Having lever issues

  • Participant
    Katia on #240621

    Hi everyone,
    I have a Caswell Sweetharp 29, fully-levered. When I bought it from the harp store, we (as in, the harp store owner and I) knew it had lever issues (it was part of the reason it was affordable), and at the time we knew the options were for me to try to fix the levers, or if that wasn’t possible, just remove them (all, or just the problem levers, or whatever). I should note first off that it’s just not at all in the budget for me to have these professionally fixed.

    I’m finally taking a serious look at messing with these levers, and it’s not as easy as I’d thought it would be. For one, many/most are loose; as in, I can rotate them back and forth on the screws that hold them in. That’s the first problem I’m tackling; once I take care of that, I’ll be able to assess further. But. It’s not so simple as tightening the screws… they won’t move. (it doesn’t help that I’m using an itty-bitty screwdriver– yes, Phillips screws, not hex head, which to my understanding is more common– with an itty-bitty handle, but I tried even with a rubber gripper and no luck. If it had a horizontal handle I could crank, similar to an allen wrench, then maybe, but obviously it doesn’t). Of course I don’t want to force it too much and crack the wood. And while sometimes the solution for stuck screws is “spray on some WD-40!”… yeah, this is not one of those times. 🙂

    There may be other issues as well, with alignment I mean, but I’ll be able to assess that once I’m not distracted by rattly levers.

    I’ll try to take a picture of the levers soon, as I know it’s near-impossible to have any real idea without seeing what I’m looking at; they are maybe Lovelands? I’m finding resources on regulating same, but not sure what to do in this pre-regulation, just-need-to-make-them-hold still, stage. But it’ll have to be during the day when I have good lighting (cursed dim apartments). In the meantime, is there possibly a trick to these screws that I don’t know?

    It’s possible I won’t be able to do anything with them and will have to just remove them. Assuming I’d be able to get the screws to move the other way to loosen them… (just leaving them but not using them is not an option, as them being loose means they rotate and contact the strings and cause a buzz, so they need to either be tightened or removed.)

    hearpe on #240622

    Hi Katia-

    First of all- if you have problems that you don’t want to mess with, SELL IT TO ME!

    You are fortunate to have one of these- Unfortunate that Chris passed on before more of these saw life !

    Anyway- NO WD-40- that is for loosening screws in contact with metal- NOT wood- it will rot it if too much is absorbed.

    The levers are, or similar to- ukulele friction tuners, no? These are unusual and there is a trick to tightening them- as I have only one uke- a cheap souvenir soprano with friction tuners- I can’t recall exactly how they work.

    You ,ight want to find a uke with them and experiment a bit- or order a cheap set to look at. I’m not implying that they are cheap- I think they are an inspired use of them to keep a harp light, and that the problems may not be as bad as it seems- don’t do anything too drastic yet- I think they rotate as a whole base to tighten or something- I’m going to look at mine now and see if I have any ideas.

    Can you put up a picture or link to a picture of the harp? I’d love to have a look.

    hearpe on #240623

    I’ve just tuned my souvenir uke- and yes the levers needed tightening by the screws you say you can’t move. My knobs are really cheap plastic as are my tuners- I can’t offer much but to advise taking care NOT to compromise the phillips head screws with a bad or wrong sized driver. What usually works best is the largest that gets a good grip on the head, but still large for the mechanical advantage of gripping it. I’ve wished for years they’d make these with a square shank like they make some god slothead drivers, so that you can then get an adjustable wrench on the shaft to help turn it-

    P.S. oops- sorry – getting levers and tuners confused- looks like Caswell offered 4 lever options- so I really don’t know

    Biagio on #240627

    The Sweetharp levers are Lovelands, you are right. Assuming that you can get the screws out you could replace them with those specially designed ones that Dusty Strings sells – but there is a problem with those on the Sweetharp. The wood is only 3/8″ thick so the screw ends will poke through. Up to you but if it were me I’d just leave the levers off permanently. It would still be a great little harp.


    Biagio on #240645

    I forgot to tell you this Katia…it will be easier to get at the screws if you take off the lever cams. They pivot on the lever base, fastened with a 1/4″ nut so you will just need to get a 1/4″ wrench. Remove the cam and you will be able to easily reach the screw head.

    The Sweetharp was a great concept but Chris ran into all sorts of trouble with the component manufacture (third party computer laser machine). It did not help that he was mortally ill at the same time. A great musician, luthier and teacher – one of the harp world’s tragedies.


    wil-weten on #240659

    Hi Katia, if you end up without levers or just a few functioning levers, this article of Cynthia Cathcart Accidentals on a Lever-free Harp at https://www.cynthiacathcart.com/articles/accidentals_sans_levers.html may be of some help to you:

    Especially the part beginning with “Sometimes, you simply can’t ignore an accidental.”

    Biagio on #240669

    Great call Wil. Sometimes playing a second will sound OK too.

    Regarding the Sweetharp in particular, I’m not sure it is worth while having levers at all – there are lots of tunes in one key without accidentals, or use the wire harpers’ methods that Cynthia describes.

    But if you really want at least a few to make changing keys easier – Cs Fs an Bs for instance – you might consider the Truitt size K or K2 with appropriate sized frets. Not cheap at about $17 each US but they are easy to mount and you will not have any problem accessing the holding screws. If that seems like an option to explore contact Betty Truitt at http://www.dragonwhispers.com/

    Tell her the situation and she will provide a lot of advice as well as the appropriate sizes.

    Good luck!

    harpingdude on #241093

    I think you will have a better experience if you just order a hex head screw driver. Music Maker kit shop in Stillwater MN is an excellent source of tools and they’re knowledgeable about problems with levers.
    +1800-432-5487 Jerry Brown is most knowledgeable.

    Biagio on #241112

    Hi Reuben,

    Agreed if these were fixed to the Sweetharp neck with hex headed screws. However, Chris used Phillips headed ones since the wood is too thin for the hex headed machine screws that come with Lovelands. I’ve never seen a ball end phillips driver; actually it is hard to see how one could be made.

    It is a good suggestion to have a ball end driver of the right size in one’s tool kit though!

    One of many reasons that I like Truitts is that one does not run into this problem. The screws are torque T-6 and are not under the lever cam, as the Lovelands are.


Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.