Harp maintenance in a heat wave?

  • Participant
    tess on #218712

    Does anyone have tips for harp maintenance (read: survival) when it’s over 90 degrees indoors and one’s roommates don’t believe in air conditioning?

    I keep my pedal harp away from windows and direct sun and in a well-insulated case, but after the last week of highs in the 90s (and well above inside), lows in the 80s, and very high humidity, three of my newish gut strings have broken, and I am emotionally and financially disturbed. I’m moving out in a month (to an apartment where I can actually use the central AC), but the temperatures are supposed to stay high until then. Is there anything I can do to keep from losing more strings/doing permanent damage to the harp for that time?

    Would keeping the harp tuned down to relieve tension help? It’s not critical that I play this month, and I’ve heard of people doing that for long road trips with a harp. Should I replace the broken strings now or wait until I can stabilize the temperature?

    Thanks for the help!

    Participant
    charles-nix on #218719

    Not surprising for gut to break in high humidity. Perhaps your offering to pay for all the additional electricity would be less expensive than harp strings?

    If you don’t have to play this month, do you have a friend with air conditioning? or a school or church where you could store the harp for a month? (Be sure you have all-risk insurance.)

    You can reduce the tension, and it would certainly reduce breakage of strings–but don’t go very far, and certainly don’t remove all tension from the soundboard.

    I’m not as worried about the temperature, as about how high the humidity is. Typically, it would be highest at night. Continuously over 70-80% relative will mean rusting parts. I am also assuming you’re opening windows at night. Are you subject to sea air? The salt with the humidity could also provoke rusting.

    Participant
    Alison on #218728

    I was fearful that playing outside would be an issue on Saturday as its been over 86 F or 30 degs C here in the UK, I wondered for reference could direct sunlight damage the lacquer it wasn’t my best harp and the finish on camac lever harps seems to be more solid simple varnish on plywood, however we had shade and greatly appreciated it.

    Participant
    tess on #218736

    Thanks, Charles-nix. I’ll probably lower it by a half- or whole-step to ease the tension a little. We do have salty humidity here – I hadn’t thought much of that, but you’re definitely right. I’ll borrow a dehumidifier for now.

    Alison, for reference, the sun definitely can damage the varnish on a harp. I think less so on newer harps, because the finish is different? Mine is a Salvi Daphne from the mid-90s, and its previous owner had it in a window. Luckily nothing else was damaged, but the finish now has a very obvious crackled look (and chips off sometimes). Probably a few hours wouldn’t do it, though; I think mine was in the sunlight for years.

    Participant
    Alison on #218745

    I was fearful that playing outside would be an issue on Saturday as its been 30 degs C here in the UK, I wondered for reference could direct sunlight damage the lacquer it wasn’t my best harp and the finish on camac lever harps seems to be more solid simple varnish on plywood, however we had shade and greatly appreciated it.

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