A Harp Guitar Music Public Service Announcement

Inexpensive Harp Guitars  
Updated September, 2016

Dear Customers,

This page is in response to the several phone calls and emails I get a month from people hoping to spend $500-1500 for their first harp guitar, and should answer most of your questions.

Sadly, unless you happen to see one in my Inventory, assume that I have nothing in stock in this price range, nor anticipate anything for the immediate future.  I occasionally may get in a used Holloway or Emerald, or sometimes an interesting vintage instrument in that price range (sorry, I do not keep a “want list” for inexpensive harp guitars – there would be hundreds of names on it).

For your immediate needs and questions: Please note that while my Harp Guitar Music business is a part-time labor of love, it’s not exactly a solid business plan to simply plug the wares of my competitors.  But since that is something I have always done in my “Sir Gregory” role as the head of Harpguitars.net and as president of the Harp Guitar Foundation, here is a courtesy list of my thoughts on your options.

  • Holloway (now Dyer™) harp guitars. Holloway is no longer having harp guitars built in China, nor are there any plans to do so again in the future (as nice as that would be).  Instead, they are building small quantities of handmade instruments in the range of several thousand dollars each.  I am not (nor have I ever been) affiliated with the company, although I enjoyed a special dealer/consultant relationship with owner Scott Holloway.  I can’t speak to anything you may read on their web site, but I know that Jim Worland, a fine builder, is now partnered with Scott and currently building them.  If you see one of the early Chinese Holloways on eBay in solid condition, you might be wise to consider it.

  • Jay Buckey harp guitars.  These are currently seen regularly on eBay.  They’re made in a bandura factory in Ukraine.  Again, I am not affiliated with the company.  As far as I know, he only sells on eBay.  Not having seen any of the more recent instruments, I can’t comment on any improvements to the “East European” vibe, quality and tone.  If the name on the headstock doesn’t bother you, they might be worth considering (with the caveat that multiple purchasers have publicly and privately to me written of issues with non-delivery or non-refund).

  • Lark in the Morning: Before Holloway, the only option out there. I don’t believe they’re made anymore, which is probably for the best.  For the right price, secondhand ones can be usable starter instruments.

  • Other Chinese-made harp guitars.  See my old Public Service Announcement on some of these.  I also just learned that the "Doolin rip-off" model is now on Amazon as a "Ktone"!  And who knows what will be coming next.  If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.  However, I have heard of brave individuals taking a chance on these and, doing their own work, tweaking them into servicable instruments.

  • Tonedevil harp guitars.  These are in a slightly different tier, being in the over $2000 range, but used or “factory second” instruments can sometimes be found on eBay or directly from the company.  They aren’t Dyer copies, having an original design and sound, hand built in Idaho by the Powell brothers.

  • Emerald carbon fiber harp guitars.  Also in the $2000-3000 range, these are professional instruments and are essentially indestructible, so safe to buy used also.

  • Many other builders can be found on the Luthiers page of Harpguitars.net.  While most are professionals and high end builders, many are a bit off the radar and some of these (Steve Wishnevsky, for instance) may be happy to build you an inexpensive instrument if you’re willing to make compromises.  Their web sites should give you some indication.

Of course, please check back on this site when you can, as instruments can turn up at a moment’s notice.

- Gregg (Sir Gregory) Miner


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