The Neo-Celtic Harp

I play a William Rees Corlieu Falls harp. I love its even, mellow tone and light tension.

I play a William Rees Corlieu Falls harp. I love its even, mellow tone and light tension.

The Neo-Celtic harp looks like it is a harp from antiquity but it is truly the newest harp design out of all of the harps that I own. It has a bright, sparkling sound and lends itself well to Celtic music because of its light tension.

Unlike harps from antiquity, it has well machined sharping levers to access chromatic tones. Large scale manufacture of harps with this design began in 1912 by the Melville Clark Company. Clark Harps are no longer manufactured, but they are still found today, many which are still beautiful sounding instruments. I played a restored Clark harp at a local music shop and it sounded very close to the Neo-Celtic harps that are currently manufactured. 

There is also a design of harps very close to the Neo-Celtic harp called the Troubadour harp. These harps also have finely machined levers to access chromatic tones. The difference is in string tension and tone. Troubadour harps are marketed towards harpists planning to purchase a pedal harp; they have higher tension, which makes the harp have a deeper tone.

I played a Neo-Celtic harp for many years before I purchased my pedal harp. Even though my pedal harp has amazing key changing powers, which I love, the Neo-Celtic harp is far more portable. Audiences also find its smaller size and sweeter tone more intimate than my pedal harp. But I like the repertoire available on both instruments so much that I end up splitting my time between the two for the most part.

Today there are a number of well respected harp companies that build Neo-Celtic harps. Though these instruments make audiences think of harps from the old world, there are more harp companies in the United States that build harps than in the old world. Here is a list of good Neo-Celtic Harp builders I know of, in case you are harp shopping:

William Rees

David Kortier, Harpmaker


Dusty Strings


Fisher Harps


Thormalen Harps

Blevins Harps

Music Makers Harp Kits

Lyon & Healy

Salvi Harps