The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #84785   Message #1567498
Posted By: Helen
21-Sep-05 - 05:43 AM
Thread Name: How do you tune a harp?
Subject: RE: How do you tune a harp?
You can still tune it up and have a plunk at it. The red & blue strings are just to navigate but the sound is the same whether they are in the right place or not.

Go on, have a go!!

With **new** harps it is better if you tune them up gradually by tuning all the strings down a couple of tones down compared to the notes they will end up being. So, if a note will be a C natural, and the whole thing tuned to C major then tune it the first time around so that the string 2 below the red is C with all the others related to that. When it more or less keeps its tuning over a day or so, you can start tuning it up one note, i.e. moving the C up to the next string and everything else in relation to that. This helps to stretch the strings to their desired pitch and it stays in tune longer. It also eases the sudden pressure on the soundbox which you would have if you tuned it to C without easing it in gently.

While you are easing it up to the correct pitch you won't be able to navigate easily because the red & blue strings won't be C's & F's but at least you can have a play with it.

If it isn't a new harp this is not important. As long as you don't tune it at too high a breaking strain on the strings. You'll get to know what is the right pitch for the strings, i.e. where middle C should be, by the tension or slackness of the string. If the string is tuned to C and being a good tension - not too tight not too loose, and with a good sound - it's unlikely that it will allow you to tune it up a whole octave from there. You'll start to feel it straining too much and getting close to breaking point.

Sorcha, my second harp was built by a local amateur instrument maker from Markwood plans, the 34 string Celtic (I think it's called that) and it is a beauty. Lovely sound for a fairly simple construction.