Initial Regulation For New Harps

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

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    rosey-brumm on #155847

    I am no expert but Regulation is when the Harp Maker performs the final master tuning that sets the tone and pitch of the open strings and the engaged levers, ensuring that the semitone is exactly one half step above the open note, all the way along the harp. But I purposely do not call them sharping levers as depending on the Key they produce either Flats or Sharps.
    Harps with full levers need regulating at other times also.
    My capacity to hear pitch, tone, is above electronic equipment, which can be a two edge sword with levers, and regulation. In the main you should be able to put your tuner on and note the open string and then engage the lever and not the sharp is it a perfect F# or off? When my equipment says OK i can often hear a muddiness in chords if their is a problem.
    I have many floor harps from the US Troubadour VI, 4 Dusty Strings FH models, 2 Triplett models Eclipse and Celtic II. I have never had trouble with the big names in tone and the quality when engaging their levers. I love Camac, L&H Performance levers, Dusty Loveland.

    Recently I have purchased a harp of lesser quality harp but still considered a good harp made more locally but from US parts.
    When I tune to Eb, the levers when engaged sound awful. A mixture of poor tone, buzzing, and just when I think it is OK the chords sound out, don’t hold. Strangely though it can sound OK in the Key of C after some tool kit work on the levers.
    After some research I found the Harp maker had regulated my harp to the Key of C. As I understand, large Harp making companies with harps sold with full levers always regulated in Eb? This allows the levers to be used for flats and sharps giving the player the greatest range.
    What I was told after many e-mails and excuses, “To have your harp regulated in Eb would probably solve the problem but the fact it was regulated in C is not the problem.” Hmmmmm!
    This would costs $500.00 dollars to and from, I don’t think so! Australian freight is bloody expensive.
    I have had some smaller harps come in over time and they sounded off, know matter what I did…. I had just thought must be cheap!
    Each time the harp has had a problem it has been with a company where levers are optional!
    Now I am questioning the adage “you can regulate in any key”.
    I believe that if you order a harp with full levers the harp must be regulated in Eb and would be worthwhile checking it is done.
    I would like to hear about any other experiences or if this rings any bells for others who have had similar experiences?
    Cheers Rosey

    Tacye on #155848

    Rosey, Are you familiar with the theory of temperaments?

    kreig-kitts on #155849

    Could you tell us how exactly you tune?

    If I tune completely by ear it can throw the harp’s tuning off, especially if I start at the bottom and work my way up or five versa. As Tacye mentioned with temperament, tuning only by intervals or octaves the harp will probably sound off, particularly as you change keys. Before keyboard instruments were tuned using equal temperament, each key had its own characteristics and some were particularly unsettling.

    If you tune only by ear, I’d suggest checking both octaves and fifths as you go, and tune the fifths as narrowly as your ear can stand. You can’t have both perfect fifths and perfect octaves, but must cheat each one tiny amount. Most electronic tuners have this cheating built in since they’re set for equal temperament. I usually tune off the tuner in the octave around Middle C, then play both octaves and fifths as I go up to make sure that both sound as good as possible, and if I adjust anything recheck the fifths and octaves both above and below it to make sure nothing else needs fixed as a result.

    I think you can call them sharping levers regardless of which strings they’re on, since even on the flats they sharpen the pitch from flat to natural when you engage them.

    rosey-brumm on #155850

    Thank you for your suggestions just to clarify a few things. The kit came from the US and it was made here. It has a specific sound of low mellow lute come classical guitar come harp in nylon gut and fibre core wire on the last 3 strings and with reasonable tension. It is standard combination but only a few around. It is only for Medieval music and recording my own healing relaxation music which does not work to well if you are annoyed with the harp : )
    It cost that much to send from state to state within Australia.

    All of my harps from Lyon and Healy, Dusty strings, Triplett, all arrived with perfect regulation and work wonderfully, tune beautifully never caused me a problem. But they pack extremely well, some smaller companies have not been so great.
    I have so many tuners with stick it, clip it, and the small Snark it, Iphone it even. But it sounds like I need to go into a higher range of tuner with greater options and learning curve. There is no one here in Canberra that could work with me on the folk harps. In Canberra you are either Grand Concert Harp performer or harps don’t exist, which has affected any chance of getting the folk harp scene going.
    Yes it has been mentioned to me about the theory of temperaments but that would not explain why just one harp is misbehaving
    and all the other 9 harps sound spot on, would it?
    Plus I would need some significant know how. I will see what I can dig up and apply.
    I have some incapacities and I can’t do a full regulation or even fixing 5 levers when it came, caused me a lot of grief.
    Many thanks

    rosey-brumm on #155851

    No never by ear alone………… but they are handy! Please see other response and thank you for your information.

    I have found using the term sharping levers confuses some folks.
    On all the harps I approach with a mixture. I may go up from C to the top note with 2 tuners on, Octave by Octave. Often I check engaged levers if I am in mainly one key that day.
    I often I tune from one note thru all octaves and back down again. I only have the most basic of knowledge in the hardware and learning rapidly, but huge curiosity and endless time. However if all the other harps work it seems a bit odd!

    I do not have a teacher. I have had to buy all harps before I could try them, teach myself to play, buy all my books, music, DVDs, CDs. Now I could provide an area for a school to move in but there is not the interest and I am selling off my showroom of Harps and settling on 4. This one we will see what I can do. Many thanks

    sherry-lenox on #155852

    If you are using you new harp “mostly for Medieval music” the authentic sound is the untempered scale, so whether it sounds as your ear wants to hear it or not, it is what that style of music should sound like if played as it sounded in its original form.

    I think it would be interesting to leave the intonation alone and enjoy it as it is. That’s probably what I’d do if it were mine.

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