If you’re just starting out on the harp, or even thinking of starting lessons, you may be wondering if you really have to plunk down thousands of dollars to buy your own harp before you’ve had a chance to see if you like playing it or not. The answer is, no, you don’t. You you should be able to find a harp you can rent in your area for a few months while you determine whether the harp is the instrument for you.
Finding a rental harp is a little trickier than finding other instruments for rent. Walk into any music store and you should be able to rent a violin or a band instrument, but I would be very surprised if you found a harp, unless this store is one of the few that sells harps. Instead, you should be looking to rent from harpists in your area.
Start with teachers you are thinking of working with. Many harp teachers own one or more rental instruments for their beginning students to rent. If the teacher you’re interested in does not, he or she may know of other harpists in the area who do rent harps. If you can’t find a teacher, try contacting the professional harpists in your area. You should be able to find a few by googling “harpist + (your town’s name here).” Professional harpists may have extra harps they are willing to rent. If you live in a small town or rural area, you may need to travel to a larger city to find a harp to rent. Harps for rent are often advertised in publications for harpists, such as Harp Column, but if the owner is not within driving distance you’ll have to be prepared to pay the shipping expense.
Rental agreements and prices vary by region. Be sure to understand in advance who is responsible for strings, maintenance, regulation, etc. Most of the time the renter takes care of strings and other expenses. Regulation and other repairs are usually not an issue if you just rent for a few months, but be sure and understand who will be responsible if the instrument needs repair. You should also discuss insurance coverage with the harp owner. Harps are often covered by musical instrument insurance, but it may be advisable to add it to your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy.
Buying a harp, even a small one, is a significant investment, and there is no reason you should do it if you aren’t certain you’ll want to stay with it. Fortunately, if you get to know the harp community in your area, you should have a chance to try before you buy.