Harp vs. Guitar: Everything You Need To Know

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Although the harp and guitar are both stringed instruments, that’s pretty much all they have in common with each other.

Guitars usually only have 6 strings, while the harp has up to 47 strings and is shaped quite differently. The guitar has great mobility, while the harp is stationary.

Knowing about the differences and similarities between any instruments can be interesting and informative.

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What’s The Difference Between the Harp and the Guitar?

Guitars usually have just six strings, with six diverse thicknesses.

The majority of harps are typically strung with gut strings, and a usual concert harp will in all likelihood have an arrangement of strings wrapped with wire in the bottom, and then gut strings. Harps can have up to 47 strings.

Many harps use nylon in their upper octaves.

Guitars are usually completely strung in nylon or metal.

PRO TIP: If you’re going with the guitar, find a good tuner that is focused on the guitar, rather than just a “multi-instrument” tuner that may not work as well with the guitar. This guitar tuner fits the bill.

Difference between harp strings and guitar strings

The strings of a harp are color coded, and thus you can easily recognize the string for each note. The Cs are red in color, while Fs are black-blue, or purple (the majority of them use blue).

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The guitar strings’ gauges are made for guitars, while the harp strings’ gauges are made for harps, and diverse harps may have specific gauges that vary across instruments.

With guitars, on the other hand, you might be able to get away with exchanging out different gauge strings without much complexity.

As we mentioned before, harps also typically have way more strings than guitars.

PRO TIP: Whether you choose the harp or the guitar, don’t skimp when it comes to strings. This Ernie Ball set of guitar strings and this Roosebeck harp string set both provide noticeably better quality than knockoff brands.

Is the Harp Harder to Learn than the Guitar?

Learning how to play a musical instrument is no easy feat, but the harp takes things to the next level of difficulty. The harp is a unique instrument that requires a great deal of dedication, focus, and patience. So, what makes it so challenging? Well, for starters, it has a large number of strings that can be quite daunting to navigate. Unlike the guitar, which typically has six strings, a harp can have anywhere from 20 to 47 strings. This can make learning the basics of the harp a bit overwhelming.

Another factor that makes the harp more challenging than the guitar is the physical demands of playing it. When playing the harp, you must use both hands to pluck the strings, and your arms must be positioned at an awkward angle to reach all the strings. This can be quite taxing on the muscles, and can take some time to get used to. Additionally, because the harp is a large and heavy instrument, it can be challenging to transport it from place to place.

Finally, the harp has a unique sound that requires a certain level of finesse to achieve. Because each string on the harp must be plucked individually, it can be difficult to achieve a smooth and cohesive sound. Additionally, the harp has a lot of pedals and levers that must be used to change the pitch of the strings. This can be quite confusing for beginners, and requires a great deal of practice to master.

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[See our top recommendations for beginner-friendly harps.]

Harp vs Guitar: Which One Should You Learn First?

When it comes to deciding which instrument to learn first, the guitar has a clear advantage over the harp. Here are a few reasons why.

First off, guitars are more accessible and affordable than harps. Plus, with guitars being so popular, there are plenty of resources available online to help you learn. From tutorials to online classes, there are a ton of resources available to help you get started on your guitar-playing journey.

Secondly, guitars are much more versatile than harps. Sure, harps can be used in a wide range of musical genres, but guitars are the Swiss Army Knife of the musical world. With their wide range of styles and techniques, you can play anything from classical to metal on a guitar. Plus, with so many different types of guitars available, from acoustic to electric, you can easily find one that fits your personal style.

Finally, learning to play the guitar is simply more practical than learning to play the harp. While the harp is a beautiful and unique instrument, it’s not exactly the most practical thing to lug around. Guitars, on the other hand, are portable and can be taken with you wherever you go.

PRO TIP: Whether you choose the harp or the guitar, pick up a good instructional book to drastically speed up your learning process. This harp book provides a number of great conditioning exercises, while this guitar “aerobics” book does the same.

Wrapping Up

Regardless of the instrument that you pick, the timeless phrase that says “practice makes perfect” typically fits right in here.

You have got to spend daily time both playing as well as listening. If you do that, you’ll find yourself getting better at whichever instrument you choose. Plus, if you have enough drive and motivation, you can get both instruments at once and start learning the ropes!

There is a certain sense of pride that comes with being able to play quite a lot of instruments.

Each instrument brings challenging details and nuances into your life. When you grasp them, they will stick with you for eternity.

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FAQs

What is the difference between a harp and a guitar?

A harp is a stringed musical instrument with individual strings that are played by plucking, while a guitar is a stringed musical instrument that is played by strumming or plucking.

Which instrument is easier to learn: harp or guitar?

Learning to play the harp is generally considered to be more challenging than learning to play the guitar, due to the complexity of the instrument and the physical demands of playing it.

Can you play the same music on a harp and a guitar?

Many pieces of music can be adapted for both the harp and the guitar, but the two instruments have different ranges and tonal qualities that can make some pieces more suitable for one instrument over the other.

How much does a harp cost compared to a guitar?

Harps are typically much more expensive than guitars, with entry-level harps costing several thousand dollars and professional-grade harps costing tens of thousands of dollars, while guitars can be purchased for as little as a few hundred dollars.

Which instrument is more versatile: harp or guitar?

While both instruments are versatile and can be used in a variety of musical genres, the guitar is generally considered to be more versatile due to its wider range of playing techniques and the ability to be played in a variety of different styles.

Can you use the same strings for a harp and a guitar?

No, harp strings are typically much longer and thicker than guitar strings, and are designed specifically for use on a harp.

Which instrument is louder: harp or guitar?

The volume of a harp or guitar can vary depending on the specific instrument and the playing technique used, but in general, the guitar is louder than the harp due to the resonant qualities of its soundboard.

Are harps and guitars played differently?

Yes, the playing techniques for the harp and guitar are quite different, with the harp being played by plucking individual strings and the guitar being played by strumming or plucking strings with a pick or fingers.

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