Thursday, January 12, 2012


We are pleased to welcome again harp technician and guest author Steve Moss of The Harp Herald who presents a series of informative articles to our blog about harp care. In today's article, Steve explains what takes place during a routine harp regulation appointment.

We'd like to thank master harp technician Peter Wiley and harpists Peggy Skomal and Paul Baker, who kindly agreed to an impromptu photo shoot for Steve's article. On with the Tech Talk!

Have you ever wondered what goes on when you bring your harp to a technician for a regulation? In a nutshell, a harp regulation is a periodic maintenance service designed to keep your harp playing and sounding its best.

A harp regulation normally includes a complete inspection of your harp’s condition, replacement of short-lived parts such as pedal felts, adjustments to compensate for the changes a harp undergoes over time, noise elimination, and adjustment of action parts to improve intonation.

The steps below are the ones that I use for each one of my customers. These steps may differ slightly from what your technician may do, but basically the end result remains the same. Let’s look at the whole process of harp regulation, step by step:

When you arrive for your appointment, your harp is unloaded and brought to the workplace.

Once the harp is in the workplace, I will check it over and ask if there are any particular problems you may be aware of. I’ll look over the strings and recommend changing any strings that might help the regulation of your instrument as well as its sound and/or intonation.

Well, not really!  Some harp parts, such as the pedal and pedal slot felts do become compacted and worn over time.

I place your harp in a stand or situate it so that I have easy access to the harp through its base, and I begin work by replacing the felts.

While I’m at it, I inspect the harp’s base and underlying structure and work to remove any clicks or other noises in the pedals. I also adjust the pedal rods as necessary to compensate for natural changes your harp experiences as it ages.

After taking care of the repairs and adjustments at the base of your harp, it’s time to look at the top.

I stand the harp up, and take a good look at the alignment of all the parts on the action. I make any necessary adjustments to the discs in the action so that the strings are aligned correctly within the disc.

When you move a pedal on your harp, each
disc must turn just the right amount to make the harp sound its best.

Now is the time to check your harp’s intonation and sound. I play every string again and again, in each pedal position, listening for buzzes, sizzles, and other unwanted noise and work to eliminate it, if possible. When you change pedal positions, does the harp stay in tune? If not, I adjust the discs and other moving parts to correct any problems that I may find.

After I have completed the regulation, I will give you a report on what I’ve seen and advise you if there are any major repairs on the horizon that you should be aware of.

I also encourage you to play your harp before you leave. This is the best opportunity to ask a question or voice any concerns you may have, or ask any questions you have about your harp’s performance. Often, a harpist’s individual style of playing will highlight an issue that needs extra attention.

Your harp should work well for you, so take your time and let me know if something feels or sounds questionable.

Once any necessary adjustments are done and you are satisfied with how your harp sounds, we will discuss when your next regulation should take place. 

That's it - See you in a year or two!


Steve Moss/Moss Harp Service
Peter Wiley/The Harp Doc
Peggy Skomal, Harpist

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