About The Harps

Alys Howe plays the pedal harp, lever harp, and electric harp.

The pedal harp (sometimes called the classical harp or the concert harp) is the large type found in orchestras. It is called the pedal harp because it has seven pedals operated by the player’s feet, which will change the pitch of the strings they are associated with.

Alys Howe Celtic Harpist

The lever harp (often called the Celtic harp and sometimes the folk harp), can range in size from a very small instrument with only a few strings, to nearly the size of a pedal harp. (This kind of harp varies a lot depending on who has made it). The pitch of the strings on the lever harp are changed by the operation of the levers on the neck of the instrument.

The type of harp that is most accurately called the Celtic harp was played in Scotland (where it was called clarsach) and in Ireland (where it was called cruit) and was strung with wire or metal strings. Today this kind of harp is usually described as the metal-strung (or wire-strung) harp. Although this kind of harp still exists in a modern form today, the lever harp is now more common in Europe and North America.  As with the fiddle/violin, a harpist can play Celtic music on any type of harp.  It is the choice of repertoire and the style of performance that makes the music traditional Celtic, not the instrument itself.

The most important difference between pedal and lever harp, as experienced by clients, is that the Pedal Harp can play ALL of the musical selections available in Alys Howe’s entertainment repertoire, while the Lever Harp cannot.  On the wedding and entertainment pages of this website, any music selections marked with an asterisk* at the end of the title, are available to be performed on Pedal Harp only.

Today, some harpists such as Alys Howe can provide amplification, or perform on electric-acoustic or electric harp. Clients have the option to choose whether they would prefer for Alys to perform acoustically, or with amplification, at their event.


Alys Howe’s Lever Harp, shown below, was made from carbon fiber by Heartland Harps.  This harp can be gently amplified for more volume.

Alys Howe’s Pedal Harp, shown below, was made by Salvi Harps in Italy.











Alys Howe’s electric-acoustic Pedal Harp, shown below, was made by Camac Harps in France. This harp can be played acoustically, subtly amplified for more volume, or turned into an electric harp.