Pop! Thwang!

Strings break. It is a fact of life for harpists.

Sometimes you see it coming, but most of the time strings break without warning, and gut strings break more often than nylon, synthetic, and wire strings. If you play the harp for any length of time, you come to accept and expect a certain level of breakage and unpredictability from your gut strings.

But in the last several years, many harpists who use Bow Brand strings have noticed an alarming increase in the frequency of broken gut strings and a change in how they are breaking.

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About Author

Editor of Harp Column, freelance harpist, private teacher, hot yoga lover, and grammar geek.


  1. Thanks for the article! I also suffered “mass” breakage of my gut strings. My stash of second and third octave strings were decimated. In consulting with Peter Wiley, he also told me about the difficulties with the quality and supply of the raw material. Thank you for fleshing out “the rest of the story.”

  2. laura-smithburg-byrne on

    Thank you for the article, I think it is important for harpists to know they have choices. Personally, I love the Premiers and have not had a single string break since I put them on the harp, and I have strong hands. The Premiers are really responsive and have a resonance and clarity of sound that make my harp sound fabulous. In fact, one of my conductors noticed the difference in rehearsal immediately after I had changed the strings. Recently, Alice Giles gave a full recital on my 30 year old Salzedo and loved the feel and the sound of it. What a joy it was for me to hear her play my harp and hear the sound of it , and have it give her everything she wanted for sound. It was such a relief for me that I didn’t have to worry about any string breaking under her mighty hands during her performance. These are the best strings I have ever used and I will never go back, the sound and quality of these strings is a pleasure and the peace of mind in performance is worth every penny!

  3. Saul Davis Zlatkovski on

    Bow Brand had a temporary problem that was resolved, as far as I know. If one had some saved up from the time in which they had the supply problem, then yes they would break. Other than those, I am finding their strings lasting for a good two years or so before even fraying, so I would say their quality is higher than ever. But I would NEVER use gut strings in the 2d octave, they sound terrible there, they don’t sustain at all. I am finding gut strings lasting as long as nylon these days, as the gut has improved and the nylon has not.

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