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I'm trying to fix up my girlfriend's Salvi concert harp, but just as I finally got the whole thing stringed and tuned, another string broke, and sadly, we did not have this specific string in stock.

However, I figure that it can't hurt all that much to use a different string. She uses Bow Brand natural gut strings; we need a 3rd octave D, and I'm contemplating to use a 3rd octave E string.

Is this OK with a harp, or is this considered bad practice?

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It's obviously better to replace the string with its actual string, but as I'm sure you're aware the adjacent strings are a similar gauge and should not pose any issues, if you don't make a habit out of it. I'd suggest stringing it up with the 3rd octave E String and ordering a replacement string as soon as possible.

It would be more harmful to leave that string unstrung. I string my harp with gut strings from octaves 6-3 and octaves 2-1 with nylon strings. I also keep a full set of nylon strings as my backup in case a string breaks and I do not have that gut string anymore. The price for nylon strings is a lot cheaper. I would highly suggest keeping a spare set of nylon strings or two for events like this. Then swap out the nylon string when you get your gut strings in. The only downside to this is that the tonality of the harp will change a bit due to the differences of strings in the same octave.

  • Thanks for the info; how bad is it to leave it unstrung for just another day? Then I'll have a new string. She does actually keep a full set of spare strings, but of course the one that breaks is accidentally not stocked. (I'll accept your answer tomorrow if no other replies are posted) – Sanchises Mar 27 '15 at 19:34
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    You're welcome. You'll be fine leaving it unstrung for another day, in order for there to be any noticeable detrimental effects to the harp, you would have to leave it unstrung for several months, or have it missing several strings for prolonged periods. A week or two without a string should not harm your harp. – MrTheBard Mar 27 '15 at 20:00

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