A while back, a blind friend of mine asked me to help her with restringing her harp as she had quite a few broken strings. She is a beginner harpist and was struggling a little bit with navigating her way around the harp. I said to her that I would investigate to see if there was a solution, so I got in contact with harp maker Mark Norris.
I was making a visit up to Mark's harp studio in Peebles, Scotland so I had a chat to him about it and was delighted that he was up for exploring the possibilities of what could be done. He has been brilliant in finding a solution for her and in the end he developed a special textured varnish to apply to the strings.
He sent me the varnish kit through the post and I made a short video explaining the whole process here of adapting the harp.
After the harp was finished the big test was getting the harp back to my friend and what she thought about it all. She said that the textured strings were effective and helpful in finding her way round the harp!
It was interesting to see how she played her harp and in her case, it seemed that as well as applying the textured varnish lower down on the strings, it would also have been useful to apply it high up as well. It seemed more natural for her to slide her fingers up the string, rather than down the string to feel the textured guides.
To sum up - a thin band of two coats of textured varnish applied in an inch wide band low down on the string were fine on the middle C string and lower. This didn't affect the sound quality of the string. All the strings higher than middle C were better with only 1 coat of varnish.
Many thank to Mark Norris for being a total star with his time and effort in developing a solution for my friend.
Mark Norris Harps. and order strings online at HarpStrings.Biz
On my trip to Scotland to visit Mark Norris's studio he showed me how to tie the perfect harp knot HERE
Lauren Scott is a harpist & composer and has been blogging on Harpyness for over 10 years.
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