Revolutionizing Music Education: The Harp-E

Democratizing the Harp: An Affordable, Professional-Grade Electro-Acoustic Instrument

Triggered by the absence of affordable, quality harps for students, designer Joris Beets embarked on a mission to democratize the harp, resulting in the creation of Harp-E, the world's most affordable, professional-grade electro-acoustic harp.

The Harp-E is a complete redesign of the ancient and complicated instrument into a simple, elegant, flat-pack, self-assembly instrument. This revolutionary design has been dubbed the "people's harp." The Harp-E's unique properties include a sturdy frame that sandwiches all fragile parts, making it portable, stackable, and adjustable. Additionally, it boasts superior strings and electronics, all at a fraction of the price and weight of traditional harps.

The core of the Harp-E's design is a revolutionary lever system, reducing hundreds of metal parts down to just two. The rest is CNC-ed out of the same sheet of beech plywood as the frame, resulting in a near-wasteless production process. This design, coupled with a custom-designed pickup and preamp system immune to EMI and with perfect frequency response, results in superior sound quality.

The Harp-E is fully levered and features 24 SilkGut strings. It's easy to customize with paint, hacks, or mirroring the entire harp for left-handed players, a world first. The instrument can be played on its height-adjustable stand or worn like a guitar, acoustically or amplified by simply plugging it into a small amp setup, a smartphone, or a professional PA system.

The Harp-E project started in 2019 when Dutch charity Het Leerorkest challenged Beets to design an affordable, professional-grade harp. The first 10 prototypes were shown on Dutch National television, with 300 more crowdfunded by the charity. Harp-E was presented at the World Harp Congress in July 2022 and is now played by children and adults worldwide.

Throughout the project, Beets and his team conducted extensive research, including observing, interviewing, surveying, and testing nine rounds of prototypes with teachers, students, parents, and others. This research allowed them to understand the complex and contradicting web of requirements and make design decisions that made the harp both functional and desirable to all.

The Harp-E is patented under PCT/GB2022/000024. Joris Beets Design. 2022. United Kingdom, worldwide. Copyrights belong to Joris Beets, 2022. The design was awarded Silver in A' Musical Instruments Design Award in 2023, recognized for its strong technical characteristics and splendid artistic skill.

Project Details and Credits

Project Designers: Joris Beets
Image Credits: Joris Beets
Project Team Members: Joris Beets
Project Name: Harp E
Project Client: Joris Beets

Harp E IMG #2
Harp E IMG #3
Harp E IMG #4
Harp E IMG #5
Harp E IMG #5

Read More on Design Radiant