Tone - If you're a beginner, bringing along a professional musician or a music teacher is always a good idea when buying your first music instrument. Generally, the tone of a good harp must not be too bright and too warm. A bright sounding harp projects well, but if it's too bright, it may sound brittle. Warm sounding harps sound fuller, but if it's too warm, the sound may come out muddled. Also, listen to the sound of the harp at varying distances, near or across the room, to see how it projects.
Playability - A good quality instrument is a pleasure to play. When testing out a harp, note how responsive it is, the strings should sound evenly, has great dynamic range and handles well.
Construction - A well-crafted harp will last for many years and will depreciate little in value. A good quality harp uses good-quality wood, has an even tone, good string tension and has a full, rich sound. Harps that have a round back with strings 34 and over puts less pressure on your right shoulder. Always check the following:
- The pedals should not be deformed.
- The finish should be smooth and intact. The wood must have no damage.
- The columns must be straight.
- The neck should not be warped.
- The back of the soundbox should be intact and have no gaps.
- The base should be firmly attached to the feet.
Questions to Ask - Here are several points you can ask when purchasing a harp:
- Ask for warranties.
- Ask where you can go for repairs and maintenance.
- Who constructed the harp? How long has he/she been crafting harps? What are his/her credentials?
- What are the choices for levers? Are the tuning pins tapered? (tapered or harp style tuning pins are said to last longer)
- What are the types of wood available?
The bottom line is when buying a music instrument, always browse, test and compare first before buying. it will save you a lot of heartache, not to mention headache, in the long run.