Difference between curved and straight soundboard

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    alan-cross on #201295

    Title says it all.

    Id like to know the difference between the two soundboards. I always thought it was just for looks but is there an actual difference between the two besides looks?

    Does it take a different technique or feel to play? Do they sound different? Maintenence? Does one wear faster than another?

    Feed me knowledge community!

    alan-cross on #201296

    This is assuming everything else about the harp is identical. Only the soundboard is different.

    Biagio on #201303

    Sorry I’m not understanding, but curved in which dimension?

    Curved across the body serves to have the belly “built in” and by all accounts should produce more projection and resonance than if it were straight.

    Curved laterally, toward the player, allows you to have a straighter neck and avoids some of the builder annoyance in the transition range from monofilament to wound strings.  The board will also be in static tension before stringing, which should have some effect on better tone, but I cannot say how much.

    Ergonomically, it might be easier to play as well.


    alan-cross on #201305

    I mean curved like the soundboard curved away from the player. Where the strings and soundboard meet.

    But i think you answered my question. I was just confused what was the differences and why folks prefer one over the other.

    teifiharps on #201363

    Hi Alan,

    Soundboards will curve away from the player naturally over time due to the tension exerted by the strings and will need to be replaced usually every 40 years or so. A bulging soundboard is not a ‘design feature’ it is in fact, wear and tear. This is why harps need regulation – the speaking length of the string from the bridge pin to eyelet in the soundboard is constantly changing.

    There are design choices that can be made in terms of the thickness of the soundboard, which affects tone but this is due to how hard you have to work to get a sound, not due to the arc of the board.



    Sylvia on #201710

    I understood that it refers to the outside edges of the board….as in, larger harps have curved edges.  Mine is an LH 15 straight soundboard.  I always heard that the curved-edge (larger) boards pulled up in the middle much more than the straight.  Mine was built in ’71 and has no noticeable pullup.

    andy-b on #201762

    I wonder if Alan is referring to the difference between a straight soundboard and an extended soundboard (the extended soundboard looks like a big teardrop if you’re looking at the harp from the front)? If so, the extended soundboard usually has increased resonance and a bigger volume than the straight soundboard, but is more likely to “pull up” in the middle due to pull from the strings.


    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #204896

    A harp with a curved, or extended sounding board, has a fuller bass and generally rounder tone quality, due to its shape. A straight or narrrow sounding board is a little more nasal and sharper sounding with less bass presence.

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