Lever harps generally have a three to five octave range. (21-35 strings.) Lever harps have individual sharpening levers—one for each string—attached to the neck (the curvy part at the top) of the harp. They are engaged by hand, one at a time. It’s easy to change keys between songs, but difficult to create accidentals during a song.
Pedal harps generally have a 5 ½ to 6 ½ octave range. (40-47 strings.) On pedal harps, the sharpening mechanisms are activated by foot pedals. One pedal affects all the C strings; one affects all the D strings, etc. It’s possible to play flat, natural, or sharp on each string. Because the feet do all the changing, it’s possible to move smoothly from key to key, or to activate necessary accidental changes without interrupting the fingers. You can play most lever harp repertoire on pedal harp, but a lot of pedal harp repertoire can’t be played on lever harps.
Wire strung harps and Paraguayan harps require a different technical approach than lever and pedal harps and are not currently taught at KMS.