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Rusty autoharp strings?

GUEST,nymarks 04 Jul 09 - 09:56 PM
DADGBE 05 Jul 09 - 01:21 AM
Melissa 05 Jul 09 - 02:37 AM
Dave Hanson 05 Jul 09 - 04:37 AM
GUEST,Dan Schatz's laptop 05 Jul 09 - 11:37 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 06 Jul 09 - 12:23 AM
GUEST,nymarks 06 Jul 09 - 08:26 AM
DonMeixner 06 Jul 09 - 12:54 PM
Dan Schatz 06 Jul 09 - 02:00 PM
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Subject: Rusty autoharp strings?
From: GUEST,nymarks
Date: 04 Jul 09 - 09:56 PM

I have an autoharp newbie question: my wife bought me a 'harp at a yard sale, I purchased a set of LaBella strings on eBay - "new, in original bag, no returns" - and they're rusty. Not end to end, but in spots. Can I use them? Should I try oiling them (but not near the ends)? Steel wool? Or is this one of those fun life lessons and I should toss them out?


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Subject: RE: Rusty autoharp strings?
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 01:21 AM

You might want to start again. Yes, it's fairly expensive but you won't be doing yourself any favors using rusty strings. Contact Peter D'Aigle. He's a wonderful resource for the correct, fresh strings for your instrument as well as all things Autoharp.

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Subject: RE: Rusty autoharp strings?
From: Melissa
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 02:37 AM

contact your Seller..tell him your strings were rusty (and see if he cares enough about Feedback to replace them)

In Feedback (presuming the Seller doesn't want to replace..but some Sellers DO make a little bit of effort sometimes--nothing lost by trying) leave a message that the strings arrived in a timely manner, packaged well, and rusty. (or leave out the timely/packaging if it's not accurate)

No need to be nasty..but no need to let somebody else end up with a rusty set too.

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Subject: RE: Rusty autoharp strings?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 04:37 AM

I always thought autoharps were made with rusty strings.

Dave H

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Subject: RE: Rusty autoharp strings?
From: GUEST,Dan Schatz's laptop
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 11:37 PM

As others have said, you don't want to put these on your instrument. "No returns" on E-bay doesn't include defective products, and you would have a right to complain to Ebay if they don't accept the return.

To be honest, I've had very poor experiences with LaBella autoharp strings, even when they weren't rusty. I find them not very tightly wound, and not as many wound strings for the middle register notes - cheaply done. You'll probably have much better luck with Oscar Schmidt strings, which you can find at various places. Elderly Instruments has fairly good prices.

Just make sure when you buy them that you get the right kind - most people want the "B" model - with ball ends - rather than the "A" model, with loop ends. There are exceptions, however, especially for older 'harps.

Best of luck!


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Subject: RE: Rusty autoharp strings?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 12:23 AM

my problem is 2 really nice autoharps left downstairs
and forgot behind the sofa for
about 8 years,
and now i am sad to dicover they are covered in mildew
and i can not so far work out any way
to clean the mould out fr0m inside the body sound chamber..

and yes, I am hyper allrgic to dust and mould..

so, any way to clean 'em..
or should i just bin or bonfire 'em.. ???

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Subject: RE: Rusty autoharp strings?
From: GUEST,nymarks
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 08:26 AM

Thanks, everyone, for the help!!

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Subject: RE: Rusty autoharp strings?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 12:54 PM

There are rusty strings and then there are rusty strings. Can you clean the strings with 0000 steel or bronze whool and a little WD40?
The plain strings will likely be fine unless they are pitted. There is no way to know for sure about the wound strings unless they are under pressure from tuning. I'd take this track if the seller won't take them back. Check the Ebay description for any reason he won't, such as "Sold As Is"

Punker, Mold and mildew is an issue. If you are that allergic and you have a house that generates mold and mildew in Autoharps you may have bigger worries than your Autoharps.


Mold and mildew need moisture and damp unmoving air to generate. Take those climates away. Put on a mask and start blowing air through your harps, use a box fan, and let it run for a few days.
This next step will sound strange but not really. Go to the hardware and buy some white sand. Sift it to get out any stones or hard lumps.
Put it on a cookie tray and put it ia low oven for an hour or so to make sure it is dry. (People who keep Hermit Crabs know this step, it won't hurt the sand, tray, or the oven) The kind of sand you found in classy lobby ashtrays years ago.

When the sand is cool dump a few cups into the Autoharp and start shaking it about inside. The moving sand will scrubb the mold and mildew away from the wood, the dry sand will act as an astringent and dry the inside of the harp further. Take your time with this step and be thorough. Clean it out with a small shop vac hose. You'll probably be shaking sand out of it for months but you'll kill the mold and mildew.

The out side will clean off with any cleaner just don't be too aggressive. Mildew in the felt is a different worry, soak it in a water and bleach solution. How much a mix is anybodies guess and don't be surprised if you have to reglue bar felts. It may be better to buy new bar.

I've restored Autoharps in the past. 36 for a school district one winter and this will work. Be thorough and aggressive on the inside, careful and un aggressive on the out.


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Subject: RE: Rusty autoharp strings?
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 02:00 PM

Wow - I've never heard of that mildew removal process before. I'm very impressed!

As far as the strings, they were listed as "new," which means they shouldn't be rusty - so the seller is required to take them back regardless of "as is" provisions. Accurate descriptions are helpful. I've generally had good luck with getting items that were not as described returned or discounted (these would have to be returned), generally by being very polite, assuming the best of the seller (ie, they would never have knowingly shipped something defective) and asking them how they'd like to proceed. Only one have I had to make an actual complaint, and that was for someone who never shipped the item and dropped off the face of the earth.

I wouldn't buy strings on Ebay, as a general rule, though I have bought a couple instruments that way. They're probably there because they'd been sitting around somewhere for too long, and are now being liquidated (to the point of rust, apparently!). A trustworthy online source like Elderly or a local store you can hold accountable is a much better bet.


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