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?
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?
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.
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!
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.
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!