Replacing the Strings

Replacing the Strings

by Susann McDonald and Linda Wood Rollo

These pages are from the new book Harp For Today, a Universal Method for the Harp by Susann McDonald and Linda Wood Rollo, and are used by permission from MusicWorks - Harp Editions. Harp Spectrum is very grateful to the authors.

It is important that the student learns how to replace a broken string as soon as possible. Since strings frequently break, especially in damp climates, a complete set of strings should be kept at home. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Remove broken string.

  2. Put the new string from above through the hole in the top of the soundboard and tie a slip-knot from the back-side of the harp. Do this by making two loops and putting one through the other. Before drawing the knot tightly, insert a small piece of thicker string ( 1/2 an inch long) through the smaller loop, and pull the knot tightly around the insert. An insert is only needed for the strings higher than and including middle C. For all strings (except wires) below middle C, follow the diagram, steps 1 to 6. For middle C and the strings above it, follow the diagram leaving out steps 5 and 6.


  1. Pull the string through until the knot fits snugly against the under side of the soundboard.
  2. Thread the top of the string through the lower hole of the tuning pin and place the loose end under the string from the inside. Then turn the pin with the tuning key until the loose end is locked in place. Be sure the string is in the groove of the string-nut.
  3. Wind the string up to pitch. It will not keep its pitch until it has been stretched. It helps to pull gently on the string several times and keep tuning it to pitch. Depending on the size of the string it can take as long as a week for the new string to hold its pitch in a normal fashion. Cut off unused portion of string with wire clippers, leaving about one-half inch.

The right amount of slack allowed before tightening a new wire string.

Special note about wire strings! Wire strings should be inserted through the hole in the soundboard from the back side. The string should be put through the pin and tightened slightly but not completely. The string should be left loose allowing at least one octave of slack (about six inches). It is not necessary to pass the string under itself as before. With the 6 inches of slack, begin tightening the string until it reaches the correct pitch. If this slack is not allowed, a new wire string will often break when brought up to pitch.


For additional tips, see harp technician Steve Moss's videos on knot tying and securing the string on the tuning pin.


[Back to top of page]


Home | What is a harp?
Historical Harp | Folk and World Harp | Pedal Harp |
Harp Building | Harp Works | Non-Harps |
Camps & Concerts | Links | Glossary |
Donate! | Get Involved! | Contact Us | About Harp Spectrum

Copyright 2002 - 2017, Harp Spectrum All Rights Reserved