String by String
I now have an octaves worth of new strings ready for my Harp String Patch test. In this post I am going to give my feedback on these seven different strings as I put them on and tune them up. I did encounter some adversity in the name of a broken pedal rod, but that is now installed and adjusted. NOT A FUN TASK! but a helpful harp repair buddy is really useful. A shout out to my dear Dad for all is help. It is extremely useful for a harpist to have a tool man as a Dad.
I replaced all of my patch test strings on the 5th of April, 2017. Now for my initial impressions.
Nice shiny string. It looks and feels good. Easy to knot, smooth, not brittle. I have an initial sense that I am going to be happy with this string. It tuned up well.
Of course I had to include a Bow Brand! This string is my "control string." I have lived for years with the instructions from my first teacher to always use Bow Brand Natural Gut on my harp. They have always served me well. This string is a new Bow Brand. It is smooth and quite clear. Whiter in color than the Vanderbilt string. The string tied okay but was a touch brittle and less flexible than the Vanderbilt. Tone is beautiful and golden. Tuned up well.
This string in an exploration into gut string alternatives. I think as time progresses we may have to consider more gut alternatives for many reasons, such as less expensive, kinder to animals, or quality of tone. The Savarez Fluorocarbon string initially feels like a good nylon string. Of course it was super stretchy and took a while to tune up. Once tuned however, is almost sounds exactly like its Bow Brand neighbor! I found this quite surprising. The fluorocarbon feels sharper on the fingertip. I doubt my harp fingers will care much though.
This string is blue! Why is it blue? I have not put a blue string on my concert harp since forever. I have a feeling this string is going to be interesting. It feels a little rough in texture and the blue varnish started coming off immediately. If you look at the picture at the top of the blog post you can see how much the blue has come off. It is still transferring onto my fingertips! Why coat a string in a varnish that comes off so quickly? Now for the sound. The sound is good. Different, big and resonant. It has a hollow resonance. Like it has more outer overtones and less inner ones than other strings I have used. Still, why the blue that does not stay on the string?
I decided to try a Pirastro string after another harpist made me aware of them. I thought it would be a good idea to try more than one alternative brand nylon. The initial sound of this string is bright and bit snappy. Stretchy, of course.
I have heard good things about Premier strings as a Bow Brand Natural Gut alternative and YES! this is a good string. It sounds super good and tuned up easily. The length given was quite generous. I am really pleased! I am already plotting putting these in the lower gut range of my harp.
I have been using Bow Brand Burgundy when I have less funds but still need strings. They are okay. They wear well and tend to hold tune. They are not as resonate as the Natural Gut but always easy to work with. If you are practicing a lot but not doing a lot of concerts, these are okay. Decent practice strings.
Up next! The Saga of a Pedal Rod. Then I will blog about something other than harp strings for a while.