Cynthia CathcartCynthia is one of the world's experts on the Clarsach, the wire-strung harp of the Highland and Islands of Scotland and of Ireland. Performing and teaching internationally, she is leading a new wave of interest in the wire-strung harp. Based near Washington, DC, Cynthia represents Ardival Harps of Strathpeffer, Scotland and is their North American Artist in Residence. Cynthia is a recording artist, and the author of several books for the clarsach. She holds a number of prestigious awards, including two-time U.S. National Scottish Harp Master Champion, three time winner of the Clan Lamont Trophy (in Virginia, Texas and Ohio), and holder of the Pennington-Grey Award for service to the wire-strung harp.
My name is Cynthia Cathcart and I am going to show you how to tie a wire harp string. First and foremost, you want to have your string chart, so you know what size of wire to use. You should have got one of these from your harp maker. If you havent, give him a call; get a copy of the string chart. If you cant get the string chart, you can take, what are these things called, calipers. I bought this from a harp maker, but you can buy at a hardware store. Theyre pretty common. With this instrument, I can measure the actual string, thats broken, take it, measure the string and it will tell what size of string it was. Thats the string you are going to pull out of your supply of strings. Now, your strings may have come nicely packaged up for you from your harp maker with little labels on them showing the size. Get the same size as your caliper showed you or string chart showed you, or you can buy them in coils like this from a specialty music shop. There are shops that sell instrument wire, thats what you want, instrument wire. Other thing you are going to want as you are getting ready to tie your knot, youre going to need your harp key. If you dont have a harp key, get one from your harp maker. Sharpies; red, black or blue; this is to color your strings. The red strings are your C strings, black or blue are your F strings.
So, you want these, especially if youre changing F C or an F string. You will also need well, Ive got several examples here, some sort of pliers that can cut wire. This could save you, this is a vise grip. All we did, go to hardware store, bought a vise grip, tied a length of cloth line to it in a loop. Well see why in a moment. Then, the last thing youre going to need is the toggle. Now, then you may be able to salvage the toggle from the broken string. Toggle can be made out of wire or out of a nail thats had the head part cut off of it. You can also make your own. You can find them some times, they are made out of a bit of wooden dowel. You can just go at the hardware store buy a wooden dowel and cut it into little sections, the length you need for a toggle. I have run out of toggles, so I am going to have to make one. I will choose the thickest wire I have and get my pliers here. Okay, this is pretty thick wire here. So, I am going to take a thick wire and make a zig and make a zag and cut it. Its so long, so I am going to cut it little shorter. There is my toggle and this little zigzag in here is where you are going to tie your knot. The zig and the zag keep the knot from slipping off. Now, if youre using a wooden toggle, you will now go into the wood a little bit and that will keep it from sliding off the toggle, the wooden toggle. Okay? Thats half of it; we need the length of wire.