Bringing my lever floor harp back to life!

  • Participant
    Veronica Kleckner on #260303

    I have a Salvi Ana lever floor harp. I believe she was purchased in 1994 (I was in 7th grade and told that she was the second to last Ana produced by Salvi before joining with Lyon & Healy). I went off to college 5 years later and she has barely been touched. In 2009 I had her shipped from California to my new home in Wisconsin. I replaced the strings that snapped, but again I barely touched her.

    One day the metal bottom E string snapped. I tried to replace that, but as I tightened it, it suddenly snapped, sounding like a gunshot. I’ve been terrified of hurting her since then, so she’s just been sitting in a corner popping strings.

    I had the good fortune to sit next to a man from Lyon & Healy on a flight from Chicago a number of years ago and he told me about harp regulation. I reached out to a store in Madison that said it worked with harps, but they just told me to restring her. I don’t want to restring her only to have them all break because the sound board has settled. I also don’t know if she needs regulation, though she is 28 years old.

    Long story short, I need advice on how to bring my Ana back to the world and her best self. Also, she has a ding in the soundboard from being in the same house as toddlers as well as a chip in her varnish in the back (around one of the access holes) from where she tipped over and fell on to the edge of a piano.

    I would appreciate any information you can provide to get me on the right path.

    Thank you,
    Veronica Kleckner

    Participant
    talfryn on #260329

    Hello Veronica,
    Yes I can relate to the shock when a metal string breaks bringing it up to pitch, I have experienced it a few times and I am sure it’s shortened my life expectancy. There’s a lot of energy released when this happens. But don’t be put off strings break, you will see this discussed a lot on this and other forums.
    There are a few tricks I use when build or repairing harps. I have no experience with the Salvi Ana, but these are pretty generic suggestions.

    1. Check the tuning pins, bridge pins and sound board eyelets, to see if there are any sharp edges touching the strings, if there are lightly use fine sandpaper or a needle file to smooth the sharp edges.
    2. Most importantly, if your frequently breaking strings when replacing them don’t bring them up to pitch immediately. When I am stringing a new Harp I bring them up to half an octave lower then each day bring them up a note or two in about 4 days then Harp will be up to pitch, it takes longer to get a stable tuning. For replacing strings you can bring them up to pitch sooner but I have the habit to always tune them a couple of notes short.
    3. I also use a bit a pencil lead on the bridge pins where I have strings breaking at the bridge pins, just take a soft pencil sand off some of the nib and apply it where the string touches the bride pin, in the groove between the sting and the pin.
    Strings stretch particularly when new and especially nylon and carbon strings, so be patient bringing them up to pitch. They will stabilise after a few days.
    As for the bumps and scratches if they are cosmetic don’t worry too much, normal furniture renovation techniques can normally be used. You do need to be sure that the soundboard isn’t structurally damaged, if your concerned try posting some photos..
    Hopefully this helps
    Talfryn

    Participant
    Veronica Kleckner on #260331

    Thank you so much! This is very helpful. We have some graphite that I’ll use on the pins and I’ll follow your tuning procedure!

    Participant
    balfour-knight on #260350

    Hello Veronica and Talfryn,

    All great suggestions, Talfryn. Veronica, have you tried finding a harp technician in your area who could just restring and regulate this harp for you? I know you said that about the store in Madison, but there may be a harp tech who travels to someplace near where you live, to regulate harps. They are used to strings breaking and are not afraid of restringing. They also can examine the harp for any weaknesses or reasons that the strings are breaking. After a good restringing and regulation, it is much easier for the harp owner to maintain the harp, and you should not have too much breakage after that for a nice long period. Sometimes, I have had a brand new string break soon after I put it on, but I just get another one and go from there. If that happened to the harp tech, he would just put on another one, also.

    I hope this might help you cope with bringing this lovely harp “back to life.”

    Harp Hugs,
    Balfour

    Participant
    Rachel on #260407

    Hi, it looks like there is a harp technician who regularly comes to Milwaukee, WI. You might want to check with him: http://mossharpservice.com/calendar/
    Also, as a side note, if you are not yet a member of the Madison Folk Harp Society, you can get on the email list (there is no cost) here: https://www.madharpers.org/contact-us/

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