harp strings

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    I am thoroughly frustrated going through my remaining Classic gut and new Bow Brand upper 3rd and lower 2nd octave stash trying to find strings that don’t go up false and don’t sound ping-y and ugly. HELLO – Bow Brand (now that Classic is belly up), I’m not stringing a tennis racquet. Your upper octave strings are too thin. Bright sound, my arse. I’m going to take a wild guess here. Too much plastic coating? These strings aren’t meant to last. They should be changed frequently as they absorb so much use. It would be nice just to find a string that lasts a few weeks, but I’m changing strings every 3-4 days because the sound is so ugly and false. Bow Brand, you’ve lost my business.


    Just spent $500 on one set each 2nd & 3rd octave Pirastro oiled strings. Hopefully the cheap strings in the other octaves will blend. We’ll see.

    Elizabeth L

    You use gut in upper octaves?

    Sarah Jacobs

    let us know how the new strings go please

    I don’t use nylon and would like to know if the P. strings work out well


    I like the sound of nylon even less than the poor quality of 2nd octave gut strings available.


    @ Sarah – probably will only use the Pirastro for important concerts since the strings are so expensive. It’s maddening that there’s no middle ground. It’s either cheap, poor quality strings or really expensive good quality.


    @Sarah – just put the Pirastro on my harp and I have to say I’m not happy as well as poor. $500. The strings still sound false and ping-y. At least the strings are all healthy amounts of double length. I’ve been changing strings for two weeks trying to find strings with a resonant, clear sound in the 3rd & 2nd octaves. Have a solo recital to play on Monday at the AHS Institute in Denton, TX. Gotta stop changing strings at some point so the pitch will hold.


    You might give Pirastro nylon strings a try. They are a little bit thicker than the usuals, and are less harsh sounding. If you play lower on the strings, they sound more like gut. Even they are more plastic sounding, at least they do give true pitch and are responsive. I can’t stand guts above middle c because they sound false. I also can’t afford them. I am sympathetic. Bow Brand thinned their strings some time ago. You can also try to get heavy gauge Pirastro nylon, which are the best, from Salopian. There is also heavy gauge gut if you can find it.


    Did you have the Pirastro on in your concert last night? I didn’t notice anything unusual about the top… it (the concert) sounded great! On that note, is the Schocker piece published? I LOVED it and think I might have the time to learn it soon.


    Katherine Denler

    I think they are Theodore Presser or from the composer,


    Let me know if you find a solution. I haven’t yet. I have a lot to use up. I probably still have quite a few classic guts I could trade for Bow.

    Carolyn Clarke

    Hi Emily – I am so sorry that you have been experiencing problems with your Bow Brand strings in the 2nd and 3rd octave.


    Hello Sam,

    I was happy to hear that you enjoyed Emily Mitchell’s fabulous performance of “Garden in Harp” by Gary Schocker. It was a great concert. Lyon & Healy will be publishing the Gary Schocker work and it will be available within 2 weeks. Look at the front of for the feature!




    Thank you for posting your frustrations about Bow Brand strings, I thought I was the only one.

    I too am out of my Classics and have been miserable with the sound of the Bow Brand’s especially in the 2nd and 3rd octaves. Not only did it take FOREVER to get them to stay in tune but their sound is absolutely “pingy and ugly”.

    Several were false and I have had to change them a few times especially in the 2nd octave.

    I have a great harp with a beautiful sound, I miss the sound it gave me when it was strung with the Classics.

    These strings feel thin when I pluck them with an absence of core tone. I feel like I am playing on “spaghetti strings”.

    It took my 5th octaves a good 4-6 weeks to hold pitch for any reliable period of time.

    I found myself constantly tuning during lessons and at gigs and it wasn’t just “the weather.”

    This has been very frustrating as I have not felt I could rely on the strings holding pitch in performances.

    I can’t afford another $500.00 for strings right now, I am stuck with them and very disappointed with these “spaghetti strings”.


    Presser published Garden in Harp under its original title Four Preludes for Harp before edits. L&H will publish the edited version Garden in Harp. This is the version that is recorded, to be released this fall.

    I ended up taking off the Pirastro 3rd & 2nd octaves I’d put on my 1950s L&H 23 the Saturday night before the Monday concert at the Denton Institute. They were worse than the Bow Brand! Fortunately I was able to return the strings to Harp Connection for a store credit. I replaced them with the freshest Bow Brand I could find. Several of the 3rd octave went up false and the top of the 2nd octave had that annoying ping, but I was able to get through the concert.

    Something has got to change here. We have to let the string companies know that their product is unsatisfactory. I used Bow Brand before they were Bow Brand when I lived in the UK back in the mid-70s. The strings then were great, good weight, not false with minimal coating. A far cry from what is being produced now. (Carolyn, I would dearly like to discuss harp strings with you! Thank you for your email address.)

    Not being able to find good strings is like not being able to find gas to run the car. It just stops you dead in your tracks.

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