How to Care For Your Harp
Each Harp I build is perfectly crafted to fit the needs and desires of it`s owner and player. Once you have your new harp at Home, here is how you can care for it so that you will enjoy it`s music for many years to come.
Your harp should be cleaned only with a very soft, 100% cotton cloth. Do not use wood cleaners or conditioners on the harp that contain lemon or orange oil as these can soften the lacquer finish on your instrument over time and can change the color of ornamental images on the harp. It is also a good idea to keep a clean, soft cotton cloth handy to wipe the strings with when you are finished practicing. This is particularly important with gut or metal strings but can also be a good maintenance habit to use with nylon strings as well.
The Harp in Your Home
One “rule of thumb” that some people use in caring for their harps is the idea that, if you are comfortable, your harp will be too.
This is perhaps too simple an idea, but it is basically true. If you are too warm or too cold in your living room, or if there is hot sunlight or a cold draft coming from a nearby window, your harp will not be comfortable. So, here are a few basic ideas to keep in mind when choosing the location in your home where your harp will live.
1 The harp should be placed where it is very unlikely to be knocked over or bumped into and also where it is unlikely to have anything dropped or spilled on it. It is ideal to be able to back the harp up into a corner when it is not being played.
2 The harp should be protected at All times from pets and from young children. If you have cats in the house, be careful about putting a cover on your harp, as cats like to think they can climb a covered harp and can pull it over on top of themselves in the process! If at all possible, keep the harp in a room that can be made inaccessible to kids and pets.
3 Your harp likes to be kept at a fairly constant temperature and humidity. 50% humidity is ideal. A simple inexpensive humidity gauge should be kept in the room with the harp. In homes with central heat and A/C, it is often necessary to add humidity to the air with a room or instrument humidifier so that the wood of the harp does not get too dry. When you have heat or A/C on, it takes much of the moisture out of the air.
4 Do not place the harp where it will be in direct sunlight at any time of the day, or where the harp will be subjected to drafts from open doors, windows, A/C vents, heaters, etc.
5 If you plan to be away for a weekend when the out side temperature is very hot or cold, put the cover on your harp and leave your thermostat set at a comfortable temperature.
Most of these things are simple common sense. Remember that variations in temperature can affect how well your harp stays in tune, the life of your strings, and the life of the harp itself. Keeping these things in mind as you care for your harp will help to ensure many years of enjoyment from your instrument and will help you care for it properly.
Transporting the Harp
1 Just as no one should leave a pet or child in your car in the summertime, do not leave your harp in a car on a hot day. A short time left in a extremely hot car can potentially cause a harp to literally explode as glue joints soften and wood cracks!
2 Put all levers down and cover the harp completely by putting it in its own padded travel case or by wrapping it securely in a blanket or sleeping bag. (If you use a sleeping bag, be sure to keep metal zipper parts away from the wood of the harp!)
3 it is very important to moderate the temperature inside your car if at all possible before loading up the harp. Park in the shade, roll down the windows, and turn on the A/C before loading the harp. If it’s cold, run the heater for a while before putting the harp in the car.
4 When hand transporting your harp, always have a hand on the instrument! Do not leave it to stand up in a padded case or on a dolly or on wheels built into its case.
5 Always lay the harp on the side WITHOUT the sharping levers, with the levers facing up. In almost all instances, this will mean that the pillar of the harp will be on the left as it is laid down flat. This is important so that levers don’t get bent or broken. Smaller harps can also be laid down on their backs (on the sound box) and can be transported this way, so long as it is protected from tipping over!
6 Place the harp flat on a padded surface. A mattress is ideal, but a folded blanket or bedspread works well also.
7 Don’t put anything on top of the harp or where it could fall onto the harp while the vehicle is moving.
8 Obtain and use a “Space Blanket” to cover the harp when transporting it in hot weather.
Tuning the Harp
1 Your harp should be tuned daily, if possible. This will help keep the harp under even tension and will also help develop your own ear for tuning as time goes on. Also, harp strings are designed to resonate best at full pitch, so keeping the whole harp consistently tuned to pitch will make the whole instrument sound better.
2 When moving from string to string, be sure you have the tuning wrench on the pin for the correct string. If you continue to turn the wrench, but the string you’re plucking isn’t changing pitch, you are probably turning the pin for the wrong string and are likely to break that string! Use the “Up and Over” method of locating the correct pin. Follow the string up to its bridge pin and tuning pin, and then look across the top of the harmonic curve (neck) to locate the correct pin to put the tuning wrench on. This is a simple mistake to make, but it’s also easy to avoid by just paying attention to what you’re doing.
3 On most harps it is a good idea to push in gently on the tuning pin (toward the neck of the harp) as you tune a string UP (to a higher pitch). This helps keep the tuning pin firmly set in the neck of the harp. Do not apply pressure when tuning a string DOWN (to a lower pitch)! Also remember that most tuning requires only very slight adjustments, not great big, full turns of the tuning pin.
4 DO NOT leave the tuning wrench sitting on a tuning pin at any time! This is a really good way to damage a soundboard when the tuning wrench drops off the tuning pin.
If you have any questions, you can ask your harp teacher, or please feel free to call or email me ! 🙂
And if all else fails, remember that I also do all kinds of Harp Repairs as well !:-)
Thank you for coming to visit my Harp Pages, please let me know how I can bring your Dream Harp to Life !
Follow your Bliss, and live your Life in Joy!
Glenn J. Hill