Necessity of anchors

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    unknown-user on #147016

    Perhaps someone more knowledgeable than I has the answer I’m looking for.

    We all know that getting the anchor to stay in your knot for the lower gut strings (probably middle C and down) is just an awful struggle. But is it so necessary down there? Won’t the thickness of the string actually keep the knot from slipping through?


    carl-swanson on #147017

    Sam- I’m assuming that you’re talking about gut strings. The problem is that they are very stiff when you take them out of the package. Take the last 4 or 5 inches of the string, where you are going to knot it, and bend it over the knuckle of your index finger on one hand while you pull it with the other hand so that the last 4 or 5 inches slide over your knuckle in as sharp a bend as you can get. That will break the stiffness of the string and make it much easier to tie the knot.

    unknown-user on #147018

    I read about this on some harp website and they said instead of using an anchor made of another harp string, use a Q-tip! Take a cotton Q-tip and cut of the fuzzy ends, the stiff cotton stick in the middle is PERFECT as an anchor! It’s so much easier to use, I just keep a bag of them with my harp strings. Just make sure you cut it down small enough, or else they bend a little. I’ve never had one slip out, I absolutely love it!

    — Natalie

    barbara-brundage on #147019

    I don’t anchor much below middle C (depends on type of strings–need to go lower for lever gut, for instance) and I’ve never had a problem. It’s true that in the fifth octave and a few strings up from there that the knot isn’t going to pull through.

    carl-swanson on #147020

    Maybe I misread Sam’s original post. I thought he was having trouble tying the knot in the larger strings. I have found in my many years of rebuilding, repairing, regulating, and restringing harps that the deciding factor is how much larger the hole in the soundboard is than the diameter of the string. And it varies from harp to harp. If the hole is just barely larger than the string diameter(which presents it’s own set of problems sometimes), then an anchor is not needed. But if it is much larger, then you run the risk of the knot pulling up into the hole and it’s an awful mess trying to get it back out. This is true mostly
    in the third and beginning of the 4th octaves. So the point at which you stop using anchors depends on the instrument. The 5th octave never needs anchors, and the 4th octave sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t.

    tony-morosco on #147021

    I anchor through the 4th just to be safe, but not the fifth. But here is a little trick to get the anchor to stay. Take the loop that results from tying the string and bend it around the end of the anchor and

    unknown-user on #147022

    Yes, the issue was not being able to get the anchor to stay for those thick strings – so I wondered if they were necessary since getting them to stay is so frustrating.

    Glad to know that they’re not necessary on the thicker gut strings – I usually just don’t put them in if I can’t get them to stay, even with considerable effort. That only happens with the lower guts, and I’ve never had one pull up, so I figured it must be okay.

    Tony, do you think you could give that description another shot?

    Also, splines? I always thought the technical term was anchor.


    catherine-rogers on #147023

    When I change strings, I make string anchors (or splines) from the 5th octave gut excess that is cut off above the tuning pin. I cut them into appropriate lengths with the wire cutters (much easier than scissors). Also, I try to put red ones in the knots for white strings so if the string breaks and the knot flies off somewhere, it’s easier to find. I don’t use them below middle C either.

    richard-hagan on #147024

    Sam —

    Here is the link to the excellent diagram “Camac String Knot”.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #147025

    You can make the fourth octave strings secure by also making a second loop over the knot, this works quite well. In fact, it makes me question the use of splines altogether. Why don’t we simply make two or three extra loops so the knot is big enough to hold itself? This should work on all strings. Adding any other object can cause buzzing, but especially, anything that is not string will affect the sound. Some harpists used cotton pieces like cigarette filters, and they totally dulled the string.

    unknown-user on #147026

    I think that diagram could have been even clearer, but it’s one of the better ones. That is not the knot that I use, anyway. I’ve never had a problem actually figuring out the knot – its just that with the thick strings the knots aren’t tight enough (before the string is brought to tension) to hold the anchor except by some miraculous feat of balancing.

    I also cut up the lower gut strings to use as anchors – that’s what all the prepackaged anchors seem to be anyway.

    Perhaps I wasn’t so clear in my first post. I am a very experienced string changer. The knot poses no difficulty and neither does the winding at the top. I was merely asking about whether or not we need to use anchors on the lower guts, seeing as it’s nearly impossible to get the anchor to stay before winding the string.


    tony-morosco on #147027

    OK, take a look at this diagram from Dusty Strings:

    This is basically how I make my knots, but with one extra step.

    If you look at the last panel at that point I take loop 1 and bend it around the right end of the spline, then pull the string end to tighten it.

    This wraps the loop around the spline and tightens it. On the thinner strings you can tighten it all the way making a double knot around the spline. On thicker strings you just need to shorten the loop enough so that when you let go it doesn’t pop off the end of the spline, but rather presses against it. The tension will be enough to hold the spline in place.

    kreig-kitts on #147028

    I make an extra loop or two over my knots in all octaves. I don’t tie a harper’s knot, however, but use a regular knot. My teacher advised me once that it holds just as well, and I’ve been doing it since and have never had a knot slip.

    kreig-kitts on #147029

    I might use a harp knot on my strings without anchors, to make the knot thick enough. I really don’t remember. I’ll look inside my harp tonight.

    unknown-user on #147030

    Thanks Tony. That’s the knot that I currently use. I double the knot on the very top strings, and that really helps keep the anchor there. I could have sworn that I tried what you’re describing, but I’ll give it another shot when I replace all my strings next.


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