Silk Harp Strings

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    taras on #256522

    Hello, has anyone tried silk harp strings before? I am not referring to silkgut/nylgut but strings actually made from silk.

    If so, how do they sound? Do you have any videos using them?

    Here is a link to silk strings

    Thank you

    balfour-knight on #256523

    Hi, Taras,

    That looks very interesting! I had not thought of silk harp strings in years. They look very vintage. I hope someone responds who knows more about them.


    taras on #256534

    I found this video providing instructions on how to make them. I am somewhat tempted to try when I have more time available.

    Biagio on #256549

    Pretty cool, I did not know anyone was making these in Harp lengths. Notice that for many strings in the range they should be wrapped.. and that’s not cheap!

    Before committing that money personally I would first try nylon core fiber bed nylon wrapped strings (Vermont Strings supplies those) for a good deal less $$.

    “Fiber” is also called “artificial silk” by some; if memory serves the stuff is Dacron. Some older harps have been restrung with fiber and metal wrap for a smoother transition from gut in the higher ranges.

    Whether natural silk or “fiber” be aware that they continue to stretch without a solid core material. If you get some please let us know what you think!

    Happy harping,

    balfour-knight on #256550

    Very interesting video about making these silk strings! He should have demonstrated how they sound after all that. I agree with Biagio, I would go with regular nylon wrapped over solid core nylon strings, or nylon over bronze core, both of these being what Dusty Strings makes and uses on their harps. In the vintage L&H catalog of 1899, p. 45, their silk harp strings were advertised as “American wound silk with steel wire centers.” I think that especially pedal harp tension strings would indeed need to have this type of solid core center.

    Let us know what you decide!

    Best wishes,

    Biagio on #256552

    I do love those bronze core strings that Dusty uses much better than steel core. One needs greater mass in the bass to keep the strings to a manageable length and bronze gives a lot more “oomph” than steel. It is, however more prone to breakage so for higher tension steel may be the only alternative.

    When discussing “tone” in different string types (“gut is more mellow than nylon” e.g.) what we are really talking about is the relative strength and location of partials, aka timbre. In general, softer material provides a more mellow sound and shorter sustain than harder ones due to the partials they produce.

    Perhaps we want a lute-like timbre but as harp players/makers we also have to be concerned with relative size (no really FAT strings) vibrating length and tensile strength. Nylon core fibre bed nylon wrap should come close to that achieved entirely with silk at much lower cost.

    Just my two cents.

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