Cross Strung


Cross Strung Harps

I can build your Custom Cross harp with any number of natural notes from 19 to 45, with gut, nylon or wire strings.

Nylon, Gut, and Wire strung models

Markwood Heavenly Strings makes all my custom harp strings, with the exception of my gut strings.

I build cross strung harps with almost any configuration of whole and half notes possible.  Like all my harps, my cross strung models can be built to be larger or smaller, and with different shaped necks and pillars, and with different string tensions, all depending on the Harper’s wishes.

Please go to my Price List Page, for prices on all my custom cross strung harp sizes.

A bit about Cross Strung Harps

Cross-strung harps have two sets of strings, one attached to each side of the neck of the harp, with the rows of strings intersect between the neck and the sound box like an X. The set which runs from the lower left to the upper right (8:00 to 2:00 if you imagine a clock face) is tuned to a diatonic C major scale, like the white keys of a piano: C D E F G A B. The set which runs from upper left to lower right (10:00 to 4:00) is tuned pentatonic ally in F#/Gb, like the black keys of a piano: C# D# F# G# A#. This means that all the notes in the chromatic scale [like all the black and white piano notes] are available at all times. Cross strung harps have no need for sharping levers or pedals, to produce half step notes.

The most common type of contemporary cross-strung harp is strung with nylon, and is built with a “7×5” string configuration: each octave contains the seven notes of a diatonic scale on one set of strings, and the five “accidentals” per octave on the other set of strings. The layout is similar to a keyboard. Like a keyboard, each major scale has its own fingering pattern, and basic chords fall into pattern shapes or groupings. The advantage of this layout is that it provides a familiar concept (diatonic and accidentals) to the player, and is easier to learn due to the presence of the diatonic “home row” of strings.

A less common string configuration is the “6×6” in which each set of strings is tuned to a whole-tone scale (rather than diatonic and ‘accidental’ tuning). The advantage of this layout is that fewer fingering patterns are required for common scales and basic chords (though it is important to note that if all major, minor, augmented, and diminished triads are included, the 6×6 requires as many pattern shapes as the 7×5). Another advantage is that a 6×6 harp can include a broader range than a 7×5 of similar size since there are only six strings per octave in each row.
Here is an example of a whole-tone tuning:

In music, a whole tone scale is a scale in which each note is separated from its neighbours by the interval of a whole step. There are only two complementary whole tone scales, both six-note or hexatonic scales:

  • {C, D, E, F, G, A, C}
Whole tone scale 
on C
About this sound Synthesized sample
  • {B, D, E, F, G, A, B}.
Whole tone scale 
on B

The two sets of strings cross near the midpoint of each string. The strings cross so that either hand can play either note. For example, middle C is played in the right hand above the point of crossing, and the very same string is played in the left hand below the point of crossing. If the right hand plays only above this point, it will be plucking strings that fit in the C major scale; if the right hand plays below this point, it will pluck strings from the F#/Gb pentatonic scale. As each hand moves up and down, above and below the point of crossing, the hand moves from one set of strings to the other.

I build my cross strung harp with gut, nylon or bronze strings, in both 6×6 or 5×7 stringing configurations. I also have built specialty Custom Cross strung harps with custom note ranges and sharping levers on all the strings. Please inquire about the possibilities!

As with all my custom harps, the height of the harp and size of the sound box, the width of the sound board as well as the string tension and type of sound the harp will produce, are all very flexible custom design options.

Here below are pictures of some of my custom cross strung harps.

Cross Harp,Celtic Harp, Folk Harp, Lever Harp, Irish HarpCross Harp, Celtic Harp, Folk Harp, Lever Harp, Irish HarpCross Harp, Celtic Harp, Folk Harp, Lever Harp, Irish Harp

Harp shown here: This is a custom Myrtle wood, nylon strung harp with 27 natural notes. The sound holes on the back are carved as Yin-Yang symbols.

This in just one type of shape and style that is possible. Generally, a cross harp will need to have a straighter pillar than other types of harps, if the design is intended to keep the harp as small as possible, as in this pictured harp in the middle. But the pillar could have had almost any other possible shape, if more size to the over-all harp was possible.

Cross Harp, Celtic Harp, Folk Harp, Lever Harp, Irish Harp

I have also have built specialty Custom Cross strung harps with custom note ranges and sharping levers on all the strings, as in this harp shown above. It has two sets of 35 strings, set up with the 6/6 tuning. there is also a Loveland sharping lever on each string. This harp is built of Cherry wood, and is only 56 inches tall, weighing about 25 lbs.


Thank you for coming to visit my Harp Pages, please let me know how I can bring your Dream Harp to Life !

Follow your Bliss, and live your Life in Joy!

Glenn J. Hill