Irish wire strung harp

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Irish wire strung harp

Post by scattering_mud »

Hello people,

I've played irish flute for 20 years (Glenn Watson and John Gallagher flutes) and a bit of fiddle. I've lived in Prague for 6 years and my wife and I are moving to Valencia, Spain in January. I would like to purchase a Wire Strung Irish Harp made in the EU. I'm also seeking advice for a way to learn to play it on my own. Any advice as to makers and learning sources? I live in the EU and am an EU citizen and would prefer purchasing by shipment within the EU, I don't want to have to deal with customs and all that.

My interest in such a harp is that (1) i love its otherworldly bell-like sound, (2) I am 63 and looking for something to play as I get older. Of course I will continue playing flute, but feel that the harp is calling me at this point, if only to play by myself.

I'm wondering (1) the difficulty level of a folk harp instrument in general, and (2) will I lose a good bit of the desired sound by not playing it with my fingernails.

Thanks! Jeff Zajac
Last edited by scattering_mud on Thu Sep 01, 2022 6:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Irish wire strung harp

Post by Katharine »

What is your reason for not wanting to play with your fingernails? My understanding of wire harp is that part of the reason the nails are used is because the strings are more closely spaced than a nylon/gut strung harp-- so using the nails is a bit of a necessity?

I don't see why you couldn't use guitar finger picks instead, though? I'm thinking you will lose volume by playing with the pads of your fingers instead. has a forum which might be helpful in information; I know some people there play wire harp.
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Re: Irish wire strung harp

Post by daveboling »

Recently, there has been a series of articles in the Folk Harp Journal (, specifically about playing wire strung harp with the fingertips. The sound will be different, since the release of the string from the fingertip is "slightly" softer than the fingernail release. Derek Bell, of the Chieftains, played both ways.

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