A harp is a chordophone. The vibration of strings echoes in the sound box and makes the sound. There are three basic forms of harp: bowed, angle, and frame. On all three forms the strings run, at an angle, between the neck and the resonator (or body). The strings, neck and resonator roughly describe a triangle. The bowed harp has a neck that is a curved extension of the resonator. This is the oldest form and is believed to have developed from a musical bow. Ornate and simple bow harps were depicted in wall paintings of ancient Egypt and Sumeria from 3000 BC. The angle harp has a neck that is a separate piece attached to the resonator. This form is most likely derived form Persia and was known in Egypt ca. 2000 BC. In Babylonian carvings these angle harps are shown being played with the neck pointing down. The frame harp has the resonator, neck, and an arm connecting the end of the neck to the opposite end of the resonator. Our Celtic rosewood harps are frame harps. This form originated in the Medieval Period. With only slight modification in style, the Celtic harp has not changed significantly in over a thousand years.
Our Celtic Harps
Our harps have decorated rosewood frames & mahogany plywood soundboards. We offer a one-year warranty on the frame and 5 years on the soundboard (except on kits). Sharpening levers are not on strings shorter than 6". All instruments come with a tuning tool. All Celtic harps come with an extra set of strings and are color coded; red for "C" and blue for "F". New harps normally need to be tuned several times before they are functional. The more they are tuned and the older they are, the brighter the sound becomes.
Our harps are made in our facilities in Pakistan. The nylon strings are made in the USA by DuPont. Pakistan has this beautiful wood in the rosewood family called sheesham delbergia. It is easily machined and is very forgiving in various weather conditions. It rarely ever cracks, except when thrown by package delivery carriers!!!
DulcimerShofar offers six styles and sizes of Celtic harps. The sound quality of our rosewood harps offers an unsurpassed value. Each of our six styles of rosewood harp is richly adorned with carvings and inlays. The mahogany soundboard and backboard compliment the natural hues of the rosewood. The soundboard is constructed of mahogany plywood for added strength. Our soundboards carry a five-year warranty and there is a one-year warranty on the frames. Each Harp is shipped with a tuning tool and one replacement set of strings. Optional cases and instructional material are available.
Description Of Celtic Harps
The Lily harp is our only harp that is not intended for true musical play. It is a beautiful harp perfectly suited for home décor. You can achieve limited tunes from this harp. It has 8 strings and one full octave. This harps includes a tuning tool.
The Baby harp is our smallest functional harp. Although, only 21 inches in size, this harp is designed to be played. There are 12 strings and 1 ˝ octaves. It is perfect for a child, but the more accomplished harpist will enjoy this small prize.
We have two styles of Pixie harp. Both are 31 inches and have 19 strings. The style with a small foot is free standing. The style without a foot is held in the lap or rested against the shins while seated. This style, without feet, is reminiscent of the original medieval Celtic harps. Both are beautiful. They may be stood, or laid on a table as a décor piece. With 2 ˝ octaves, the Pixie is the perfect size for young students.
Our Heather harps are very popular with beginners. The Heather is a mid-sized harp, standing 36 inches tall. It has 3 octaves with one octave below Middle C. This provides a great deal of playing range for the beginner. This size is also easily carried by younger players.
The Minstrel Harp is for the more accomplished harpist, but, is also a great decor piece, standing 38 inches tall. It has a large range of notes, 4 octaves, and a full resonating sound. While this harp is easily transported, its size may make it difficult for a young student.
The Meghan Harp is for the more advanced player. On its two feet it stands 51" tall. The highly decorated frame brings beauty and elegance to any room. Its 5 octaves allow a range of song styles to be played. This is often the harp played at weddings.
Seconds & Kits
The Blemished "-2" code means that there is some esthetic irregularity. This may be blisters in the shellac finish, a mark on the soundboard or backboard, or some other mark on the surface. The blemished 2nd quality harps have 1st quality sound and playing ability. Some may be improved by rubbing with 0000 steel wool and furniture oil, or they can be sanded and re- sprayed with shellac.
The Repaired "-3" code means that some aspect of the harp was broken, usually during shipping, and has been fully repaired. These repairs may be a foot but are usually the arm. The repairs are excellent. A broken arm that has been repaired with a steel rod is like a healed broken bone, stronger than before. Our carpenter does a magnificent job and the repairs are minimally visible and do not affect the sound or playability of the harps.
The Kit "-4" code is a Heather harp with a broken soundboard. We supply the harp and a new soundboard and the directions to replace the broken one. Anyone who likes woodcrafts, or is good with pliers, a sander, and has moderate skill should find this a weekend project. We supply the detailed directions. This is a great value.
The Broken Arm "-5" code is a harp that has had the arm broken, usually in shipping. We supply the harp and the directions to drill the arm and insert a threaded steel rod. Again this requires moderate skills in woodcrafts and perhaps a bit of confidence. This is also a great value. The arm once repaired is stronger than before and the repair should not affect the sound quality.
