Nylon vs. Nylgut for Lap Harp?

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    Aria on #205848

    I’m in the USA.

    Aria on #205850

    In regards to the Nylgut I’m in touch with a U.S. distributor who is helping me out.   It will be a while before I receive the strings to try.   I’ve heard others say they didn’t like the tone of the Nylgut.  However, I understand that it stretches like crazy and you have to leave it on the instrument, tuning it for at least a week before evaluating the true tone quality.  Some people try it one day, hate it, and take it off immediately.   Maybe it just won’t sound great on a harp.  But I am going to give a try.    Savarez is the next step for me if Nylgut doesn’t work.

    wil-weten on #205870

    @ Aria, there’s Nylgut (manufactured and sold by Aquila Corde Armoniche), Silkgut (manufactured as well by Aquila, but sold as Bow Brand Silkgut). According to Aquila, the difference with Nylgut is that Silkgut feels a bit stiffer than Nylgut.

    The material that keeps stretching for a long time, is carbon (fluorocarbon). This sounds quite different from Nylgut and you will need a much smaller diameter to get the same string tension (there are conversiontables for this) . I love my Savarez carbon strings between wire strings and gut strings.

    For me carbon sounds great on strings where gut would sound dull, that is too say, when te string lenght is  too short for gut. I haven’t got any experience with nylgut except for the most high sounding strings and there I prefer gut. Gut just sounds more lively (though is more vulnerable for breakage).

    wil-weten on #205873

    @ Aria, if you provide Savarez with the diameter and preferably also the sounding length of all your strings, they will be happy to provide you with a corresponding table of carbon strings.

    When I asked them a question a few years ago (in my best French) they provided me with a kind answer in English. 🙂

    Aria on #205887

    Alright, I’ve downloaded the music makers spread sheet with instructions and I’m going to attempt it!

    Aria on #205903

    I’ve had a chance to use the music makers spreadsheet and it is really helpful.   I think things are starting to make sense now that I can see it all visually.   I’m reading back over all the comments and it much clearer.  Thank you Biago for that link!

    Biagio on #205945

    You are very welcome Aria.  It is a handy little tool to have in a harper’s kit I really do believe, if for no other reason than to help in evaluating a new harp before purchase.  Sound samples don’t tell the full story:-)

    Incidentally, if a string type (such as Nylgut or yellow brass) is not included in the default list I just “cheat the sheet” by plugging the correct parameters (density and tensile strength) into an unused string type.  OK,  not elegant but it does the job:-)


    Happy harping,


    Aria on #206269

    I’m excited to give an update on this.  First of all, Biagio:  You have saved the day!  I used the spreadsheet you pointed me to in order to figure out the correct Savarez KF string to use.   It was also reassuring to look at Fisher Harps Nylon to Fluorocarbon conversion chart.   What I came up with for my harp was pretty close to what he had listed on his chart.  But with the spreadsheet I could clearly see how to tweak things for my harp. I was able to create a very equal tension conversion.   I went ahead and replaced just one string to start:  My lowest G, which was the worst sounding of all the low strings.  I’m really happy with the results!  I feel my problem is solved.    To explain the difference:

    The Nylon String was producing a sharp attack (no matter how soft I plucked it) and a very fast decay.  And it sounded more like a shallow echo than a rich or clear tone.

    The New Savarez replacement gives a nice, rounder tone with a longer sustain and a much clearer, cleaner sound.   The difference is somewhat subtle, but very noticeable to my ear.  And it’s giving me more of the sound I want to hear on this harp.

    I’m looking forward to replacing all the 6 lower strings with Savarez.  And to report more good news, Biagio you were right.  There was no problem with my Truitt Levers.  Even though the Savarez string is a smaller diameter than the Nylon original,  the Truit still produced a perfect sharp.  No adjustment needed!   Finally I feel I can really fall in love with this little harp.

    Thanks Again!

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by Aria.
    Biagio on #206286

    That is good news Aria, so glad to be of assistance.

    Not to sound like a broken record (OK, yes, but it bears repeating), when we can actually see what is happening with the string band design we can also see why the harp sounds as it does to some extent.  Of course barring major surgery we can’t do anything about the vibrating lengths or sound board, but that handy little program and some understanding of underlying principles can allow us to customize to a surprising degree.

    The Musicmakers Voyageur is an excellent example.  At $1400 it’s pretty good  as a kit harp but with customized strings and a custom made spruce sound board – about another $400 plus $600 for full Truitt levers – it will rival  a $5000 instrument.  Not bad!

    (Full disclosure: I have no relation with Musicmakers).

    Have fun with your “new” double and best wishes,


    Elettaria on #213992

    How did it work out in the end? I’m guessing it’s the shorter harp from that maker? I’m designing a small double (I got converted in the end) with help from folk here, and that one has similar string lengths to what I’m planning. I’m also planning to use KF, so I’ve been reading this with interest.

    Aria on #214129

    I was happy with the Savarez KF strings on the lower end of my Double Strung Lap Harp( bottom four strings). Above that, nylon strings definitely sounded better. Hope this helps.

    Elettaria on #214140

    Thanks, that’s interesting. Did you replace more strings than that with KF and then change them back to nylon?

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