Because harps are not standardized, it can become confusing for beginners to find the perfect instrument.
Knowing what to look for is essential. Unfortunately, not all harps are created equal.
Some harps are made from substandard materials. Thankfully, many models are superior and offer a better playing experience.
Learning to play the harp can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. But finding the right harp for a beginner can be a daunting task, especially for those who are new to the instrument.
It’s definitely one of those instruments that requires a certain level of understanding to buy.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a harp, such as size, tone, and of course the type of harp.
One of the main considerations when choosing a harp is the size of the instrument.
Beginners may want to start with a smaller harp, such as a lap harp or a lever harp, which are generally more affordable and easier to play.
Additionally, smaller harps are of course more portable and can be played in a variety of settings.
But there are of course those who are serious about playing the harp or who are advanced with the instrument, they may want to invest in a larger, more professional instrument.
Another important factor to consider is the tone of the harp.
Different types of harps produce different sounds, and it is important to choose a harp that produces a tone that is pleasing to the ear.
Beginners may want to consider purchasing a harp with levers, which allow for easier key changes that can make both learning and playing the harp a lot more enjoyable.
With this guide, you will find detailed information that will help you determine which harp will be best for you and also, I will share the ten best harps for beginners.
Table of Contents
- Before We Get Started – How Do You Plan to Learn the Harp?
- Important – Understanding Harps
- Buying a Harp – Things You Should Look Out For
- Extra Things You Might Need – Accessories and Maintenance
- Our Top 10 Best Harps for Beginners
- 1. Royal Celtic Knee Harp
- 2. 19 String Mahogany Harp
- 3. 15 strings Mahogany Lyre Harp
- 4. 12 String Celtic Irish Lever Harp
- 5. Royal Harps 22-String Lever Harp
- 6. Tall Celtic 12 String Harp
- 7. Rees Harps Fullsicle Natural Maple Harp
- 8. Roosebeck 12-String Baby Celtic Harp
- 9. Sturgis 12-String Baby Celtic Harp
- 10. Smequeen 15-String Beginner Harp Set
- Top 10 Best Harps for Beginners – Conclusion
Before We Get Started – How Do You Plan to Learn the Harp?
If you don’t yet know how you are going to learn the harp, we recommend having a look at some of the cheap online courses on offer here. The great thing about these courses is the instructors are qualified and you can stop, pause and rewind at any point during the lessons. Great if you want to stop briefly for a cup of tea!
Without further ado, here’s our recommended list of the 10 best harps for beginners.
Important – Understanding Harps
Before purchasing a harp, it is important to understand the different types of harps and what features to look for. Here are some key considerations for finding a good harp for a beginner:
What are the different Types of Harps?
There are several types of harps, including lever harps, pedal harps, Celtic harps, and folk harps.
- Lever harps are also known as non-pedal or Celtic harps, and they use sharping levers to change keys.
- Pedal harps, on the other hand, use pedals to change keys.
- Celtic harps are typically smaller and have a more traditional sound.
- Folk harps are larger and have a more modern sound.
How Many Strings On A Harp Should You Go For?
Beginners should consider harps with 15-34 strings.
Why is that? Because a harp with fewer strings is lighter and easier to transport, while a harp with more strings has a wider range of notes and would most likely have a much bigger body.
What is a Lever Harp?
A lever harp, also known as a Celtic harp, uses sharping levers to change keys. These levers are located next to the strings and can be flipped up or down to raise or lower the pitch of the note.
Lever harps are typically smaller and lighter than pedal harps, making them a good choice for beginners.
What is a Pedal Harp?
A pedal harp uses pedals to change keys. The pedals are located at the base of the harp and are used to engage the mechanism that raises or lowers the pitch of the note.
Pedal harps are larger and heavier than lever harps, and are typically more expensive.
Solid Wood vs. Nylon Strings
Harps can have either solid wood or nylon strings. Solid wood strings produce a warmer, more traditional sound, while nylon strings produce a brighter, more modern sound. Nylon strings are also more durable and require less maintenance than solid wood strings.
What Size Harp Should You Go For?
The size of the harp depends on the player’s height and arm length. A good rule of thumb is to choose a harp that is no more than two-thirds the player’s height. It is also important to consider the weight of the harp, as a heavier harp can be more difficult to transport.
