Blessley Instruments General Harp Care

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If there are children or animals roaming the house, lay the harp down on its back to prevent tipping. If your intuition tells you there is danger, listen.

Remember if you're too warm or too cold, your harp is too. Carry a "Space Blanket" with the harp in case you need to protect it from direct sunlight. A padded case insulates against cold.

Using a carrying case rather than a blanket or sleeping bag will avoid the inevitable bumps and bruises.

Never leave your harp in an unshaded window where the sun might beat down on it.

Avoid putting your harp in cold, drafty areas in order to prevent undue shrinking and expanding of the wood.

Keep your harp away from fireplaces, woodstoves, furnace ducts, electric heaters, or other heat sources. They can dry out the wood and cause cracking or pin slippage.

If you move your harp from a humid to a dry climate, you must provide constant humidity. Any harp needs at least 40-50% relative humidity to stay "healthy" and avoid problems. A cello wick (aka "Damp-it")will help, or you should humidify your house to acclimate the harp. Harps especially need humidity during the winter months, which tend to be drier. If moving from a dry climate to a humid climate, it's probably less serious, but watch for swelling at joints. Not much can be done other than de-humidifying, or heating with a woodstove or forced air/electric heat or furnace, which tends to dry the air. You still need to keep the harp out of direct exposure to dry, forced air heating.

Harps should not be left locked up in a car. They can succumb to the high temperatures, causing warping, softening of glues (most melt at 120 degrees), and ultimate cracking and "explosions."

Tie the harp down in the car when transporting. Bungie cords work well. You may want to use a pillow or two to prevent bumping against other cargo.

Disengage levers / pedals when not in use. They may damage and stretch the strings, causing stress points which could lead to early breakage.

Always replace a string promptly after it breaks. This will avoid having other strings break (as they take up the stress of the soundboard's pulling) and causing uneven tensions on the neck and soundboard. Some people replace all of the strings every year or two, depending on usage.

Don't leave the tuning key on the peg after tuning. It's bound to fall, and many a soundboard scar has been caused this way.

Harp tuning pins are tapered and use friction to hold them in place, offsetting the tension of the strings. When pushing in on the tuning key, use only enough pressure as is needed to keep the string from loosening up. Pushing the pins too much over time may cause splitting of the neck.

If you have a hand-rubbed, oil finished harp, it needs to be replenished once in a while. We recommend using Formby's Almond Oil spray treatment once or twice yearly. Use sparingly on the soundboard, and keep it off the strings if you can. It does produce a slick surface, so cover your floors with newspaper before spraying or spray a soft cloth before rubbing.

Use fine steel wool with hard, wood floor wax to remove small scratches.

Checking for buzzes:

The first thing to check is the end of the string, which should be trimmed fairly short (<1 inch).

Also, strings tied with string ends can cause buzzing in the soundbox. Use leather "washers."

Next, check to see if the bridge pin has worked its way into its hole, which would bring the string too close to the lever. If the pin has worked its way in, you can try pulling it out with a pair of smooth-tipped pliers, avoiding any contact with the string. If it won't stay out, loosen the string, pull the bridge pin out (noting what the proper depth should be first); then use cutting pliers to lightly score the un-notched end so that it creates friction in the wood, and keeps the pin in place.

Check the screws on your levers. They should be just tight, but not so tight as to strip the hole.

On Loveland levers, the nut that holds the plastic lever to the bracket can be tightened or loosened as needed. Loveland levers use a 7/64 rounded allen key "screwdriver" to attach them to the harp, which can be found at specialty hardware stores or ordered from Loveland.

On Robinson levers, a half-drop of sewing machine oil or WD-40 will free up a sticky lever. Make sure you don't get it on the harp or string. Tightening a Robinson lever is trickier. The lever would have to come off the harp, and get a "tap"on the rivet with a metal punch or a nail set. Be careful with the brass screws on these levers as the heads strip easily.

Be careful with your harp, and call if you have questions. (360) 576-8111 or write to us at

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