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Buying or Renting a Harp

We are fortunate to have access to a number of stores and harp makers with options to both purchase or rent.

Music Stores In Vancouver That Carry Harps

Tapestry Music – 3607 W. Broadway, Vancouver (604) 736-3036

Harps – This store has the best selection of Celtic Harps – namely Dusty Strings in various sizes. In addition to carrying strings for their harps, they have a very reasonable rental policy and even have the option of rent-to-own. They absorb the customs costs if you order a harp through them. Call ahead to see what they have in stock.

Music Books – They have a small collection of mainly Celtic music.

Long And Mcquade 368 Terminal Avenue, Vancouver (604) 734-4886

Harps – They do carry some Celtic harps to sell – Classical Lyon and Healy and the Rees Harps. They also carry some cute little ultralight Rees harps in fun colours called Harpsicles. Cameron is the harp person to talk to at the store should you have any questions. Call ahead to see what they have in stock.

Music Books – This store carries a wide selection of music, both Classical and Celtic.

Order Catalogue Companies

Dusty Strings (Fremont, Seattle) (206) 634-1662

A great place to get all kinds of supplies, especially strings for the Dusty Strings harps since they make their own. They are quick to fill orders if you need strings immediately. They also have many workshops including a big harp symposium in the fall. Check out their website for the latest concerts & workshops.

West Coast Harps (Nanaimo, BC)
Victoria BC & International: (250) 722-2912

A good local company with a nice selection of harps new and used, harp strings and music. You can order online or visit Alison Vardy’s shop/studio by appointment.

Sylvia Woods Harp Center (Hawaii)

This online store has a large selection of harps, music and supplies. Great for Christmas shopping for the harpists in your life.

Robinson Strings (California) (619) 473-8556

They carry strings and other harp supplies for many harp makers and they will send off a package fairly quickly. They are associated with the company VERMONT STRINGS.

Suggestion For Buying Strings – Consult with your harp maker/company to see where they order their strings and get the precise dimensions for each string. Most makers will provide a chart of the strings and their individual dimension. Harps should NOT be fitted with incorrect strings since the tension will be wrong and the string could break or cause improper stress on the harp.

Best Buy or Rental Harp Suggestions

Dusty Strings HarpsRavenna student model – You have two choices for this student type harp (both come with a case):

26 stringed version which is only about three feet tall, easy to carry, fits in all cars. I suggest this size for younger students, seniors or intrepid travellers who might not want to carry a larger instrument.

34 stringed version which is about 4 feet tall, has some lovely lower drone strings. Many students prefer the full range and the wider variety of colours.

Jamie Newsom Harps

A harp maker in Calgary who builds high quality 36 stringed harps for a reasonable price. He visits Vancouver regularly. I play one of his harps and am the West Coast Newsom Harp Rep so contact me for more information.

John Thompson Harps 778 870 4773

This harp-maker lives in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island and makes a few different models of full-sized harp. He both rents and sells his harps.

Stoney End Harps

Pretty hard to find new these days since no stores in the west carry them anymore. Comes in two sizes (both come with a case)

29 strings model – for younger people, seniors and intrepid travellers

34 strings model – for people who want a larger range

There are of course, many other fine harp makers and harps around (BC, North America). I’ve just listed the few that are easily available locally. Surf the web and attend workshops to “meet” other harps and see what is out there. Keep in mind that the farther away the harp maker or harp representative is however, the harder it is to address any problems that there might be with your harp.

NB – Avoid the pretty ‘rosewood’ carved Celtic lap harps from Pakistan if you happen to stumble upon one on eBay. They may look pretty, but they are terrible. Harps made from kits may have good components, but their quality depends on the maker’s skill at assembling it.

Buying Used Or New?

New harps usually have a warranty which is nice, but harps aren’t like computers and ‘go out of date’ immediately, so buying used is a viable option and a number of my students have found great deals on line. Keep in mind though, Buyer beware so read up on the latest internet seller scams!

Good Harp Sources

Craig’s List look under musical instruments.

Westcoast Harps Alison Vardy’s Vancouver Island shop offers new and used.

Reigning Harps Washington-based organization has a ‘harps for sale’ section.

BC Harps Online (Look under Yahoo groups online) includes a harp sale list in their announcements.

Research the names and reputations of harp companies and makers so that you know what kind of harp you are looking at. Question the owner to find out who they studied with or where they bought it. Look the harp over carefully. Harps don’t lie, so if it is in rough condition, you will immediately see that in cracks, chips or warping. Consider hiring a harpist to inspect and play the harp for you so they can give a professional opinion on the used harp’s quality and price.

REMEMBER It’s a big investment, so take your time, research, meet and play many harps to find out what make and model is best for you.