Broken tuning pin

  • Participant
    talfryn on #257198

    Hello Indra,
    I feel your frustration, when straightforward jobs turn complicated it can be disappointing. It does seem from the photos that you have the wrong size tuning pin from L&H, at first i thought you may have just not engaged the pin deep enough but looking at you second photo you have pushed it in far enough. I would suggest you contact Lyon & Healy again with your photos. It is probably that L&H have changed the pin diameter, or maybe the taper angle. Be sure to keep the broken pin safe so you have a reference to compare against. Hopefully someone with more L&H experience on this forum can shed some light on the different pin variants used by L&H. Don’t try and force this pin to work, it’s best to be sure you have the correct pin at first before taking more complicated steps.
    The important dimensions on the tuning pin are the diameter, taper angle and length, only the length seems equivalent on the photos…

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 6 days ago by talfryn.
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 6 days ago by talfryn.
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 6 days ago by talfryn.
    Indra Prabowo on #257202

    Hello @talfryn,
    Thank you for your kind words and understanding.
    Based on your suggestion, I’ll write an email to L&H concerning this problem.
    While waiting their answer, I wonder if I can just insert something to the hole to hold the tuning pin.
    If I do have to reorder a new tuning pin, should I just order a 6th octave tuning pin instead?


    talfryn on #257203

    Hello Indra
    I am not aware of an easy solution to make this work, others may have some suggestions, but the pin taper and diameter has to match the hole taper and diameter. So you need to be careful not to damage the hole on the neck.
    There are solutions if you can’t find a replacement pin you can get a custom pin made maybe re ream the hole, but I recommend if it gets to that you should get a harp technician or luthier to help you.
    The first thing to do is to get the correct pin from L+H then you should be fine. It means waiting for the new pin.
    Unfortunately I have no experience of L+H, my harps are either Camac or homemade, so I can’t suggest the right size, maybe others on the forum can enlighten us…

    charles-nix on #257204

    No need for custom pin. Send the photos to L&H. I think all L&H pins are Morse taper, which is common worldwide.

    I would use a stiff tubing brush (nylon or brass) in the hole, or at least blow out with compressed air. Do not ream or alter the hole.

    After cleaning, and before ordering a pin, that pin projection looks borderline for just shimming–and you can try that without harming the harp.

    Obtain a piece of fine wet or dry silicon carbide sandpaper, something like P320 or P400. Cut a piece nearly as wide as the neck is thick. Trim the piece so that it will roll up and slip into the hole–WITHOUT OVERLAPPING. The piece will not be rectangular, because it rolls up into a taper shape. The ends do not have to meet, but they shouldn’t overlap, at least at first. Roll the paper WITH THE ABRASIVE OUT–toward the neck, and the paper backing toward the pin. Slip into the hole, and get it seated, then put the pin in.

    If the pin does not go in far enough to string on the other side, remove the pin, and the paper, trim the paper down, and try again. The paper should be nearly from one side of the neck to the other, but not visible. The pin will seat a little deeper after it is tuned a few times, so leave it a little short of where you want it to end up.

    If that works, you don’t need a new pin, and it will be fine for years. If not, you might try some overlap on the paper, which might help, or might not hold the pin firmly. In any case you won’t hurt anything if you orient the abrasive toward the wood, and don’t glue anything.

    The backing on that paper is pretty tough stuff, much more so than any regular paper, and the fine abrasive on the outside keeps the shim in place so the pin turns inside the neck/shim.

    If that doesn’t work, take a picture of the pin with it firmly seated as if it were holding string tension, and send to L&H. They can determine what pin is needed. Pins come in 1/4 inch length increments, and in Morse Taper sizes usually #4 and #5, with some #3 and #6. Going to a larger taper will make a LOT of difference. I’m guessing much more difference that the little bit of extra length you are showing.

    Indra Prabowo on #257209

    Dear @talfryn & @charles-nix, thank you for your comments.
    I have emailed and So far I have just received a reply from where I purchased the pin, inquiring my harp type & serial number. Hopefully it will bring good news for me.
    Unfortunately in Indonesia we don’t have harp technician neither harp luthier. You have to become your own technician.That said, every of your suggestions is very helpful for me.

    , I will likely try on your suggestion of inserting a piece of sandpaper to the hole with the abrasive on outer side, but I will wait for different option if there any from other member in this forum.
    Thank you so much and have a nice day.


    balfour-knight on #257251

    Hello, Indra,

    In my opinion, I believe that L&H sent you the wrong size tuning pin. Since it will take so long for you to order and receive the correct size pin, I would agree with what Charles told you about using the fine sand-paper to fix this problem. You could even just use fine paper, cut to a small wedge-shape taper like the tuning pin, a little shorter than the length of the hole. Place the paper “wedge” in the hole, then insert the tuning pin, being careful to not dislodge the paper. Put your tuning key on the pin and turn it in and tighten it, to see if you used too much, or too little, paper. After your “fit” is correct by how much of the pin is sticking out on the string-winding side, install the string. It may work just as well as a larger pin would, and save you much time.

