Etiquette question

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    tgernert on #211228

    Hi! I’m not sure where to put this question, but I have a question concerning harp rental etiquette. I am renting an 85XP for my son, and it is due to be regulated. The owner said she will pay for the regulation, if I buy a new set of strings.

    Is this normal practice? Thank you!

    Gretchen Cover on #211229

    Is this addressed in your contract? On a personal note, I rented a Salzedo concert grand harp for a year while I waited for my new harp. I offered and paid for the harp to be regulated. It was in my interest to keep the harp in good shape since this was a long-term rental and I needed the harp for performing. Plus, I was given a generous price break on the rental. Anything is negotiable.

    I checked on the Vanderbilt music website and a new set of wire strings is about $118.00 and gut strings will set you back $350-420 (I would use Vanderbilt gut or Premier gut strings). Depending on the age and sound of the strings coupled with how advanced/serious a student your son is, you might consider replacing either the gut or the wire strings. Since this is a student harp, this is very subjective. I would discuss the matter further with the instructor. I will be interested to read what others think.

    balfour-knight on #211235

    Hello, Todd (and Gretchen!)

    I would check with the owner to see if a certain brand of strings is preferred. I still love Bow Brand, even with their problems of breakage a while back, and they are willing to work with their customers if the strings do not hold up. I recently inquired and they seem to have the problems worked out. I agree with Gretchen about the Vanderbilt and Premier gut strings being good choices, but do check with the owner, since Lyon and Healy harps are strung with Bow Brand when they are manufactured. Don’t forget the nylon strings in the top octave, Gretchen, ha, ha!

    It is good that the owner will pay for the regulation. That would usually cost from $300. to $350., depending on who does the work. It sounds like a good way to split up the expense of getting new strings and a regulation. By the way, Vanderbilt Strings can provide a complete set of strings for this harp, which saves money over just buying wires, guts or nylons separately.

    Hope this helps. Harp Hugs and Happy Fall,

    charles-nix on #211236

    Bow Brands have been working fine for me, too. They replaced any and all I had, and I hardly ever have a break on current ones, even 2nd octave.

    Your rental agreement should cover what you each agreed to. But when thinking of renting anything else, the owner pays for repairs and maintenance. In theory, this cost should be built into the rental price. You should be paying for replacing strings you break. That would mostly be because of humidity changes or improper tuning, which the owner has no control over.

    If I were to rent a harp, I would expect it to be in proper condition for rental (with reasonably recent strings and good regulation) when I rented it. If you rent a car, would the rental company ask you to buy the parts, and they pay the mechanic for regular service or tune up? If you rent a house, you expect it to be in livable condition, and to be kept in proper repair. You would pay for damages, but not normal upkeep like painting or roof repair or seasonal HVAC service. If you rent a tool it is supposed to work properly for the job–if it doesn’t they bring you another one.

    Are harp rentals somehow different?

    Now, if you got this as a favor, or at a discounted rate, or it is some short-term month-by-month arrangement, maybe it is fair to ask you for part.

    Charles Nix

    catherine-rogers on #211239

    Another consideration is how long you expect to continue renting. If half a year or longer, the new strings are a good investment for your child as the harp will sound better (and they are necessary for a regulation). But if you’re planning to return the harp soon, maybe you won’t get much benefit from new strings and a regulation. I would try to negotiate this cost with the owner. Maybe pay half?

    Sylvia on #211242

    I have never understood why anyone would try to regulate on a new set of strings. I understand harp companies say new strings are necessary because they want to sell strings. They are in business to make money.
    However, new strings stretch, so how can a regulation on new strings be accurate? You regulate, and the strings keep stretching, so that initial adjustment will be wrong and continue to be wrong. Once the strings have stretched and are settled, the initial regulation will not be accurate. It can’t be. If new strings are put on, regulation should not be done until all strings have stretched.
    It’s not etiquette. It’s just common sense.

    Jerusha Amado on #211249

    Hi Sylvia,

    You make an excellent point here.

    One reason, though, that regulators may want clients to change their strings out is when they are dealing with aged strings, ones that are too worn or grooved to regulate properly. Strings that are too old can become “false”, a condition whereby the string cannot vibrate in tune adequately, resulting in bad sound.

