Concert harps, also called pedal harps, are the most widely used type of harp in music genres, including classical, pop, and ballet.
These harps have 47 strings, although they are not the only version of this instrument that exists with many variations in their number of strings.
This style of harp also has a total of seven-foot pedals that can control the pitches of each of the 47 strings, allowing for chromatic notes to be played.
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The range of a pedal or concert harp is from C1 all the way to G7. This covers a total of 6 and a half octaves with seven strings per octave.
Since 47 strings give this instrument a ton of range, there are three common string registers that harpists refer to.
The Low Register covers the lower octaves and is usually comprised of steel strings in this register. These notes are so rich that you won't be able to hear running notes (aka arpeggios) well since it's such a thick blur of sound.
The Middle Register sounds lovely when you add arpeggiated notes as well as chords. Gut strings are commonly used for notes in this range.
The High Register is where arpeggiated notes sound best and bright on a harp instrument. Nylon strings are used to play these higher notes.
Steel strings are used in the low register because they are very sturdy and produce a rich sound that perfectly fits lower notes.
Gut strings, made from animal fiber, are a common choice for classical instruments like the harp, especially in the middle register.
But there are more modern variations to choose from these days as well. Nylon strings are often preferred for higher notes because gut strings can break pretty easily in comparison.
While concert harps can often be seen, there are tons of other harp variations that musicians can choose from if they are interested in playing this beautiful instrument.
There are seven popular types of harps that I want to point out that are different from the pedal harp, some in very unique ways!
These types of harps can have a number of strings between 22 and 38 strings. The common amount found on these is 34.
The lever harp, which has levers on each string (allowing it to play two separate notes on one), has a total of 34 strings, usually. Some models will have anywhere between 30 and 40 in total.
These modern variations of the harp usually have between 40 and 47 total strings. It is very similar to the lever harp, besides the fact that it isn't acoustic.
This type of harp has more than one row of strings, which allows a total of 46 strings, close to the total for concert harps. As you can imagine, these can be quite pricey as well.
The super elegant harps you'd often see in ancient greek culture usually only included 3 to 10 strings in total. These are more commonly referred to as lyre harps.
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Because of the price and weight of pedal harps and similar styles, many harpists will encourage beginners to start with smaller instruments and work their way up if they so desire.
According to professional harpists from Music Makers, beginners too often go after bigger harps, but it isn't necessary for learning the basics.
Smaller harps can be much more approachable and affordable; you can even browse options that are hundreds of dollars or less on Amazon if you're a beginner looking to get into playing the harp.
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