** In Memoriam: Maestro John G. Kovac, Our Founder & Mentor, 11/1945 to 7/2022 **



These Paraguayan-styled Harps can be played just like any other lever folk harp.

Posted by Davy Clark on

So, I am discovering a misunderstanding concerning how one might play a "regular" lever folk harp compared to a "Paraguayan" folk harp. 

It seems to be often [erroneously] thought one has to use only the South American style of harp playing (traditional Paraguayan in particular) in order to play a "Paraguayan"-type harp. 

However, that is far from reality. A Paraguayan harp can be played in the same manner as any other typically envisioned, lever harp found in North America. In fact, for many beginners, the Paraguayan is often found to be easier to learn on, comparativley speaking. The strings are a bit less tense, giving better, inspiring sound sooner for the learner, offering encouragement to keep playing & growing in their harp endevouers. And, the octave spread on a typical Paraguayan is a bit easier to obtain compared to a full-sized Celtic version. 

The crisp & clean sound of a Paraguayan is easy to coax out on a Paraguayan, even for beginners. Plus, the engineering of a Paraguyan produces a very strong but also very lightweight instrument; making it much easier for beginning older adults and children to play, handle & transport more successfully. 

The string sets used on my Paraguayan-styled ParaHarps are all brand-name nylon. These are much easier to afford & work with during the life of the harp. Yet, these strings, on the ParaHarp, are not mushy or dead sounding due to the unique engineering employed within Paraguayan-style harps.

And, not the least to consider is tuning. On Paraguayans, their traditional tuning method can be far easier & faster to obtain a fully tuned instrument when compared to the embedded tuning pins used on its Celtic cousins. 

Ultimately, it is what you get use to playing that counts. A beginner can learn on a Paraguayan and move up to the bigger Celtic styles if they wish. Or, they might find it advantageous to just stay with a melodious Paraguayan. 

As a multi-facited musician, playing all sorts of bagpipes, stringed instruments, whistles & flutes, rock & hand drums, digeridoos, etc., I have found there is simply no one style of performance that any one instrument similarily gives compared to its brother or sister brand & model.

In other words, my 4 or 5 Irish Bodhrans play & sound totally different from each other, even though they are similar in size & build. My dulicmer, lap harps, lyres, etc., all sound & play different from other like models or makes. Sure, amongst instrument genres, a similar sound is given. But, put two mountain dulcimers side by side, even of the same make/model, and a difference will likely be heard (despite a makers best efforts to offer uniform sounds within each model line up). 

This is the same for Paraguayan folk harps compared to Celtic folk harps and, within each genre of style instrument. Because of these perceived differences, folks are always looking to find the perfect instrument and most never quite find it! (I know!) All instruments have their particular voices and advantages & disadvantages (some more; some less).

So, as I say, it is all what you get use to. 

Thus, don't let a musical instrument title scare you off from owning a great instrument, like my ParaHarps & John Kovac's Paraguayan-styled folk harps. I suggest we play what inspires us and, don't let a term or title scare us off from what might be a great musical experience! So, remember, other than for sloppy or infantile harp engineering, there is no right or wrong. It's what you get use to.

Thanks for considering, my friends, play well & have fun!

- Davy

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