    Perhaps what pedal harpists should do is time their regulation right after their new strings have settled. Does anyone have an estimate as to when that would be, on average?

    charles-nix on #211250

    Jerusha, you are absolutely correct. Strings become grooved and won’t regulate. “False” notes can occur even on new strings. If there is any inconsistency in diameter or density along the length of the string it will not vibrate in a regular manner. Overtones may not be in tune with fundamental, or it may have beats when played by itself because it is trying to sound two different pitches at the same time.

    The time to stretch out fully varies with string material and tension. I have mostly worked on lever harps, of all tensions, but stretching is stretching, whether lever or pedal. Almost all of my clients want me to install the strings, tune it for the stretching out period, and then regulate. If they need the harp for use, I suggest they can do the daily tunings–almost no one takes me up on it.

    Lower tension harps take longer. If a harp is played daily, they will stretch faster. Tuning new strings at least every day is a requirement for the times I will give. Also note that these are much longer than often quoted–but I like things really settled–to get the most precise regulation possible. Especially on a lever harp, it may not see a regulator again for years, so I want it really dead on. These are the times I tell clients; YMMV.

    Wires are usually through moving in under a week. Guts take two weeks to get close; four weeks to really settle in — if you don’t have a sudden humid period. Nylon four weeks. Fluorocarbon six weeks; it seems to stretch forrreeevvveeerr. This is for harps tuned daily, but not regularly played. Playing would probably decrease the time. This is also until things are really stable; you could probably halve the times — but it would be a lot more work for the regulator, and the result might not be as accurate.

    Ultimately, regulators, who are often only passing through town briefly, have to work with the harp and strings in front of them and do the best they can. Any advance preparation harpists can do will help the quality and accuracy of the job they will receive.

    Charles Nix

    Biagio on #211251

    I’m finding this thread fascinating, although not a pedal harpist. WRT to lever harps let me add that is is not only the time needed for strings to stretch in. Knots must tighten up, if a number of strings have been replaced the rest of the harp must readjust, one may find that the string angle has changed slightly….until the harp is again stable, one cannot be sure that lever regulation is dead on.


    Gretchen Cover on #211253

    I presented the question to guild tech Joe Urban about putting new strings on prior to regulation. Here is his reply:

    “Strings don’t need to be changed before regulation unless they’re worn/frayed or false. However, nylons in the first octave should be changed 2-3 times a year, based on use. It’s a good idea to change them a couple weeks prior to regulation. Just run a fingernail where the disc pin touches them. If you feel a groove, it’s time.”

    “Wires should be changed regularly every year or two, depending on use. This not only makes the entire range of the harp sound better, but also prolongs the life of the soundboard, as old wires need more tension to stay on pitch.”

    Ok, there you have it. But, this does not address the initial question about who would pay for the strings and regulation on a rental harp.

    Sylvia on #211254

    Seems like the owner of the harp is trying to get the person renting it to buy the strings…simple as that. If she can con someone into replacing strings, she won’t have to pay for them herself.
    Personally, I would explain that the harp does not need new strings to be regulated. That would show her you know that useful bit of info and wreck her plan. If it’s her harp, she needs to pay for the regulation.

    wil-weten on #211296

    I just wonder what the OP means with ‘is due to be regulated’.

    Does the owner want the harp to be regulated, perhaps because of her maintenance subscription?

    Or does the OP want it to be regulated while the owner has the opinion that regulating could wait for another year, perhaps because the harp had been regulated just a year ago?

    I consider regulating the harp being part of the normal service paid for by the owner and when this requires changing the strings, this is what the owner should pay for too. (Of course, this is different from the OP having to change and pay for or false strings because of the regular wear and tear.)

    It would be a different situation when the owner considers the harp to be in a well enough playing condition while the OP disagrees. In that case, I think it would be justifiable that the OP pays part of the costs.

    tgernert on #211299

    Thank you all for your thoughtful responses! My son is 12 now, and has been playing for 6 years. So we’re not exactly new to the harp world, but there is always new stuff to learn.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #211384

    If you are continuing to rent, it should be your choice what strings you buy.

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