new pedal harp string brand–Premiere

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    Michael- That’s really helpful. Thank you, Have the Bow Brand strings been the same gauge for a long time now? Or have the gauges been changed in any way? Also, do you happen to have the gauges for the Bow Brand Lever Gauge strings? I sometimes use those on older pedal harps, and frankly really like them for a fuller sound and better initial attack.  Having strings too close to their breaking point makes the string sound thinner and makes a weaker attack. If you have the gauges for the lever strings, in millimeters just like the other two, I’d really like to see that for the sake of comparison. Thanks.


    I currently have middle C as a Premier and all the other Cs on my harp are still Bow Brand. I have noticed that, as the overhead light in my room is on the other side of the harp from me, the Premier string is a slightly brighter red and less opaque than the Bow, and tends to glow just a little bit. It doesn’t bother me, I kind of like it, but it is a difference.

    On my harp, there is a dead spot for a couple of strings surrounding middle C, and I do feel that the Premier string has helped liven up that note. I am planning on replacing the other strings in the dead spot with Premier and see if the whole section can be improved.

    Jerusha Amado

    Hi Michael,

    Are the Premiere strings heavier or thinner in gauge as compared to Bow Brand?  I too would like to know more about their effect on soundboard tension.


    If it will help, I had some string gauge charts handy and have scanned and attached them:

    First is the Savarez GUT chart, listing their light, standard, and heavy gauge sequences. This one only goes down to 4F; Not sure if I have the chart for lower notes.

    Second is the Bow Brand chart, listing Standard, Light, Heavy, and Lever sequences.  The BB chart also shows the gauging tolerance.

    Charles Nix

    You must be logged in to view attached files.

    Just found the Savarez chart showing the lower notes, at least for standard gauge.  It is the fourth grouping over on the first page.

    Also is the Camac chart in Standard, English (Light), and Heavy.

    You must be logged in to view attached files.

    I am confused.  The above string-by string chart presents the new Premier strings as being thinner, not heavier than the Bow Brand, except for a couple of the bass ones.  Yes?


    That’s how I read Michael’s chart also–lighter gauge.  About three notes lighter at the top to even by the bottom of 2nd octave, then back up to two notes lighter, tapering to the even in the bass.  It is not much different; and how well it worked might depend on the exact harmonic curve of a particular instrument.

    Could this be something that would work better when the upper octaves are a bit longer than they were in older instruments?  Carl, has there been any trend to longer or shorter string scales with age of instrument?

    On the other hand, fewer false notes, a cleaner sound, and longer life would be better on any instrument!

    Charles Nix



    It has been years, if ever, since I have had a Bow Brand gut string be false. The Burgundy strings may be a little less focused, after all they are discounted for a reason. I had much more trouble tuning Classic gut strings. Bow strings have a very clear pitch. I would not trust a technician who makes universal pronouncements like that. Moreover, my Bow strings are lasting over two years without fraying or falseness! Note that I only use them in the fourth and fifth octaves. Using gut in the first octave strikes me as pointless.


    Hello, everyone–sorry I mis-read the charts.  Premier strings are indeed thinner than Bow Brand except for six notes on the chart.  I was reversing the two!  It pays to read something again to check your memory!

    Have a good day,


    Gretchen Cover

    An update on the Premier (no e at the end) strings:  I replaced the strings on my concert grand harps with Premier at the end of November and December, respectively.  I just had a 1st octave C break again yesterday.  So far, I have  only broken three 1st octave strings, 2 of which were the C. Can’t recall if the other string broken was a 1st octave B or the C.  The sound is still excellent on the strings. Both my harps are used a lot.


    How’s everyone feeling about their Premier strings? They’ve been around for a few years now and I imagine someone is prepared to talk about their experiences with them.


