Photo credit: JaredKC/ CC BY-NC

The design of the harp has changed somewhat in it’s 5,000+ year history, but the modern harp is basically triangular in shape, consisting of a soundbox, neck, and pillar or column.

Harps are usually made of wood, with nylon, metal, and/or gut strings, although carbon fiber harps are now being made, which are extremely lightweight and virtually indestructible.


Harps can be made out of virtually any type of wood, but it is important that the wood chosen be strong enough to withstand the significant pressure of the string tension.  Some harps are made from plywood (wood that is glued together in layers); some are made from solid wood; and some are made of both solid and plywood.

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Alternative Body Materials Edit

  • Carbon Fiber. This section needs more information. Can you help contribute?
  • Lucite. This section needs more information. Can you help contribute?

Alternative Body Finishes Edit

  • Body Colors. (E.g. Salvi offers an iridescent rainbow finish)
  • Decals. This section needs more information. Can you help contribute?

Harp StringsEdit

Early harps were likely strung with gut. This type of string is formed from the intestines of an animal, usually a sheep or goat, but occasionally from cattle, hogs, horses, mules or donkeys. The contemporary term “catgut” does not reflect the use of the cat’s intestines to make gut strings.

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Sharping LeversEdit

Originally “folk harps”, restricted to the key to which the instrument was tuned.  By the late 1800s they had almost disappeared from the music scene, but with the renewed interest in folk music during the 1970s and 1980s, these instruments enjoyed a renaissance.  The folk harp design does not accommodate easy changes from flat to sharp or natural.  Levers were the answer.

Read more about Sharping Levers >

References Edit

Note about this article. Some of this content has been copy-pasted from Peggy Coates' website The website has disappeared, but the content remains on the internet archives. Attempts have been made to get in touch with the original author, but have been unfruitful. Should Peggy come across this content, please get in touch with @harpwiki!