What makes harps such expensive instruments?
If you’re like most people, you enjoy the sound of the harp – the sweeping glissando musically announces the arrival of magic, fairies, dreams and goddesses. But if you’ve ever looked into what a harp costs – you might feel that magical feeling slipping away. I always tell new students and parents: “Playing harp is not a cheap sport.”
Yes, you can buy very inexpensive harps on Amazon. I did. But within months, I learned what most harp teachers know – you get what you pay for. The cheap Amazon-purchased harp had a dense thudding sound, and it wasn’t long before the levers were not holding anymore.
So truly, an entry level harp is going to start around $700-$1000 or more. Gasp! And when you look at concert harps…they cost as much as a small car, upwards of $20,000 or more.
But why? Why are harps so expensive? In short, each one is a delicate, hand-made piece of artwork, made by a craftsman/woman who has been honing their trade for decades. In some cases, for generations.
Let’s take a look at a couple of harp-making shops: Lyon&Healy in Chicago makes high-end harps for harpists all around the world. In 2019, they opened their tours to the public for the first time – before, only performing harpists could go. Now you can see how concert harps are made in a factory setting, from the comfort of your sofa.
Lyon&Healy Harps: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q57owlLmwQ
Maybe owning a concert harp is not for you, and instead you’d rather a more affordable option – a Celtic harp (aka Lever Harp). These harps are smaller, lighter, and less complicated than concert harps. But as you can see in this video, it’s still an artistic process.
How A Celtic Harp Is Made: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBQF0JaHJuA
What’s your favorite kind of harp? Have you been to a harp store or factory? What was your experience seeing how harps are made? Can you see how each one is unique, hand-made, and therefore expensive?