    I have Bow Brand heavy gauge gut strings on my harp. Since they switched from polyurethane coating to Spar (marine varnish), there is virtually no wear and tear, hardly any falseness, and it has been over two years! We all now know that Bow had temporary problems due to their gut supplier, and that was corrected some time ago.
    Someone should compare the gauging with Pirastro gut, though I don’t know too many people who can afford those. Sheep gut does seem superior, and I don’t know why it has to be so much more expensive. There are many more sheep than cows, after all…
    As for what Lyon & Healy “recommends” for stringing, for most of the 20th century, it was nylon strings in the first and second octaves, with a changeover to gut somewhere in the third octave depending on your harp, and taste. I cannot stand hearing gut strings in the second octave, and especially higher, because you lose so much volume and sustainability. The notes simply don’t last long enough. The lack of overtones contributes to the bass-heavy sound of harps. You need nylon strings to produce enough treble to balance the bass. And only nylon strings give you that “heavenly” quality of sounding like a choir of angels, which is why they were standard stringing. Overtones and aftertones, what rings after playing, are the essence of the sound of the harp. Not playing a string. A guitar can do that. Harps that don’t sustain at all don’t sound like harps.
    What we need now are LESS-EXPENSIVE strings. The cost of maintaining a harp has become far too expensive.

    Gretchen Cover

    I ordered Premier Strings the day after they were available to replace Bow Brand gut strings. It made such a huge difference in sound on my Salvi Iris that the harp went from a shower singer to a Met Opera diva. I then ordered a set for my Salvi Apollo. The sound clarity was so significant that I had to re-record part of my album Sketchbook of a Journey. I also had a LH17 but the Premier Strings did not make a significant change in sound. However, it was sure great not to have strings breaking constantly.

    Check Yolanda Kondanassis Facebook page. She has comments about new improvements to Premier Strings.

    Although, I am very happy with the Premier strings, several months ago I sold the LH17 for another Salvi Concert grand that came strung with Vanderbilt gut. I used Vanderbilt gut for many years until they stopped being made. I had not realized they were available again. Anyhow, the new harp live sound and recording quality was jawdroppingly magnificent. I restrung my Iris with Vanderbilt gut because of that but found the sound was the same as Premier. The major difference is the Premier gut strings in the top 3 octaves are narrower than Vanderbilt gut. For my personal preference, I like the thicker strings because I can control them better on my harps. My Apollo is still strung with Premier Strings.

    I did find Premier and Vanderbilt to be interchangeable if a string breaks. But neither brand works with Bow IMHO. I restring my harps annually and frankly, neither the Vanderbilt or Premier Strings really needed to be changed when a year passed by. I just change strings prior to getting the harps regulated to ensure my instruments are in perfect condition.

    Bottom line – Vanderbilt gut and Premier gut are super strings.

    Gretchen Cover

    No one else has tried Premier Strings? Or Vanderbilt? Or has gone back to Bow? Surely, there must be other views pro and con. Thoughts from those who have tried various brand of strings. I think this topic is focused on gut strings for pedal harps.


    Okay…I have an 11-year-old Pratt Chamber Harp (concert gauge) which I am currently in for a few repairs, restringing, and regulation. It has Camac levers. Per the builder, he has switched from Bow Brand to Premier for gut strings, and has had virtually no complaints with breakage (except for the unavoidable typical string breakage). So, I am going to switch to Premier from my Savarez KF’s (which I used in place of Bow Brand gut) because of the CRAZY breakage I had with them, both several years ago AND just this past spring. We will see how this goes, and I will post after I see the outcome down the road. My question is this: My L&H Style 100 needs restringing in gut, and I am considering doing it with Premier. They aren’t breaking, but are VERY old, and just don’t sound as good as they should. Can anyone tell me how to maintain back-up strings without HUGE expense?? I am extremely rural, and always have to order. I had a set of Bow Brand backups, but they got very old. And probably would only be good as an emergency. I don’t play professionally, except for a couple gigs a year. But I want my harp(s) to sound wonderful all the time. I could buy a backup set, and would have one set for 3 harps (I just bought the 22-string Pratt “Sprite”, which he has strung the 4th and 3rd octaves in Premier concert gut, too). Thoughts??? Please make your comments about this really “down to earth” for me. String makers want us to buy strings. But harp players don’t want to spend money needlessly for them…Thank you!

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