What are sharpening levers?

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

  • Keymaster
    HBrock25 on #161079

    Hi there!

    Audrey Nickel on #161080

    Your teacher doesn’t know what sharping levers are?

    tony-morosco on #161081

    Sharpening levers are the levers that make a lever harp a lever harp.

    They are attached on the peg arm of the harp below the bridge pins. Either one on each string or on select strings like the Cs and Fs depending on how much money you want to spend and what kind of music you intend to play.

    When you flip a sharpening lever up it effectively presses into the string shortening the vibrating length of the string causing the pitch to raise by a semi tone. So if you flip the lever up on the C string the C string now sounds as a C#.

    They allow you to play in different keys and also allow you to play the occasional accidental note as well. Without them then on small non pedal harps you would have to re-tune to play in different keys and you would pretty much be stuck playing diatonic music.

    Audrey Nickel on #161082

    Here…if you look at the neck of the black and tan harp in the back of this group, you’ll clearly see the black levers near the tops of the strings:

    The Harpy Boys

    One caveat…you say you’re seeing “reasonably priced” lever harps.

    barbara-brundage on #161083

    If you’re currently playing a troubadour you have a big ol’ set of sharping levers on that. Given that you say your teacher doesn’t know what they are, do you just ignore them and play everything in the key of C (or e-flat if the harp hasn’t had the tuning changed) or retune the whole harp every time you need a different key? If so, I wouldn’t worry about having them on a lap harp, either.

    Audrey Nickel on #161084

    I’m still a bit confused as to how someone could be teaching someone else to play on a harp that is fitted with levers, and have no idea whatsoever as to what the levers are for.

    barbara-brundage on #161085

    I’ve been wondering about the same thing, Audrey. I’ve seen plenty of pedal harpists who scorn and flout levers, but never one who didn’t know what they are, so I’m curious, too.

    Tacye on #161086

    The problem may be purely semantic.

    barbara-brundage on #161087

    But who couldn’t figure that out, Tacye? I’ve never met anyone who wouldn’t figure out that sharping lever, sharpening lever, lever, blade, wire loop lever, semitone lever, performance lever, camac lever, box lever, etc. all serve the same purpose, if it in somewhat different ways.

    barbara-brundage on #161088

    Unless of course, English is not the native language.

    Tacye on #161089

    But ‘What are performance levers?’ would be a perfectly reasonable question would it not?

    bernhard-schmidt on #161090

    The starter of this topic was writing 3 years ago a post where she speak of the levers on her harp.


    barbara-brundage on #161091

    They are the lyon & healy brand name levers. The point being that you would still know what they were *for.*

    Tacye on #161092

    But Samantha didn’t ask what sharpening levers were for- that is merely the question people decided to answer.

    barbara-brundage on #161093

    >what exactly are sharpening levers?

    Well, I would say that is asking what they are for, myself, Tacye.

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