Three minute read · September 2020
How to tune your harp
There are all sorts of jokes about harpists and tuning, but with the right equipment and a bit of practice, you’ll soon be doing it in your sleep!
New harps always need more tuning at the beginning. Tune it frequently, and things will calm down quickly. How quickly depends on how often you tune; the more you do, the sooner your harp will settle.
To learn how to tune, watch our video guide!
Eagletone harp tuner
If you would like to buy an electronic tuner, you can use any one you like, so long as it is fully chromatic. Don’t get a guitar tuner. These are designed for six strings, so they won’t do all the notes you need.
We recommend this harp tuner Camac has developed with Eagletone. It comes with a clip-on pickup, which means you can still tune even if there is a lot of background noise. As soon as you attend any sort of harp event, where everyone is trying to tune simultaneously, you’ll be glad of this. Not only will your harp sound great, but you’ll make lots of new friends because everybody will want to borrow your pickup.
How to replace a harp string
Your Odyssey harp is strung with standard gauge, Camac Celtic nylon strings. This material has a light, clear tone, often loved by folk musicians (several of Camac’s larger lever harps are also strung in nylon). Nylon strings are also inexpensive and robust, which is always good news for a harpist.
That said, it’s never impossible that a string breaks in transport, and all harps break strings now and again at home. You can order your replacement strings from the Camac · Odyssey webshop, individually or as a set. It’s a good idea to keep a spare set at home, which will spare you the inconvenience of waiting for your string to arrive. You can also order the wooden dowels we use to anchor the strings at the bottom.
A propos the wooden dowels: don’t be tempted to skip the separate anchor. Even if you tie a big knot, the tension of the string will pull it up, and you risk the knot getting stuck in the string hole. This will be a devil to get out. If you don’t have any dowels, use a similarly-shaped bit of wood. The stub end of a pencil will do in an emergency!
If you’re not sure which string to order: the highest string on your Odyssey is A1, going down to C27 at the bottom.
Use the strings we recommend. These are carefully matched to the harp’s construction and the regulation of its levers, if your Odyssey has those. If you do need to substitute with different strings, material and gauge are more important than the brand. If you ever need to know your Odyssey harp’s string gauges, you can download them here.
Once you’ve got your new string, watch our video guide to find out how to replace it.
How to "Press the Pegs"
On all types of harp the world over, the tuning pins sometimes work a bit loose. If this happens to you, you’ll find the string slips back when you are trying to tune it up. This can cause harpists some concern, but it is nothing to worry about and easily fixed. What you need to do is “Press the pegs”.
We made a video about this too!
Looking after your harp
Looking after your harp
Temperature and humidity
The ideal temperature for a harp is 20°C ± 5° C, and relative humidity of 50% ± 10%. These recommendations are noted on your warranty certificate.
As a rule of thumb, if you are comfortable, your harp will be too. You would not feel good left outside all night in the snow, or in a hot locked car, and it’s the same for your harp.
Bumps and scratches
Small portable harps like the Odyssey can be easily knocked over, so do what you can to prevent this. Another classic damage-maker is when a music stand falls on your harp; avoid it by putting your stand behind your stool when you’re not using it.
Harp health in times of Corona
At the start of the Covid crisis, Camac carried out extensive research into how to sanitise harps and share them safely. The results of this can be read and downloaded here.