Pedal Felts- Felts or Leather?

  • Member
    Juanito Riveros on #187617

    I need to replace my pedal felts soon, and I don’t know which would be better; the standard piano key bushing cloth or some type of leather. What do you use? If you use leather, what do you use with it and how long does it last?

    Juanito Riveros

    Participant
    Tacye on #187633

    I use leather, but it isn’t that common. Pilgrim use leather for some harps, and some antique restorers. Mine was offcuts from a cobbler of the right thickness and I put them skin side out. See my post here for a bit about why https://harpcolumn.com/forums/topic/learning-harp-regulation-maintenance/

    Participant
    Gretchen Cover on #187637

    Tacye, how did you install your leather felts? Did you sew them around the pedal. If so, did you have shoemaker make holes in the leather for you to stitch? Technical details appreciated. Also, how thick was the leather?

    Participant
    balfour-knight on #187658

    I also would like to know more about the leather. What would we use in the USA that would be suitable?

    Participant
    Sylvia on #187659

    I’ve heard that piano felt is not good to use. That is why the harp companies sell the felts we use.

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #187663

    The red cloth that is used to wrap pedals is piano bushing cloth. The reality is: It’s not a felt at all, but rather a woven wool cloth that is shrunk after weaving to make it very dense.

    Leather was used on 19th century harps and is still used on them today(Erards and the other companies that made harps in the 19th century). You really have to use leather on them because it will not pack down, which is important to keep the Erard mechanism working without buzzing. But leather is very hard(like rock!) and so pedals wrapped in leather have to be moved much more carefully than when wrapped in bushing cloth. But the Erard mechanism moves very easily, and therefore the pedals are much lighter to move than 20th century pedals.

    I think that leather on any 20th century instrument would sound like a team of horses galloping over cobblestones. Stick to piano bushing cloth.

    Participant
    balfour-knight on #187666

    Thanks, Carl—very soon I will have my harp professionally regulated in Atlanta, and I know Tom will use the piano bushing cloth. I just wondered if leather was an alternative, but I have always liked the bushing cloth. My pedals move very smoothly with very little sound as long as I pedal carefully, of course!

    Good day to everyone!
    Balfour

    Participant
    emma-graham on #187676

    My duet partner plays a Pilgrim Aldeburgh which has leather wrapped pedals. The Pilgrims are lovely but much lighter and smaller than most 47 string harps. The action is very smooth and responsive but we have noticed that the leather has got quite shiny in places and consequently it can squeak quite noticeably. Particularly challenging when recording. Given the option, I would go for the felt.

    Participant
    Tacye on #187685

    Hi Gretchen, I chose a bit of leather that looked the same thickness as the felt I was taking off and sewed them on with a sturdy needle and pliers – I think I put them on over the black rubber thingy that was under the felts. I think it may have been bag leather – sturdier than most leather coats, but not as hard as belts or bridlework.

    Pilgrim I think use sueded leather, I used stuff with an outer smooth surface and have had very occasional squeaks which went away with leather dressing or wax. I like to think I would have noticed or someone would have mentioned if my harp had pedal noise anywhere near as bad as you surmise, Carl!

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #187697

    The felt or equivalent that Karen Rokos put on my pedals two years ago has only now packed down and barely affected her regulation. She is the best of the best!

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