Smaller harp?

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    Rachael Rosenbaum

    Hello all. I’ve been playing the harp for about 4 1/2 years. I currently play a 36-string harp. I use the harp mostly to accompany my voice, as I’m a singer-songwriter, plus for the occasional instrumental composition. Well, I’m about to learn the hammered dulcimer as another instrument for similar purposes. I’ve actually been feeling for a while that such a large harp is really not necessary for me, lovely though it is. I really feel I’d rather have a harp with about 30 strings… I feel that it would make more sense for my purposes and for gigging. Does this make sense? (The only reason I haven’t done it yet is because my husband does not like this idea at all!)

    Bonnie Shaljean

    It makes perfect sense. It really depends on the musical range you want – the smaller the harp, the fewer bass notes. A 30-string range normally goes down to 5th-octave G (bottom line on the bass staff) or sometimes F, which still gives the left hand a decent amount of playing to contribute.

    The next common size above that is c. 26 strings, which normally extends down to 5th C (an octave below middle C). Just remember, the smaller you go, the more bass you’ll lose (though the treble range is affected somewhat too, but less limitingly). This can get a bit tinkly and monotonous after awhile. But if you don’t miss those deeper bottom notes, then I can’t see why you shouldn’t. I have a 30-string and I use it all the time, though it’s not my only lever harp and the others are bigger.

    I’m not sure why your husband doesn’t like the idea…? (Mine frequently gets dragooned into carrying my harps, so he would find it delightful.) Is it because you are thinking of getting rid of your 36-string? I would hang onto that one if at all possible – you never know when its greater range would come in handy in a recording session, or some situation where portability isn’t such an issue.

    So, bottom line – If you see a 30-string you like, which has the bass range you want (and don’t forget, *good* semitone levers) then go for it!

    Rachael Rosenbaum

    Thanks for the good advice. Yeah, I’m starting to realize I should probably keep my large harp. I think 29 or 30 is the smallest I’d go… gonna have to save up for it though! I really am very intrigued by Blevins’s unusual woods…!


    Stoney End Briar Rose is really nice. 29 strings and sounds fab!

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