In the continuing saga of the radical re-stringing I'm doing on my lever harp; having changed all the gut strings to carbon fibre & nylon the original wire strings didn't sound great and needed changing.
I was very wary of changing the wires and wanted to be super careful as I didn't want to do anything that would endanger the harp.
As luck would have it Billy 'The Harp Doctor" was in the area and giving my concert harp a service so I had a chance to pick his brain on the best type of wires to change to now that I had started on this project.
So, after a conversation with Billy looking at my harp and then a very helpful conversation with Salopian Strings over the phone, I ordered Multifilament wires for the first 3 wires 5th B, A & G <I had already changed the original 5th C, D & E wires to carbon fibre> and light gauge wire for the final 4 bass strings.
So, whats in a multifilament wire string then? Normally you have the metal solid core wrapped in silk and then with the wire (silver, copper etc) wrapped round.
As you can see above, there is no solid core!!! Which makes for a very funky & comical looking wire string as you put it on the harp. TBH I really thought that it wasn't going to make any sound at all, but WOW, what a great string. It perfectly bridges that sound gap from the carbon fibre strings above to the wire strings below. I took a gamble on needing 3 of these strings to bridge the gap before moving on to 'normal' wires at the bass end and I'm very glad I did as the sound blends really well.
So how bad were the original wires then?
Personally I hated the sound of them. The top ones were far too 'zingy' which is why I changed them as soon as possible to carbon fibre and the bottom ones had loads of variation of pitch as you played them.
video above the original wires that came with the harp.
video below the new hand made wires by Salopian Strings. This is the wire with the solid wire core (not the special multi filament wire). For my personal taste, it's a much more mellow sound with very little 'wow' variation in pitch as it's played. Bear in mind I've literally just put this string on to the harp, so it needs to settle in to pitch.
Next up on this project is some adjustment that needs to be made to the intonation with the levers. Some (not all) need adjusting now so that the pitch is true when you change the lever.
After that, I'll be posting videos!
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Lauren Scott is a harpist & composer and has been blogging for over 10 years.
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