While being a beautiful instrument, making the decision to buy a harp is a big deal. Finding one that fits your needs will be as much of a struggle as finding one that will fit through the door! Both of these are tough to overcome, but if you have a pretty good feeling that you/the person you're buying for will stay commited to the instrument for a good amount of time, the end product of your search will be completely worthwhile.
Parts of the harps
* '''Bridge Pins''' - Little gold pins that the strings rest on.
* '''Grommets''' - Metal holes the strings go through the soundbox at the the string rib.
* '''Knee Block''' - Little piece attached to the neck.
* '''Levers''' - Mechanism that sharps the notes.
* '''Sound Holes''' - Holes in the back of the soundbox that allow sound to escape from the instrument.
* '''String Rib''' - The area where the strings are plucked.
* '''T-Brace''' - Adds strength to the pillar of the harp. Not included on all harps.
What to look for
The harp has been a romantic and glorified instrument for years, but it's up to you to put this aside when shopping for one of your own. All too often, the visual appearance of an instrument is enough to convince an uninformed buyer into purchasing an otherwise inferior instrument.
Before you buy
If possible, bring a more experienced friend or teacher with you when you do your shopping. This will give you a second and/or third pair of eyes and ears to ensure that you get exactly what you're looking for at the price you're willing to spend.
Harps can cost anywhere from $700 to $18,000, so set a budget for yourself before you start shopping around. Sticking to a specific budget will keep you from spending too much on something you might not need, and will also give you some leverage when negotiating with sales people or independent sellers. Having a budget in mind is indicative of the fact that you've done your research, know what you're looking for, and wha
Buying your harp
Here are a few things to look for when shopping around for your first (or second, or third) harp.
# '''Check the feel of the strings. '''The tension of the strings is indicative of how much tension the harp was designed to withstand. If there's too much slack in the strings, the sharping levers will not produce a clear tone, and the overall sound of the instrument will be unclear.
# '''Pay attention to the materials it's made of .''' Quarter-cut spruce has been the weapon of choice for centuries. However, some manufacturers have substituted laminated and plywood on their nylon and gut-string harps. These materials produce a muffled and unfocused sound, which may deter any player from wanting to use it.
# '''See if the harp has sharping levers. '''A full set of these is useful, but you can save yourself a little money by buying a harp with levers for only C's and F's. Also make sure the harp uses harp style tuning pins. If it uses zither pins, they will eventually wear away, making it nearly impossible for the harp to hold a tuning.