String recommendations for Lever harp

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Tell us something.: I am a harpist. I am looking for advice on string manufacturers and what are the best strings for my particular lever harp

String recommendations for Lever harp

Post by KatyS »


I’m new to this board. Thanks for accepting me.

I play a Teifi Telor 34 string lever harp made in Wales. It came strung with Bow Brand natural gut strings and I’ve always replaced them like for like. I’m interested in trying the Bow Brand Silkgut strings and wondered if anybody had compared the two types. I’ve just broken no.23, D, 4th octave and considering replacing it with a Silkgut. I know that it’s probably best to replace the whole set but it will be very expensive seeing as I have many new gut strings to replace upper octaves. Any advice welcome, many thanks.
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Re: String recommendations for Lever harp

Post by Tonehole »

Hi Katys,
is yours a student Robyn version?

It will probably not withstand the higher tensions of steel strings if it is. I also play on 34 lever although mine is tuned metal wire x 10; gut or silkgut x 12 then nylon for the highest strings. This is the correct schema for my strings oddly - which I am still getting my head around! But its' no different than guitarists who might have a single core high E string, and then wound strings further down etc.

From what you say - you have a consistent sound with the Bow Brand gut strings (same brand which I use). You can acquire the no.24 string as gut or silkgut from Bow Brand or independent sellers - the consistency between their silkgut and gut is really really good. I can't hear a difference. The audience can't hear a difference either. I think it's more about tactile feel when playing; durability too. For the 5th or 6th octave, I find the gut strings too flabby and weak in projection: the metal concert silver wire is the most resonant and penetrating although leads to some imbalance for the adjacent gut string although mine is designed for higher concert bass silver wire tensions for a full and rich tone.

Try getting an octave set of silk gut for the 4th octave- the whole 34 range would be unaffordable. I don't know any harp player who would be so lavish to change the whole set - harp string sets are the cost of a new instrument! The silkgut is stronger than standard gut esp if you use the kind of levers like mine which often busts strings on pitch shift. Its great to hear you have tiny 1st octave gut strings. I didn't realise this was even possible to spin the gut so fine and not tear at such fine thread diameters? Mine are nylon in this octave range.

So even if you bought a single silkgut replacement, you probably wouldn't notice the difference in sound. The colour/slight difference in appearance will be noticeable if that kind of detail is distracting for you.

Good luck!
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