Bow Brand Silver Pedal Wire Question

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    pluck on #243509

    I’m about to change out my bass wires and want to replace them with standard (not treated for tarnish resistance) wires. I am familiar with the copper colored C’s and F’s but came across Bow Brand color-coded standard wires and am thinking of trying them out. These do have a disclaimer that reads, “Colored F and C strings may cause buzzes for the harpists who play at the upper limits of their instrument’s volume capacity.”

    Vanderbilt also sells their brand of color-coded standards but there is no disclaimer about buzzing.

    Does anyone have any experience or recommendations with these wires and shed light on the buzzing?


    Gretchen Cover on #243522

    I use the Vanderbilt tarnish resistant wires. I have used Bow and Vanderbilt. Over many years, I never had a buzz with either brand. I think Vanderbilt gives a much cleaner, clear bass sound, especially on a Salvi concert grand. Vanderbilt wires strings, as I understand, are lighter than Bow. But whatever the difference, my Salvi concert grands are much easier to play with Vanderbilt wire strings. I also prefer the colored strings rather than the copper. Is there a reason for going with non-tarnish wire strings?

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #243534

    The best reason is tone quality. Tarnish-resistant strings have a duller sound, with less overtones that only gets more dull-sounding with age. They are a lousy crutch for people who get color dependent. There are the brass/bronze “tarnish resistant” strings as an alternative to copper. However, despite a brighter sound, it is rather hard to see them among the silver except in very bright light. So what I did was color mine red and black in the upper area with Sharpie magic markers. It worked pretty well enough. I don’t think there are that many manufacturers of wire strings, but I don’t know for certain. I do know that thicker strings give better tone, more body and character. I do not endorse nickel-alloy tarnish resistant strings for any purpose. I have used them. They are definitely inferior. And perhaps the worst thing is the false dependency they create when one becomes too used to having them. Even if you only use them for Cs and Fs, the drop in tone quality is noticeable compared to only using silver and copper or brass/bronze. No strings should buzz.

    Gretchen Cover on #243572

    I have used the colored and non-colored strings. I cannot tell a difference. There has not been a sound difference in test recordings. But, for my Salvi concert grands, the quality in recording is significantly better with Vanderbilt wire and gut strings.

    carl-swanson on #243583

    My dear departed friend Eleanor Fell told me that Vanderbilt did sound tests in house, numerous times, comparing silver wires to tarnish resistant wire strings. No one was ever able to tell the difference, as concerns the sound, between the two types of strings.

    pluck on #243586

    Thanks for all the replies!! I really appreciate everyone’s opinions.

    I used to play professionally and would always use standard (non-coated) wires because I believe my harp sounds better with them (I would also string my first and top octaves with gut but that’s another debate 😀 ). I’m with Saul, in that the sound difference of coated strings is inferior. I used tarnish resistant wires on my last restring just for kicks and now that it’s time to change them out can’t wait to rip them off!

    It’s been a while since I’ve looked to see what is new in the world of harp strings and hadn’t heard of colored non-coated wire as an option. I might just give the Vanderbilt brand a shot and see how they work out.

    Thanks again guys <3

    pluck on #243588

    Quick update: Turns out the Vanderbilt standard wire set with colored C’s and F’s include tarnish resistant colored wires. I misunderstood the description! So I went with the standard set with copper C’s and F’s.

    Gretchen Cover on #243590

    You probably have Bow wires on. Record your harp before and after the restringing. I live in Florida so there is no way I will go with wires that could tarnish. And for recording, I need to see the C’s and F’s clearly. Let us know what you think about the Vanderbilt wires. What harp are you restringing?

    pluck on #243625

    Hi Gretchen,
    Yes, I have Bow Brand tarnish resistant wires on now. Over the years I’ve tried standard and coated, Bow Brand and Vanderbilt. I agree with your description of Vanderbilt wires feeling lighter, but didn’t notice a difference in playability. I have a LH 85CG and was blown away by the difference in resonance the first time I strung in non-coated wires. On my harp, the difference is that quantifiable. It’s funny because it had been years before I tried non-coated and wires because my teachers and regulators said it really made no difference in sound. But every harp and harpist is different, so one never knows until they try it out. Every harpist knows their instrument best 🙂

    I live in the Pacific Northwest which is why I initially went with coated wires. Previously I lived in Los Angeles and the tarnish was not an issue as long as I changed out wires yearly. I don’t gig currently, so my harp is in a room with controlled temperature and humidity. I will have to adjust back to the copper C’s and F’s, but I’m sure it will be fine. If it’s a huge issue I can always change out the 5th octave wire F to a colored string. I’ll let you know how it sounds, I should get them in tomorrow!

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #243718

    Some people do not know how to listen to overtones/aftertones, some have low standards, and anyone who cannot hear the difference needs to clean out their ears or take more lessons. That may sound harsh, but the difference is so obvious to me, and when they first came out, and we were trying them in school, everyone head the same thing. It’s the difference between a dull-looking nickel and a shiny dime. It’s the difference between silver and pewter. It’s the difference between full sunlight and wearing sunglasses.
    Moreover, even though they may not look tarnished, the nickel-plated strings still have to be changed just as often as silver/copper because they get so dulled over time.
    A recording is not a test. Use your own ears! Silver strings are brilliant, especially when new. Yes, you have to be careful when ordering, because what may be called “standard” is not that, just most popular. As far as I’m concerned, standard stringing is still nylon strings (preferably Pirastro), gut strings in the third-through-fifth octaves (or fourth and fifth), and silver/copper or bronze strings. Some things are not meant to be changed.
    The most unfortunate thing is that Pirastro stopped making heavy-gauge nylon strings which were vastly superior. What they sell now is their medium-gauge, which is only slightly thicker than D’Addario’s, and not much better, if at all. I think they don’t even have the same quality of nylon as before. I have too much trouble tuning them. The heavy-gauge meant a solid pitch, no bending of the strings, a fuller tone, and staying in tune much longer. As for nylon strings vs. gut, if you play low on the strings and pull harder, you can mimic the sound of gut. The fact is you don’t need nearly as much pressure to play nylon strings, but they will give you whatever you tell them to. Nylon strings give the harp that glamorous sound in the treble, where guts are muted and dull-sounding.

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