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Niebisch & Tree Harps started out as concert harp repairers only. However, after only a few years in business, we decided to design and build a range of small harps. We made the decision after hearing many complaints about the quality of small harps that were available and the very ineffective semitone blades that were the only system available at that time.

Starting with our own design of semi-tone levers, we designed a range of harps based upon the fundamental design and construction concepts that are the basis of concert harps. We called upon our intimate knowledge of the structure of concert harps and of all the great harp makers. Just as importantly, we knew the weak points and how to deal with them due to the very nature of our work as harp repairers.

Initially, we only made the Blondel and Glastonbury models, which are lightly-strung harps. Prior to about 1960, that is how small harps were strung. To our minds, that method of stringing a harp still provides the true singing silvery tones attributed to the small harp; that is so long as they are designed specifically for a particular gauge of strings. The point being that a light gauge middle C string has to be longer than a concert gauge one to produce the same note with the correct tension. That is why the light strung harps are taller than our concert gauge harps.


Due to the demand from harp teachers for a small harp that can be used as a stepping-stone to the concert harp, we then designed the Avalon and Albion models. These are strung in concert gauge and, therefore, have a very similar feel and tone to a concert harp. This means, when the student moves onto the concert harp, their fingers will not suffer due to the sudden increase in string tension that would be the case if they moved from a lightly strung small harp.

Remember when choosing a harp the first and most important thing is that you love the tonal qualities of the instrument, only then should you consider the quality of the semi-tone levers, the wood and the construction of the harp. To that end, we try to keep one of each model on display in our workshop for harpists to see and play. So please give us a ring and make an appointment to come in and try our models out for yourself. We are sure you will find them as satisfying to play as we find satisfying to make.

Nigel Tree.

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