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The birth of a harp

  • Audrey
    Audrey Nickel

    I decided to start a photo set at Flickr as my new harp takes shape, and thought folks here might enjoy looking at it.  I'll be adding photos as the finishing progresses.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/32756104@N03/sets/72157610037071269/

    Audrey

    replies to "The birth of a harp"
    • Liam
      Liam M

      She is looking lovely Audrey, simply lovely.

      Careful when setting your zithers. And be cautious in filling the holes with varnish. I do not recommend the power tool method to set the zithers, Muis is far more sure handed then I am!!  However I did use the drill press as a starter jig. Power disconnected and belts off. Just to hold the alignment when the pin starts.

      Remember they will go in further as you wind to pitch and they are threaded. If they are in too far, wind them out.

    • Audrey
      Audrey Nickel

      He's going to be a beauty, I think.  I'm more than half in love already.  The cherry wood is beautiful, and I'm really impressed by the birch veneer on the soundboard as well...the figuring and finished color really complements the cherry.

      I'm glad I decided to go with the cross cut-outs.  They look just perfect.

      This one's a fella, by the way.  My harps are all lads.  His name is Aodhán.

      Audrey

       

    • Sherj
      Sherj DeSantis

      Dear Audrey,

          What fun to watch. Thanks for posting the series of photos. I am curious...how does Frankenharp sound? I talked to John Kovac a long while back, considering making a series of them in a high school class project with students. Another friend Chris told me he had played one on display at a harp weekend, and it wasn't too bad for what it was.  Regards, Sherj

    • Liam
      Liam M

      Audrey,

      I  keep coming back to that knot pattern on the arch.... It is beautiful!!  If Muis used a one piece arch, it would worry me... but with his construction techniques, I see no cause for concern. You are indeed fortunate, that will really bring attention to the lad when he is finished....

      (Audrey... You do realize that his voice may be higher then his female cousins?  LOLOL!!)

    • Audrey
      Audrey Nickel

      That's OK...I love tenors! (LOL).  I'm very taken with the knothole pattern as well.  My first thought, though, when it was revealed in sanding, was "thank God this is a laminated arch!"  That construction method makes a lot of sense to me, as the neck especially takes a lot of stress (and has to cope with being poked full of holes as well!)

      Re the Piper Harp...it's not bad.  It was Tony's first attempt at instrument building, so there are some bugs to be worked out...mainly uneven string spacing and a buzz in some of the strings.  If it's played softly, the buzz isn't quite as noticeable.  We figure it's still a work in progress.  The biggest oddity is that Kovac switches the blue and red strings, so blue is "C" and red is "F" (I put the letters in quotation marks because the instrument is actually tuned in G...he doesn't reckon the PVC would stand the pressure of being tuned up to C).  I guess that's common with Paraquayan harps, which are his particular specialty.  Takes a bit of getting used to.

      Audrey

       

    • Audrey
      Audrey Nickel

      Well, here's an interesting problem:

      After successfully mounting the zither pins, Tony discovered a minor problem:  One of them doesn't have a hole to thread the string through!  Guess it slipped past the drill at the factory.  Anyone know where I can find a spare?

      I guess the real question is, are all zither pins more or less the same?  If so, I can probably order some from Music Maker.

      The harp is shaping up beautifully!  We decided to try addressing the issue with the soundboard edge by carefully feeding a bit of varnish into the discolored areas (the varnish has a slightly yellow cast).  It's worked well, I think.  The edge is slightly darker than on other parts of the harp, but it looks like a natural variation in the wood.  Tony installed the zither pins and string shoes today, so other than that one pin without the hole, we're about ready to start stringing (God help me!).

      He's REALLY enjoying the process of making this harp come to life, and is already talking about his next project.  I think he's found a lovely hobby!  I'm so glad...not only because I'm getting a new harp out of the deal, but because he really needs to find an outlet for his creativity...something that gives him pleasure...and I think woodworking may just be it!

      Audrey

      Audrey

    • Liam
      Liam M

      Just check the pin diameter diameter and match it Audrey and you'll do fine. I replaced all mine with blued pins because I prefer the look. I also bored out all the holes and plugged them with Spruce dowels which I left slightly proud and then drilled for the zithers.  I have spare nickle plated pins which are the right size and could send you one.

      (Now I would love to say I planned it this way... But I "OOPSed" two zithers and gobbed the holes.... so.... Any way, it looks nice and people think I planned it!)

      Tony, I share your joy.... the pride you feel as your baby takes shape is indescribable, just wait until she sings!! 

      I am half tempted to tackle a Hurdy Gurdy in the future!!  You might look at one too, but don't tell Audrey!

    • Audrey
      Audrey Nickel

      If you have a pin to spare, and wouldn't mind, that would be great.  It's only the one that apparently slipped past the drill.

      We may end up following your lead with one of the holes.  Most of the pins went in without a problem, but one of them pulled out when Tony pulled the key attachement off it.  Right now it feels like it's seated securely, but we'll find out more, I guess, when we start bringing strings up to tension.  I've already reassured Tony that there are "fixes" if it ends up that the hole was stripped a bit.

