Is there a way to determine what strings are currently on a second hand harp if an owner does not remember what was used? I am not talking so much what material but what make (Bow Brand vs Savarez vs Camac etc.)
From the question phrasing, I’m assuming you are talking about a concert pedal harp with gut strings. The below applies only to this specific case.
It would be harp to know exactly. The colors from Bow, Savarez, and Camac are slightly different shades, but they also vary within the line from batch to batch.
You could possibly take a micrometer and gauge them and compare against a string chart hoping for a match. Bow has three gauge sequences: Light, Standard, and Heavy. Camac has several also. And the tolerance for each string is fairly wide. You might only make it more confusing.
Camac harps and string scales are a bit different from Bow (L&H/Salvi), meaning that changing brands should need a regulation after. I don’t recall which scale Savarez follows on their gut strings.
Backing up a bit, and knowing how much a set of strings costs, it is odd to me that an owner wouldn’t remember. Either 1) they have been using whatever was at hand for replacements, or 2) they are not keeping spares in the same brand. Either of these may throw the regulation off as broken strings are replaced with ones of different diameter. A third possibility is that it has been so long ago (or never) since a complete restring. In either case, you will need to restring to match manufacturers specs (unless you know you want to change gauge and why you want to) and have the harp regulated.
As a closing note, I’d say that the brand (not scale) of the string is the _least_ important thing in the sound of the harp. Restringing with a different brand won’t cure a terrible sound. Restringing with a different scaling/gauge _might_ help with a weak/loud/bright/dull octave or range, matching it in better to the rest of the harp, but that is all. Age of strings, particularly wires, can make the entire instrument dull dead-sounding; restringing with new will help that.
Pay attention to any other issues that the harp may have first, they all cost more to fix than replacing strings.
I think the owner just had a harp tech restring it. I got the impression the harp hadn’t been played in a while. I own the harp now and am just looking to buy a backup set but the owner couldn’t tell me. It’s a Camac which I think makes things a bit more confusing since Camac seems to make 3 different brands of strings (Vanderbilt, Camac Classique, and Premier) and the Camac branded one seems much more expensive so I am struggling to pick the most appropriate strings to use as backups.
Ask the owner who the harp tech was, then ask him/her. They should have records.
Vanderbilt are gauged to match Bow gauges–they are not interchangable with Camac gauges. Camac harps are designed for the Camac gauge, from their branded strings. Premier is a different gauge–close to Bow, but might require regulation. On a Camac, best bet is it is Camac branded strings.
But ask the tech to be sure.
If that fails, you can get/borrow a micrometer and gauge them out, matching to the Camac/Premier/Vanderbilt scale gauge from their respective websites. Camac branded strings are sized in metric, so if you are in the US, you will want a metric reading micrometer to save a lot of conversion. Any machinist, even an occasional hobbyist, will have a micrometer.
I would ask the previous harp owner who the tech is that worked on your harp. Email the tech and ask if you can make a phone appointment to discuss the harp in your possession. You could then find out any information. I would also get copies of any service records. If this is not possible, I would contact Camac or a Camac dealer to find out which strings to use and change them all. Then you know where you starting from.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Gretchen Cover.
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