I am vaguely pondering getting a lap harp. I’m not sure I need one, though. Right now I have a 19 string wire harp (Ardival Kilcoy) that lives in my flat, on long-term loan from a friend, and a 34 string Camac Hermine in my partner’s flat, which I’m renting while I figure out what I want for my proper big harp. We spend half the week in each flat. I am getting on better with the big lever harp, but wire is an interesting challenge too.
The harp I am eyeing up is one of the basic lap harps George Stevens makes. He seems to be a serious harp builder, so I’m guessing that his cheap and cheerful range is actually good. Look under “Other harps”. The price of a 23 string one with brass levers on Cs, Fs and Bs would be £520.
There are two more reasons why I’m considering it. One is that it would give me a chance to try silkgut strings and see whether I’d like them for my big harp, although I don’t know whether a lap harp would be a close enough equivalent for that to be useful. The other is that I would get my friend who’s an artist, and who is keen to start working with harps, to paint the sides of the soundbox. Which adds another £100ish, of course, plus postage costs. Alun Thomas also makes lap harps, more like £300 for 22 strings and sharping blades, but they’re a lot higher-pitched, 1E to 4E where the Stevens lap harps are 2D to 5C, and I’m not sure about those sharping blades.
The real question, of course, is whether this would be a useful harp for me. I’m disabled and largely bedbound, are they useful for noodling about on in bed or on the sofa? I usually play the wire harp sitting cross legged on the sofa, for instance. Or would I end up with three harps to keep in tune and end up neglecting at least one of them? It’s not as if I get out enough to need a harp with me on the go.