minstrel: Wire strings?

Myra Hope Bobbitt mhbobbitt at hotmail.com
Wed Dec 5 09:03:07 PST 2001

Mistress Vivien,

Thank you for your response.

Caera is not using wooden dowels, nor ball ends, at present.

The harp-maker, whose name I forget, called the harp "Double-Strung".  (I 
had never seen this before, so please forgive me if I explain something 
about which you already know plenty.)  The harp is strung with one wire for 
each two notes, i.e. the low C and D are comprised of the same wire.  One 
end is wound around the C tuning peg, then stretched down to the sound 
board, through the C grommet, up 3/4" to the D grommet, then stretched up 
again to the D peg.  To tune her low C, Caera must tune the D at the same 
time, because loosening one loosens the other.  Is that typical?

It sounds like the prudent choice would be that Caera switch to dowels, as 
you suggest.  I'll convey your advice.

How does one affix the wire to the dowel?  Does it hold in place like a 
guitar peg in the back of the soundboard?


>From: Pat Yarrow <yarrowp at mscd.edu>
>Reply-To: yarrowp at mscd.edu
>To: Myra Hope Bobbitt <mhbobbitt at hotmail.com>
>CC: scaharpers at yahoogroups.com, minstrel at pbm.com
>Subject: RE: minstrel: Wire strings?
>Date: Wed, 05 Dec 2001 09:03:36 -0700
>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 
>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!
>Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at http://explorer.msn.com/intl.asp
>minstrel mailing list, minstrel at pbm.com,
>To unsubscribe, send email to minstrel-request at pbm.com with a SUBJECT of
>minstrel mailing list, minstrel at pbm.com, 
>To unsubscribe, send email to minstrel-request at pbm.com with a SUBJECT of 

Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at http://explorer.msn.com/intl.asp

More information about the minstrel mailing list