minstrel: Wire strings?

Pat Yarrow yarrowp at mscd.edu
Wed Dec 5 08:03:36 PST 2001

I'm crossposting to the scaharpers list.

If you've got a string that's breaking on a regular basis, there are a
number of possibilities.  Does the string always break in the same place,
such as near the bridge pins?  This can give you some clues.

1)  Check the gauge of the wire.  Ask the harp maker whether it might be
appropriate to drop to a lighter gauge, which will require less tension to
get the same note.
2)  Check the stringshoes, if the harp has them.  There may be a rough spot
that's abrading the string.
3)  How is the string secured?  If you're using a ball end instead of a
wooden dowel, make sure you're not bending the string in the process of
wrapping it, or anywhere in the process of changing the string.  A bent
string will break.  Make sure the wrapping is tight enough so that the
string isn't slipping and having to be retuned constantly.
4)  Are there sharping levers on the harp?  If so, check for rough spots on
them.  They'll eat right through a string.  Use of sharping levers, even
those adjusted properly, can shorten your string life.

Dave Kolacny has a book available on troubleshooting your harp.  He also
carries strings.  8-)
The site is giving me a little trouble this morning - keep trying or email
him at kolacny2 at dnvr.uswest.net - this is Denver's harp repair expert.


-----Original Message-----
From: minstrel-admin at pbm.com [mailto:minstrel-admin at pbm.com]On Behalf Of
Myra Hope Bobbitt
Sent: Wednesday, December 05, 2001 8:48 AM
To: minstrel at pbm.com
Subject: minstrel: Wire strings?

Greetings, all!

I'm Leceabh merch Ouein of Carolingia (Medford, MA), amateur
harper/poet/singer and this year's Bard Stonemarche (New Hampshire).  I play
a nylon-strung 29-string harp to accompany myself and others' folk songs,
and I play Irish and Welsh traditional tunes.

My singing partner, Caera na Cride Tren, is not email-enabled and has asked
me to relay a question to the greater group.  Caera plays a wirestrung harp
that is double-strung.  One of the strings (b/c above middle C) breaks
regularly:  about once every two or three months in the year since she
bought the harp at Pennsic.

a)  Does anyone on the list know where to get a hold of wire strings?  I've
seen some recommend piano wire.  Are there other options?

b)  Would switching to single-strung help?  How could Caera switch from
double-strung to single for that set?  The soundboard is grommeted straight
through, so wouldn't support my nylon-centric idea of a big knot.  Should
she try to fit in a guitar peg?

c)  If she sticks with double-strung, how could she prevent that one string
from continually breaking?

Please feel free to tell me if I'm asking the wrong questions -- wire is a
bit out of my element and I would like to learn more about it.

Thank you!


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