Q:How to Tune a Harp?

A:Due to the number of strings on a harp (up to 47), tuning will require a bit of time, an electronic tuner and a harp-tuning key. Due to the melodic sound of the individual strings, the act of tuning, itself, can be an enjoyable endeavo

Q:How Does a Harp Work?

A:Harps have a row of tuning pegs on the top and a box-like resonator on the bottom. Strings are stretched between the tuning pegs and the resonator, and adjusted until the harp is in tune. Most harps have a diatonic tuning, using 7 notes in each octave to get a complete major scale. Some harps are chromatically tuned with two rows of strings side by side. The row with the diatonic strings is like the white keys on the piano. The second, chromatic row is like the black keys. When the player plucks a string, the vibration is passed on to the resonator, which amplifies and projects it. The harpist can choose to pluck the strings with the pad of his finger to make a warm, mellow tone, or to use the tip to make a sharper sound.

Q:What kind of music can be played on this instrument?

A:The Reverie Harp is not really designed for playing music. You can pick out a few simple pentatonic melodies if you explore around on it to find the right notes (Amazing Grace, Go Tell it on the Mountain, Row Your Boat, Three Blind Mice, Mary Had a Little Lamb, etc). But this is not the main purpose of the harp.

Think of this as more of a therapy tool for non-musicians than a musical instrument for musicians. We designed it specifically so that a person does not need to engage the mind to enjoy pleasant sounds. So the word "play" does not mean "perform" on this harp. You "play with" this harp. You can close your eyes and play with it – we call it "noodling around" on the strings. A child can play with it, a person with limitations can enjoy playing with it.


Q:Does HARP work the same with Fannie Mae as with Freddie Mac?

A:Yes, for the most part, the HARP mortgage program is the same with Fannie Mae as with Freddie Mac. There are some small differences, but they affect just a tiny, tiny portion of the general population. For everyone else, the guidelines work the same.

Q:How often does the Reverie Harp need to be tuned?

A:The harp is quite stable after the first 3-4 tunings, but you should expect to tune it at least once per week if you need it to be in tune with other instruments. If you only play the harp by itself, however, you may not to tune it that frequently because all the strings tend to settle quite evenly across the harp.

Q:How do you tune the Reverie Harp?

A:We recommend having a chromatic electronic tuner to aid in achieving accurate tuning. The harp comes with a tuning chart that slides under the strings, and a tuning key (wrench) for the pins. Our DVD includes instructions for tuning, using an electronic tuner.

Q:What happens if a string breaks?

A:The strings are not prone to breaking unless you over-tune to a higher pitch. This can occur inadvertently if you are plucking one string and adjusting the pin for another string. You might over-tighten one string because you don't see movement in the pitch of the one you are plucking. So you want to be careful to keep track of which string you are tuning and what note it should be tuned to.

We use common guitar strings (ball-end steel) on the Reverie Harp. If you break a string, you can purchase replacements from Musicmakers, or you can take the scrap of broken string to a local music store that sells guitar strings and buy a similar string. The store won't have a complete set of strings for the Reverie Harp, but they should offer individual guitar strings.

Many people purchase a spare set of strings from Musicmakers just to avoid the hassle of having to search for replacements.

Q: How to take care your Harp?

Harps are tougher than harpists sometimes think. Our harps can withstand a fair bit of abuse in the course of normal transportation and performance. However, following a few simple, common sense rules about harp care will keep your harp looking and sounding lovely for many years.

1. CleaningYour harp is finished with a durable "in the wood" polymerized tung oil finish on the frame, nitrocellulose lacquer on the soundboard, and a topcoat of hard carnuba wax polish. This finish looks lovely, is easy to maintain, and helps to protect your harp from a number of environmental stresses. All your harp will need under normal conditions is dusting with a dry soft cloth.

2. Extremes of temperatureLike all fine wooden instruments, harps will shift if the temperature of their environment drops or increases suddenly, and this shifting can make your harp go out of tune faster, and even cause structural damage in extreme conditions. Protecting your harp from rapid changes of temperature is relatively easy however. When you take your harp out of your home, use a quality case, or even, in a pinch, an old sleeping bag or quilt to insulate it from the elements. Under the insulation, your harp will still become colder or warmer but slowing that temperature change down gives your harp time to adjust to its new conditions. You can again reduce the stress of temperature change on your harp when you arrive at your destination by leaving it in its case until your harp's case reaches room temperature rather than unpacking it immediately.

However, simple extremes of temperature can be hard on a harp regardless of how well it is packed. So never leave your harp in front of a direct source of heat, like a woodstove, a heat register, a sunny window leave your harp in your car on a hot day with the windows up
store your harp in the trunk of your car in the winter (assuming there is any way you can fit it in the cab of the car with your passengers) subject your harp to climate conditions to which you would hesitate to subject a puppy.

3. Humidity and drynessEven though it looks solid, wood reacts to varying conditions of humidity just like a sponge. In a wet environment, wood will absorb water and swell, and in a dry environment wood can shrink or even crack. Finishing a piece of wooden furniture or a musical instrument helps to protect it from rapid changes of humidity, but even the most perfectly finished harp is not immune to humidity's effects. Most luthiers dry their woods carefully before using them to minimise the potentially detrimental effects of a dry environment upon a finished instrument, but there are things you can do to help protect your harp as well.

I advise my clients to purchase a hygrometer at a hardware store (they start at about $10) to keep in the room that is home to your harp. When the humidity drops below 40% it is time to consider humidifying the room. Coincidentally this is the point of humidity at which you yourself will begin to find your environment uncomfortably dry, so you will reap the benefits of humidifying along with your harp. If your room is small, an ornamental fountain may provide enough moisture to keep the humidity above the 40% mark. In a larger room, you might want to consider a humidifier (though don't have the humidifier directly next to your harp!!) If humidifying the room isn't possible, consider keeping your harp in its case with an instrument humidifier (Dampit is a popular brand, generally about $15 at a guitar store) inside your harp's soundbox.