to buy a harp. There’s only one used celtic harp for sale for more than I’m willing to give. So buying from Germany is the next best thing which is kind of a problem because I don’t have a car. Buying on the internet is not a problem per se, but I would like try out or at least know if what I buy is suited for me. It’s purely for private use so I don’t need the best of the best.

    So my first thougt was ebay. There’re relatively cheap harps for sale, but I have no idea if it’s total junk or if it’s good enough for me. Here’s an example:

    I talked with a local harp teacher over the phone and he mentioned that “” often have used harps for sale, so I found this one:

    What are your thoughts on these harps? Feel free to link to other “cheap” harps or suggest anything because I’m really only beginning to learn the basics. Any help i appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!


    Allison Stevick on #77890

    Hi, and welcome to the world of harping! I hope you have lots of fun!

    I looked at the links you posted, and I would advise against the eBay harp. It’s one of the cheap harps that go by several names: rosewood, Pakistani, MidEast Manufacturing–and it probably isn’t worth taking a risk to buy it. You can search the forums here for any of those names and get a wealth of opinions about them.
    That being said, I started on a MidEast lap harp and it was actually pretty good, though I think I just got lucky. After hearing many other people’s experiences, I wouldn’t want to risk buying one and having it turn out to be really bad.

    I don’t know anything about the second harp you posted, but I think it’s pretty! I hope someone else can be of actual help there. 🙂

    I am living in the UK right now, but I’m from the States and I pretty much only know US-based harp makers, so I don’t know if I am of much help in that area, either.
    Good luck, and I hope you find what you’re looking for!

    patricia-jaeger on #77891

    Having taught harp, violin, etc. for over 50 years, I would have a few suggestions. First, please try to find a teacher first of all. He or she would have contacts with other people who play harp. When I was in Copenhagen at the big World Harp Congress in 1993, several good teachers took charge of that event and would know of someone near your area who could help you. In your search engine you could certainly come across information about harp teachers, One of the exhibitors at that World Harp Congress was: Engstrom & Sodring, Palaegade 6, DK-1261 Kobenhavn K, Denmark. Very likely there is a Danish harp Association, that would probably be found on the Internet.
    My other suggestion is to try to rent a harp first, before you purchase one. Your tastes may change over time and also some harps have advantages over others which you would only find out over time. The kind of harp you mention above, for instance, of 30 to 38 strings, could have a variety of different levers; partial, full, or even the latest technology: Douglas Harps (Florida, USA) that have only 7 levers but each one of these changes the pitch of all strings of the same name, This means a greatly expanded repertoire for you. Visit for free information about harps.

    brook-boddie on #77892

    Based on Lyon and Healy’s website, they have dealers in both Germany and The Netherlands. Check out: A Troubadour or Prelude would be a great harp to start with or even a terminal harp if most of the music you want to play can be done on a lever harp. However, these are harps with pedal harp tension, so if you are looking for something with lighter tension (Celtic or folk harp), I’d recommend Dusty Strings at They may have a dealer near you. I’m with Allison–stay away from the eBay harps if you can.

    Marco Hilgeman on #77893

    Hi Eddie,

    I totally agree with Patricia here; finding a teacher with contacts can help you to find a good harp. Always better than to order via the internet I guess…and to rent a harp is also a way to find out which kind you like.

    The harp is a fantastic instrument and it’s great fun to play, so I hope you’ll find a decent harp and make a good start. All the best!

    edmond-jensen-dietz on #77894

    Thanks for the help. It’s good to have some options when buying a harp. Lyon & Healy also have used harps I see.

    The used harp from this individual who lives somewhere near Copenhagen, is a beautiful Salvi Livia with 36 strings:

    It costs 19.500 kr. which is roughly $3600 or 2600€. It would be a lot easier to buy this harp since it is here in Denmark and I could try it out beforehand, but the price is still pretty high for my taste. What do you think of it?

    I’m located in Aarhus (3 hour trip to Copenhagen) so the harper/harpist in Aarhus I already talked to would be the one to have as a teacher. It should be possible to rent a harp from the music school where he teaches if I decide to take harp lessons. I gather that you recommend taking lessons instead of teaching myself to play? I taught myself to play guitar and just started to play piano, but these instuments are a lot cheaper than a good harp. Nonetheless, teaching myself through video lessons and other tutorials has been working fine. Have any of you been teaching yourselves to play the harp?