      I'm getting very eager to hear this fellow's voice.  I've actually spent a fair bit of time just holding it, to get the feel of it.

      Audrey

    • Liam
      Liam M

      Send me an address to Columcille@cableone.net and I'll drop one in the mail this evening.

      On your sliding pin,  try a wee bit of chalk dust ... it "Stiffens" it up... You really do not want to get into putting the plugs in...  It is pretty, but a lot of effort!  Remember as you string, the zithers will wind down so try to keep your strings even enough and the zither starting insertion even enough so the all are pretty well the same insertion when brought up to pitch.  

      Good luck with the bronze strings.... go slow!

    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Audrey,

       

      How beautiful!  I can only imagine how following your new harp's development to maturity will help you connect with him when playing.  -Lani

    • Liam
      Liam M

      Audrey,
      How is he doing?

    • Audrey
      Audrey Nickel

      He's coming along!  We decided to deal with the edge of the soundboard thing by simply applying a bead of varnish there...sanding it down and applying another, until the grayish cast was gone (the varnish has a yellowish cast to it, which matches the soundboard pretty well).  Now it just looks like a natural variation in the wood.

      Tony also discovered a new (to us) technique of applying varnish, using a lens cloth and dragging it gently along the grain...no air bubbles, that way, and the result looks great!

      Once we get that one zither pin replaced, we should be ready to put the strings on...then MY work begins!

      Audrey

    • Audrey
      Audrey Nickel

      Hey everybody...meet Aodhán!

      We put the strings on last night, and I'm starting the tuning process now.

      Not a very flattering picture of my growing-out hair, but you're all just looking at the harp, right? ;)

      The chair I'm using isn't ideal, as it's too high.  I'll be experimenting with other props.  It's even possible my Triplett lap bar will work with this harp...I think the holes in the back are around the right size.

      Audrey

      First tuning

    • Liam
      Liam M

      Ahh Audrey, you're lovely!  Please convey my sincere congratulations to Tony for me and tell him, "Well Done"   Aodhán is bonny!

      Now as Aodhán gains his voice, please remember....when a string stops responding to greater tension and the pitch is not increasing, IT IS STRETCHING and can break. Careful with you eyes!

       

      Cannot wait to hear him sing!

       

      I have rigged a simple harness that I am translating to leather, it crosses my chest like a single bandolier. It then attaches to Clarsita by simple wooden toggels.  It might not serve Aodhán walking due to the greater size, but I believe it would seated.  I will test the concept when I have the Trinity reassembled, (Might be some time, I have decided on extensive carving and pyrography).

      Oh I found a product you might find of interest, Alaska Pics, they are on the internet. I have a set on order to test them.

       

      Right now though I am in South America and could not bring any harp with me.... So I am torturing a guitar!!!  ( I cannot play those either!!!) My sister in law loves the mandolin I brought her, but knows not to let me touch it!! She has delicate ears!!

       

       

      Ummm Ahhh Errr Ach I have to ask, in the photo.... ahhhh emmm ahh err... the right thumb... It isn't hitch hiking, is it?    ........

       

      Liam running for cover!!!!!

    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Audrey, we are all waiting! How does he sound? Are you happy with the tone, just might put one of these together if you are. All best.

    • Audrey
      Audrey Nickel

      Liam...I'm tuning, not playing, so what you're seeing is my thumb on the tuning key.

      I tried my Triplett lap bar with Aodhán, and it worked beautifully with some additional modification.  It had already been modified for a Harpsicle, which has access holes that are ever so slightly narrower at the top and bottom than the Bard's (a stock Triplett bar wouldn't work, as the harp it is designed for is wider in the body than either the Sicle or the Bard)...so I sicced Tony and his new orbital sander on it to round off the corners, and it worked like a charm!  Being accustomed to using one with the Sicle definitely helps.

      I'm not really going to be able to get down to serious tuning until tomorrow, when the family goes back to their regular routine, and I'm alone in the house to tune, cuss, and cry in peace ;).  I'll let you all know what I think of the sound as I start bringing it up to pitch.

    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Audrey greetings hope the tuning goes well!Do you know what the status of Dreamweaver harps is? His email does not work and he seems to be out of business for the moment or longer

    • Liam
      Liam M

      LOLOL!! Just cheeking you Audrey!

    • Audrey
      Audrey Nickel

      His email should work...I communicated with him via email just the other day.  He also posts on the wireharp Yahoo list.

      Did the email bounce back, or has it just not been picked up yet?

      When I ordered my harp, he had plans to stop making harps in cherry, but was still working with the mahogany.  He is planning to move to California, I believe, but hasn't moved yet.

      If you want to contact me privately, I can give you the email I have.  My email is nickelatcruzersdotcom.

      Audrey

    • Karen
      Karen Johns

      What a little beauty, Audrey- congratulations! I especially like the curved pillar.

      I share your growing out process with my own locks- I call it "growing old gray-cefully". LOL