Getting Started

If you or a family member are considering beginning the harp or taking harp lessons, here is a practical guide to get started and help navigate the process of finding the instrument that’s right for you, your family and your budget. We know that it can be a daunting and sometimes overwhelming process, so we’re here to help! Please do not hesitate to contact us and let us help you find the perfect harp.

What is the difference between a lever and a pedal harp?

Lever Harp: The lever harp, also referred to as a Celtic harp or folk harp, is a smaller, more portable instrument that uses levers to change the pitch of each individual string. There are a wide variety of models available with the number of strings ranging from 22-40, making this instrument versatile enough for all genres of music. The smaller frame size and affordability of a lever harp is an ideal choice to beginning harpists of all ages.

Virginia Harp Center can make your introduction into the harp world easy and affordable with our Rent-to-Own Program.

Pedal Harp: The pedal harp is often the instrument of choice for harpists interested in pursuing classical repertoire and orchestral studies. The intricate pedal mechanism allows for more accessible key changes.  It is a larger, heavier instrument and available in a variety of sizes, which directly relate to your preference of sound, personal goals, and budget. Selecting the appropriate frame size for a student is important to their physical well being and enjoyment of the instrument.

  • Petite: 40 strings
  • Grand Petite: 44 strings
  • Semi-Grand: 46-47 strings
  • Concert Grand: 47 strings

How much should I expect to spend?

Lever Harp: For a functional lever harp with a full set of sharpening levers, you should expect to spend a minimum of $1,000 and up. The largest variety of instruments are available in the range of $2,000 – $5,000. We offer a convenient and flexible Rent-to-Own Program to help you choose the right instrument to help you achieve your goals.

Pedal Harp: The price of a pedal harp is determined by a variety of different factors including age, structural and cosmetic condition, and sound. The baseline price for a functional pedal harp is $10,000 and up. The highest quality and greatest selection of instruments are available in the $15,000 – $30,000 price range. We can facilitate financing options with affordable monthly payments to help your purchase fit within your budget.


Harp Lessons

The Virginia Harp Center offers harp lessons for students of all ages and levels of experience at our New Jersey and Richmond showrooms. Our staff of professional harpists offer a variety of different teaching styles and areas of expertise. If one of our showrooms is not conveniently located to you, we are happy to connect you with other instructors who may be closer to you. The average price of a harp lesson is $35 per half hour and $60 per hour lesson, depending upon the instructor.

A harp teacher can serve as your guide to navigating the harp world and finding the instrument that’s right for you. We encourage students to communicate with their harp teacher during the selection process of renting or purchasing a harp and our knowledgable Virginia Harp Center staff is always available to assist you.


Maintenance

All Harps: We recommend that harps be tuned on a regular basis, which is a simple process that will be complete by the harpist as necessary, usually 2-3 times per week. Due to the high tension level and material makeup, harp strings will break more frequently than violin or guitar strings, especially during season changes. In most cases, replacing a broken string can be done by following a guide provided by the manufacturer. The staff at Virginia Harp Center is always happy to assist in the process.

To clean the instrument, we recommend using a soft, dry cloth to dust the instrument. Do not use any kind of cleaning solution or instrument polish on your instrument. It can be very harmful to the finish of your harp.

Keep the harp out of direct sunlight in a climate controlled environment, between 60-80 degrees. During dry seasons, we recommend using a cool mist humidifier to prevent the wood of the instrument from becoming brittle and potentially cracking.

Lever Harps: At some point, the lever assemblies on the harp may begin to buzz, which will require minor adjustments by a technician or Virginia Harp Center staff member. There are also a variety of online resources to guide you through the adjustment process.

Pedal Harps: Pedal harps require a full regulation every 2-3 years, depending upon how much the instrument is being played and moved. A full regulation involves the process of a certified harp technician making minor adjustments to the discs and pedal action on the instrument to re-establish accuracy of intonation and to provide a buzz-free action. We work with a variety of certified harp technicians who travel to our showrooms to provide regulation appointments or put you in contact with a harp technician that may be closer to or visiting your area.