    Angela Biggs on #77895

    Eddie, I’ve taught myself to play, but I’ve also had two lessons over the past two years, and I’m a music teacher myself. So I come at this from both sides.

    It is possible to “teach yourself.” Some people actually do very well with it; a lot depends on your personality and innate drive to learn the instrument. If you don’t have the resources to take lessons (money, available teachers, etc.) it’s a viable option, as long as your goals are modest. Don’t expect to become an orchestral harpist all on your own!

    However, learning with the help of a teacher is *much* more efficient. I spent something like six months searching on my own before I found the tuning technique to keep my 36-string harp from sounding all crunchy even when the electronic tuner said it was perfect. A teacher would have been able to show me that in one lesson. Teachers also have tips and tricks they can pass along very easily, though it would take a lot of trial-and-error and experience for you to earn that same information yourself. Furthermore, teachers tell stories which will educate you about harp culture, not just harp playing, and that perspective is also much more laborious to gain on your own.

    Since you have a local harpist/teacher and don’t seem to be super-duper strapped for cash, I would say definitely take some lessons. If in the end you decide you just want to play around with the instrument, you can always drop the lessons later and you’ll still be that much better off because of them. But if you have the resources — use them!

    Good luck on this exciting journey! 🙂

    Allison Stevick on #77896

    I also taught myself, but I agree with Angela. A teacher is a HUGE benefit if you can find one. 🙂

    edmond-jensen-dietz on #77897

    That’s good advice. Even though the prices for lessons are pretty high in town, you’re probably right. I suppose I will contact the music school and then worry about buying a harp later. I also thought about making my own harp. I’m an architect and love to build stuff. I have access to a really nice workshop, so maybe that could be a fun project. Well, first things first 🙂

    Marco Hilgeman on #77898

    Hi Eddie,

    The salvi is a very nice harp indeed. I can’t find the age of the harp in the add? It seems a bit pricy but it also depends on the age…if it’s only a year old then this price would probably make sense.
    As you have the option to rent a harp, you can also start from there and if you really like playing harp, then buy your own. Question is if that salvi is still available by then…that’s a decision you have to make.

    Best of luck & happy holidays!

    edmond-jensen-dietz on #77899

    The harp is 9 years old so it seems a bit pricy. He mentions that the price was 32.000 kr. ($5900) from new which is more than it says on Livia’s homepage. I guess it’s cheaper in the States but it only says that it wasn’t bought in Denmark.

    Thanks, and happy holidays to all of you!

    Alison on #77900

    I would say that a 34 stringed instrument is okay to rent but given your age and height, try to afford a instrument with 38 strings, you won’t regret it. The more you spend on rent the less capital you have for a purchase, so limit yourself to 3 months rental…. Check out and call Geraldine.

    edmond-jensen-dietz on #77901

    I’ll keep that in mind. Are and Geraldine places to buy harps?

    Allison Stevick on #77902

    Here is the address to the Affairs of the Harp page.

    It looks like Geraldine is the contact person for buying or renting harps.

    Alison on #77903

    Edide I had a quick look and there is a 38 stringed harp for sale in/near Birmingham UK so I wondered if you could get a flight into Birmingham – it looks okay but you must see it yourself, consider the price and check the condition and that the neck isn’t unduly twisted etc and you’d have to devise a way of packing it to protect it on the flight home, or arranging separate shipment – all things are possible, a wooden crate perhaps, so ask for measurements/dimensions and weight in kg. Geraldine herself is nearer Luton airport. If not just take it slowly there will always be another one!!
    Have you investigated Gothenburg/Stockholm and Oslo/Bergen, surely they have many harpists and instruments in these cities. Also there are some harp makers near Edinburgh and Celtic harp players abound in Scotland and the very north of England. email me and I’ll send you a UK based list and if by the summer you are still looking then consider buying second hand in the UK. There is big festival around Easter in Edinburgh but really that’s for new purchases. If you need travel advice just ask.

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