Normal loss of pitch, or concern…?

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    Alyson Webber on #186607

    Hello, all.

    I played an Ogden lever harp for years and just traded it in towards a 7 year old L&H concert grand. My Ogden kept in tune almost inexplicably, so I am coming from a harp I could sit down and play on most days. I also have a very sensitive ear and can’t abide poor tuning.

    So, my pedal harp was sold by a family who’s daughter “stopped playing” and I don’t know how long ago that was. It was restrung and regulated right before I purchased it, about two weeks ago. I have played it every day, and it is 20 to 50 cents flat every day. It goes 5 cents flat pretty quickly. I played for about 2 hours tonight and tuned 3 times. Again, I have a sensitive ear and the 5-10 cents bugs me.

    I live in FL, and the humidity has picked up recently, but my hygrometer has held steady at 60%. Is this normal behavior if the strings are only three weeks old? Could the soundboard be adjusting to being played again? I tried pushing in the pegs as I tune up, but it hasn’t made a difference. Any advice for an over-concerned new harp mom is appreciated!

    Gretchen Cover on #186609


    I live in Florida, too. My harps have good and bad days when it comes to being in tune. Because the strings are only 3 weeks old, the harp is in a new environment, and we’ve had some big swings in weather/humidity, I would not worry at this point. If you still have the same problem in a couple months, I would suggest calling Lyon Healy. In the meantime, you may want to talk to the tech who regulated the harp.

    Sylvia on #186619

    If it was re-strung, it will go flat for a long time. You didn’t mention if the bass wires also went flat. Chances are, it’s the others. I hate new strings, and I go crank them up many times a day for a long time till they settle.
    Personally, I don’t believe a harp can be regulated with new strings. Because the strings are constantly stretching, there’s no way the regulation can be accurate.

    Sherj DeSantis on #186622

    I am also assuming the Ogden was stung in nylon, and nylon in general holds tuning for me for weeks at a time. (Sorry if that is an incorrect assumption.) I also seldom break strings on my nylon lever harps. This is not true about my pedal harp however. It goes out of tune more easily, and I lose twice to three times as many strings. Three week old gut strings are still new. Tune often and they will settle in. My favorite lever harp is a large gut strung harp, and it breaks strings and goes out of tune, just like my pedal harp. And as Sylvia said above, I have also heard, harp techs ask you to replace strings a few weeks before a regulation takes place. I hope this info will help. Best of Luck to you, and congratulations on the purchase of your new harp!

    Alyson Webber on #186627

    Thanks, everyone, for your replies. No, the bass wires are not losing pitch anywhere near as bad as the gut. The Ogden was strung in pedal gut, but I know I was very spoiled by its uncanny ability to stay in tune. I went away for three weeks once and middle c was still in tune. This makes me feel so much better. I had thought they should at least last through practice by now. I confess to having the “new mom” syndrome if anything seems amiss. Plus, I am playing with a community orchestra next month and don’t want the harp going out of tune mid-concert. (Perhaps, if it does go out of tune, I might blend with this orchestra better, ha ha).

    Sylvia on #186641

    Another way to stretch the new strings faster is to push on the string and then wind. I saw my teacher do that once and asked what he was doing. That stretches it faster than just winding. Teachers should always volunteer info like that, but I guess they just don’t think about it as part of teaching the instrument.

    Alyson Webber on #186839

    So, yes, as everyone told me, the instrument has settled down and is now holding pitch very nicely. It has snapped 4 strings in a week. HAHAHA! If it’s not one thing it’s another 🙂

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