Billy (aka The Harp Doctor) stopped over at mine recently when he travelled up to service my concert harps and as an unexpected bonus he unraveled the mystery of why my little clarsach was always so dodgy!
It's a Wilfred Smith clarsach that I first started learning on as a child, and I now only use it on the odd occasion when teaching.
Lots of sentimental value, but to be honest it's never been a great harp.
I never changed the strings as I was always worried that any change of tension would pull the soundboard straight out. So they were only ever changed when they broke, and most of those strings were over 35 years old!
Billy had a good look at the strings and said that all the wrong tension strings were indeed on the harp and that I couldn't just put a new set of lever strings on as it would pull out the soundboard.
So he changed the wires and I think as an extended Su-Duko type puzzle for himself in the evening he worked out what strings I should use for each note.
I'm now half way through re-stringing and it's sounding pretty amazing. The tension is incredibly light and I do find it pretty hard to play as I am a Salvi girl and playing it is like ticking elastic bands. But WOW what a difference already.
This harp originally had really awful blades and about 8 years ago I took it to Pilgrims for them to change the blades over to brass levers. They remembered this harp from their days when they were apprentices to Wilfred Smith, who was a very eccentric chap who had a very particular and unique take (and not necessarily the correct one) on how to make harps. Basically they learnt a lot of how "not to" with this harp. But amazingly enough this harp is still around and in a strange way it's the precursor to the Pilgrim Clarsach!
Obviously I will need to paint in the C's and F's with red and black marker pen but the list is below.
1st A - gauge .58 - use 1st A lever nylon
1st G - gauge .58 - use 1st A lever nylon
1st F - gauge .60 - use 1st G lever nylon
2nd E - gauge .62 - use 1st B pedal nylon
2nd D - gauge .64 - use 1st B pedal nylon
2nd C - gauge .68 - use 2nd D lever nylon
2nd B - gauge .74 - use 2nd B lever nylon
2nd A - gauge .76 - use 2nd D pedal nylon
2nd G - gauge .76 - use 2nd D pedal nylon
2nd F - gauge .80 - use 2nd A lever nylon
3rd E - gauge .80 - use 2nd A lever nylon
3rd D - gauge .80 - use 2nd A lever nylon
3rd C - gauge .84 - use 2nd G lever nylon
3rd B - gauge .94 - use 3rd E lever nylon
3rd A - gauge .94 - use 3rd E lever nylon
3rd G - gauge .99 - use 3rd E pedal nylon
3rd F - gauge 1.05 - use 3rd B lever nylon
4th E - gauge 1.05 - use 3rd B lever nylon
4th D - gauge 1.14 - use 3rd G lever nylon
4th C - gauge 1.18 - use 4th E lever nylon
4th B - gauge 1.25 - use 4th D lever nylon
4th A - gauge 1.32 - use 4th B lever nylon
4th G - gauge 1.36 - use 4th A lever nylon
4th F - gauge 1.42 - use 4th F lever nylon
5th E - pirastro nycor wire
5th D - pirastro nycor wire
5th C - pirastro lever wire
5th B - pirastro lever wire
5th A - pirastro lever wire
5th G - pirastro lever wire
5th F - pirastro lever wire
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Lauren Scott is a harpist & composer and has been blogging for over 10 years.
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