Three Weird Sisters
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Wire Harp (page title)

Gwen's Harp (photo)Gwen Knighton plays several harps. The one pictured here is a modern wire harp of Scottish design built by Master Harp Maker Robert Cunningham . Fondly known as the Walnut Monster, it has 33-brass strings, none wound (all straight brass). There is an iron shank in the fore pillar of the harp that strengthens and supports the big bow of the harp, and increases the ring of the instrument. Without the shank for support, the pressure of the tension on the strings would tear the harp apart.

Her other harps are smaller: another Cunningham creation, a blond harp (made of ash) with 32-strings. This instrument is significantly smaller than the Walnut Monster and named Heretic. While competing in Scotland last spring, Gwen described this harp to another harper explaining the differences between the blond harp and a traditional Scottish or Irish wire strung harp. It has wide string spacing, bridge pins, and a compound laminated sound box. She kept describing this or that difference as "heresy", and the other harper said, "Well, we'll have to burn your harp because we don't allow heretics in Scotland."

Finally, Gwen also plays a 17-string lap harp crafted by legendary Master Harp Maker Jay Witcher. It is the only real historical instrument she owns. It was made in 1977, so it's legal to drink now.