Changing Pedal Felts?

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    Aria on #199577

    I had my Venus Pedal Harp professionally regulated a year and a half ago.   I live 3 hours from the nearest major city.   So although there are quite a few harp technicians that live in, or travel to those cities,  there are none that come to my area.  Trying to get someone here last time was like pulling teeth!   And I got lucky the last time, as the technician that came to me happened to be 7 hours away, and was willing to drive all that way!!!!    But I don’t know when the next time is coming that I will be that fortunate.    I am not a professional harpist.  But I do play at least an hour or more on a daily basis.  I’ve been heavily practicing repertoire that has a lot of rigorous pedal changes.   So now,  some of my pedal felts are starting to shred.   Others are really packed down with obvious deep dents.    I have all the materials to change the pedal felts myself and lots of instructions and resources on how to do it.    So I feel confident that I can do it.    What I don’t understand, is how will this affect the regulation once I change the felts?    Really,  I could use a total regulation.  But as I said, it’s not possible at the moment.    Should I just go ahead and change the felts though?    Or…….  is there some way to learn how to do the regulation myself?    Again, I’d hire someone if I could.   But as I said, my options are pretty limited so I need to get creative here.    Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    charles-nix on #199579

    I expect you will get some other responses with more experience–but I am in the same situation.  2 hours  from any major city. I am in southeast US.  I learned (and still am learning) how to do it myself.  Read and understand Steve Moss’s maintenance columns which you can find with a google search. Get a copy of Carl Swanson’s book and thoroughly understand everything in it.  I found that understanding what to do was insufficient–that an understanding of why was essential–a lot of regulation adjustments can be accomplished more  than one way, and knowing which way would be best was the hardest part. Then be prepared to invest in proper tools and equipment, including a really accurate strobe tuning machine (like a Peterson 450, 550, or 590), and hollow ground screwdrivers (so you won’t slip and scratch the wood or brass or mess up the screw heads).  Also, if you are regulating, you will probably break some disc retaining screw heads off, so you  will have to extract the screw shank from the spindle and replace the screw without damaging the harp.  I drape a pad over the soundboard beside the strings just in case you drop a tool.

    Not that technicians with years of experience might not do things differently–these are just what I do.

    If your felts were replaced with the last regulation, then replacing them should, in theory, put your regulation back closer than it is now–all other things, like string wear, being equal. You will really need to pull tightly on the felt when it is put on to pack it as much as possible. Be sure you wrap in the correct direction for the left and right pedals. And go ahead and check for string wear before you start: you want to get any string replacement done before you regulate. You may end up with the regulation coming back close to where it was a year and a half ago.

    If you don’t like the regulation after you finish, then you can decide what to do.  IMO, unless you mess up the felt replacement, you will only be closer than where you are now, and not worse.

    There are some real experts on this board; maybe someone else will give further advice.

    Charles Nix


    Aria on #199620

    Thank you for your reply Charles.   I do have Carl’s book and intend to read it before I begin, along with some other resources.  Beyond that, your post was very helpful to me.   I feel a lot more confident about just going ahead with the Pedal Felt change.  Then I’ll worry about the regulation later, if it is really needed.    I have lots of research to do and I’ll check out the resources you mentioned.   I really wish someone would offer a special training (just for harpists) on how to do this stuff at home.   It sure would be helpful for those of us who don’t have access to a certified technician.  .   Thanks again!

    teifiharps on #199758

    Hi Aria,
    Changing pedal felts certainly isn’t too hard. Do you have a glue gun?

    Sylvia on #199763

    I don’t have a glue gun.  I use felt glue I get at Walmart.  Once I even used Elmer’s.

    teifiharps on #199896

    Being here in the UK I can’t vouch for the Walmart glue or the Elmers but you should be able to cut the felts off next time it needs doing. People used to cross stitch them years ago!

    I should have also said, changing the pedal felts will inevitably change the distance traveled to the mechanism. In theory you would think that re-felting with same thickness felt would take  you back to the previous regulation settings but the reality is there there is a lot of mechanism which needs fine adjustment. This is why a re-felt and a regulation normally go together – you can re-felt but there is not guarantee the regulation will be accurate.

    seikaharp on #200239

    We were taught how to change pedal felts at Indiana University in our harp tech class. If there’s anything I would feel confident about doing on my own without a technician, it’s changing my own felts. It’s something that needs to be patiently learned, but certainly doable and worth the time to figure out if you can gather the materials- especially when harp techs are hard to come by. In the end it’s actually not that complicated.

    This website has a decent explanation:

    If you have any specific questions of the process, feel free to ask me.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #200844

    I have not used hot glue yet, but I have always preferred stitching my felts, as they need no drying time. It’s a bit arduous, though. You need a very strong needle, heavy thread, and a thimble!

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