Help with Camac Stivell Lever Harp String Breakage

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    harplayer55 on #222221

    Can someone help me? I was given a Camac Stivell Lever harp. I am experiencing frequent (weekly) string breakage. It is very frustrating. 1st octave lever nylon, middle octaves are lever gut and liwest octave is wound wire. All breakage has been in top 2.5 octaves. Is this common?
    Thanks for any insights you may have!

    charles-nix on #222223

    In general, any standard production harp with recent strings should not experience frequent string breakage like this. except….

    with gut, (or sometimes nylon) in humid weather,

    if it was restrung about 4 years ago with strings from faulty production lots,

    if it is not being tuned to correct pitch,

    if strings are being knotted and wound on the pin correctly.

    Does any of this sound like a cause? What other information can you give?

    Nice harp for a gift!

    harplayer55 on #222225

    Several of your points may figure into my current situation with this harp. I have checked the Camac serial number, and it appears that this harp was built in 2008, so it is 10 years old. The individual who gifted this harp to me realized early on that it was too much harp for her. It appeared to me that the harp had not been tuned regularly and I suspect some octaves have not been tuned at all (she did not tuned what Jey the harp was tuned in, and admitted she only tuned the strings withing a range that allowed her to play one song (and, of course the harp was tuned to itself, not a common concert tuning). As more and more strings succumb, I am beginning to think some string may be original to the harp. I have has 3 strings break this week alone. Time for a fresh set if strings and regulation if the levers! I had been told by another harpist that Camac harps/strings can beprone to breakage…so I was not sure if what to expect. So…I think you are right about many of the points you have mentioned. Thank you so much for your response!!

    wil-weten on #222240

    I can say from my own experience and of that from my harp friends that Camac harp gut strings are fine strings, so I really haven’t got a clue how that ‘another harpist’ came to her conclusion.

    Something else, in the past, Bow Brand had twice a period of gut strings that often broke. With a bit of googling you may be able to find messages about that from Bow Brand itself and from some harp shops.

    These strings may be very old and perhaps dried out and therefore be succeptable to breakage.

    The place where the strings break can be telling: near where they come out of the eyelets, or near the levers or near the pin where you put the string through? Or at random?

    The Camac Stivell was originally strung with folk gut from E4 to D26 (

    Does the harp still have plastic levers or already the sophisticated metal levers?

    If you live in a very dry climate (less than 40% of atmospheric humidity) or a climate with a lot of changes in atmospheric humidity, you may consider restringing the harp with Aquila nylgut. It is much cheaper than gut and sounds almost the same, it is not succeptible to moist and it lasts way longer. Nylgut sizes are expressed in gut equivalent diameters, but they are a bit thinner, so you may end up in having the levers regulated (which after ten years, would be advisable, anyway).

    charles-nix on #222247

    It definitely sounds like you need a restring and regulation. You should start with new strings, using the manufacturer’s standard string schedule, and not from any old strings that came with the harp.

    If you want to try nylgut, it can be hard to find, depending on where you are. I’ve never seen it in the US, though sometimes one can find Bow Brand SilkGut, which is the same Aquila product packaged for Bow Brand.

    If you are inexperienced with restringing, find a harp builder or harpist to show you how. The type of knot, and the way it is secured to the tuning pin can make a difference in string breakage. As said above, _where_ the original strings are breaking may be important information.

    Tacye on #222268

    Are you keeping a record of which strings are breaking? Is it just the old strings, or are some of the replacements going too?

    I expect gut strings which have been on a harp but not kept to tune to be more prone to breakage.

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