Proper Environment for the Harp

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    Cindy Cripps-Prawak on #189067

    Hi friends, known and unknown,

    I have a couple of harps (LH Style 23 and LH Troubadour VI). I keep them in my living room ready to play. As a result of a discussion I recently had on my guitars and proper humidity levels, I starting thinking about dryness of the air and impact on my beauties.

    I would appreciate some advice from the community regarding what the best environment for my harps is. For example, should I be focused on a particular humidity range? should I keep them covered?

    Gretchen Cover on #189068

    I live in Florida where it is very humid. I find that my harps stay in tune much better when covered. The humidity in our house is 60%. Even when we lived up north, we kept the humidity at 60%. I just had a piano blanket made to protect the new piano strings from salt and humidity. I was told by the piano tech it is important for an instrument cover to use a natural fabric that breathes, such as wool or cotton. Synthetic fabrics will hold the moisture in.

    BTW, as a slight side topic – be sure to periodically check to make sure your flat pedal felts (the white ones the pedals hit) are in place. I just moved my harp and realized several had fallen off. You can cause serious damage to your harp without them. There also 2 sizes, depending on how your pedals are wrapped.

    Cindy Cripps-Prawak on #189072

    Hi Gretchen, Thanks for the advice. I will check the level harp tonight. By the way my house stays at about 43%. I think I will need to add a humidifier to the air conditioning system.

    balfour-knight on #189073

    Thanks, Gretchen. Hello to CCPRAWAK. Here in western North Carolina, we have extremes of humidity–high in the summer and low in the winter. I am obsessive about keeping the humidity in our small house between 40 and 60 percent. I have to add moisture in winter, then take it out in summer, a constant endeavor! But my harps, grand piano, dulcimers, pipe organ, and clavichord seem to love it. (My sweet wife does, too!) The instruments stay basically in tune, except when I take one of the harp princesses out–then she is unhappy!

    Best regards,

    Gretchen Cover on #189076

    Cindy, don’t do anything right away about your humidity level. Check with other harpists via the American Harp Society directory (consider joining if you have not done so) and whoever the harp tech is that comes to your area. I hope others who build/restore harps will read this thread and offer you advice. I have heard of adding humidity during the winter, but I don’t know that you would want to do so in the summer. If the humidity is constant, it should probably not be a problem. Where do you live?

    balfour-knight on #189077

    I agree, Gretchen. As I said earlier, between 40 and 60 percent humidity is fine for any wooden instrument. This was supported by Lyon & Healy, MusicMakers, Dusty Strings, etc. And I advise this to my piano-tuning customers all the time. Hope this helps.

    Best wishes,

    Cindy Cripps-Prawak on #189079

    Hi Gretchen,
    I live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. We enjoy extremes of weather, damp cold of -22F in winter and today it is +86F and dry. I try to keep the house between 65-75F depending on outside temperature.

    I will consult with AHS members: I just joined the group. Thanks so much for the advice, much appreciated.

    warm regards,


    balfour-knight on #189085

    Hi, Cindy and Gretchen,

    I was just re-reading what Carl Swanson said about being too dry in the winter in his book A GUIDE FOR HARPISTS. I do not think that the SUMMER could be too dry unless your air-condition is making it so. Humidity is measured from zero percent dry up to 100 percent humid. Ideal humidity is about 50 percent; that is why it can be a little dryer to 40 percent, or a little damper to 60 percent and still be okay for the harps and other wooden instruments.

    One other important thing: all hygrometers are not accurate. I once had a customer who thought that her house was too humid at 70 percent, but when I actually measured it with an accurate piano-technician’s hygrometer, I found her humidity to be only 50 percent, normal! So all she had to do was subtract 20 to get an accurate reading.

    Hope all this helps!

    Best thoughts,

    Elizabeth Webb on #189086

    Hi Cindy, I live in Tucson, Arizona. It’s super hot and super dry here most of the time. I am active in the local harp community, and I don’t know of any harpists here who use a humidifier. I have also not heard any stories about problems from the lack of humidity. Right now we are in our monsoon season, where for about 2 months we get short, intense thunderstorms sometimes daily for about 10-30 minutes. Our harps hate monsoon season. Never had any real damage, but lots of extra tuning and lots of strings breaking during this time.
    I agree with the advice that was given to ask around your local harp community as well as a harp technician who services your area. Don’t add a humidifier for the sake of adding it. Every area is different.

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