Double Strung Lowest String

  • Participant
    tinyknit on #241948

    Hello! I am planning to purchase a small, relatively inexpensive double strung harp. I’ve formerly had a Flatsicle and presently have a Ravenna 34. I did not enjoy the loose tension and tight spacing of the Flatsicle as compared to the Ravenna.

    In looking at double strung harps in my price range, I came upon the 22 (44) string Stoney End Brittany and Brea models. I like the one lower note that the Brea has, and the fact that the last string won’t be clear. Does anyone have any suggestions that could help me choose between these two? Or, is there another harp that I should consider instead?

    Thank you!

    Participant
    Biagio on #242057

    I don’t know the Brea and it is not listed on Stoney End’s website. I found a “Brea” on Hobgoblin and that appears to be a Brittany but fully levered. Be that as it may, the Brittany can be string G-G or F-F and the latter would be somewhat higher tension than the other.

    It’s too bad that there are few people making doubles. The Brittany is popular but you should be aware that levers will cost extra: full levers on both sides would add about $800-$1000 to the base price.

    Personally I would keep my eyes open for used doubles; people will buy one and decide it’s not for them. Stoney End, Rees, Dusty Strings all have good reputations. I used to make a 2×23 and sent the plans to Musicmakers but have not heard whether they have decided to offer it.

    Biagio

    Participant
    tinyknit on #242061

    Thank you, Biagio. Looking for used double strung harps is a great idea! I’ll give that a try.

    Participant
    evolene_t on #242253

    Hello Linda, this is a great question!

    @ Biagio, although the Brea does not appear on the Stoney End website, I believe Carolyn Deal sells the Brea model as an alternative to the Britanny, the same way the “Loralea” model resembles the Lorraine but with 1 or 2 strings difference.
    here is an example of the Brea :

    Tracie Lin Brea Composition

    I personally have not had a chance to play any Stoney End double-strung harps. I do, however, have the Dusty Strings FH26 in double-strung. The lowest string there is the Low C one octave below middle C.
    Link – Dusty FH26 Double-Strung

    I find that I use this lowest C a lot, as well as the D next to it. I’ve even cheated a little and strung it in C on the left-hand side, but in B on the right-hand side to use once in a while!
    (When I lift the lever, it reverts back to C since, of course, there is only a half-tone between B and C).

    I think it will boil down to what you think you will use the most : does your repertoire contain a lot of Fs, F#s or Gs on the left hand? How high does your right hand usually go?
    If you find that you have a lot of songs that necessitate using F chords, then that might help you choose.
    You want to look into transposition too, since these harps are quite small, but you will have a lot of freedom thanks to the double row of strings.
    The fun of the double-strung is that one can always adapt, improvise and “cheat” with sheet music to create wonderful new patterns!

    I believe (but this is subjective and very much based on my own practice) that if I had to choose, I would take the Brea over the Britanny, since I play with more strings in the middle-range than in the high-pitch range.
    I’m also pretty sure that whichever harp you end up choosing, you will love it completely!

    Good luck in your research and do keep up update on your choice!

    Participant
    Biagio on #242255

    Haven’t looked at the “Lorelea” Evolene but I would bet that it, like the “Brea” differs by the range, not the number of strings. This relates to something that is useful for harpers to know: within reason a folk harp’s range can be changed if you prefer something other than what comes “standard”.

    Most harp makers don’t exactly advertise this – it opens up more questions than they want to deal with. Some do though: for example Rees offers an option of a low C or a low A on their Aberdeen Meadows.

    Bottom line: the Brea is the Britanny with a different string set: take a look:

    https://www.hobgoblin-usa.com/local/sales/products/GX60048/stoney-end-brea-double-strung-harp-truitt/

    WRT Stoney End doubles in general: Gary Stone angles the two rows in to the SB, whereas others keep the two rows more or less parallel. Some double players don’t like that as they find it confusing at first. On the other hand (little pun there) you get used to it and it certainly makes construction easier.

    Gary also uses a Finnish laminate SB whereas the Rees and Dustys are solid wood, which makes the Stoney Ends less expensive in materials. Personally I don’t believe there is much of an acoustic advantage to using solid wood over laminate in a harp that size.

    Edit: Some members may recall that a few years ago I worked out a string set for a Stoney End double with one side a fourth lower than the other. That’s a pretty extreme example – the point however is that it can be done “within reason.” Id est do not vary the tension from the original and make any necessary adjustments (bridge pins, grommets, levers) for string diameter.

    Biagio

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by Biagio.
    Participant
    tinyknit on #242258

    Thank you, Evolène! My teacher is getting the Dusty Strings double strung soon. So maybe I should wait to see and hear hers. Not sure I can afford that model, but I think it is a wonderful harp.

