Look, I’m tired, I’m sick and I’ve been questioning myself for years… two years… since I bought my gut strung harp…. I’m changing to carbon-fibre strings. Did you think this was about something else? well… it’s not… it’s about harp strings!
I’ve had my gut strung Camac Korrigan for around two and a bit years now and while I love it, I also hate it! It’s a great harp because while it has a great presence and looks like a real harp (like one that actually takes up space and looks professional) you can also carry it up stairs if needs be! This has been really helpful when playing at gigs with lots of stairs and it’s more than you’d think! I’m just going to come out and say it: I don’t like playing at the Angel hotel because their disabled/stair-less access is terrible and doesn’t really work for harpists or people in wheelchairs because you have to physically open the doors to get in instead of just pushing a button. Anyway, the two times I have played their I have had to carry my harp up a flight of stairs and then tried to negotiate getting out of three doors that kept trying to close on my harp…. That’s not what this is about but I needed a round about way of getting there. If I played a big concert Harp It would be a real struggle to get into some buildings and that’s one of the main reasons why I’m not getting a full size harp when I upgrade… the other reason? I’m very poor…
I’m joking, I’m really just too lazy to tune 47 strings! I can barely get a handle on my 38 strings! That’s why I’m converting to Carbon-fibre strings! yep! They make sail boats, Cars, bikes, shoes, golf clubs, phones and even harps out of carbon-fibre and they also make strings! So I’m moving to the future!
Many many years ago (can you hear the harp playing whole tone scales?…
There we go)
All string instruments where made out of wood and gut, all the strings where made of the intestines of animals tightly wound together to make a pretty sound! Harp strings are still made out of natural gut! which is a good use of that part of the animal but also a little gross but hey, you can’t have burgers without killing a cow! Anyway, gut strings are the worst.
The Joke about harpists is:
‘A Harpist spends half their life tuning and the other half playing out of tune’
This is because gut strings are sensitive to their environment. They can deal with extreme cold and heat but they won’t stay in tune!
I don’t have to deal with snow, but I do play in basically a large glass box every week at the Hilton! In the winter it’s lovely because it’s nice and warm and you get good light but in the summers it just becomes a giant greenhouse! strings get very hot and bothered!
My gut strings are one of the many pains of my life in theory! I spend more time worrying about them than actually changing them! In February when my car broke down I had to walk my harp into work and it was fine…one string broke but it was all fine! Last November I took my big harp busking and it couldn’t cope with being outdoors and was very horribly out of tune!
So I decided to buy an entire new set of strings that were carbon fibre, they would be a lower tension so easier on my hands and wouldn’t break as easily and also be significantly cheaper! (The cost of a full set of gut strings was putting me off buying a spare set for years!) So I’ve just been living dangerously and hoping I didn’t have a string break before a concert or performance! luckily this has never happened but I frequently have my strings change pitch during a set at work so I wanted to get a replacement set that would stay in tune no matter how warm or cold it was! my nylon strings on my busking harp are a great example of this. I have played in 0C degrees and 25C and it has never slipped in pitch or had a string break; It’s a great little instrument.
So, I decided to convert my string gradually when they break because then it’s less work trying to get all 38 strings to play ball when I can just change it one at a time!
It took me a good month to decided but I hope it will be worth it in the future!