Have Harp Will Travel 2
For many harpists, the tips in Have Harp, Will Travel Part 1 will be enough to help them to make the most of traveling with the harp they already own. However, if you are expecting to be traveling with your harp a lot, or you intend to take your harp on public transport, then you may want to look at harps that are especially designed for traveling. These tend to be small and light-weight and many have fold away features which make them as compact as possible.
All of our lap harp range function as travel harps because they are all small and light-weight. If a large compass is not of huge importance to you, then these harps may fit the bill very well. The Therapy 20 and Christina 25 come with optional shoulder straps, so you can play the harp standing up: this can be a real advantage as you no longer need to carry a stool, or worry about where you will find one at your destination. Pedal harpists who need a portable practice harp to keep their fingers exercised, will appreciate the high string tension of the Saul 25. Other lap harps to choose from, are the County Kerry 24 and the Zephyr 22 - designed to fit in the overhead locker of an aeroplane.
Of course, reducing the size of a harp tends to reduce the volume. If you are planning to play with others without amplification, you may find your lap harp struggles to be heard. Our two 26 string travel harps – the Ravenna 26 and the FH 26 – feature significantly larger soundboxes and therefore benefit from increased volume and a richer tone.
Everything about the Ravenna 26 is designed for travel and it is probably THE travel harp par excellence in the under £1500 category. Unsurprisingly, it was the Ravenna 26 that Anja Bakker chose to take with her when she walked all the way from Ireland to Spain! Dusty Strings have incorporated two features which allow the harp to be as compact as possible for travel: a foldaway, adjustable leg which drops into place like a cello spike and a studio stand which attaches to the bottom of the harp, if desired. Either can be used to increase the height of the harp while playing – and the Studio Stand can double as a small harp stool. Of course, any harp is subject to stress when traveling, so an ideal travel harp will, like the Ravenna 26, be light, yet sturdy and reliable and will come with a heavy duty carry case.
Dusty Strings also make the FH 26 which is roughly the same size as the Ravenna 26. This harp is aimed at traveling harpists who demand the ultimate sound quality from their instrument and in return are willing to have a slightly heavier harp without the convenience of the foldaway leg and studio stand. It is made from all solid wood which offers a remarkably full and rich voice for its size. The FH 26 comes with four detachable legs which are neatly tucked inside the case for travel.
For many, the ultimate travel harps are made by USA’s Heartland Harps. By making harps from super-lightweight carbon fibre, Heartland Harps are able to make 36 string lever harps that only weigh up to a mere 4.5kg. The nature of carbon fibre means that these harps can happily go into situations that would destroy a standard wood harp, such as extremes of heat, cold and damp. Carbon fibre is extremely durable, so can stand up to the inevitable knocks and bumps of the road. Also, because carbon fibre material does not shrink and swell as wood does, Heartland Harps stay in tune very well.
The Infinity 36 weighs a mind-bogglingly mere 3.6kg and features an adjustable, retractable leg. The Legend 36 (4.5kg) is a full sized 36 string lever harp that sits on the ground at playing height and so does not need legs or a stand.
Of course, finding an ideal pedal harp for travel is a different matter. The nature of pedal harps is such that a certain size and weight is necessary. Whilst these could not be said to be travel harps, per se, the following harps may be a good choice for pedal harpists on the go who need their instrument to be as portable as possible.
The smaller size of the three quarter sized Etude 42 pedal harp makes it attractive to traveling harpists. The Etude 42 is similar to the larger members of the Etude range.
The compact size allowed by the Vega‘s 46 string compass makes this harp smaller and more lightweight than full size concert harps, while the extended soundboard provides the sound projection and volume needed by function harpists.
The Princess Sakura features a full 47 string compass and extended soundboard, yet weighs a mere 28.8kg – about 15% lighter than standard concert harps. Even better, innovative new construction techniques have allowed Aoyama to significantly reduce the weight and frame size without compromising on the sound quality: The Princess Sakura retains a warm, vibrant and full tone with clear, balanced projection. The Aeolian 47 is the Princess Sakura's undecorated sister.