Harp Table of styles, sizes and ranges:
C above Middle C to High C (no sharpening levers)
F above Middle C to High C (no sharpening levers)
F below Middle C to High C
C below Middle C to High C
C below Middle C to C above High C
C two octaves below Middle C to C above High C
To reduce the chance of damage during shipping, we remove the stress on the soundboard by de-tuning our harps. For this reason a new harp will require tuning several times before it will achieve its full voice. In the first two weeks you may find you have to tune the harp multiple times each day. This process slowly brings the soundboard up to its full potential. The stability of the soundboard increases with age. Have patience with your harp in the beginning and it will provide you with years of beautiful music.
Care & Tuning Instructions for the Celtic Harp
Our harps travel well over short trips- say in the car. However, if you have to pack the harp to ship it, you should always back the pegs up and remove the strings' tension on the soundboard. Harps are affected by the environment, but mostly by fast fluctuations in the humidity level and temperature. If the humidity is high, or low, and stays that way your harp should be fine. You need to understand that when you first acquire a harp it needs to be tuned several times a day for the first week or so. This gradually stretches the harp soundboard and eventually your harp will find its voice.
When tuning, always work from the longest to the shortest string. Begin by tuning the ‘C’ strings (color coded red). Next, tune the ‘F’ strings (color coded blue). Finally, tune the clear strings, always from longest to shortest. This method of tuning stretches the soundboard in a very even manner. As you turn the tuning peg gently push inward to tighten the peg. The pegs are tapered and will hold more firmly as you press inward. Use a piano or electronic tuner as a reference for tuning.
Bridge pins are directly beneath the tuning pins. These bridge pins are loose in their holes. They may need to be adjusted so there is ample lift to the string on the sharpening lever for a clear tone. Push or tap bridge pins for more string lift. The sharpening levers are mounted below the bridge pins. Sharpening levers may be adjusted for fine-tuning after the soundboard achieves stability. Raising or lowering the sharpening levers makes the key sharp (i.e. C becomes C-Sharp).
- Why wasn't my harp tuned when I received it?
- How do I tune my harp?
- Why won't my harp stay in tune?
- Are the harp strings placed similarly to a standard pedal harp?
- Does the warranty apply to blemished and repaired harps? the kits?
- What should I use to polish my harp?
- What are the strings made of?
- How do I change a broken string on my harp?
- How do I fix a bridge pin that has become loose from when a string broke?
- Why are some strings red and some blue?
There is a lot of pressure on the soundboard and framed when the harp is tuned. To reduce the potential for shipping damage, all harps are shipped untuned.
When tuning your harp for the first time, start with the shortest string in order to get on the correct octave. You may want to tune it a half note sharp so it stays in tune longer. After the first tuning, begin with the red strings from longest to shortest. Next, tune the blue strings from longest to shortest. Finally, tune the clear strings from longest to shortest. This method of tuning stretches the soundboard in a very even manner. Push the tuning peg inward as you tighten the strings. The pegs are tapered and will hold more firmly as you press inward. Use an electronic tuner or a piano as a reference for tuning.
A new harp requires many tunings before it stabilizes. Harps stay in tune longer and become much brighter (better sounding) with age, usually 3-4 months.
All harps have two big idiosyncrasies which nobody has been able to eliminate. A term referred to as "associated flex" means when you tension a string you cause a flex in the thin soundboard, which in turn reduces the tensions on all other strings. This is very evident on a harp that has never been tuned. Theoretically a harp can never achieve absolute perfect pitch. A harp is considered stable when this flex causes a pitch change that the ear can not detect. If you have perfect pitch a harp will drive you crazy. The arm flex is so minor that it is not considered.
In the harps from DulcimerShofar it takes about 3 months, just as with any other harp, to start to get its "voice". In about a year the harp will sound inspirational.
The second issue is defined as "flex memory". A tuned harp without being touched will lose memory, resistance, and pitch in its soundboard because it is wood. Only with constant tuning does the flex memory increase. Harpers have an old saying; "You spend half your life tuning the harp and the other have playing it out of tune".
Yes, they are 1/2 inch apart.
The warranty applies to both blemished and repaired harps. However, it does not apply to the kits.
The best thing to use on the rosewood is the Old English furniture polish.
The strings are Dupont "Tynex" nylon, which are very durable.
It is not difficult to change a string. First, remove the broken string through the sound board. Then, insert the new string through the sound board about ½ of the string's length. Tie a knot on the end which is on the outside of the soundboard. Make sure the knot is large enough not to slip through. Pull the string and thread it over the bridge pin and sharpening levers (if applicable). Lastly, put the string through the hole on the tuning pin. Tighten the string with the tuning lever. Cut the excess off the string only after letting it sit for 2 days and the knot doesn't pull through.
Ease the tension on the string. Gently tap the bridge pin in place. Align the string into the groove of the bridge pin and tighten the string.
The red strings are tuned to C and the blue strings to F.