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How Do I Choose the Best Beginner's Harp?

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  • Written By: R. Dhillon
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 20 August 2014
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Choosing a beginner's harp is no easy task. Costs vary widely, and many beginners don't know what to look for in terms of size and type. If you're struggling to select a beginner's harp, ask for professional advice, set a reasonable budget, and try different types of harps. You also should choose the right type of harp for the music you want to play, select the right size, and analyze the harp's condition.

It is common for beginners to select a harp based on its appearance, based on its cost or because the type of harp is played by a famous musician. Choosing a beginner's harp based on these factors generally leads to poor purchasing decisions. Instead, go shopping with your teacher or an experienced harpist or harper. You also can ask for advice from staff members at a store that specializes in harps. When requesting advice from a store's staff members, tell them about the harp music that you enjoy and the types of songs that you are planning to learn, and they can help you make the right decision.

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The cost of a harp varies greatly, and you could easily spend a lot of money on a beginner's harp. Before buying a harp, set a budget for the purchase, so you can avoid overspending. Additionally, you generally should avoid the cheapest harps, because they might be constructed poorly and have trouble staying in tune. If you cannot afford a harp, rent one until you've saved enough money to purchase a high-quality harp.

Each harp is built to produce a certain tone. The tone that it produces depends on the wood from which it is constructed, its size, the number of strings it holds and the type of strings for which it has been designed. Pedal harps that use concert gut strings, for example, usually are used by classical orchestras, and the lever harp generally is used for folk music and other types of music. When purchasing a beginner's harp, consider how the tone of the harp affects your ability to play the types of music that you enjoy.

The beginner's harp you purchase should sound pleasing to your ears. Go to a store that sells harps, and play several different models and types, including pedal harps, lap harps and lever harps. The sound you hear while playing is different from the sound that the audience hears, so ask a staff member at the store to play for you so you can listen to the harp from a distance. If you're having trouble selecting a harp, rent different types of harps before making a final purchasing decision.

A harp's size determines how easy or difficult it is to play for people of different body types. If you purchase a harp that is too large, you might have trouble reaching all of the strings and maintaining the proper posture while playing, which might lead to pain and frustration. Children and small adults might find it easier to start out on a lap harp, lever harp or pedal harp with 42-44 strings. When selecting a harp of any size, check for evenly spaced strings and strings that aren't spaced too widely or narrowly. If the spacing is too wide or narrow, you might have trouble plucking the correct strings.

Before purchasing a harp, analyze its physical condition. Check for warping in the wood, cracks and tuning pins that move after they've been tuned. Harps that have any of these issues should be avoided. These harps might break easily and will not stay in tune. Purchase a harp that you have actually played and inspected to ensure that you're purchasing a long-lasting beginner's harp.

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