Double-strung harp string breakage?

Posted In: Mine' s a triple!

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    evolene_t on #211065

    Good morning to all,

    I have recently acquired a Dusty String Double Strung harp : the FH26 in double. Unfortunately, a string recently broke – as strings do. It happens to be the bottom “C” (red) string on the right hand side.
    Of course, I intend to replace it but it is not a string I use at the moment. Since it is the very lowest string, I usually only play that note on the left-hand side. In consequence, I was intending to leave it as-is for a while, before my next trip to the City where I can buy this string model.

    However, it has just occurred to me that this is a double-strung harp : this means that the tension is usually equal on both side of the harp seing as there are two set of strings. Because of the breakage, the tension must now be uneven on the sounding board.
    Do I risk damaging my harp if I l only replace the string in a few months? I have no notion of luthery and I was wondering if the soundboard could twist or become warped because of the unbalance.

    I haven’t been able to find the answer on various “double-strung harp” forums (some of you may have seen my post on the Dusty Strings forum). I realise this is an important point to take into account for anyone considering purchasing a double-strung.

    Should I get a new string shipped out as soon as possible? If so, should I consider ordering others straight away? Is the left-hand side “C” (red) string also at greater risk now?

    Thank you in advance for your answers!

    wil-weten on #211098

    I am not technically qualified to answer this question, but as part of the fun of playing the double harp is the (quiet) sounding along of the ‘sister’ strings, I would definitely replace the missing C string as soon as possible.

    As to your question of having spare strings, I do have them for my single row harps, simply because I want to be able to play every day. And because I think that a harp loves being fully stringed.

    I don’t know your situation, but it would not hurt to ask Ray Mooers of Dusty Strings
    at about what would be wisdom in your case.

    evolene_t on #211100

    That you for your answer, wil-weten!
    I actually went straight to the Dusty Strings forum to ask there. Christy from the Dusty String Team answered that although they haven’t done any long-term testing, their double-strung harps are designed to handle extra tension so it should be fine.
    Quite a relief!

    However, if anyone has any input as a maker, or previous experience as double-strung harp owner, don’t hesitate to contribute!

    (I’ll add that I waited a few years before deciding on this type of harp, consulting as much of the literature on the subset as I could find. Seeing how that’s relatively little, it falls upon us to create that knowledge… And that’s one piece of it!)

    Biagio on #211112

    That one string is only applying about 30 lbs. of tension out of about 1000 total and the harp board is further braced down there by the pillar foot. So you should be OK for a while until you can buy a replacement.


    balfour-knight on #211114

    It is a good idea to always have a spare set of strings around for your harp. That way, you can replace them as soon as they break and have time to order a new replacement for the one you just used. Always keep your extra set of strings up-to-date! At least, the nylon strings of the Dusty are not expensive compared to gut ones for the pedal harp and some lever harps.

    Harp Hugs,

    Biagio on #211115

    Wound strings of course, must be ordered, but with monofilament nylon it might be sensible to order the sizes you need in bulk rolls. Then you will have a lifetime’s supply for only a little more than the cost of one cut-to-length set. Sure, you would have to dye the Cs and Fs but that is also very easy.

    There are several ways to dye nylon strings: I find the easiest is to just mix up a batch of Rit fabric dye in a slow cooker set to High (use the commercial grade for red), with a tablespoon of salt as a fixative. Drop in the strings and go away for a couple of hours. Ta-da!


    evolene_t on #211117

    Great advice, Im taking good note!
    However, I’ve also heard that it was a bad idea to buy all of the strings in bulk. The reason being that people tend to replace 5 or 10 years-old strings… with other 5 or 10 years-old strings, that risk breaking just as quickly, and that haven’t been correctly conserved. Better to buy the correct sting at the time when it is needed.

    What do you think?

    balfour-knight on #211234

    Hello, Evolene,

    I agree with Biagio about buying the monofilament nylons in bulk. I have owned, for many years, 25-yard coils made by Vermont Strings in the U.S.A. I store them away from sunlight in plastic bags and have had great success with them over the years, on multiple harps. No aging is apparent, and they last as long as brand new strings, in my opinion. Vermont also makes them in Red and Blue, so you do not have to dye them yourself, even though the colored ones are more expensive.

    I keep an extra set of the wound strings from Dusty Strings for my current lever harp, a beautiful FH36S, and will just replace the ones that break so I keep the set current. To date, only one string has ever broken on this two-year-old harp, the highest G, thank goodness! I usually restring my harps every three years, and have 3 or 4 strings break in between stringings. Also, some strings do go “false,” and I replace them. These are all reasons to have extra strings in stock, from my long experience.

    Hope this helps. Good to hear from Biagio and Wil!

    Hugs and best wishes,

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