Differences in harp style/models (CG and Semi etc..)

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    Hi everyone,

    I’m wondering if someone can explain to me the differences in pedal harps in regards to Concert Grands, Semi Grand etc…

    Looking at L & H I see they also have a Concertino however, I think this might be more specific to L&H.

    I saw online a picture diagram that basically said the differences were the # of strings however, I think I’ve seen conflicting information regarding that. Either way, I would appreciate if someone could clarify for me. Also think that string tension plays part in the differences?

    Also I had another question. In your experience, can any of you recommend good student harps? I know when I do invest in a pedal harp, I’ll probably be looking more at price, than anything, but I would still appreciate any guidance and would like to hear what kind of harps you all have gone through, throughout your studies of harp.



    The difference between a CG and semi-grand is the number of strings. The Concertino has 47 strings but is slightly smaller than a CG. I have owned a CG and Concertino and did not find any problem or change in tension. I do play a Concertino because it is smaller and the pedals are a little closer which makes it easier for me since I am only 5″. If price is what is important in a first pedal harp, the L&H Chicago is the less expensive of a pedal harp. It is made in a CG, semi-grand and 40 string. The smallest one seems to be the best sounding to me.


    Good luck on your harp search!
    As far as the differences go between CG and semi grand, the biggest difference is, as you mentioned, the number of strings. Semi grands also tend to be a little smaller, sometimes a little lighter. It depends on the harp maker. String tension isn’t a big difference between a semi and a concert grand, but when you’re talking about the string tension difference between, say, a 40 string pedal harp from the early 1900’s and a modern CG, the string tension can be radically different. Every harp is different, and the only way to find out what you like the best is to play as many harps as possible.

    If you’re looking for a student harp, the Chicago line by L&H is quite nice, as are the Daphne harps by Salvi. If price is a concern, definitely take a serious look at Venus Harps. Personally, I love the big, open, clear sound of Venuses and even a brand new Venus is relatively inexpensive.
    Like I said before, you can’t know what harp you like until you play a lot of harps. A trip to Chicago may be worth the effort 🙂

    I’m not an expert by any stretch, but I’ve been playing for a while so I hope I can give you a little bit of help!


    Thanks for the advice everyone! I had kinda figured that strings were the only difference between CG and Semi Grand but just wanted to see if there was anything else to it 🙂
    Lynn, I actually live in Chicago and have been to L&H twice this year! I’m currently renting an Ogden but I know eventually I’ll want to get a pedal harp..when my finances permit and when I have a car big enough to haul one around lol. I actually went down there a week ago and played their Prelude 40 lever (which I was actually quite impressed with the sound), a Petite Chicago 40 and a style 23-which I fell in love with.

    I didn’t realize their Chicago line was more of a student line as I’ve heard some of their other style numbers being called “student” harps, but yes, I did notice that they were a bit smaller. I’ll probably look into these ones more next time I can make it down there.

    Also! I’m going back to CA in a couple weeks to see my family and my grandparents live a couple of miles from Salvi so I’ve made an appt to go in their showroom and check out some of their harps as well 🙂

    I don’t know much about Venus harps though. Are there any specific models I should look into or that anyone would recommend? I believe Venus has a showroom or factory in Chicago so that could be an option to look into as well.

    Thanks again!


    In modern use a concert grand is the biggest, a semi grand the step down whether in number of strings (usually only to 46) or in size but still having 47 strings (eg Salvi Arion) or often both size and number of strings. There is usually a sound difference too and I would expect to prefer a CG for orchestral use. There are older harps around which don’t fit this pattern, for instance Obermayers which only have 46 strings, but are definitely ‘grand’ in sound.


    Hi Tracey,
    I own a Venus Traditional, which is technically a semi grand (46 strings). It’s big and heavy, but beautiful 🙂 Its big sound and great stage presence is great for orchestra work. Plus its incredibly durable. I’ve never had any problems with structural issues or humidity adjustment problems- the harp is 13 years old, I bought it used, and I’ve traveled up and down the east coast with it. Really all of the Venus harps are nice, whether you get a student harp or not. However, I’d recommend getting a higher up version (concert or chamber) because it’ll last you longer and you won’t have to upgrade later on. Definitely check out their website and since you’re in Chicago, see if you can go to the factory!
    Honestly, I wouldn’t worry about buying one used either. If the harp has been well taken care of, a Venus harp is a pretty tough instrument and it can put up with a lot 🙂

    Hope this helps you in your decision! Good luck!

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