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Alternatives to knotting harp strings?

pattyClink 02 Oct 10 - 09:36 PM
Smokey. 02 Oct 10 - 09:56 PM
GUEST,Lanfranc on holiday and cookieless 03 Oct 10 - 04:15 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 03 Oct 10 - 06:48 AM
GUEST,pattyClink 03 Oct 10 - 03:18 PM
JohnInKansas 04 Oct 10 - 10:36 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 04 Oct 10 - 10:55 AM
The Fooles Troupe 04 Oct 10 - 06:16 PM
JohnInKansas 04 Oct 10 - 10:57 PM
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Subject: Alternatives to knotting harp strings?
From: pattyClink
Date: 02 Oct 10 - 09:36 PM

Working on a harp kit and I notice the strings have no ball ends. I see clips on youtube about how to tie strange knots around little pieces of stout string. Sigh. That seems more than annoying.

Is there no more efficient way of doing this? Would it be so awful to melt or superglue a plastic bead onto the end or something?


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Subject: RE: Alternatives to knotting harp strings?
From: Smokey.
Date: 02 Oct 10 - 09:56 PM

What I did, rightly or wrongly, was to make 'ball ends' from short (3/8") sections of a hard wooden knitting needle with holes drilled through (sideways) and one simple knot in the string to stop it pulling through. A lot of bother initially but they are reusable. Luckily it didn't rattle.


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Subject: RE: Alternatives to knotting harp strings?
From: GUEST,Lanfranc on holiday and cookieless
Date: 03 Oct 10 - 04:15 AM

I just tie a sailor's figure of eight knot in the string, and it seems to work OK

Alan


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Subject: RE: Alternatives to knotting harp strings?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 03 Oct 10 - 06:48 AM

You can buy wooden beads from a craft shop, tie the figure-of-eight knot at the end, and then slip the bead onto it. But be sure the knot is big enough not to pull through, and if it isn't, you can tie a double granny knot just above it, which will eventually slip down against the figure of 8 (which won't slip, because it pulls in on itself).

Have to agree with you about tying the "proper" type of harp knot - I can never be bothered either and I've been playing for decades! The one I use is - I hope I'm getting the terminology right because this name was mentioned to me by a friend who plays harp and sails - a (?) Clove Hitch. I showed him my nifty harp knot and I think that's what he said it was. All I know is that it works and is much easier to tie, especially with temperamental & fragile gut, or irritatingly stiff Tynex/CF/nylon.

The two advantages of the Clove Hitch are that (a) you can tie them with one end of the string immobilised (i.e. already strung through the soundboard hole) because you only need to pass one end through the loop rather than needing to do both of them; and (b) they pull in tighter on themselves rather than slipping down. Sometimes, when the hole is hard to reach from the underside because it's too high on the harp to get your hand in, or it's behind a strut, you need to be able to put the string in from the top side of the soundboard and do the knot after it's already been passed through. (I use a wooden spring-clothespin to hold the string in place and make sure it doesn't fall out while I'm tying.)

I do put a toggle through the knot to anchor the string and stop its end pulling through - and I make these myself by buying a metre or so of electric flex (cord) and cutting it into little 3-quarter-inch lengths. (Use small wire cutters, not scissors cuz you'll wreck them. You'll want these to trim your metal-wound bass strings anyway.) The rubber coating on the flex grips the knot, won't cut through the string, and won't snare against the string bar. (Don't use bobby pins or safety pins etc for these last two reasons.)

So, high-tech gear harpies need to carry around for string-changing:

Wooden beads OR little pieces of electric flex (bell wire is too thin & can snap)
Spring-clothespin
Nail clippers to cut off the leftover string ends
Tweezers, in case the string is hard to catch ahold of to pull through the hole
Small wire cutters


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Subject: RE: Alternatives to knotting harp strings?
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 03 Oct 10 - 03:18 PM

Thank you lady and gentlemen harpers! I will get my hands on some wooden beads and experiment with the figure 8 and clove hitches.

What an amazing place this is!


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Subject: RE: Alternatives to knotting harp strings?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 04 Oct 10 - 10:36 AM

high-tech gear harpies need to carry around ...

If you can find a small hemostat, it should replace both the tweezers and the clothespin. It lets you grab little things, but locks onto them.

You might want a couple if you need the tweezers and the clothespin at the same time.

They're also quite handy for digging the little paper scraps out of your printer when something jams up, and even for getting the last little bits out of the pickle jar, etc. (You'd probably want a larger/longer one for getting that stubborn pick out of your mandolin.)

John


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Subject: RE: Alternatives to knotting harp strings?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 04 Oct 10 - 10:55 AM

Nifty - great idea for grabbing stubborn string ends and actually hanging onto them under their own force, so a good substitute for tweezers. But for the clothespin's duties, I'd be a little worried about the metal and relative weight of them scratching or denting the soundboard. All it has to do is keep the string from falling back down through the hole from its own weight, so the lighter wood/plastic of the pin is an advantage and strong gripping isn't really an issue. (You don't need these two items at the same time anyway.)

But certainly they'd be good kit for the other chore (especially when the light is dim and you can't see what you're doing, and for keeping your grasp on the string without having to apply constant muscle-pressure). Where do you get them? Medical suppliers...?


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Subject: RE: Alternatives to knotting harp strings?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 04 Oct 10 - 06:16 PM

In Australia, I have seen cheap Chinese plastic ones occasionally at stores what I think are like the 'nickel & dime' stores - lots of assorted stuff cheap prices, stuff may fall apart after you give the gift, occasionally the sort of stuff you wish you could get a good expensive version of .... they usually have a 'crafting' section and it can be used for picking up scraps for 'scrapbooking'...


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Subject: RE: Alternatives to knotting harp strings?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 04 Oct 10 - 10:57 PM

Hemostats have become popular enough here to be - sometimes - found at the local hardware stores. They also appear occasionally at the craft supply places. Some medical supply places might have them at only slightly inflated prices.

The "best" place to get them possibly is your own local surgeon, or at least the office/hospital where (s)he practices, since surgeons tend to be a bit "fussy" about their tools and discard any they might deem to have "failed to perform" exactly as expected.

I got my last half-dozen, in sizes I didn't already have handy, at "The Yard," which is a "tools & materials recycler" somewhat unique to the aircraft industry in Wichita Kansas. A source (in the US) that might be more widely accessible is Harbor Freight, a "discount" seller of (mostly) Chinese made tools.

The key to finding them is mostly in learning to recognize them when they appear in unexpected places, with a sufficently greedy grasp to snatch them whenever and wherever they're found. I got most of my first such via "friendly nurses" (they come in both sexes) but most of those supppliers were associated with "military practices" and I'm running out of close friends who aren't well past military retirement age.

John


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