Read some suggestions on string tying and trouble shooting,
and some suggestions on tuning your harp.
NYLON is often the best choice for beginners and those who like the nylon tone and feel. They are easy to keep in tune, cost less, and are more forgiving of technique. They have a beautiful tone and a very nice medium tension. We use Thormahlen bass wires for the lowest octave and a full octave of wound nylon for the second lowest octave. The transition from bass wires to the nylon is very gradual and easy on the ears.
LEVER GUT is a light gauge of gut that has a little softer tension than nylon. It is also called folk harp gut. The tone is brighter than concert gut but not as bright as nylon. They seem to be warmer in the lower end and brighter in the higher end. Many pedal harpists see these strings as a welcome change from concert gut and a nice rest for their fingers without compromising the wonderfully warm and rich tone that concert gut offers. Each string is actually thinner than the corresponding nylon string. We use our bass wires for the lowest octave.
CONCERT GUT is the same stringing used on pedal harps. It has the warmest tone and the firmest tension. If you are a pedal harp player and like the feel of your pedal harp, you might choose these strings. It takes strong fingers to get a lot of sound out of these strings, so beginners should shy away from them unless you KNOW that you will play pedal harp someday. The soundboard on concert gut strung harps are built heavier to accommodate the increased tension of these strings. We use the same set of bass wires for the lowest octave on all of our harps. Concert gut strings can only be used on our specially built concert gut Swan, Cygnet, or Clare model. DO NOT PUT CONCERT GUT STRINGS ON A HARP BUILT FOR NYLON, LEVER GUT OR FLUOROCARBON. It will void your warranty and stress your harp.
FLUOROCARBON strings are made out of a synthetic polymer. They produce a very bright tone with a very light tension. The density of these strings are higher than other strings which makes for a thinner string. These strings do not break often, and once they are holding pitch, they hold very well. A new string will tend to stretch quite a bit thus taking some time to tune up to pitch. They are the most expensive string set.
The Thormahlen Bass Wires are steel-core with a silver plated copper wrap. We use these bass wires on all of our harps giving a powerful bass octave that can really be pulled without deflecting the pitch. The full octave of wires also provides sympathetic vibrations, which give the entire range of the harp a deep, rich resonance and more sustain.
Please Note: A harp strung in nylon, lever folk gut or fluorocarbon should never be restrung with concert gut (pedal harp) strings. The soundboard would not be able to withstand that kind of tension and the warranty would be void.
In our older Swan, Cygnet and Serenade harps, before harp #1470, nylon strings and lever gut strings ARE interchangeable but not with the fluorocarbon strings. There may be a few lever handles for harps with Loveland levers that may need to be changed to accommodate the different string gauges. Camac levers will need to be regulated to the new string gauges. If you need more information about this, please email or call us.
We have redesigned all of our harps. On our newer harps, since about harp #1470, nylon, lever gut and fluorocarbon strings ARE interchangeable. The Camac levers will need to be regulated to the new string gauges. If you need more information about this, please email or call us. I have a list of all the harps, so if you are in question about your harp, email or call and, hopefully, I can give you the information you need.
To order strings
You can order strings directly from us. Just call or email and let us know what kind of string you need (concert gut, lever gut, nylon, or fluorocarbon, the string # and string name. For example "nylon, string #9 D" or "concert gut 4th octave B (string #23)" and so forth. The numbers on the concert and lever gut packages will differ from our numbers but the letter names and thus their colors remain the same. The numbering system on the gut strings is caused by the standard set that starts the harp at a first octave E string 2 (36 string harp) or 4 (for a 34 string harp) strings higher than where our harps begin, so the numbering is off by 2 or 4. The #28 F gut string is really #26 on our 36 string harp and #24 on our 34 string harp. It's a little confusing but if you go by the string note name, you should be fine.
Below are the prices for our individual strings. Complete set prices are at the bottom of each column):
STRING PRICING CHART
ALWAYS give note name along with the string number (See the FLUOROCARBON chart below.
Because of the complication of setting up paypal for all of these individual strings and/or string sets, and so we are sure you are getting the correct strings, please call us for string orders.
Lyon & Healy have just done a huge price increase. Their pricing is somewhat confusing. I am willing to help you with your string order if you would like, but you might want to just call Lyon & Healy for Concert Gut or Lever gut strings. The prices below may not be accurate.
To continue on the journey, find out more About Harps in general. This is a very brief history. You'll also find a "Parts of a Harp" diagram at the bottom of that page.
Thormahlen Harps | 1876 SW Brooklane Corvallis, Oregon 97333 | (541) 753-4334 | firstname.lastname@example.org