minstrel: brass vs. bronze wire strings?

Pat Yarrow yarrowp at mscd.edu
Thu Dec 6 07:32:25 PST 2001

I think you're quite right, and that it's harp dependent.  I find that brass
is just the thing on my big Witcher, and even special ordered brass for the
two longest strings (they were originally wound, which I don't recommend at

It may be partly a matter of the wood as well as the size.  The Witcher is
cherry.  Phosphor bronze was rich and warm on my old Oladian, which was
mahogany, and just one size up from lap harp.  My lap harps, which are
Lewandowski (one cherry, one maple) are brass in the bass, steel in the
treble, which works pretty well though the steel sings a bit brightly by
comparison to the brass and can make for an awkward transition.  My Anderson
harp is maple, strung steel in the treble and brass in the bass except the
two lowest notes, which are phosphor bronze.  They're very, very plunky and
sound out of place.  If you're considering a mix of string materials, one
important thing is to string the harp so that there isn't a noticeable break
between registers.

One side note:  the steel strings are harder on the nails, and they turn my
fingers black.  The brass is probably the easiest of the three to *see* if
you shine it with steel wool from time to time.


-----Original Message-----
From: minstrel-admin at pbm.com [mailto:minstrel-admin at pbm.com]On Behalf Of
Fred (Flieg) Hollander

  Flieg here --
    This must be harp dependent. If I put brass on mine it gets all nasty
and harsh, whereas I find the bronze to be mellow and rich. ("Nasty and
== "full of high frequency overtones at the expense of the dominant and
lower frequency overtones.")  My harp came with both bronze and brass wire
to cut replacement strings from. I tried one brass string, then took it off
and put the brass wire away for emergencies.

More information about the minstrel mailing list