Buying a Harp – Things You Should Look Out For
Budget and Price – Beginner vs Intermediate
When it comes to buying a harp, price is a significant factor to consider.
Beginner harps can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
Intermediate harps can cost even more.
It’s important to determine a budget before beginning the search for a harp.
Beginner harps are usually less expensive and come in a variety of sizes and styles.
Intermediate harps are generally larger and have more strings, which makes them more expensive. It’s important to keep in mind that a beginner may not need a large, expensive harp to start with.
When purchasing a harp for a beginner, there are a few things to consider.
The harp should be easy to play and tune.
It should also be lightweight and portable, as beginners may need to move it around frequently.
There are several models of beginner harps available, we have further info and some suggestions further down this page. These harps are designed with beginners in mind and are more affordable than intermediate or professional harps.
What Are Standardized Harps?
Standardized harps are harps that are designed to meet specific size and string requirements.
This means that they are standardized in terms of size, string spacing, and other features.
Standardized harps are often more affordable than custom-made harps, making them a great option for beginners.
They are also easier to find and purchase, as they are often available at music stores or online retailers.
When purchasing a harp, it’s important to keep in mind the budget, the needs of the beginner, and the different types of harps available.
By doing so, it’s possible to find a harp that is both affordable and easy to play, making it the perfect option for beginners.
Extra Things You Might Need – Accessories and Maintenance
When purchasing a harp, it’s important to consider the accessories and maintenance that come with it, some beginners harps come as a kit which will have many of these things bundled in, which is great.
But if you bought a secondhand harp or a harp that didn’t come bundled with all of the basics as a kit, you may find these things useful to know about.
Here are some extra things you might need to ensure your harp stays in top condition and you have the best playing experience.
Tuning Tool and Wrench
Most harps come with a tuning wrench, but it’s always a good idea to have a spare.
Tuning your harp regularly is crucial to maintaining its sound quality.
A tuning tool and wrench can help you keep your harp in tune and sounding its best.
Padded Bag and Case
To protect your harp when transporting it, a padded bag or case is essential. It will help prevent scratches, dents, and other damage that can occur when moving your harp from one location to another. Consider investing in a case with wheels depending on the size and weight of the harp for easier transportation.
Having extra strings on hand is always a good idea. Strings can break unexpectedly, and having a spare set can save you time and hassle. Make sure to purchase strings that are compatible with your specific harp model.
Strap and Bridge Pin
For floor harps, a strap and bridge pin can be useful accessories. A strap helps keep the harp stable while playing, while a bridge pin can help improve the sound quality of the harp.
Make double-sure to purchase accessories that are compatible with your specific harp model.
By investing in these accessories and regularly maintaining your harp, you can ensure that it stays in top condition and provides you with the best playing experience possible.
Our Top 10 Best Harps for Beginners
The following are the ten best harps for beginners. Any one of these would make a fine instrument for someone who is just starting to learn how to play the harp.
1. Royal Celtic Knee Harp
This is a beautiful harp that is intricately carved. This harp is 27-inches tall and weighs 15 pounds. This harp includes strings, a tuning key, and a padded bag. The Royal Celtic knee harp is made of solid wood and hand-polished.
This harp has seventeen strings, and it is perfect for beginners and children. This harp is easy to tune, and it comes with colored strings for ease of play.
- Beautifully designed
- Made of solid wood
- The perfect size for beginners
- Nice melodic sound
- Color-coded strings for beginners
- The strings may need to be replaced.
2. 19 String Mahogany Harp
Most beginners want a harp that offers everything they need for getting started, and this one delivers. It comes with the 19-string harp, strings, carrying bag, and tuning wrench.
This harp comes with color-coded strings to help beginners learn to play. The mahogany body produces a very pleasant warm and melodic sound.
- Includes everything beginners need to get started
- Lightweight for beginners
- Color-coded strings for easier play
- Also comes in a smaller seven-string model
- Meticulously spaced strings
- The strings may need to be upgraded.
3. 15 strings Mahogany Lyre Harp
Great for beginner adults and kids this 15 string hand-crafted mahogany harp is a work of art, and it plays beautifully too. It is lightweight and perfect for beginners. It offers a three sound hole which gives great resonance.
This harp also comes with extra strings, tuning tool and a carrying bag.
