What types of harps are there?

types of harps

A harp is a stringed instrument that has been around for centuries. In the past, it was mainly used as an accompaniment to other instruments, but it has become more prevalent on its own. Harps are among the earliest instruments, with them appearing in depictions from as far back as 3000 BC. Since then, they evolved and found different sizes, shapes, and qualities from different parts of the world.

What are the different types of harps?

There are various types of harps to choose from, depending on what you need them for. Here we will explore some of these different types and discuss their strengths and weaknesses so that you can find the perfect harp for your needs!

Harp guitar

The harp guitar is a type of instrument that has been around for over 100 years. A harp guitar is a hybrid instrument that combines the acoustic qualities of a stringed instrument with those of an electric guitar.

The body looks like a small acoustic guitar, but instead of six strings, it features twelve or thirteen strings set up in the same way as on traditional pedal steel and lap-slide guitars. The neck of this particular type of harp is slightly wider than that of an electric guitar to accommodate extra strings.

Pedal Harps

Pedal harps are the largest type of harp. If you have a large budget and need something for symphony orchestras or huge venues, these are probably what you’re looking for! They also take up quite a lot of space so if that’s an issue then this may not be your best choice. The pedal mechanism is operated by foot pedals which control the strings’ tension on each individual string to switch between octaves much more quickly than with hand levers.

This makes them amazing at fast passages since they don’t require as much effort from the player to make quick key changes – but it can be dangerous too because there isn’t time to fix mistakes in case one happens during a performance! It takes many years of practice before someone knows enough to use pedal harps properly, so this type of harp is definitely not for beginners.

Harp lutes

A harp lute is a type of harp that has more strings than the average modern piano. This results in richer and deeper sounds, which make them perfect for orchestral pieces and songs with deep bass notes (such as hymns). However, because they have so many strings it can be hard to play fast melodies on them – making their purpose limited.

Bowed Harps

These harps are played by bowing the strings with a violin bow. They have an amazing sound, but are quite expensive and hard to carry around compared to other types of harps.

Double-neck harps

This type of harp has two necks, one occupying standard range on a 36 or 37 note and another on seven to nine notes below it. Double-neck harps were used in ancient China and Japan until they fell out use because they are very hard to maintain and have less volume than other instruments due to fewer strings.
This kind of harp is made from one material, usually, bamboo or wood with some sections cut away so you can see inside the structure while it plays. The sound produced by this kind of harp comes from rubbing horse hair along its side, which vibrates the frame causing it to resonate throughout your body when played properly. It also features pedals that allow the performer access all around the neck without having to change position as well as enabling them to play bass notes throughout their entire performance space at any time by depressing pedal levers down onto the strings.

Celtic Harps

Celtic harps are usually small, around 27 inches tall. They have levers to switch the strings over so that you can play in different keys without having to re-tune it or readjust your fingering. Unfortunately, these types of harps aren’t great for playing melodies because they only have one-octave range and don’t sound very good when strummed with a pick (instead of plucked with fingers).

Electric Harps

An electric harp is an acoustic/classical harp that has an internal sound amplification system. This allows it to be played without the need for external speakers or amps, though some models may have them as well. They are most often used in rock music groups where there are no other instruments accompanying the harp but they can also work very well with songs that do feature accompaniment since you will not require any outside equipment! These types of harps come in both full-sized and lap size options so that musicians of all sizes can play comfortably. However, as you might expect from such an instrument, they do tend to be on the higher end of the price range due to all of these features

Lever harps

A Lever harp is a type of lever-action pedal harp. It can have up to 26 strings, and with the addition of levers, the player has access to more notes than on a conventional stringed instrument, giving them freedom in their playing style. This makes it an extremely versatile instrument that can be used for different genres of music as well as accompanying other instruments. Lever harps are also easy to transport and set up, which makes them a great choice for musicians on the go.
Lever harps are generally the most expensive type of pedal harp so if you want something that is extremely versatile and can accompany other instruments, this might be a good choice for you.

Wire Harp

A wire harp is a type of Celtic or folk harp that uses metal strings instead of nylon. This makes it lighter and more delicate, but also much louder than other types of upright stringed instruments.
What kind of music sounds best?

The lightness and volume make them perfect for Irish jigs and reels! In fact most people associate these kinds of tunes specifically with wire-strung instruments thanks to inclusion in popular songs like Danny Boy.
What are the best types of music for this instrument? Music that has strong bass lines or melodies work well with wire-strung instruments, since they can easily overpower weaker notes and don’t allow them to take center stage like other harps would.


The harp has unique characteristics that make it a great instrument for music. Different harps are suited for different music in mind. This varies from classical to Irish, to traditional and modern music. You should then be able to find one that will work for your particular needs. Good luck, and happy playing!