FAQ: we answer your questions about the harp
Camac harps are entirely made in France. Each instrument is the result of 50 years of accumulated savoir-faire, and a passion for continual improvement of the harp build. We have developed our own unique sound, often called French: round yet clear, and the choice of distinguished harpists, conservatoires and orchestras throughout the world.
Each harp is individually checked by our resident professional harpist before it leaves our workshops. We also take great pride in our technical service. Thanks to this uncompromising quality control, our pedal harps are guaranteed for ten years and our lever harps for five years, double the industry standard in both cases.
Since 2007, Camac has been a Company of Living Heritage (entreprise du patrimoine vivant), a State award for companies who underpin the manufacturing and cultural identity of France.
2.a. Pedal harps: size and number of strings
Camac pedal harps are available with 44, 46 and 47 strings.
A full-size harp has 47 strings and will always be at least 185 cm high. If the harp has 47 strings but measures under 185 cm, it has shortened string lengths with a corresponding impact on the sound. It is important to remember this if you are looking for your harp for life.
44 strings – 172 cm high
46 strings · 181 cm high
47 strings · 185 – 188 cm high
47 strings · 188 – 191 cm high
|Clio straight soundboard
|Égérie straight soundboard
|Clio extended soundboard
|Égérie extended soundboard
|Oriane 47 Gold
|Art Nouveau Gold
It is a common misconception that smaller harps are only for children. In fact, many professionals like to use them in certain contexts. What is important is the seated position of the harpist at the instrument.
The seated harpist’s eyes should be roughly level with the discs of the second octave. To achieve this, a young harpist may need to sit higher, which is fine so long as they can still comfortably reach the pedals. If their legs are too short, a smaller harp model may be preferable. A good pedal technique requires the harpist’s heels to have contact with the floor. High-heeled shoes can help with this!
Advanced harpists, and everyone interested in exploring good posture at the harp in detail, can watch this video tutorial by the famous harpist Isabelle Moretti.
2.b. Pedal harps: extended or straight soundboard?
The principle of an extended soundboard is to expand the volume of wood in the soundboard and soundbox. This creates a greater range of frequencies and hence should make the sound richer. It is not the case that the sound is necessarily louder, a common misconception. Also, a good straight soundboard instrument can have a better sound than a poor extended one, and should not be dismissed out of hand without trying the harp first.
Like pedal harps, lever harps come in different shapes and sizes. You will choose your harp according to your preferred range, string material and tension. Do always ask your teacher for advice before you buy.
3.a. Professional versus student lever harps
The lever harp is sometimes pictured as “only” a student or children’s instrument, but it is absolutely an instrument in its own right. It can be heard at the heart of Celtic music of all kinds, jazz, contemporary fusion, and more, and it has its own virtuosi. Therefore, Camac makes both professional lever harps and affordable student lever harps. All our concert lever harps are made in collaboration with renowned lever harp artists.
3.b. Lever harps: stringing
Camac lever harps have been developed with a wide range of string materials and gauges. If you simply want to know which type of strings your model of harp requires, or how to identify the replacement string you need to order, consult our lever harp string chart here.
A practical note about harp strings: any string on any make or model of harp may break at any time without warning. This is normal. Replacement strings can be purchased from your nearest Camac dealer or our webshop. As strings tend to break right before an important concert or exam, on Christmas day or during the holidays, keeping a full set of spare strings at home will avoid inconvenience.
How to change strings:
see our video guides.
3.b. Even more information about lever harp strings
If you would like to know more about why lever harps have many different string materials, all will be revealed in the following explanation!
Apart from our Odyssey range of 27-string small harps which do not have a deep bass register, lever harp bass wires are made of metal. They are called “wires” because each one consists of metal wire wrapped around a steel core.
That is the simple part!
Next, there are three types of possible string material for the upper range of a lever harp: nylon, gut and fluorocarbon. Each Camac lever harp has been precisely designed for a particular type and gauge of string. It is usually better to find the type you love prior to purchase, rather than buy a harp and then seek to alter the sound by changing the strings.
Nylon-strung harps are a favourite choice for traditional music. Folk harpers like nylon’s flexible tension, which facilitates great virtuosity, and clear sound for this music’s brilliant character. Nylon is also robust, easy to tune and not the most expensive, and so is often chosen by harp teachers for young beginners.
Gut strings have the roundness of the classical harp’s tone, and heavier tension to help prepare a solid playing technique for the pedal harp. They are the most fragile material, but frequently recommended. Our Telenn and Telenn Small Hands models are strung with light gut, which can be easier for young children.
Synthetic fluorocarbon strings are still quite new for some harpists, but we have had such good experiences with them that we string many of our lever harps with this material. In fact, the most exacting professional lever harpists play mostly on harps strung with fluorocarbon. Find out more about fluorocarbon strings on the Camac blog.
Hiring a harp can be a practical way to start, especially for children. We offer lever harp hire to clients resident in France. Find out how to reserve your instrument online here. For clients abroad, please consult your nearest Camac partner to discuss your options.
Conscious of the investment a harp represents, Camac offers Cofidis financing for all new and second-hand harps for clients resident in France. Our Cofidis financing offers fixed monthly payments and no deposit required. For international options, please contact your nearest Camac partner.
We offer a regularly-updated selection of second-hand harps, which come to us because they have been part-exchanged for new Camac harps. All second-hand harps are thoroughly regulated and overhauled in the Camac workshops before being sold on.
Please note that as our second hand instruments are sold in France, after-sales service is also only available in France. If you do not live in France, we recommend consulting the second-hand listings in your home country before purchasing over the border.