- Offers color-coded string caps
- Lightweight and portable
- Mechanically superior Chelby levers
- Hand-carved solid wood frame
- Bridge pins can easily be adjusted
- A little pricier than some beginner models.
Learn more about the Chelby lever upgrades!
4. 12 String Celtic Irish Lever Harp
If you are a beginning harpist, this harp will allow you to hone your skills easily. This harp is handmade in the United States, with the proper string placement. Each of the strings has a sharping lever and bridge pin.
This instrument is 22 inches tall and is lightweight and portable. Because they are made to order, you can expect a short delay in receiving your harp. This Celtic Irish Lever Harp also comes with a tuning wrench, extra strings and a carry case.
- Unique color with a classic design.
- Lightweight and portable.
- Levered strings.
- Maintains a tune like professional harps.
- Comes with a learning DVD for beginners.
- Delivery may be a little longer, but it’s worth the wait.
5. Royal Harps 22-String Lever Harp
Royal Harps is another trusted maker of these beautiful instruments. This 22-string harp comes with a free storage bag, extra strings, and a tuning key.
This harp is built with a sound box to amplify the sound. It is hand-carved and polished and made from solid wood. The harp is 36” tall and 20” wide.
- Includes everything a beginner would need to get started.
- Made of solid, hand-carved wood.
- Offers a buy-back program if you upgrade later.
- Offers a beautiful tone.
- May need to upgrade strings.
6. Tall Celtic 12 String Harp
This is a 12-string harp is made of solid wood. It is handmade and comes with a dulex storage bag and nylon strings. It also comes with an extra set of strings and a tuning key.
This Sturgis harp is more lightweight weighing around 9lbs, and it offers a beautiful tone.
- Made of hand-carved solid wood
- Perfect harp for beginners
- Comes with a protective bag
- Beautiful design
- It is a little more expensive than some beginner harps, but you definitely are paying for a well-crafted instrument.
7. Rees Harps Fullsicle Natural Maple Harp
This harp is made from beautiful natural maple. Its dimensions are 37 x 25 x 6.75 inches, and it weighs a mere four pounds. All the strings on this harp feature bridge pins and modified Robinson sharping levers.
The spacing of the strings is perfect, and it offers a beautiful tone that holds well. You can sit or stand to play this harp.
- Made from solid wood with a beautiful design
- Each string offers bridge pins and sharping levers
- Lightweight and portable
- Offers a beautiful tone
- The case is sold separately.
Learn about the history of Rees Harps
8. Roosebeck 12-String Baby Celtic Harp
Beginners are sometimes intimidated by the number of strings a harp can have. This 12-string offers the perfect option for harpists who are just getting started.
This harp is approximately 21-inches high and offers Dupont Nylon strings. The strings range from F above Middle C to High C. This harp comes with an extra set of strings and a tuning key.
- Perfect size and string count for beginners
- Handcrafted from solid wood
- Offers a note range of F4 to C6
- Lightweight in design
- Does not come with a bag or instructions
Listen to its beautiful sound!
9. Sturgis 12-String Baby Celtic Harp
This is another baby Celtic harp that is ideal for beginners because of its size and number of strings. This harp weighs a little under 6 pounds, and it is made from solid wood.
This harp comes with extra strings, a water-resistant storage bag, and a tuning key. Sturgis will offer a buyback credit should you decide to upgrade to a larger harp in the future.
- Made of solid wood with hand carving
- Comes with everything you need to get started
- Portable and lightweight
- Offers a beautiful sound
- Easy to tune
- May need to upgrade strings
10. Smequeen 15-String Beginner Harp Set
If you are looking for a harp set that is perfect for beginners, this is a great find. This set comes with a bag, extra strings, and a tuning key.
The dimensions of this 15-string harp are 23 x 17.7 x 9.4 inches, and it weighs just over 7 pounds. This is a hand-carved mahogany harp with three large sound holes to help amplify the sound.
- Easy to tune
- Comes with everything you need to get started
- Made of solid mahogany
- Offers a complex tone with perfect resonance
- Comes with Nylon strings
- Does not come with a shoulder strap
Top 10 Best Harps for Beginners – Conclusion
Finding the 10 best harps for beginners was no simple feat.
With so many on the market, it is not always easy to decide.
No matter which of the ten models you choose above, you are sure to find them a welcome addition to your collection.
Learning to play the harp is relaxing and fun.