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Travel Harp


I am looking for a harp to travel with, in particular, one that can go in the overhead bin of a plane. I loved the sound of the Ravenna on the Dusty website. Is this small enough to travel with? I prefer not to have the tinny sounds of some of the small lap harps. I didn’t hear that with the Ravenna. Also, can you get the Ravenna in Bubinga and add any embellishments?

Thank you, for having this forum. I look forward to getting back into the harp world.
Shira (one who is rediscovering her voice to share with others)


There are few harps that (technically) would fit in an overhead bin although that largely depends on on the specific airline and how crowded the flight may be. For size comparison purposes, take a look at the Triplett Zephyr and the Ardival Kilcoy (the one nylon strung, the other wire).

“Tinny sound” is often the result of the maker simply copying the upper portion of a larger harp without further modification (e.g. making the sound board thinner and wider, changing tension and material etc.) So look for small harps specifically designed to BE small. There are not many, just as there are not many mid-sized harps specifically designed to be concert instruments. It’s all about demand, I’m afraid, just as there are not many double strung harp makers.


Thank you. I love the size of the Zephyr, but found the sound a bit too “bright” for my preference. I prefer a deeper sound which I know is hard to find in the small harps. I have never played a wire strung harp. I will take a look at that.

Thanks, again.



Thanks for asking! The Ravenna does put out a lot of sound for its size, but unfortunately it is too big for most airplane overhead compartments. You can find dimensions on this page under the Specifications tab, and you can see what it looks like in relation to a person on our Harp Finder page.

There is an option to order the Ravenna 26 with burgundy or green lacquer, but because of the way it is constructed, we can’t make it out of a solid wood like bubinga. The body is made of laminated birch with a wood-grained vinyl veneer on the outside, and the material allows us to basically fold a harp body out of a single sheet. It is a huge time savings in the building process, and that is the main reason the Ravenna costs so much less than our Allegro 26 or FH26 harps. Building harps out of solid wood is much more labor-intensive, and therefore those harps cost more.

Have you considered getting a flight case made to travel with your harp? It’s not as easy or cost-effective as being able to carry the harp on to the plane, but it might be a worthwhile compromise if you’re looking for the deeper tone that comes with having a larger harp body.


Thank you. This was very helpful. A lot to consider and time to search while saving. :wink:


The Kilcoy is not inexpensive, made in the UK, so if you just want something convenient for occasional travel that might not be the best solution. Wire strung harps have their own idiosyncrasies as well although they sound beautiful. I think that Christy’s suggestion of buying a hard flight case would probably be a better idea for you. But by all means take a look at the Kilcoy if only for learning something about these instruments:-)


Thanks, again. Interesting story behind the harp. :slight_smile:


Over on another forum I communicated with a person who travelled from the US to Ireland with a 26-string Harpsicle - it did fit in the overhead compartment without problems (on smaller airplanes where you need to gate-check the larger on-board bags it would be too big though)… But she was adviced to board early (when they make the call for people needing assistance). When attendands heard it was a musical instrument they would often put it in the closet, which is even better (something they have done for me as well, when travelling with guitar).
My wife has a Harpsicle too (her ‘portable’ instrument - the Ravenna is her main harp. The Ravenna would, by the way, be much too big to fly with). I should compare the Harpsicle to my biggest carry-on case to check what it really looks like. I’ll do that when I get home. The thing with the Harpsicles though is that they don’t have the wide lower section - they’re not triangular. And that makes all the difference.


I used to have a Harpsicle, but that was before I planned on air travel with a harp. My daughter travels well with her harp, but I can’t remember the maker. She got it at a consignment store. I think it was Mountain-something.


I’d guess that would be a Mountain Glen harp, from custom maker Glenn Hill. This suggests an option, and one that many people do not think about. Larger shops may not be willing to make a custom instrument but many fine harp makers with smaller production will. You would probably have to make a deposit; and be prepared to be very specific about tone, size, and so on. Surprisingly however, a custom instrument may not cost much more than a production model.


Thank you. That sounds like the way I will have to go. Do you have any recommendations in addition to Glenn Hill?


Well yes: my first thought would be Rick Kemper at Sligo Harps. Also perhaps David Kortier, and Dwight Blevins. Dwight’s Lyra 22 might almost fit as it is, though I don’t know that model “in person.” But I’d try Rick first.


Back again Shira…I was thinking over this question and - light bulb - if you go the custom route perhaps a double strung would fit the bill even better than a single. Unfortunately, no one makes a double that small but there is no reason why not other than the limited market. I have string designs for doubles from 19 to 27 strings per side for example: a double 19 or 22 might do the trick. I don’t make harps any more but you would be welcome to use the design as a starting point. The 2X19 would be about 27" tall maximum, range C4-G6.

Hi ho, busy little mind


Thank you, for this creative approach. I would never have thought of a double strung as the thought of one was so intimidating. Would you have treble strung on the right hand and lower bass notes on the left side? In some ways it seems like that would be more comfortable anyway. I am liking this idea. Is it easy enough to learn how to play it?


Hi Shira,
The modern double strung has two rows of identically tuned strings and both partially or fully levered. On occasion a player may use the levers to have one side in a different key. I do know of two people who had their luthier design it with one side a fifth lower than the other but that is definitely a custom job. Dusty makes a 2x26, Dwight Blevins a 2x22 and 2x23 and I believe that Rees still makes a double 23 also.

It is no more difficult to lay than a single - (you use the same basic techniques) after your eyes get used to it which only takes a few days. But you can do a LOT more with it - for example echoing the melody in the same octave (sounds like two harps!) , easily modulate etc See Laurie Riley’s introduction here:



Wow! this is amazing! Thank you, so much for continuing to share on this topic. I am learning so much. I was always intimidated with just the thought of a double strung so I never gave it any thought. But, Laurie’s video is inspiring. I would love to hear the harps with the lower left. That is really what I am longing for…a travel harp with a richer deeper tone and more normal spacing. I know, unrealistic, but maybe I will find some other treasure meant for me. <3

Thanks, again.


You are very welcome. It IS possible to to have a small, low range harp - let’s say down to G2. To do so you must have a heavy material - red brass or preferably silver as the core, fiber bedding and nylon wrap. Not unrealistic at all, but definitely a custom design:-)


Sweet. Thank you. Lots of good information to put together.


LOL, I like interesting challenges. There are two (or maybe three) critical elements to such a double (left hand side lower range than the right): approximately same vibrating lengths and approximately same tension on each row. A third might be what one chooses for the sound board.

I took a quick pass just for fun on one of my existing 2x22 designs: the “bass” side would be an octave lower than the “treble” side; silver core fiber bed nylon wrap for the lowest, steel fiber nylon in the upper on that “bass” side. The "treble is nylon with a few SFN. Range G2-G5 on one side, G3-G6 on t’other. It would work but Lord knows how it would sound:-)


Haha, interesting, indeed! Too bad we don’t have “throw away” money to test such things, and it’s too bad you no longer design/build harps. It sounds like you are gifted at it.