I have a dusty strings FH36B and it is about five years old.
I dont even have a harp yet so this is not really an answer to you.
I have 20 years of acoustic guitar experience. And from that experience I can only say “YES” It matter most of all!
The strings on guitars last not more than 6 months at most. After that the tone on the strings are rather dead. But it depends on which strings you have of course. Many of my friends change strings after every gig. (that would be expensive on the harp)
The biggest impact on soundquality from my experience on guitars is:
2. Shape of guitarbody
3. Kind of wood the instrument were built, etc.
And that is not only my opinoin either.
Its going to be interesting to hear what experienced harp players say 🙂
Well, the thing is that as your strings age and the sound deteriorates it happens so slowly that you may not actively notice. But once you change them you hear the difference immediately.
How often you need to change depends on lots of things like how often you play, what kind of environment your harp is normally kept in, and even your body chemistry because some people simply have sweat that causes more deterioration than others. I actually wipe my strings down after every time I play to help prevent that, other wise I notice faster deterioration, and also faster discoloration of the bass strings.
For a professional who practices frequently, performing frequently and moving the harp often in to different environments I would say once a year.
If you are a non professional then it is really much more subjective. If your strings are over two years old then chances are they are no longer sounding as good as they did when new even if you don’t notice it yet.
But the thing is that if you aren’t noticing it and the strings can still sound in tune and keep pitch then you aren’t causing any harm so it is a personal choice. However I think most of us want our instruments to sound as best as they can so to that end I would recommend changing strings at least every two to three years.
However I also have to say that from my perspective brand new strings don’t actually sound good. It takes about a month or so for my ears to like the sound again after I restring.
As for storing strings, you can go a couple of years if you store then in a dark, dry, relatively cool place.
And also remember you don’t have to restring all at once. You can do an octave a month over the course of a few months, which is an effective approach particularly on a not too big lever harp.
To answer your second question, shelf life of spare strings is largely dependent on how they are stored. I store wire & nylon both in plastic packs with a light oil coat, (Pam), and in a cool dark place.
I have some gages in bulk for experimental use and have not noticed a significant deterioration. I am curious though after reading this and will be applying my scope to old and new strings to see if I can detect differences in the waveforms.
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