A harp with high tension

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    Seiken on #191573

    Hi I’m new to harps and I just got my first one, from a Pakistan company named Mikel Celtic which was discussed here. The harp got decent levers(with no rivet) and seems almost unbreakable neck/column; I don’t know if the sound board deforms normal though.

    Now my problem is about the string tension. When I broke the E4 at the first tuning I started studying it’s strings chart, as the bottom of this page, and found it’s string tension is pretty heavy(e.g. 16 kg in E4), much heavier than other charts I found in the web. Is the tension reasonable? And if the breaking of B5 at the second tuning is the sign of that I should change it to a lighter string set?

    Biagio on #191575

    Those two strings (the only ones I looked at) are higher tension than most lever harps but not excessively so. Roughly comparable to the few nylon strung harps that are designed to take concert gut as well. I don’t know how you analyzed this but the percent of tensile strength is OK and that’s what you should look at with respect to breakage: 53.5% in the case of E4, 63.6% for B5. Most lever harp makers try to keep tensile strength between 30% and 70% but that’s a very rough rule of thumb.

    For what it’s worth, one of my harps is designed that way (concert harp tension) and I haven’t had excessive breakage. Certainly more than the lighter tension ones, but that’s to be expected.

    Possibly you got some bad strings or perhaps there is some mechanical issue such as a sharp edge at the grommet, bridge pin or tuning peg; or taking tension up too quickly relative to all the other strings.

    Good luck!

    Seiken on #191578

    Thank you Biagio. I have noticed that both the breaking points are at the tuning peg, and I’ll pay attention to it continuously, in my new daily job.

    Biagio on #191588

    Happy to help Seiken!

    There are two main reasons for strings breaking prematurely at the tuning peg, both related to each other.

    First thing to know: the string should overlap itself so that the tension is not taken at the peg hole – the hole is just to get things started.

    Second: the angle from the bridge pin to the peg should not be too acute.

    Most beginner books provide a guide to stringing. Even better would be to invest in the little book “Trouble Shooting Your Lever Harp” by David Kolacny. It costs very little but will save a lot of frustration.

    Best wishes,

    Seiken on #191638

    I don’t sure the broken ones but the remaining strings are installed in the regular way. And I found that the default strings are more yellow than the new ones, maybe aged strings could be the problem here. Anyway the rest seems all okay now.

    Thanks for suggestion of the book. Yet it’s hard to order one here(in Taiwan) and I’m getting all guides online. I thought harps would not be hard to self taught in all instruments, until I found that to “keep” a harp is another challenge.

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