There are several different types of harps. They have been around for thousands of years and are a beautiful instrument that produces a peaceful and beautiful sound. For each harp, there are several different forms of tones as well as different levels of difficulty. It is important to know what type of harp will best suit you.
The lever harp is a harp that can be played in more than one key. You will be able to play this type of harp in both flats as well as sharps. You will be able to adjust anything you need to with this harp with your left hand. There is a lever that can be pulled up, when this happens the strings will get shorter which will make the pitch about a half of a step higher. The lever does not have to be on every string. You may put it only on the strings that you adjust the most. You will most often find this type of harp on more complex pieces. This is because tuning can easily be done in between musical selections.
A pedal harp consists of seven pedals that will be operated with both of your feet as opposed to the aforementioned lever. With four pedals on the right and three on the left, you will find that each pedal is for the strings A, B, C, D, E, F and finally, G. The strings on a harp are A through G repeated over and over again. To give an example on how the pedal works, the A pedal will change the pitch on all of the A strings. There are three positions for each pedal, one will control flat notes, one will control sharps and one will control natural.
The lap harp is the smallest of the harps that have been mentioned so far. It typically has twenty two to twenty six strings. It will typically weigh no more than ten pounds. Although these harps are easy to take around with you and are the most affordable type, they are very limited on the types of songs that can be played. They occasionally will come with levers.
These types of harps are strung with wire as opposed to nylon strings or gut. These types of harps came from Scotland and Ireland in the 1100s and are usually known as Celtic harps. With the wire, you will get a more bell like quality of tone. Typically, the wire that is used is brass, sometimes steel and phosphor bronze as well. The strings on these harps are generally very close together and therefore have to be kept at a very high tension. This in turn will create more stress on the actual instrument than on the strings. This makes these types of harps smaller and much sturdier. Levers are not used on this type of harp because it could easily snap the wires. Blades are used instead. They look like small paddles that are next to each of the strings. As the paddle turns, the tone will get higher.