Tuning pins

Traditional Irish harp tuning pins for wire-strung Irish harps are a different design from modern harp tuning pins. The tapered shaft is basically the same, but the squared drive head is different.

Modern taper harp pins have a parallel-sided small square drive machined down into the shaft. These small parallel drives on modern pins are fine for gut strings or nylon strings which are pretty stretchy and take a lot of winding for fine tuning. But monofilament wire strings are much more sensitive and require very fine control of the tuning pin and key. The traditional Irish harp tuning pins for wire-strung harps have much wider square drives which taper slightly. This wider, tapered drive head allows a much more precise fit of the tuning key or tuning hammer onto the pin, and makes fine tuning of the sensitive wire strings much easier.

I became frustrated by how even good harpmakers were producing good traditional Irish wire-strung harps copied from the historical originals, but were fitting modern pins to them. So I started making the traditional style pins, at first to fit or retro-fit to my own harps, and subsequently to supply them to makers and other players.

My handmade brass tuning pins have #4 Imperial 1:48 taper shafts, the same as standard modern harp tuning pins. This means they can be fitted using a standard ¼ reamer, or can be swapped out to replace modern steel pins. I can make your pins to any shape, size or length (within reason…) Let me know what your harp is, and what pins you need for it.
Standard #4 pins with steep or sloping shoulders (type A or B) £12.50 each.

Pins with blended or continuous shoulders (type C), need more work to shape the shoulders and blend them into the shaft. So too do pins which need to be a bit thicker than the standard #4 size (part of the head can be filed down to make a continuation of the shaft). Because of the extra work, pins like this will cost a bit more, typically around £16 each. Contact me for a quote.

Pins that are too big to use my standard #4 blanks can be fabricated but this is a lot more expensive. Contact me with your requirements. The modern design of traditional Irish wire-strung harp developed by John Egan in the 19th century which became the standard model of traditional wire-strung Irish harp, has steel pins of different sized shafts, but the heads are the same as the older traditional design. I am currently working on the specs of these pins. Contact me for more info.

Examples of my previous work

I have made sets of pins for amateur harpmakers as well as for professional instrument-makers, to be fitted to new harps. I have also made replacement sets of pins for retro-fitting older harps that were originally fitted with modern steel pins. Some of my sets of pins are generic old Irish harp pins; others are carefully sized and modelled after individual historic pins. I enjoy making replica pins specifically to go in a replica harp. (in the photographs below, I did not make the harps! I only made the pins for these harps)


I can also supply brass taper pin blanks, if you want to make your own pins. These are the same blanks that I am now using to make my own hand-made pins. These blanks are made for me here in Northern Ireland to my specification. They are turned from brass rod. The blanks are 105mm long with #4 Imperial 1:48 taper shafts, and integral 6.4mm drive heads.
Data sheet and instructions for use (PDF download)
£5.50 each

I wrote a photo blog post which documents the making of a set of pins using these blanks.

To fit these pins into a new harp you will need a ¼ reamer. You can buy one for £25, or you can borrow one from me, for £5 plus a £20 returnable deposit.

How to order:

Send an email to shop@simonchadwick.net, or phone or text me, telling me what you would like.

Please note: postage is charged extra. Click here for payment information.

If you are not sure what you need, still get in touch and ask me. There is no commitment to place an order; just call or email and see if the price and description is really what you are after. I am happy to recommend other sellers who might have what you need.