November 13, 2013

Why being in Eb isn’t necessarily best

A lot of people tune their harps to Eb.  The question is, should you?

First, you might want to know why so many people choose to be in Eb.  Many people like Eb because it is a very flexible tuning that allows you to get into eight major keys.  Since you’re asking those keys are:
  • Eb (3 flats – E, A, B)
  • Bb (2 flats – E, B)
  • F (1 flat – B)
  • C (no flats or sharps)
  • G (1 sharp – F)
  • D (2 sharps – F, C)
  • A (3 sharps – F, C, G)
  • E (4 sharps – F, C, G, D)
Being able to get into so many keys certainly limits the number of pieces you can’t play.
However, that flexibility comes at a price.  You get all those different keys be engaging the levers.  That engaging the levers means that before you have even started, you have stopped the string.  Stopping the string means that you won’t get the same full resonance, the true fullness of the sound, the depth of the tone.  For the best tone you need as many open strings are possible.
So you should think about your tuning before you commit to it on your harp.  Do you need to be able to get into all those keys or do you typically stay in just a few keys (think about which levers you typically use)?  You can use the answer to that question to finalize which tuning you want.  If you want the best tone from your harp, keep it open and select the tuning that gives you the fewest engaged levers. 

Then sit back and enjoy the full throated singing of your harp most of the time.

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