Changing the strings

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

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    renate-kvalsvik on #159724

    I have a 34-string lever harp, and just got my new set of strings in the mail yesterday. So excited! But, I have never changed strings before, so I was just wondering where I should start. At the top or the bottom? Can I change all of the strings today, or should I wait after changing some strings until they hold pitch before I change the rest? I would really appreciate any help I could get.

    jennifer-buehler on #159725

    What I’ve been taught is to start from the bottom, change every other string in the bottom octave one at a time.

    Briggsie B. Peawiggle on #159726

    I do the whole harp one string at a time from the bottom up. I slowly bring each string up to pitch, then I take

    catherine-rogers on #159727

    I’m with Briggsie, you certainly can do them all in one day if you have time. I usually change the wires first because they’re the least fun (for me) although they do hold their pitch sooner than other strings. When changing wires, be sure you give each wire at least an octave (preferably an octave and a half) of slack because they don’t stretch like other kinds of strings do. Otherwise you won’t have enough length to get enough windings around the tuning pin and when you try to bring it up to pitch, it’ll break.

    As for the rest, it doesn’t matter whether you start at top or bottom. As you change each string, tune it up to pitch and retune every other new string, too, just as Briggsie suggested.

    String changing time is a good time to gently dust each lever with a soft little brush before installing the new string.

    New strings in the 1st and 2nd octave often come with enough length for two or three uses. For the longer 3rd, 4th and 5th octaves, consider saving the old string if it isn’t too worn, along with its anchoring string tie. Put each one in the packet that held the new string and keep them in a box marked “used,” so you’ll have an emergency backup for temporary use. (I don’t recommend saving old wires; they sound really dull and they’re generally too short to re-use after you take them off, although I know some who have done it.) It is ideal to keep a complete set of new strings on hand if you can afford it. (If not, ask for them for Christmas or your birthday!) Keep them safe from temperature and humidity extremes, just as you do your harp.

    renate-kvalsvik on #159728

    Thank you so much for your help, everyone. I think I’ll change the strings tomorrow, ’cause then I’ll have the whole day to do it. I’m actually a bit nervous, since I’m going from nylon to gut on the 3rd and 4th octaves on recommendation from Bow Brand (we checked with the harpmaker, and they said the harp would be able to withstand it). Should I take more care with these octaves because of this, maybe wait a day or so between changing each of the strings?

    barbara-low on #159729

    There’s no reason to wait between each string change. I found it easiest to take about 3 or 4 strings off at a time, string them through the top of the soundboard, tie the anchor then thread through the tuning pin and pull it up to pitch right away. Then do the same to the other strings.

    I don’t really understand why you have to pull the pitch up slowly, unless the board is fragile and there’s a possibility of it ripping. If the harp is in good structural condition, the strings are nylon, gut or wire wound, there’s no reason to delay in pulling the strings up to pitch right away.

    barbara-brundage on #159730

    What Barbara said.

    barbara-low on #159731

    Just ran this by my HarpTech and he said if you’re really slow at changing strings, you should take them off one at a time. This will keep the board more stable. If you’re fast at changing strings, then you can remove more strings.

    jennifer-buehler on #159732

    Sounds good to me.

    renate-kvalsvik on #159733

    Thanks again! I’ll do it all in one day, then (yay! Can’t wait!). I’ve never done it before, so I think I’ll do them one at a time. I’m so excited to hear if the sound wil be very different than it used to be, though I realise that it will take some time for the new strings to settle.

    renate-kvalsvik on #159734

    …I’m finally finished! Been on it for 13 solid hours, but now my harp has been completely restrung and tuned several times. So far so good, no broken strings (knock on wood) and my harp’s voice has changed drastically! I’ve never heard it sound so resonant and warm! It’s amazing what a difference gut vs nylon can make. I used to be so dissatisfied with the sound of my harp and wanted a new lever harp, but now I’m very happy with my Elysia (that’s her name) and I hope will be happy for her for years until I can save up to buy a pedal harp (not that I’m giving up lever harp, but I want to be able to master both).
    I just wanted to say thanks again for all the help 🙂

    Patti Newson on #159735

    What brand of Gut strings did you use?

    tony-morosco on #159736

    Yeah, the first time you change a full set of strings it takes forever. You will find it much easier and faster as time goes on and you get more practice. When I started it would take me forever to change a single string. Now I can replace a string in no time flat without even thinking about it.

    It all comes with practice.

    renate-kvalsvik on #159737

    My new strings are all Bow Brand. I would say they do sound better than my old ones, but I don’t know what brand my old strings were. They came with the harp.

    Fearghal McCartan on #159738

    Bow Brand is an excellent choice – I have been using them for

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