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Looking After Your Harp

phone: 021 252 7632

email: robyn@robynsutherland.com


How to take care of your harp

Remove watches and jewellery that might damage the harp in case they damage the harp while you are playing.

String names -  C strings are red -  F strings are blue.

Tuning the harp and setting the harp levers

Your harp will have all the levers down as in the below pic. When you are finished playing for the day you will once again put all the levers down as this takes tension off the strings.

34 string Ballad kitset harp with 3D printed levers


When all the levers are down your harp is tuned to the key of Eb (E flat) and starting from the red string C the notes will be - C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C

To set key of C, for harps with levers, lift E,A and B levers

34 string harp with 3D printed levers showing lever settings


Changing the levers gives you access to different keys, when a lever is up it raises the pitch of the string by a semitone.

If your harp has no levers tune it to the key of C

Tuning apps

There are many tuning apps available for iphone and android devices. Robyn uses Roland Boss tuner on her phone - it is very convenient to have a tuning app on your phone as it is never too far away from you. You can just sit the phone up on your music stand or on a nearby table while you are tuning your harp.
You will need to download a chromatic tuner app.


Use the tuning wrench and electronic tuner or app to keep your strings in tune. Note that the top strings have more tension than the bottom ones, this means that you will only need to turn the tuning peg a very small amount to change the pitch.
Be sure that you are turning the correct tuning peg, if you are looking at the electronic tuner and it is telling you there is no change in the pitch of the string it might be because you are turning the tuning peg of the string next to the one you are playing. . . this can result in breaking a string by tuning it too high by mistake.

When tuning, if the tuner has a mic, it is best to hold the tuner in your hand or to clip it onto a music stand. If you clip it onto one of the tuning pegs be sure it is well attached and doesn't fall off as this could damage or even crack the soundboard of the harp.
When using the tuning wrench don't leave it on the tuning peg as the same thing can happen - it can fall off the peg and land on the soundboard causing damage. Hold the tuning wrench in your hand at all times when tuning and shift it from peg to peg as you tune.

When not in use

Keep the harp covered with a cloth. For harps with levers this prevents dust build up and damage to the lever mechanisms. Set the levers down when you have finished playing for the day. This rests the strings by relieving them of extra tension.

Unless your harp has legs or a rounded back - when you are finished playing the harp lie it down in a safe place. Don't leave the harp standing upright as it is unstable without you holding onto it and can easily tip over.

For harps that have legs - When the harp is standing up it can be easily nocked over if it is unattended. When you decide where to sit the harp in your home be mindful of what the instrument will come into contact with if it is accidentally knocked over. For example, if the harp falls on a hard surface like a coffee table it can cause damage ato the neck which may then need to be replaced

Keep the harp at an even temperature so it won't go out of tune

Keep it away from heat such as central heating, electric heaters, radiaters, dehumidifiers and fires. Dehumidifiers are particularly bad. Never leave the harp in a room with one on. In summer check that the part of the room that it stands in does not receive direct sunlight and get hot. When the harp is in a warm room remember to keep it clear of any cold breezes from doors or windows as this can cause it to go out of tune and can cause string breakage.

Always travel with the harp well wrapped up or in a carry bag

Moving the instrument from inside your home to the car or another place may cause the strings to go out of tune. To minimise this happening always keep the harp well wrapped up in a blanket or in the purpose made carry bag when traveling. Do not leave the harp in a parked car as it can overheat. If the harp overheats it can crack or the neck can warp.

Lie the harp flat to travel, levers to the top. Never put any pressure on the harp evers or strings. Soundbox to the right is best when you are lying it flat. If there is a "Harps of the South" badge on the bag, it should be on the top where you can see it.

Don’t be tempted to put your music or any other accessories inside the harp bag with the harp as this can cause string breakage and other damage.

Although taking the harp to the beach may sound like fun, please don't as sand is very difficult to remove from the harp!

If you like to sit outside and play remember not to have the harp in full sun - sit in the shade.

Do not take your hire harp on an airplane.

When you are returning the harp or taking it out of your home

When you put the harp in the harp bag the back of the soundbox is closest to the floor. It is easiest to put the base of the harp in the bag then gently lower the top part in and zip the bag up. The neck of the harp will then be by the handles of the bag and the harp will easily lie on the floor on its back.

When you are carrying the harp in its bag do not put the bag handles over your shoulder as this makes it very easy for you to knock the instrument as you are walking through doorways. This can damage the instrument and also the levers. Carry the harp carefully, especially when you are wallking through doors.

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email: robyn@robynsutherland.com or Phone: 021 252 7632


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page last updated 11th May 2024