The party stumbled over an old elven city and found an Instrument of the Bards. It is the Anstruth Harp. The scale in the picture is ambiguous. The initial take is that it isn't a hand held harp (of the kind often seen in pictures of angels playing harps, or something like this 16 string lap harp), but rather like a concert hall harp.
enter image description here
All other Instruments of the Bards - mandolin, lute, cittern, lyre, bandore - are obviously hand carriable (roughly the size of an acoustic guitar).

Is the illustration deceiving, in that it appears to be a concert hall harp but is actually of a size comparable to a lute-mandolin-cittern, or is this thing as big as a concert hall harp? The detailed item description seems to indicate that it's something one can use in combat. Our table's sense of verisimilitude is being strained, a bit.

Is the Anstruth harp 'guitar sized' or 'concert hall sized'?

The problem to solve: can the bard carry it around without needing a few roadies to help him out? (Asking as a player, DM's initial description was that it was pretty big - which came across as a concert hall sized harp).

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The FR wiki cites the weight of this item as 3lbs. from 3rd ed. It does not have a citation for that, but the value is cited from Magic of Faerûn perhaps that could be of use. \$\endgroup\$
    – Baergren
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 14:36

3 Answers 3


I don't have a RAW answer, but the image you included seems modeled on the celtic harp, which makes sense considering the celtic sounding name.

enter image description here

Celtic harps come in a variety of sizes, with the smallest being "lap harps" measuring about the 60cm tall. They're not meant to be held aloft and played like a lute or guitar but to be held in your lap or possibly strapped to your back like an an accordion.

These specific harps might have some RAW mention as being specifically larger, but if not, and you would like it to be relatively easy for your PCs to carry, having it be carriable, if a bit clunky, is definitely in the realm of the realistic considering the source of inspiration.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What we are trying to wrap our heads around (none of us has ever played a harp, but quite a few of us have played guitar, or still play it) is how to sell the "it's not so darned big" to the DM. Something that helps support this approach is what I am looking for; this is a good answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 15:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ More on the word ollamh. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 16:05

It is probably not 'concert hall sized'.

The harp is notably absent from the equipment tables in the Player's Handbook, so we cannot venture a guess based on its weight.

There is a reference to a particular harp found in Curse of Strahd:

Near the fireplace is a large standing harp.

This tells me that the more detailed description of this harp as large and standing is to differentiate it from the standard expectation of harp size.

Further, in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, the god of song and poetry, Milil, is described so:

He is variously depicted as young or old, but his identity is always apparent because of his five-stringed harp made of silvery leaves, which he carries constantly.

Depictions of Milil portray him holding an instrument with only five strings, called a harp. A harp can certainly be small in the Dungeons & Dragons canon.

If its size imposed any conditions on its use, it would say so.

Most of the musical instruments listed in the PHB require two hand to play any way. If there were any special restrictions or conditions on the use of the harp, there would be an item description for it that would tell us this. There are no secret rules.

We hand wave the size of things all the time. If I have a carrying capacity of 150 pounds, we just say, "Yeah, Thomas can carry two plate armors on him."


However big it is, it is probably portable

The descriptive text for the Bard class makes it clear that they are itinerant performers:

A bard’s life is spent wandering across the land gathering lore ... Only rarely do bards settle in one place for long, and their natural desire to travel ...

If your DM is using the illustration of the harp as part of their reasoning as to why they believe it to be a concert harp, then class description should be considered too.

Instruments of the Bards are named for Bards and require attunement by a Bard, and so are clearly designed for their use. To be of use to a character that by their very nature travel around a lot, such an instrument should be portable to facilitate this behaviour.

An instrument of the bards is an exquisite example of its kind, superior to an ordinary instrument in every way

An instrument that allows a Bard to travel would be superior to one that stops them from doing so. It would not make sense for an 'exquisite example' of an instrument designed for bards to have drawback at odds with their nature.


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