Camac has been the e-harp market leader ever since it launched its electric lever harp (now in the National Museum of Scotland, owing to its contribution to modern trad) in 1984. A hallmark of Camac’s electric lever and electroacoustic pedal harps is the individual piezo pickup on each string, for an incomparably pure amplification with the minimum of interference.
You’ll often hear harpists use the term “blue harp” to mean an electric harp. This is because Camac’s first electric models were electric blue!Read a short history of the blue harp
The Telenn Small Hands is our harp specifically built for small children. We developed it together with specialist teachers in France.
In fact, all our harps are suitable for children and adults alike: it is not the size of the harp that matters, but rather the seat height, position at the instrument and above all the opinion of your child’s teacher. Our no. 1 piece of advice therefore always is to consult your child’s teacher before buying a harp. They know best how to align your child’s needs and preferences with their pedagogic methods.
Below, you can read more about Camac’s most popular harps for children.
Camac lever harps for children
Telenn – 34 strings in light gut
The Camac Telenn (“harp” in Breton) has gut strings. Many teachers like to start with gut directly, particularly if preparing for the pedal harp. Classical-gauge gut has a relatively high tension, so the Telenn harp is strung with light gut to be easier for children.
The Telenn Small Hands is a special version of the Telenn, developed for the very smallest hands in collaboration with renowned pedagogues.
Hermine – 34 fluorocarbon strings
The Hermine harp is one of the most popular harps for beginners in the world. There is a good chance your child’s teacher’s own first harp was one!It is a perfect all-rounder: robust, warm-sounding fluorocarbon strings, medium tension and an excellent price-performance relationship.
Mélusine – 38 nylon strings
The Mélusine is the oldest of the Camac lever harps. It was first designed in the midst of the Celtic revival in Brittany in the early 1970s, and has accompanied many generations of professional and amateur harpists. It is loved by harpists who prefer nylon’s crystalline sound and stable intonation, and light tension facilitating great virtuosity.
Korrigan – 38 gut strings
The Korrigan has the same gut strings as a classical harp. After a few years of learning on this model, the transition to the pedal harp feels very natural to both the hands and the ears.
Isolde – 38 fluorocarbon strings
The success of the Hermine harp meant teachers and students asked us for a larger version with fluorocarbon strings. No sooner said, than done!
The 38-string Isolde comes in two versions:
The Celtic Isolde, with 38 Alliance Savarez fluorocarbon strings and a lighter/folk tension.
The Classical Isolde, with 38 Kürschner fluorocarbon strings, heavier in tension to approach the feel of the pedal harp.
Odyssée by Camac – 27 nylon strings
The Odyssey is a highly accessible small harp for beginners and also travelling harpists. It combines a light weight with a full sound, and enjoys a wide range of finishes and accessories. It is designed by Camac and made in Europe.
Options: lever harp legs
All Camac lever harps are available with or without high legs. These can also be purchased and fitted later, so the harp can grow with your child.
Happy are they, like Ulysses
Who have journeyed well
Joachim du Bellay
Like all our concert-quality lever harps, the Ulysse was designed in collaboration with an artist. Elisa Vellia dreamed of a robust, light and reliable harp, with a deep and rich sound, for traveling to audiences throughout the world.
The Ulysse combines a top-quality Alpine spruce soundboard, carbon fibre in the structural parts and titanium levers to create an ultralight (8.5kg) instrument with a magnificent sound.Download the presentation of the Camac Ulysse harp
The Odyssey harp is for everyone who wants to have fun with their harp! It is available in 8 gorgeous finishes and with a complete range of accessories: rucksack transport cover, legs, lap bar, portable bench, sheet music and more.
The Odyssey is designed by Camac and made in Europe to our quality standards. Its website also features the Odyssey club, with special content for Odyssey harp owners and warranty downloads.
In order to make this harp even more accessible, the Odyssey is available with or without levers. If you are a harp beginner and not sure where your journey will take you, you can fit levers yourself later, with the help of our video tutorial.Take off for the Odyssey universe!
The Camac webshop ships all Camac harp strings and Camac harp accessories, plus a wide range of sheet music, harp books and harp recordings, anywhere in the world.
That said – we’re not Amazon!
Our friendly webshop team ships all orders the same day of your order, or at the latest the next working day. Everything is sent out from our Mouzeil offices in the French countryside. Standard delivery means standard post, without tracking or guaranteed delivery times.
What this means is that you can be sure of a personal service, and quick and direct contact with our team. Please however bear in mind that your order may not arrive as fast as e.g. from Amazon, because Amazon has completely different logistics. If your order is urgent, we recommend the express tracked shipping options which are available at point of order.
Camac has always believed in “think global, act local” and we are proud of our network of international distributors. Many of our collaborations go back decades. Find the one closest to you under “Sales points” in the header menu of this site.
OK, we admit it: the harp is a wonderful instrument, but does have more than its fair share of logistical issues, especially at the beginning. You have to tune it, move it, and change strings. Practice makes perfect! Our resources will help you on your way to mastery.
13.a. work out which replacement harp string you need to order
13.a.i. Pedal harp string chart
13.a.ii. Lever harp string chart
13.b. Change a string:
13.c. Tune your harp:
13.c.i. Pedal harp
13.c.ii. Lever harp
13.d. Move your harp
13.e. Care for your harp
The community of harpists is extremely creative, diverse, united and supportive. Camac Harps is proud to be part of this great family. We are also committed to respecting the environment and appreciating our staff.Read more about Camac's CSR