Strings on an Érard Empire

  • Participant
    orion lavin martinez on #217757

    Hello to all!

    After four/five years of looking for an affordable harp I have finally bought an Érard Empire with 47 strings for less than €4.000 about a month ago. It came fully stringed, with all pedals working, so I tuned it and now I practice on it.

    I realized pretty quickly that there are all kinds of different kinds of stringas on it, which gives a really uneven sound. A lot of the strings are also really worn out etc…. I really want to replace all strings, including the bass octaves, but I really don’t know which brands I should buy. Since we don’t have all the money in the world, I guess making customized strings might be too expensive (assuming it’s more expensive). I also don’t know the age for sure, but someone has already told me that the harp was built after 1930, since that was the year Érard moved back to Paris. The serial number is 4728.

    An other question I had: does anyone know which type of transport cover would fit? It came without one. The harp is 178,5cm in height, so I guess it would be about the same as a Gothic harp.

    If one of you could help me out, I’d be extremely grateful!

    Participant
    balfour-knight on #217770

    Well, this is definitely one for Carl Swanson to answer, I think! This particular Erard model may be able to use standard pedal harp strings, but Carl could tell you for certain. I wish you all the best with the stringing.

    Sincerely,
    Balfour

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #217800

    Orian- What country are you in? it must be someplace in Europe. I would suggest you contact one of the harp repair shops, particularly in England, and see what they recommend. Pilgrim Harps and Allan Harbour are two who come to mind. In Paris I would contact Le MAGASIN DE LA HARPE. They are all used to dealing with Erard harps, most of which are very old now. So special care has to be taken. It would be even better if you could take the harp to one of these places so they could examine it.

    Participant
    orion lavin martinez on #217808

    I live in Belgium, pretty much near the border with the Netherlands. I am only 16 years old, so my mother would have to bring me, but I don’t think she would be willing to do this. I just discovered in the official documents of the Érard lutherie that my harp was built in 1935. I think it still has the original soundboard, which has some horizontal cracks in it, but in Proarte in Antwerp they told me that those cracks shouldn’t be a problem. If you want I could send you pictures of it?

    Participant
    johnny on #217820

    Try contacting Frans and Jean-Pierre Castermans in Maastricht. That shouldn’t be too far from you. http://www.castermansharpen.com/
    They have the most impressive work ethic combined with excellent skills and a genuine interest in any harp of any make. They transformed my more than 100 years old L&H to a fully functioning instrument that sounds beautifully. Wizards!
    I strung the harp with light Bow Brand guts and made sure to order a 5th G gut as this string used to be a gut string back in the days. You can identify this if you see a change in the string hole at either 5th F or 5th G. If it has a white-ish ivory-looking ring, it ought to be a gut string there.
    The wires I bought from Clive Morley Harps in the UK and they are Gothic brass strings that are slightly lighter than any mainstream bass string. You would want to keep the tension on the low side on an instrument of this age so also consider if you can tune it to 440 rather than 442.

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