Light bowing in the soundboard ?

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

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    mike-c on #159653

    I recently purchased a used 46-string concert grand from a well-known maker. I am new to the harp and so far I love it.

    However, while tuning and replacing the strings, I noticed that when I look straight down the soundboard, holding my eye as closely as I can near where the neck meets the soundboard, I can see roundness pushing up toward the strings that seems most noticeable between the 5th and 4th octaves.

    I have been ginger with the tuning and had the harp examined by an expert who said it was in good shape, but I noticed this after she looked at it, and I just need to know if that is normal or if it means there is too much strain on the soundboard.



    kathy-chanik on #159654

    Not to worry, that’s perfectly normal, even desirable for the best sound.

    mike-c on #159655

    Thanks for the reply. It’s about 15 years old.

    Would you happen to know anything about cracks in the verathane finish, such as how severe it is, how common that is to happen, and how urgently I should get it re-varnished ? I would guess that cracked varnish would allow moisture in and out of the wood which would be bad, but I don’t know for a fact. There are various cracks 1-2″ in length across the soundboard and neck that are only on the varnish layer, not the wood itself.



    carl-swanson on #159656

    Mike- The slight bowing of the board is not a problem. It is always most pronounced around the 4th and 5th octave area. A good gauge of how pulled up the board is is to look at how those strings are centered through the sharp and natural disc. As the instrument ages and the board pulls up more, the string will be more and more left of center, mostly in the sharp disc. There comes a point eventually where the board simply has to be replaced because the strings are too far left of center, and also because the string lengths have shortened so much that it is impossible to regulate the instrument. But I don’t think your harp is there yet.

    The cracks in the finish are in all likelihood due to the harp going through 15 yearly cycles of humid to dry conditions, without the benefit of humidification during the winter months. There are several other threads here about this issue. The cracking in the finish you mentioned is just one of the things that can happen to harps when there are big swings in the relative humidity levels over the course of the year.

    mike-c on #159657

    Thank you very much for the reply.

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