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Simon Chadwick's
Early Gaelic Harp Emporium

Tuning keys

On this page I offer tuning keys to fit almost any harp! Scroll to the bottom of the page for help choosing the right key for your harp.

tuning key

Standard tuning key. Hand-carved handle from Scottish wood, beeswax finish, steel or brass square socket in one of 7 standard sizes from 4.0mm to 5.5mm (other sizes can be made - contact me for details).
If you are not 100% sure what size you need, select “other size” - I will send you a selection of plain sockets so you can try them and see which size fits your pins best, or you can send me one of your pins.
£45 +
Wood: 
Size: 

tuning key

Deluxe tuning key.
Do you fancy a carved and gilded or painted handle, or silver-mounted gemstones on the handle of your key, or ogham lettering, or unusual materials (e.g. antler, bone, horn, bog oak), or a suspension loop, or a second, differently sized socket concealed in the handle end? This is the ultimate in tuning key luxury. The price will depend on the amount of work in the carving and decoration!
Base price £45 - then add options...
Carved bands add £20
Painting add £30
Gilding add £50
Scottish bog oak add £30
Scottish yew or figured maple add £10
Suspension loop add £15
Other options: contact me

QM tuning key

Queen Mary harp tuning key.
This tuning key is specially made to fit the unusual rectangular tuning pin drives on the Queen Mary harp. The rectangular socket is hand-made from brass (I can fit it exactly to one of your pins if you can send me one!). A second socket is inserted into the end of the handle to fit the square drive of the 30th tuning pin. You can add extra options as above.
£95 +


Gallery of keys: click to enlarge

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tuning key tuning key tuning key tuning key tuning key tuning key tuning key tuning key


rubber tuning key

Rubber handle tuning key.
This tuning key is industrially made from steel, coated all over with shiny black rubber-like plastic. It has a star-shaped drive so that it fits on your square drive in twice as many ways. 4.8mm size, to fit pedal harp and HHSI student harp tuning pins.
£25 +


If you have ever gone out with your harp and accidentally left your tuning key at home, like me, you will appreciate having a keyring tuning key on your keyring! These little keys are small enough to carry all the time, and although they are not ergonomic to use they allow you to tune your harp in situations where you would otherwise not be able to!

keyring

Small keyring tuning key, made from brass. 4.8mm size, to fit standard pedal harp size tuning pins only (as used on HHSI Student early Irish harps). These small keys come in only one size, sorry!
£2 +

keyring

Large keyring tuning key, made from brass, larger handle, longer shaft, better quality. A variety of sizes available. Please check your tuning pin size before ordering. You can return a key that does not fit, and try the next size.
£6 +
Size: 

tuning key

Deluxe keyring tuning key
I can make you a miniature version of any of my full-sized tuning keys. The price will be the same as the full-sized version. I recommend the option of a suspension loop (add 15 to the basic price). contact me for details.


Choosing the right key

Your key should be softer than your pins, or at most just as hard, otherwise your pins will be worn away by the key. For brass pins, you should use a brass key. For old iron pins, a brass key is probably best. For modern steel pins, a steel key is a good choice (the hard steel pins will wear away a brass key).

Historical harps have tuning pin drives which taper slightly, so that slight variations in the size of the pin, or using a key that is a size bigger or smaller, doesn’t affect the snug fitting of the key.

Modern machine-made pins usually have parallel sided drives, which means you need to use a key that is a tight fit. Unfortunately, variation in drive sizes means that you really do need to try a key on your harp before committing. I am happy to send you trial keys for you to see which is the best fit on your harp.

pins and key

In the past I have found the following sizes work well:
4.25mm fits older Ardival Kilcoy harps
4.5mm fits newer Ardival Kilcoy harps, and Dusty Strings harps
4.75mm fits newer pedal harp pins, as used on HHSI Student harps.
5.0mm fits older pedal harp pins as used on older HHSI Student harps.

The closer your key fits the drives, the easier tuning will be. Similarly, it is important that the socket of the key is not loose in the handle - if there is movement inside the key it will make tuning much more difficult.

T-shape or L-shape?
I usually make T-shaped keys as they are my preferred type. However any of these designs can be made with an asymmetrical handle (more like a tuning lever) if that is what you prefer. There is a supplement of £20 for a L-shaped key.

pendant tuning key

I have also started doing tuning keys without a cross handle at all. These ‘pendant’ keys are modelled on the earliest type of key, known from medieval times. They are not as practical or ergonomic as the other designs but they are wonderfully stylish wearable and usable pieces of jewelry.

contact me to place an order.

For more information about ancient Gaelic harp tuning keys please visit the tuning key information page.