Tuesday, June 5, 2012

the harp gets some wings

 I couldn't finish the story of this harp without some close-ups of Betty Truitt's lovely levers. The ones standing out of order are the B and E levers because, of course these strings don't 'get sharp'- so they  start off as naturals and lever down to be flats.

I have to admit that this final fitting took me an unseemly amount of time, and I certainly have come to respect people who set these things up on a regular basis. There is an uncanny amount of detail and precision in the design, layout and placement of these fittings.

I must also reiterate how wonderful the design work in this harp is, and that is all down to Rick Kemper- who is, I suspect, much more of a 'details man' than I am, and has gone to enormous lengths to share the fruits of his considerable efforts. I would have made some pretty fundamental errors without his expertise as a spring-board.

I'm excited to have made this for a particular family too, and I just hope that it fulfills its mission elegantly and without any glitches. It was a great relief when the strings first went up to tension- I could feel every joint and surface that I had assembled being strained and tested, and the tension was unbearable as the pitch got higher and implosion seemed to my little brain to be inevitable, but it all just settled and coped.


  1. Just beautiful, Robert.

    The levers look like very intimidating things to deal with. Do you have to 'tune' each lever to ensure accurate note changes, or does the positioning take care of that automatically? Or does the player have to fiddle with the absolute tuning of individual strings if a lever is tripped?

    Makes fiddling with a guitar capo look easy.


  2. Hi Pablo and Kym and thanks.
    The levers need to be in good alignment, because twisting the run of the string will cause wear and too much 'sharping', and their position on the neck needs to be carefully nuanced with (in my case) an electronic tuner to ensure an exact pitch change. There is a bit of slotting in the mountings that will allow for further adjustment if neceessary, without the need to re-drill mounting holes.

    So the player can set the harp to different key tunings just by activating certain levers, and each lever will give an exact pitch without needing to adjust anything. Mathematically, a semi-tone point is approx 1/18th of the vibrational string length, and this can be calculated by multiplying it by 0.0555- or using a tuner, or both!

  3. Hi Rob,
    I've not popped in for awhile so I have some reading to do but may I add my wow truly wonderful, congratulations.

  4. Cheers Mike, and thanks. Hope all is well with you.