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Simon Chadwick's
Early Gaelic Harp Emporium

Tuning pins

On this page I offer handmade brass tuning pins, suitable for a new harp or to refit your present instrument!

29 pins

Standard handmade brass tuning pins.
Hammered & filed heads, square section, tapering slightly. No decoration.
These work best with a 5mm or 5.25mm brass tuning key.
£9 each, plus postage at cost.

29 pins

Decorated handmade brass tuning pins.
Hammered & filed heads, square section, tapering slightly. Decorated with crosses or diamonds on the head end, which continue into grooves along the head facets.
These work best with a 5mm or 5.25mm brass tuning key.
£10 each, plus postage at cost.

29 pins

“Queen Mary’ style tuning pins. Hammered heads, rectangular section. The drive end has a chequerboard cut into it and the string end has a cross. Two lateral bands incised around the drive end.
These pins require my Queen Mary harp tuning key with rectangular socket.
If ordered as part of a set of 29 I can add the concealed scores on the shafts, copied from the Museum photographs.
£10 each, plus postage at cost.


Downhill harp pins

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 or two bigger or smaller, dosen’t affect the snug fitting of the key. Modern machine-made pins usually have parallel sided drives, which make tuning just that little bit harder. Once you have tried tuning a harp with taper-headed brass pins you will never want to go back to modern steel pins!

My pins are made from standard no.4 pins, 3 inches long, so that they match with the usual reamers and are the same as the steel pins commonly used. Because I am hammering the heads down from blank tapered pins, the head of these pins is only marginally fatter than the shafts.

For more information about ancient Gaelic harp tuning pins please visit the tuning pin information page.


Replacing the existing tuning pins on your harp

If you want my handmade pins for a new harp, then it is simple, I make the pins and send them to your maker, who reams the holes to fit them perfectly.

If you want to use these pins on a harp that is already complete, then it’s a little more complicated. First we need to check what size your current pins are. Pins come in different lengths and thicknesses - I should be able to match your pins OK. Secondly, there is often a slight difference between batches of pins. Usually I find that the brass pins are very slightly thinner than the supposedly equivalent steel pins. The historical solution, which works very well, is to use a thin brass sheet as a “shim” to line the hole for the pin. Some of the old harps have these brass shims still in place in their pin holes. If anything, they make tuning slightly smoother because the pin is gripped by metal not by wood.

You can bring or send your harp to St Andrews to have the replacement pins fitted, or I can supply you with instructions and shim material to do it yourself.