What should I look for in strings?

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What should I look for in strings?

Postby Bob Lewis » Thu Nov 08, 2007 8:01 pm

The autoharp needs a special string set. Guitar strings are very poor substitutes.

The wound strings of the bass end are the same type as on a piano, on which only the core wire of a wound string contacts the bridges. A guitar string would hang up and break. Also the becket holes of the tuning pins are not large enough to accept the wound portion of a string.

Some of the plain wires are heavier than either guitar or dulcimer. The knots at the ball end are much closer to the ball, away from the bridge. Piano wire works well as a substitute if one can manually make a workable loop or ball end to anchor the string.

There are different sets, so the model type has to match. There are several specialty sets but the main sets most commonly available are Model A, Model B, and "luthier" strings.

Branding is quite limited. Oscar Schmidt strings are now imported original equipment strings. La Bella brand are of questionable quality and are dramatically more expensive. I avoid them. Fladmark strings are as fine a product as one could hope for and are not particularly expensive. Orthey strings are a mix of American Windings stock, a company no longer making autoharp strings, and fill in stock made to George Orthey's specs by Fladmark Strings.

LaBella and Fladmark are domestically made. The latest Oscar Schmidt strings are from China, although older stock is from American Windings, parent company of Ernie Ball products. Original equipment strings on autoharps made in the US were from E & O Mari. Very old store stock might show that logo. US production (of autoharps) ended in 1983-84.

I would be guided by the knowledge that Fladmark Strings are the best in quality and fit.
Bob Lewis
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