We acquired a 26-string Allegro that’s been tuned to A. I believe it is meant to be tuned to C. Might someone have put different strings on it so it could be tuned to A, and how can I tell? I don’t wat to risk snapping strings trying to get it up to C. Thanks!
That is possible, and it’s good that you’re thinking about that before tuning it up! If they are thicker strings, then it could be dangerous for the harp to try tuning them up to C. It’s also possible that they are our standard strings, but just tuned down, in which case it would be safe for the harp to tune them up.
I’m not sure what the best way is to tell, unless you have calipers and you can measure the diameters of all the strings. Maybe a starting point would be to look at how many wound strings there are, and what colors they are. Is the lowest string red or clear?
The lowest string is red. There are six wound strings.
Well, that would match our standard string set! My best guess is that someone left the standard strings on, but just tuned them down a couple of steps because they wanted a lower range. I think if they had had a custom set of strings designed for a lower tuning, they likely would have changed the colors to match the new positions of the C and F strings. So I can’t be totally sure without measuring, but I think it’s probably safe to tune the harp up to C. I wouldn’t be surprised if you break a string or two, anyway, but I doubt it’s anything you need to worry about.
It does seem as though the previous owner just tuned it down two steps. That said, many if not most lever harps can be fitted with a string regime that substitutes a low A for a low C, although that is more common with larger harps. Some makers provide those strings as an option, for others you should ask them specifically if you want that (I gather that you do not, but just as an FYI). It is also a good idea to have a backup set in any case.