And the winner is…
After ten years of beating the bushes (and my head against a brick wall), a major string manufacturer has finally taken harp guitars seriously. While our instrument has been summarily blown off by D’Addario, GHS, JP and others, DR Strings bent over backwards to commit to this project, an exclusive arrangement with Harp Guitar Music. They also did it without any muss or fuss, affordably and surprisingly quickly. We are all in their debt.
Besides DR’s Anthony Corona, we have harp guitarist Dan LaVoie to thank. As you read in my September, 2013 blog, Dan charmed DR into creating two new types of phosphor bronze sub-bass strings – round core and coated. Dan chose to work with me for sales and the first fifty round core sets sold out fairly quickly. The coated sets also sold well; there are just a half dozen sets left at the old price. It remains to be seen whether we will continue them in the future (if you want them, best start a write-in campaign now!).
Dan next convinced DR to work with me on the full range of steel sub-bass strings I’ve envisioned for years (you’ll note I just re-did their logo for them). The new line consists of standard phosphor bronze hex core strings, all made by hand. Quality is commensurate with D’Addario and John Pearse, very clean and consistent. Gauges run from .034 to .090”, all with a standard guitar ball end (they can make pretty much anything I want, not sure yet if I’ll go to .100”).
The length decision was a little tricky; I’ve had lots of experience with the challenges. Ultimately, my goal was versatility. I can’t accommodate everyone (there is always the occasional first-time harp guitar builder who designs for impossible string lengths), but I think these will handle 99% of steel string requests. All are a minimum of 40” long, thicker gauges running to 42” (I could request longer, but I think it unnecessary). The single-wound strings (up to .066) are wrapped to the very end, as is the inner winding of the double-wound strings. The latter’s outer wrap ends ~4” from the end. The intent was to cover practical sub-bass lengths for any modern or vintage instrument. Yes, we do have to come to grips with drilling out tuner post holes in for thicker gauges, but we’ve been doing that anyway.
Anthony at DR also took my packaging concerns seriously. Lessons were learned after Benoit Meulle-Stef commissioned some years ago a similar major sub-bass string order from Newtone in England (Ben was the first to do such a thing, our first harp guitar string “hero”). The strings were great, but they unfortunately corroded rather quickly after a voyage in a non-sealed box of loose envelopes (D’oh!). DR’s are packaged individually in the industry’s best corrosion-proof envelopes and shipped in sealed plastic bags with desiccant. And as anyone who has purchased strings from me knows, I further package and mail all orders in Ziploc baggies.
Compared to the price of previously available brands, I think you’ll be quite pleased with what we’ve been able to accomplish, and I urge all who shop elsewhere to give these strings a shot. As always, I offer quantity discounts (just ask), and professional discounts to those players and builders who make their living from music (again, you do have to ask).
So please check out the new steel strings page. I extend my gratitude to Anthony and all those at DR Strings and I hope you’ll support them in this endeavor. They are now fully committed to harp guitar players, as Dan and I are. You can thank Dan for instigating all this on our behalf by buying his music, or perhaps attending a show where you can slap him on the back with this highest praise: “Dude!”