can you polish bridge pins and discs ?

  • Participant
    mike-c on #74264

    First off I want to thank everyone who volunteers on this site to answer questions, especially for n00bs like me. I’ve only been playing for about 6 months now, and the advice and information I’ve received on this site has been indispensable and has contributed to my first experience playing an instrument being so positive ( that along with harps just being an all-around awesome instrument !).

    I have a venus 46 string pedal harp, about 15 years old. I recently got it regulated, which may have been the only regulation it’s ever had, at least within the last 10 years.

    carl-swanson on #74265

    Don’t even THINK of polishing anything with the action assembled. All you’ll do is get brass polish all over the place, get streaky polish lines on everything, and make everything tarnish that much faster when you’re done. In addition, you run a high risk of getting brass polish, which is corrosive, into the joints of moving parts. The polish will corrode and rust any steel it touches, which means all of the screws, the spindles that the discs are screwed on to. etc.

    As part of my harp rebuilding business I regularly overhaul harp actions. I can take an old tarnished action and make it shine like a cadillac hood ornament, but to do that I have to completely disassemble the action. I send the brass discs and adjustable nuts out to be gold plated. I don’t polish them. Chances are the new discs on your harp are gold plated too, not polished. I have a long proceedure for polishing the action plates to a high shine, and when I’m done I spray them with a special metal lacquer so that they stay bright and shiny for years to come with good care. I meticulously clean all brass polish out of the 225 holes in the front plate before spraying them, and then regrease and oil the moving parts and joints so the action will move smoothly when I’m done. I can’t tell you how many times i have worked on actions that some well meaning person tried to polish and it made an awful mess. If you want a shiny action, then hire a professional who knows what he is doing to do it for you.

    john-strand on #74266

    Hi Mike – glad you are enjoying your harp playing – they are quite the fascinating instrument –

    As to polishing discs – at this point in your career, I would have to vote a big time resounding “no” – and here’s why – you have just had the instrument regulated (and probably at no small expense) and by going after the individual discs, you risk knocking your harp badly out of regulation or possibly even breaking one of the little “fingers” – for now, I would suggest that you just look at the action plate as having more than a few miles on it and just enjoy the variations – just keep it well dusted –

    My harps are all over 20 years old and I have in the past

    barbara-low on #74267

    I know what you mean by wanting the action plates and discs shiny and new looking again, but as Carl has already stated, the action pretty much has to be taken apart to do the job properly. And its a big job that entails removing all the strings, disconnecting the pedal rods from the action, dropping the action off of the neck, unscrewing all the discs, stationary and adjustable nuts, all the back plate screws and finally all the screws that hold the action plates in place. Then everything has to be put back in place, the action zeroed out and then the harp regulated. It’s a big, expensive job.

    I’m waiting to have my action plates and discs done when I have my action reriveted. I believe mosts harps have their ‘hardware’ polished up then because everything has to come apart anyway for the reriveting.


    catherine-rogers on #74268

    And of course, having your harp disassembled to have this (unnecessary) work done will be very expensive, you will not have the harp during the weeks to have it done, and it will need another regulation after being put back together. This is “major” surgery.

    Next time you have your harp regulated, you could ask the technician if he or she can swap out those shiny gold discs for an older brass one so they’ll all match. Just a thought, if you prefer the action to look consistent. The important thing is not how it looks but how it sounds.

    Or you could get some brown model paint from a craft store, remove the strings from the gold discs, and daub on some paint with a tiny brush or Q-tip so the gold is less obvious (don’t get any on the pins).

    Harps are like people: as we age, a lot of our “bits” don’t match anymore!

    tony-morosco on #74269

    It would be nice but it is a lot of work that needs to be done by a professional. I would wait until some time you needed some major work done anyway.

    On my lever harp I did once, after about 15 years, remove and polish the tuning pins, but that is a much different thing than polishing anything related to the action on a pedal harp.

    Personally I wouldn’t touch the action on a pedal harp if you paid me. Too much that could go wrong. It’s a job for a professional and best done in conjunction with necessary work.

    Think of it this way, it gives your harp character. These little imperfections tell the story of an instrument that has been used and played and has a history. So long as it doesn’t effect the way it plays then just consider it a map of it’s history like our own scars and imperfections that crop up over the years.

    mike-c on #74270

    I think the consensus is pretty clear on this one. Thank you to everyone who took the time to reply. I feel so badly for the people who lived before this information age where experienced people can amass knowledge and share it with the less enlightened so quickly. Harps are so intricate, complex, and counter-intuitive that there’s just no other way to know these things.

    I liked the last poster who mentioned that we all have our scars and imperfections from the hands of time. I suppose I can accept that and look beyond the desire for “luster”, despite having sunk a lustrous penny into my instrument.

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