    Thanks for the advice on the F string. That’s the route I’ll go if I can’t swing a higher priced double strung. I had thought of the Lorelei, but I’d be sad to go back to the tighter string spacing.

    Participant
    tinyknit on #242259

    Biagio, you make some excellent points! I wasn’t aware of the angled strings. Maybe I’d better see one in person. My husband and I were thinking of getting one “in the white” so I am now wondering if that would make the conversion to including a lower range of strings a possibility (like starting at the C one octave below middle C rather than the F). I will try to find your old string substitution post.

    Thank you again!

    Participant
    brook-boddie on #242264

    Hi Linda,
    I have a custom-made double-strung Brittany for sale if you might be interested. It has levers on the B’s, C’s, and F’s, along with the third-octave G on the right side. It’s a superb harp in every regard, but just a bit too small for my 6’4″ frame and large hands. I’ll try to include a picture. The harp has a very nice sound for its size. Contact me if you’d like more info.

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    Participant
    tinyknit on #242267

    Yes, brook-boddie, I’d be interested in learning more. Not sure how to contact you though. Thanks!

    Participant
    brook-boddie on #242268

    Hi Linda,
    I’m not sure this website will allow me to share my email address with you, but I’ll try it here and see. If it doesn’t, you can send me a private message. I’ll check and see if this posts with my email, but if it doesn’t, I’ll send you a private message. Thanks! nelsonbrook33@gmail.com

    Participant
    Biagio on #242269

    You might also be interested in a Rees that Laurie Riley is helping to sell – I’m thinking of the walnut Mariposa, which would be in line with the cost of a Dusty:

    Double Strung Harps for Sale – Used

    Biagio

    Participant
    tinyknit on #242270

    Beautiful harps, Biagio. I can’t swing that kind of money now, but will have to save up awhile for a $3,000+ harp. Thank you again!

    Participant
    Biagio on #242273

    Not meaning to throw you more curves Linda but what the heck. If your husband has a workshop you could easily design and build a double for a lot less than any we have been discussing. A double is actually easier to build than a single since you don’t have to deal with side string torque, The only “tricky” part is working out the string plan and I can give you that. You would need to buy Jerry Brown’s Folk Harp Design and Construction book ($49.95) and of course wood and hardware. https://www.harpkit.com/folk-harp-design

    I figure a double 23 (G-a) would cost between $250 and $500 before levers (lower cost for a ply construction like the Stoney End, higher for one in cherry like a Rees).

    I actually have plans and construction guide for that. Let me know if you and your husband are interested.

    Biagio

    Participant
    tinyknit on #242274

    wow! That is a lot to think about, Biagio! We don’t have a workshop, but it’s an interesting idea. I should probably try out some double strung harps and see if there are particular models that I prefer. Thanks again 🙂

    Participant
    evolene_t on #242292

    Lots to unpack here, as usual!

    @ Biagio, regarding the construction of your own harp : I had contacted Stoney End a few years ago for their harp kits, and was advised to know quite a bit of woodwork before undertaking such a project. Combining the harp fabrication with the process of learning the double-strung too can be a little overwhelming, I think!

    @ Linda, yes, the double-string harps come in two kinds of models :
    On the one hand, you have Dusty and Rees harps who have two parallel rows of strings.
    Then you have the Stoney End model who are more “V shaped” : they start quite close on the soundboard (perhaps they even come out of the same holes?) and spread out.

    I’ve never had the chance to play with the Stoney End models, as my Dusty harp is the only double-strung model that (as far as I’m aware) exists here in France. So I’m not sure how different it feels.


    @Biagio
    again, thank you for linking the Rees Mariposas for sale! They do seem to be on the more expensive side of lever harps, but I wasn’t aware that many had been made.

    Gary also uses a Finnish laminate SB whereas the Rees and Dustys are solid wood, which makes the Stoney Ends less expensive in materials. Personally I don’t believe there is much of an acoustic advantage to using solid wood over laminate in a harp that size.

    Again, I can’t compare with Stoney End harps, but my Bubinga DS harp has an impressive sound, that easily matches and sometimes overpowers larger 34-strings or 36-strings Camac harps. I think the sympathetic vibrations have something to do with that!

    Some members may recall that a few years ago I worked out a string set for a Stoney End double with one side a fourth lower than the other. That’s a pretty extreme example – the point however is that it can be done “within reason.” Id est do not vary the tension from the original and make any necessary adjustments (bridge pins, grommets, levers) for string diameter.

    I had forgotten about that! That was a great project with very interesting inputs. The result would be a very unique harp! I believe it would take some time to get used to that though.

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