Wire harps and sound holes

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

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    Audrey Nickel on #162084

    I’ve noticed that, unlike nylon- and gut-strung harps, most wire harps have sound holes cut in the sound board.

    tony-morosco on #162085

    The reason for the sound holes in wire strung harps is because the soundboards are typically made from harder woods in order to hold up to the tension the wire strings puts on them. The holes help the sound project.

    As for levers, I have heard that levers break wire strings more often, but as I understand it the real reason for not using levers is that they just don’t sound good. I believe that Triplett offers levers as an option for those who really want them, but blades come standard on their wire harps.

    Several wire strung harp makers don’t even use bridge pins for that reason. It seems to me that if the major makers wire harps don’t use them then there is probably something to it.

    Audrey Nickel on #162086

    Thanks…that’s useful info.

    bernhard-schmidt on #162087


    without to go to deep in

    Liam M on #162088


    If I could be of service… I am currently finishing a Dreamsinger Druid.

    I did a lot of research of the various Wire offerings and finally narrowed it down to the Dreamsinger and the Ardival.

    I evaluated the Music Maker kit extensively and feel the design differences of wire and nylon are simply too great to settle for a design that goes either way.

    As part of my research, I talked quite a bit with Cynthia Cathcart, (a simply divine lady!). She is the US rep for Ardival and it is a good deal. She also is in my opinion, the expert of wire harps.

    My choice of the Druid was economically based. The Druid was ~50% of the Ardival Kilkoy in unfinished state.

    Audrey Nickel on #162089

    Well, you see, the thing is, he wants to build one, not just finish one.

    louise-vickerman on #162090

    Hi Audrey,

    Check out Ann Heymann’s website:


    She is probably one of the foremost exponents of the wire strung Celtic harp and I remember hearing her play in Glasgow, Scotland as a young student!

    Liam M on #162091

    I have plans from scratch for a wirestrung, which means you would have to find the bits and pieces you need. However I have a list of sources as well, so it is doable. Let me know, I could send them along.

    My concern on the Music Maker kit is the much higher tension of the wire and the appearance that it is a Nylon design which they are offering wire string for. I would feel the lot more comfortable if it were a wire design exclusive.

    Audrey Nickel on #162092

    Hmmm…this one from Stoney End is also offered as a kit:


    And appears to be designed specifically for wire (though I notice it also seems to lack sound holes on the front).

    Liam M on #162093

    I’m sorry… I missed Stoney End when I was writing. Yes it is a good instrument. I believe you could put sound holes in the front if you have an adequate soundboard thickness. Perhaps they would send you those details? I had them on my list as well. Looking for my notes on why I scratched them and honestly cannot remember.

    BTW I may have just put my final coat of danish oil on my Druid. We’ll see if it is ready for final buff and wax. Tell your husband there is no joy like the way cherry starts deepening it’s colour and glistening as you apply the finish, it is quite like a butterfly emerging from the cocoon.

    Liam M on #162094

    Just found my notes…. The Stoney End has plywood sides on the body which should not affect the tone or the instrument, I just did not want plywood sides.

    Liam M on #162095

    No EDIT!! The soundboard is a spruce/birch laminate.

    Tacye on #162096

    I restrung a Stoney End Eve with medieval style brass wire (having removed all levers and bridge pins) and am happy with the sound, though would prefer narrower spacing, which the clarseach has, if I had been chasing after the ideal, rather than the easiest solution.

    Liam M on #162097


    If you don’t mind… how did you determine the wire gage to use?

    Tacye on #162098

    I must admit to being lazy on this occasion and asking the person from whom I bought the wire to calculate it for me as I didn’t know what stress on the string would give the desired sound either.

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