Harps have traditionally used tapered friction pins for tuning. These are tightly pressed into a tapered hole in the harp neck, and can work loose with changes in temperature or humidity, bumps in transport, or general day-to-day use. When a tuning pin becomes loose, its string won’t hold pitch until the pin is reset, which can take a fair amount of hand strength.
In 1997 we designed a new type of pin to eliminate the occasional need to reset pins. These threaded tuning pins are grooved with a very fine screw thread, which is hidden inside the harp neck. When the pins are pressed into precisely sized holes, these threads create friction that securely holds the strings’ pitch. They give the player a smooth, fine-tuning control not typically found on tapered pins, and they all line up beautifully when you look down the length of the neck, a nice bonus for those of us who appreciate small details in instrument setup.
In 1998, we designed a threaded bridge pin (the small brass guide pin just above the sharping lever). Previously, bridge pins were round with a friction fit and were challenging to adjust. Since bridge pins are very useful for harp regulation as well as adjusting the string height, making them adjustable made working on our harps a lot easier.
Threaded bridge pins and threaded tuning pins are available for sale in our Hardware Catalog, which you can download as a PDF file.
In our initial work designing harps, we devised a radical new neck joint—the place where the harmonic curve (the curved section with the tuning pins) joins the soundbox.
In this radiused or curved joint, the neck is held onto the top of the soundbox by string tension rather than bolts or screws. A locator pin, wrapped in a cushioning sleeve, fits in a slot and prevents sideways movement but allows longitudinal rotation. That way the neck can flex under the tension introduced when the harp is strung (more than 1,000 pounds!) without compromising the strength and tightness of the joint between the neck and soundbox.
We also believe this radiused joint functions as a shock absorber, helping to dissipate the force of impact from minor bumps or falls that might otherwise cause major damage. And, should damage occur, it's easier to separate the large sections of the harp and repair or replace only the necessary portion.
We had experimented early on with using mahogany instead of the traditional spruce for harp soundboards, but we wound up taking it one step further. In blind experiments with a panel of harp players and a series of harps with different tone woods and soundboard thicknesses, a concensus emerged. The players preferred the resonance and clarity of mahogany in the mid and treble ranges, but wanted the warm, "fat" sound of the spruce in the bass. Re-thinking the traditional approach of using a single tone wood, we wondered why we couldn't simply use each wood where it produced the best results.
So we tried out a two-part soundboard and loved the results. Now all of our larger harps have soundboards with mahogany in the upper two-thirds of the range, and spruce in the bottom third. These are overlaid with a thin veneer of book-matched figured hardwood for strength and beauty, and the result is a gorgeous soundboard that enhances the best qualities of each range of the harp.