    Best of luck with this,

    Indra Prabowo on #257253

    Thank you @balfour for your supportive suggestion. L&H did sent me the supposedly right tuning pin, but they actually do have a slightly wider size for some harps.
    They are sending me the replacement at no cost. It is a very nice experience with L&H.
    Now I just have to wait for about a month and hopefully the replacement pin will fit the hole. But in case it wouldn’t, I already know what to do.
    Best wishes for you, I’m very glad to join this supportive group.


    charles-nix on #257254

    If you need the string/harp, there is no reason not to shim the pin you have, use it for a month, and then put the replacement in when it arrives. (or the next time you restring)

    You can unwind the gut 5A and rewind it on the new pin without damaging the string.

    Shimming a pin is very common to get the fit just right–even on new harps.

    Indra Prabowo on #257257

    @charles-nix, I supposed waiting for a month wouldn’t be a problem for me. Right now I feel to have aversion toward any chance to make another mess with the harp. However I’m very thankful for your suggestion and will do it if the replacement still doesn’t fit.


    wil-weten on #257331

    Silkgut is nylgut with dimensions for Salvi lever harps with celtic tension, so, not the kind of strings you’d like for your L&H pedal gut strung Prelude.

    As to Camac Nylgut strings (which are being made by Aquila), their diameters are published on the Camac website at the pdf you find in one of the links at:

    Now, beware that the measures of Bow Brand pedal gut are not exactly the same as those of Camac pedal gut, and this may have consequences for the diameters of the Camac nylgut which are thought of as a cheap replacement for Camac pedal gut strings.

    Frankly, I find nylgut rather acceptable for strings of middle C and higher: a bit more bright, a tiny bit less rich. Below the middle C, those strings sound duller and duller, even on a large harp as a L&H Prelude, but I don’t know whether the nylon replacement for gut that L&H uses, would sound better. I guess below middle C carbon strings would sound better, but as they should be thinner than the diameters of the pedal gut strings (as their tension is too high when the same diameter would be used) this may have consequences for the levers, perhaps having them regulated is enough, perhaps you will need a few new levers, I frankly don’t know, but LH might advise you on this.

    Indra Prabowo on #257333

    Hello @wil-weten, thank you for remind me that nylgut is suited for Celtic tension.
    Indeed, that was the main reason why I want to change my string setting on my Prelude.
    When I wrote that posting, I was in beginning process of relearning the harp after a long hiatus. It took some times to develop strength and calluses for me to practice on the harp comfortably.
    When I took harp lesson 10 years ago, I played on my teacher’s Salvi Electra. I remember clearly that compared with my Prelude, playing the Salvi Electra was easier on my hand. The tension was looser, and each notes sounded pretty without much effort. She never answered clearly what type of string she used, but I remember that the C’s and F’s on that Electra is rather transparent red and dark blue, compared with my Prelude with opaque black and red from Bow Brand String. Now I think of that, I suspect that perhaps she used nylon strings as she told me that she rarely have a string breakage on her harp.
    At that time I though after 10 years perhaps the string tension on my Prelude will be less tight but time proved that I was wrong.
    To add my confusion, I did change several 3rd octaves gut string to nylon with expectation that it will make playing the harp easier. I feel that the tension is not so different with gut string and I have to sacrifice the beautiful gut string sound.
    So that is the reason why I want to ‘taste’ what nylgut string will feel and sound.
    Perhaps this should be on new topic then.


    wil-weten on #257335

    Sorry, I wasn’t clear above.

    The Bow Brand Silkgut (made by Aquila) is nylgut with dimensions for Salvi lever harps.

    The Camac Nylgut (also made by Aquila) is meant for pedal gut strung harps.

    If it is possible to use an electric dehumidifier for your harp room and keep the humidity between 40-60% this would spare you a lot of gut strings, risks to the wood and corrosion of the pins. I use a Qlima in summer, as where I live, the summers are pretty moist. Due to the dry circumstances in winter, I use a humidifier in winter. In my case that’s is a Venta airwasher.

    I googled the Salvi Electra and I discovered it is a vintage concert grand pedal harp.

    Supposedly, if the harp was the harp was strung with Bow Brand pedal gut (which is rather usual), there may be several reasons why the strings felt less tight. That could have to do with the strings of the grand pedal harp being longer. Yes, this sounds contradictory, but this is what my teacher told me several years ago, and there’s a logical explanation for it, which I can’t reproduce at the moment.

    Another factor may be that as it is a much larger harp with a much larger and broader soundboard, even a little pluck may result in a big sound, where you really have to squeeze hard for a big sound on a smaller harp.

    Indra Prabowo on #257344

    Your explanation seems very logical, that longer string will have less tension and bigger frame of the harp equals bigger sound, less effort needed.
    I have no objection of the Prelude’s sound quality but I wish it can be played with less effort.
    Thank you for suggesting the dehumidifier. Here a Stadtler electric dehumidifier from Switzeeland costs about 400 USD. I’m still saving money for it. After realized how bad the damp climate affected the tuning pins, I conclude that having a dehumidifier is a must.


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