You can get 3 or 4 strings out of each length of a Premier string in the first two octaves. You can get two strings out of the 3rd octave (or most of it.) You may already have your extra strings. The 4th and 5th octaves seldom break in my experience so I don’think I would go to the expense of getting them as spares. If you are using mainly Premier strings, it would be best to have that brand on hand. I keep a full set of strings. When it is time to restring my harp, I use the spare strings and buy whatever strings I need to keep as spares. That way strings don’t go bad and all get used.
Thank you, Gretchen! As I read your post it sounds like you keep an extra set of strings (which would include the extra lengths of left-overs after any restringing), bringing down the cost to purchase 4th and 5th octaves only, since there are no extra lengths of those?? — so the total cost to keep backups would be in the 4th and 5th octaves initially…However, you mentioned they break so rarely that it wouldn’t be necessary. But if they do, then a person needs to wait anywhere from 3-5 days to receive the replacement…I have read so much about when to restring a harp: after “X” # of years (or 1 year?) if you play your harp “X” # of hours per day…you know what I’m getting at here…But then there is the factor of restringing to keep strings at a more “fresh” tension so that a broken string at an inopportune moment during a performance or gig would be unlikely. So, even though my L&H pedal harp needs restringing because they just don’t sound good anymore (I haven’t been playing it for some time…just keep it tuned and played from time to time to keep it “in shape”, so-to-speak), I wonder about restringing at some regular interval (once a year, once every 2 years, etc.) to keep them from breaking simply because of them stretching after so long and reaching that “break point”, even if they sound good. Forgive me if I am wordy here, just wanting to hear what you think in this regard…Thank you so much!
I have 3 concert grand harps so it makes sense for me to keep a full set of gut strings. Essentially, what I am doing is buying the strings a year in advance of needing them. I have one harp that get very much out of regulation when I restring it. Therefore, it gets restrung about 2-4 weeks before the harp tech comes. I restring my harps annually and the wires every two years. The harp tech replaces the wire strings with those I buy prior to the regulation. But, as I said in another post, even though I play my harps a lot, after a year the Premier and Vanderbilt strings are still good. Because I play with my guitar partner, two churches, wind groups, and record, I think I change my strings more than most harpists. Really, you need to change your strings when they start sounding dead or for some unknown reason, you don’t seem to enjoy your harp. I think it is best to change a few weeks prior to getting a regulation which you should do at least every two-three years. The harp tech said a major reason for restringing – this includes bass wires – is to keep tension over time from building which ultimately damages the soundboard. You can talk to your harp tech and harp makers about what is best for you and your harps. This is just what works for my situation.
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