Care and Maintenance


A regulation is care and maintenance of the mechanical aspects of the harp. A factory-trained technician usually does this. The confident harpist who enjoys doing this type of work can learn parts of a regulation.

The more that you know how the harp works the better you will understand just what the technician is doing during a regulation and why it is being done. You will also be able to describe and possibly help pinpoint most problems. When preparing for a regulation, you should communicate with the technician any problems with the harp including noises, buzzes, clunks and the feel of the pedal action.

At the time of a regulation the technician will visually inspect the harp, checking the strings, post, neck and soundboard as well as exterior metal parts. The action of the pedals will be worked for general feel and tension. The technician will place the harp in a cradle or other support and remove the base in order to inspect the springs for proper tension and for wear. They will also inspect the rods to make sure that they are secure and not bent or worn. Any necessary lubrication of the springs will also be done at this time. When the base is replaced the technician will make sure the pedal action is smooth and proper tension for the harpist is achieved. During the regulation process the discs and screws at the neck can be adjusted or replaced as necessary. Some harpists choose to have their bass wires replaced at this time. The technician will note any major problems and communicate them to you for further action to be taken at the factory if necessary. A complete and competent regulation will take several hours.

When to Regulate:

How often do you need to have your harp regulated? This depends on you and your harp usage. Generally:

Professionals and Harp Majors: Regulated Yearly
Most Others: Every two years
Non-Professionals: Every three years

Pedal Wraps and Slot Flats:

In accomplishing any work on the harp, it is best to start at the bottom. And that means new wraps for the pedals. The condition of the wraps and felts will affect the action of the pedals on the rods to move the action for the strings. Overly worn pedal wraps and slot felts can also cause other problems such as buzzing. So it is wise to make sure that the wraps are in good condition. If the felts look worn, they are. Replace them. If the felt slots are packed down, they need to be replaced.

The scarlet bushing cloth used on harp pedals is a very sophisticated woolen fabric, woven, then felted, using moisture, heat and pressure. It is made to a very precise thickness. It is quite different from ordinary dressmaker's felt. Dressmaker's felt is not strong enough to last as a pedal wrap.

You can learn to replace the pedal wraps and slot felts yourself or you can have a technician do this at the time of a regulation.

Tuning Your Harp

Tuning the harp might seem like a very simple procedure, but a small misstep can cause harm to the harp and harp strings. When tuning in the key of C-natural. the pedals must be in the natural, or center position. It is actually better, though, for the harp to be tuned in the key of C-flat. When the pedals are in the flat, or top position, the discs won't grab the strings. Even though tuning is taught by all harp teachers, sometimes beginners can make mistakes. Just remember to check where the pedals are before tuning, and then tune your harp in the appropriate key.

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