Tuning a Lap Harp

How to Tune a Lap Harp with an electronic tuner

Although the Lap harp is a great instrument, they do require regular tuning. Over time as they are played, the pegs gradually unwind and put the harp out of tune. Luckily the lap harp is an easy instrument to tune. Just follow these steps.

Step One

Find what you need to tune the harp. Your lap harp kit should have included an L-shaped tuning key which fits over the tuning pegs on the side and a pick. You may also have a sheet with the notes marked and tuning instructions. An electronic tuner makes this an easy process, but if you have a good ear then you can just rely on that.

Step Two

Set the tuner to a frequency of 440 hz (or A=440). Strum a note and look at the screen or listen carefully (if not using an electronic tuner). Does the tuner display the correct note on the screen? If not, how many steps or half steps away is it? If it is on the correct note then look at whether it is sharp or flat.

Step Three

If the string requires re-tuning, put the tuning key on the peg for that string. To correct a flat note, slightly tighten the string. For a sharp note, loosen it. If the note is out completely, tighen the string to raise the pitch or loosen it to lower. However be very careful not to overtighten the string. Sometimes the change required will be very tiny - so much so that you may not even need to feel the key move.

Step Four

Repeat the process for all strings until they are playing correctly. Your lap harp will sound much better when freshly re-tuned. Tuning a harp can be a long process so take breaks when you need them and consider doing it over more than one session. If you do get stuck or bored, your local instument repair shop will be able to re-tune your lap harp for a fee.

Step Five

Unfortunately use (and even just the passage of time) will gradually make your lap harp out of tune. Make sure that you regularly go back and repeat this process to really enjoy your harp.