March 19, 2014

Harp Care

It has been a rough winter for just about everyone - temperatures going up and down, rain, snow, ice, more snow.  Heater on, heater off, windows open, windows closed.  All that change can be hard on your harp. You probably find your harp is out of tune more than "usual".  While all that is happening, don't forget to check your regulation.

Regulation is a technical term for periodic maintenance for your harp.  It keeps it in good working order (or playing order if you prefer!).  Lever harp regulation is important and no less essential than it is for pedal harp.  How often you need to regulate is determined by harp type (with pedal harps needing more frequent regulation than lever harps) and how often you play (with more played harps needing regulation more periodically).  And if you are very picky about your tuning you might want your harp regulated more often.  If your lever harp is needs regulation, you will notice that when you set your levers your sharps are not accurate or your naturals aren't right.  Your levers can be off in either direction (too sharp or too flat).

Not sure if you need regulation? Here's a way to tell:
  1. take all your levers off and tune each string as accurately as possible*
  2. set all your levers
  3. check the tuning of each string (do this carefully - remember that you have set every lever not just the ones you usually set, so make sure you are getting sharps and naturals where they should be)
If your tuning with the levers set is not as accurate as it was with the levers off, you may need regulation.   There are, of course, matters of degrees (how far off are they) and your tolerance for any variance.  It is most likely that the levers you use the most will be the most affected (because you're are always engaging and disengaging them, the bracket has more opportunity to move).

If you do need regulation, you can do it yourself, although I recommend you go to your luthier.  If you decide to do it yourself, I suggest you find more experienced harpers who do their own regulation and ask for help and guidance before doing it yourself - it requires patience and calm.

Regulation is a small maintenance activitiy that will allow you to enjoy your harp as well as making it "healthier" so you can play it longer.  Stay regular my friends!

* you can do the same procedure to check your pedal harp regulation

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