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Research report on harp strings

Strings made of gut, the intestinal fibers of sheep and cows, are used on a variety of historical musical instruments such as lutes and older members of the violin family. They are also used extensively on orchestral harps. I am a technician specializing in harp maintenance and repair and I am looking into the possibility of developing a synthetic string that has the same sound and feel as natural gut.

Nylon mono-filament strings are made and marketed as an alternative, but their sound is quite inferior, especially in the lower registers of the larger harps. Fluorocarbon harp strings are also available, but I have not personally experimented with these.

I am starting this project with the basic hypothesis that nylon and Fluorocarbon strings do not sound as good because they are made of one strand or filament while gut strings are made from multiple fibers twisted and bound together. I want to find out if a process could be developed to produce synthetic strings similar to the way gut strings are produced and if the result would compare favorably to gut strings.

For each of the three different materials, I would like answers to the following questions, as well as any relevant additional information you come up with during your research:

Where are they made? Provide contact information, and for gut string makers, many of which may be small companies, please verify that they are still in business. This is a dying industry.

How are they made? Please describe the manufacturing process in as much detail as possible. I am not a chemist or a mechanical engineer but I welcome as much technical detail as you can provide. If I don't understand it, I can find someone who does. Or if you can provide a technical explanation as well as one geared towards lay person, all the better.

What specifications are used to measure strings? What percentage of breaking strength is each type of string designed to be used at? How is string tension calculated? What are the differences in tension between the different materials? What properties do the different materials have in common, if any?

You will likely come across references to wire or metal strings being used on harps. This is true. They are used as the lowest strings on harps, and some smaller harps are strung entirely with metal strings. However are not relevant for the purposes of this report.

I will include links to some information I have found so far to get you started. Please include links (or title/author/publication information for scholarly articles) that you draw on for this report.

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Beceriler: Malzeme Mühendisliği, Araştırma, Teknik Yazı

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