The harp belongs to one of the most beautiful and elegant musical instruments that you would ever see in this world, and it is also one of the most expensive musical instruments. For example, the most costly harps like the Louis XV Special may perch at about $189,000. This amount is enough to give an average person a decent retirement, given that some people retire with around $150,000 savings, and in the U.S alone, the median retirement savings is approximately $60,000. But why are harps so expensive?
Several factors dictate the price of harps. One of these factors is the intricate details that go with the crafting of an individual harp. Another factor is that the materials used to make the harp are also expensive. Most harps are produced manually and require time and effort. Each harp is made on order; as such, you would seldom see a harp on display in the music store.
3 Most Expensive Harps
The most expensive harps are superbly crafted with intricate carvings and lavish designs. Some of them come with exquisite floral trellis designs with 23+ karat gold. The following harps are the most costly harps ever built in this world:
1) Louis XV Special ($189,000)
As far as harp production is concerned, nothing can beat Lyon & Healy, which began manufacturing harps around 1890. The company was the one that created the Louis XV Special, which is the most expensive harp in the world.
The Louis XV Special is very splendid and superbly crafted. It features intricate carvings and garbed in 23+ karat gold leaf. It also comes with the elaborate rococo style typical of the reign of Louis XV.
The design of this harp incorporates flowers, leaves, scrolled feet, and shell-like shapes. It bears the distinctive Lyon & Healy sound that offers clear and resonant sound. Its neck and knee block are also adorned with an intricate carving.
This harp comes in Bubinga or Maple veneer. Its soundboard’s edges come with intricate carving as well. It also features a floral trellis design that is hand-painted with a 23+ gold leaf. Moreover, it has the unique etching of the grand action plate design of Lyon & Healy on the soundboard’s inside.
Besides, it comes with an engraved yet previously retired action plate on its front, together with an engraved backplate. It also comes with a transport cover set. You can buy it at a whopping price of $189,000.
2) Salvi Anniversary Harp ($95,000)
Founded by Victor Salvi, Salvi Harps is known for its sterling harp products. It acquired Lyon & Healy in 1987. The Salvi Harps perfected the harp’s mechanics and sound, and as such, the harps it produces are expensive. One of its most costly harps is the Salvi Anniversary Harp.
This new Salvi Anniversary Harp comes with mother of pearl inlays and perches at $95,000. Thus, it is touted as the most expensive harp of Salvi Harp at the moment.
The Salvi Anniversary Harp is a milestone in design, elegance, and style. You will indeed get enthralled by its detailed design, and it is a perfect way to honor the unique contribution of Victor Salvi to the development of the harp.
3) Venus Harp ($52,500)
The Venus harps are some of the most expensive harps in the market today. They are hand-crafted to perfection. W&W Musical Instrument Company, based in Chicago, Illinois, produced the Venus harps. The company is established by Walter Krasicki Sr., who once worked as a foreman at the Lyon & Healy.
W&W Musical Instrument Company is now VENUS Parts and Services LLC. The first VENUS harp was in the form of a lever harp, which it later discontinued in favor of the pedal harp. Nevertheless, the company has produced remarkable harps models, including VENUS Grand Concert Series, the Millennium, the Prodigy, the Protege, the Penti Series (Penti C), and Pentic GC.
All VENUS harps are carefully hand-crafted; hence, each harp produced by this company is unique and elegant. The individual hand carving results in variations in the design of each harp. Moreover, you can request your design and add variables to the harp you are going to order.
The most expensive harp of VENUS Parts and Services LLC is the Gold Polonaise, which perches around $52,500.
What Drives the Prices of the Harps So High?
If you intend to learn the harp and buy one, you will get a surprise of your life upon learning that the prices of harps are high. The following are the factors that drive the prices of harps high:
The Manufacturing Process
As mentioned above, manufacturers do not mass produce harps. They ensure that each harp is carefully handcrafted. Thus, they make sure that those who engage in the production of harps are quality artisans who labor with care to produce a single harp. For this reason, the harp productions involve much hard work. Each string, for example, is meticulously fixed.
Moreover, artisans laboriously handcraft and design each harp, which is very much time-consuming. Then, each harp is meticulously inspected for any damage or weakness in producing quality sound. Thus, it will take around two weeks to complete a harp, which makes harps very expensive.
The materials for producing harps are not cheap. Manufacturers need to find the best materials, and for this reason, the prices of harps are high. The fore pillar, neck, and body of the harp are wrought in Mahogany or Maple woods, both exotic woods. Maple, of course, is the best wood for such parts of the harp. Manufacturers may choose other types of wood and materials, but the harp’s quality will surely diminish if they use less-quality materials.
The soundboard of the harp, which amplifies the harp’s sound, is wrought in spruce. Spruce, of course, is strong, light, and pliable. Moreover, it is evenly grained, which makes it a perfect material for the soundboard.
The center strip of the soundboard, however, is wrought in beech. Beech is also the best material for this part because of its toughness and ability to bear the strings’ tension. The disks, on the other hand, are wrought in brass. The pedals are made of brass, likewise.
The harp also comes with an internal mechanism that connects the disks and the pedals. This internal mechanism is called action. It’s either made of stainless steel or brass. The strings of the harp are made of steel, gut, or nylon. The gut comes from the intestine of the sheep. Moreover, the wood should be finished, which further pad the production expenses for a harp.
Their Exquisite Quality Does Not Diminish Over Time
Harps are comparable to wine because they sound better as they age. Other instruments diminish their sound as they get old. However, the harps seem to improve their sounds as they age, and this unwavering quality also pads up the prices of harps. Moreover, the prices of old harps are almost equal to the new ones.
Harps are also not very much affected by mechanical or structural issues unless that issue prevents you from playing them. For this reason, harps are known for their resiliency. They are also durable with their sturdy frames. Moreover, their ruggedness and toughness are remarkable.
They are Made on Order
Harps are not musical instruments that you would see displayed in the music store, and ready to be picked up. They are made on orders, and thus, you would need to wait for several weeks before your harp gets delivered. They are also relatively uncommon, and because of their rarity, they are costly.
The harp is deemed one of the most ancient instruments ever played by humans, and it has a long evolution as a musical instrument, which might be as old as the oldest civilization. However, the present-day harps are very expensive, and for this reason, it is an instrument associated with the well-to-do students. Moreover, you will seldom find a poor guy who knows how to play the harp. Besides, if you belong to the lower class of society, chances are, you would have little chance of even holding a real harp.
Many who study the harp come from well-to-do families who can afford to buy or rent a harp. In fact, you would never get to behold or touch a harp up-close had you not joined an ensemble. Nevertheless, there are rentable harps for those who could not afford to buy one, and by renting a harp, you can at least learn the rudiments of harp playing.