Does a Harp Regulation Include all new Strings?

Harp Stringing toolsPeople often ask me if I’ll replace all the strings when they bring their harp in for a regulation. A smaller number of people assume that a regulation includes all new strings and are surprised (and disappointed) to find out that this isn’t the case. While I may replace a string or two at a regulation appointment, and I’ll often replace the bass wires, complete restringing requires a significant additional investment of time, and thus carries an extra labor charge. Then there’s the strings, which on a full sized pedal harp can cost close to $500 for a full set.

I am always glad when my customers are willing to invest in new strings. A lot of harpists tend to leave strings on their harps longer than they should. I often work on harps whose strings have lost much of their tonal quality and sustain. I am happy to schedule the additional time to restring a harp before regulating it. However, I can’t offer the same-day service I can offer for a standard regulation. In order to completely restring and regulate a harp, I generally request that the customer leave it with me for three days.

The reason for this time lag is that brand new harp strings don’t hold their tuning well enough for me to accurately regulate the harp’s intonation. Ideally, there should be a two-week lag  between the day a harp is restrung and the day it is regulated, and someone should tune the new strings at least once a day.

Since my road service regulation stops rarely last two weeks, I have to compress this “string settling and stretching” period down to a couple of days. I do this by tuning the harp over and over, accelerating the settling process. After two days of intensive tuning, while the strings will still stretch to some degree, they will hold their tuning well enough to complete the pitch regulation process.

If you are interested in having your harp both restrung and regulated, please contact me in advance. We’ll need to work out a time for you to leave the harp with me, and there are decisions to make about which strings to order. You can use strings you already have on hand, but I caution you not to bother with them if they are more than five years old. Strings age even sealed in a package, so if your spare set goes back more than that, it’s better to throw them out and start fresh.

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Moss Harp Service to Visit Las Vegas, February, 2010

Holiday Motel

Photo by D Sharon Pruitt

I’ll be setting up shop somewhere in Las Vegas in Mid-to-late February of 2010. I’ve been there once before, and have a few customers who have been kind enough to ask me back. Overall, though, this is a new territory for me. If you happen to be a harpist in the area, please get in touch if there’s anything I can do for you. If you know a harpist in the Las Vegas area, won’t you mention this blog entry to them or direct them to my website? Remember, I’m authorized to do the free first year warranty regulations on Lyon & Healy and Salvi Harps, as well as other warranty repairs. Again, let me know if there’s anything I can help you with, and spread the word!

Lever Gut vs. Pedal Gut: Which Harp String Do You Need?

Lever Harps in the Lyon & Healy West Showroom

Lever Harps in the Lyon & Healy West Showroom

If you play a Lyon & Healy or Salvi lever harp, you may have noticed that these manufacturers, through their sister company, Bow Brand Strings, produce both “Lever Gut” and “Pedal Gut” strings. You might think that if you own a lever harp, you will want to buy lever gut strings, but it ain’t necessarily so.

Both Lyon & Healy and Salvi produce two varieties of lever harp. Many of the best-known models, such as the Lyon & Healy Prelude, Troubadour, and Ogden, and the Salvi Ana, are designed as “starter pedal harps.”  While they have no pedals,  they are strung with pedal harp strings and mimic the tension, string spacing, and feel of a pedal harp.

Other models, such as the Lyon & Healy Lyric and the Salvi Egan, are designed with folk and Celtic harpers in mind. They are generally lighter in construction and easier to carry, and they feature a lower string tension for easier playing and a brighter sound.

The Lever Gut strings produced by Bow Brand (and available through harp.com, among others) are designed for use with these folk and Celtic harps.

If you’re unsure of what strings to order for your harp, contact Lyon & Healy West. They can advise you over the phone, and send you a chart that shows which strings to buy for each model of Lyon & Healy and Salvi lever harp. No matter what make of harp you play, it’s a great idea to contact the maker and request a stringing chart if you don’t already have one. It’ll make replacing strings that much easier when the time comes.