Silver harp strings

At the beginning of January I was fiddling with the setup of my harp, as part of an ill-fated New Years Resolution to change its tuning. For the last two months I have had 10 gold, 10 silver and 10 brass strings on (nominally), which I liked because of the neatness and symmetry of the counting.

Taking the silver 3 notes higher than it ever used to be, up to an octave above middle c, must have emboldened me. The silver I am using now, and the way I am drawing it hard, seems to work very well for thinner higher pitched strings.

Also I have been pondering the Ouseley quote about the silver strings on the Trinity College harp.

So the latest scheme (pictured below) takes the silver right up to the top of the harp. The only exception is the very highest string which still has Dan Tokar’s experimental super-hard-drawn gold wire from years back. I just can’t bring myself to remove it!

The sound of the high silver is nice, more creamy and fluid that the brass. I think I always felt that the high strings on this harp were a bit pingy; I swayed between thinking that the treble end of the soundbox is too thick, or thinking that it is meant to be pingy as a contrast with the singing midrange and the roaring bass, or thinking that if I could only get the right type of brass (red brass, yellow brass, hard-drawn, latten…) then it would become perfect.

Now I will watch how these high silver strings hold up for a couple of weeks. If they behave themselves then I’ll probably keep them going for a while.


2 thoughts on “Silver harp strings”

  1. Wonderful! I was wondering if you might try this. If they hold up maybe you can do a side by side comparison with Brendan's gold treble strings someday.
    How have the other silver strings been working? Have you had much breakage?

    Peter Wilson

  2. I always found the silver a bit more fragile than brass, but not unusably so. Actually I think Tokar's silver was a bit more brittle than mine, I remember having more breakages in the first few years, especially the f and g an octave above na comhluighe. I have had less breakage since I have been drawing my own.

    Yes listening to Brendan's new CD reminded me what a bold voice his harp has, I remember it being if anything too bright in the treble for my taste – I always enjoyed the contrast of the different metals for different voices in the harp. Hopefully it won't be too long before I get to see him again and compare them side by side as you say!

    Now the tuning has stabilised I need to play it a lot to get used to the change of course.

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