Select your harp, then rent or buy


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If you are seriously curious about learning harp, then you should learn on the best-sounding instrument that you can afford to rent or buy. Why? If your harp doesn’t sound good to you, then you will not want to practice. If you don’t practice, you won’t make the kind of progress you are looking for, and you’ll give up before having given yourself and the harp a fair shot.

Ready to contact me? You can learn about my teaching style. There are also answers to the frequently asked questions.

Buy a used harp

Prices on used harps vary. It is important to play on the harp that you are going to buy, and it is especially important to look over a used harp for wear and tear.

It’s easiest to do this locally, so in New Jersey, it’s those same shops:

  1. This is Harps Unlimited International’s used pedal harp list➚. For used lever harps, contact them➚.

  2. This is Virginia Harp’s Center used pedal harp list➚ and used lever harp list➚.

Here are other places that sell used harps:

  1. Used harps from The Harp Connection➚ (Salem, Massachusetts)

  2. Used harps from Melody’s➚ (Cypress, Texas)

  3. Used harps from Sylvia Woods➚ (La Crescenta, California)

Ask your teacher if they know of other local people who have used harps for sale.

Rent a harp

Here are places that rent harps in the New Jersey area:

  1. Harps Unlimited International➚ in Brooklyn, NY, Williamsburg neighborhood, offers month-to-month, extended lease, and rent-to-own programs. Check their site or call for the latest prices.

  2. -Small lever harps (22 strings) start at $35/month.

  3. -Larger lever harps range up to $95/month.

  4. -Pedal harp prices vary.

  5. Virginia Harp Center➚ in Haddonfield, NJ, down Philadelphia way, starts you off on a four-month lease, and then allows month-to-month, with the possibility of rent-to-own. Check their site or call for the latest prices.

  6. -26-string lever harps are $260 for the first four months.

  7. -34-strings lever harps start at $300 for the first four months, and lever harps with more strings or better quality range up from there.

  8. -Pedal harp rentals are subject to availability, so you will need to contact them.

If you are interested in playing double-strung harp, contact me to see if you can rent my Voyaguer II.

I do not rent out my regular lever harp, but if you are using another teacher, ask if they have one to rent. It is often possible to rent directly from the harp luthier, but I’m assuming you would have already played on that harp before you decided to rent it. Instead of paying for shipping, check with the shops above and see if they have it first.

How to choose a harp

First, determine your budget.

Next, pick a teacher. Your teacher will have their own preferences for harp brands and might even rent harps from their studio. They can give you a recommendation based on your music goals and whether or not you want to play pedal or lever.

Finally, play the harp. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to play yet. You are the person who is going to learn, so you are the person who you are going to hear playing. If you have someone else play on the harp, you will hear what they sound like, and you will hear it from where you’re standing. You need to hear what you sound like when you sit at the harp. Whoever is showing you the harp will be able to help you play it enough to get a feel for its sound.

Besides how it sounds, check how the pedals or levers feel. You should be able to easily engage them while you are playing. If it is difficult to see which lever goes to which string, if it is difficult to tell when the lever/pedal is at its stopping point, then it will be more difficult for you to use them.

The best place to play a whole slew of harps is to go to a harp conference that has an exhibit hall, and wander through the stands for all of the luthiers and shops. There will probably be more harps than you would find at a local store...but of course you have to wait for the event to occur. (The Somerset Folk Harp Festival➚ in Parsippany, NJ, is July 29 - August 1, 2010.)

Buy a new harp

Play the harp first. In the New Jersey area, your best bet is to go to Harps Unlimited International➚ in Brooklyn or Virginia Harp Center➚ near Philadelphia.

You can also buy new harps from Melody’s➚, The Harp Connection➚, or Sylvia’s➚; or directly from the luthier.

Talk to your teacher about buying a new harp. It’s a big purchase!


For a small purchase, you can check out Harpsicles➚. A 26-string harp with no levers starts at $349 (always check the site for the latest price). This very inexpensive harp is not going to sound as good as something more costly. But the most important thing is how it sounds to you.

If you like it, then you will practice on it, and all will be fine.