What would you recommend for a beginning harpist?

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    Greetings everyone!

    I could use some advice.

    I am 33 years of age and a former French Horn player (played for 16 years–professionally & in amateur groups).

    I want to learn to play the folk harp as I find it very soothing & something that I can do on my own without being in a group/worrying

    about using a mute.

    What type/model of harp would you recommend that I begin to learn on?

    Donna Germano

    I’m answering your question because no one else did!


    What a great reply Donna!—it made me motivated to offer a “Goodluck”

    reply of my own!


    Hi Maria!

    I’m a french hornist myself! Not professional yet though – I’m still in music college. =) I’ve recently started learning the harp and I love it! I used to play the piano but switched over to french horn as my principal instrument when I was 18.

    I understand exactly what you mean and know all about the many ‘pains’ that come with being a french hornist. I do find playing the harp relaxing. I know how fustrating the horn can be sometimes, some days everything just feels wrong and no matter what you do your breathing feels wrong/you feel tense/keep splitting notes when you don’t normally….

    I’m in UK and my harp is the Clarsach model by Pilgrim. The only other brand I’ve tried is Aoyama. Are you looking for a lever harp? Lever or pedal, I think with such good brands like Lyon and Healy, Carmac etc. you can’t go wrong. I think the best thing to do is go to the harp centre and try all the harps they have available, and you’ll be able to tell which one feels/sounds right. Pilgrim makes 3 models of lever harps, the clarsach, ashdown and the progress. The clarsach is at concert tension and spacing, while the ashdown is of lighter tension. As I’ve been playing the piano for years my fingers already have strength and dexterity, so I don’t find it difficult playing at concert harp tension. I’ve read that concert tension and gut strings give a mellower tone, while lighter tension and nylon strings have a brighter sound. So it’s really up to you. Personally I love my Pilgrim clarsach, the tone is so beautiful and it really sings. I think Pilgrim isn’t as popular in the US since it is a workshop in Surrey, UK. But I’ve been to their workshop and I know that my Pilgrim harp is one of the most well made harps available. Derek Bell of the Chieftains plays on clarsachs made by Pilgrim. =)

    I think the best thing is still to go and try all the harps you can possibly get your hands on until you find one that ‘fits’, that speaks to you, much like buying a horn – there can be 10 horns of the same make and model but all of them will respond differently. All the best in your search and happy harping! =)



    I have recently started learning the harp and bought a Camac lever harp Korrigan model. It has 38 strings (gut), concert spaced and tension. It sounds amazing and looks wonderful too. It’s very reasonably priced. The levers are easy to use and its not too heavy either if you have to move it about. It looks like a large Clarsach.

    Im in the UK but i understand Camac have representative in lots of places around the world. Good luck in your search, Im sure you’ll have lots of fun trying out different harps.


    hi. its good that you take the harp. always it depends which kind of music you would like to play…. but a lever harp of about 34 sytings fully levered will do ok. i normally play early music on my lever harp. specially medieval, and also like


    Hello, Vicente.

    > i would recomend you a camac lever. between L&H ,salvi or camac. they have been

    producing levers harps long before the other two. and a levr harp is different than a pedal.

    Just for what it’s worth, Lyon and Healy introduced the troubadour lever harp back in the

    60’s, before Camac was around.


    You’ve already gotten heaps of nice replies so I just wanted to add my 2 cents that my
    previous instrument was also french horn. Great sound but people in apartment blocks
    don’t always appreciate your need to practice. Hence the harp….no-one ever complains even when I practice at 2am. Strangely enough I love the harp more than the
    horn so it was all good.

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