Z toggles, an alternative to ball ends or bits of wood-
Stringing, or restringing, a harp with wire strings can be frustrating, time consuming, scary, or all of the above. As a harpmaker, I am always alert for quicker, easier ways of doing repetitive tasks. When Ann Heymann showed me the Z toggle, I thought it was worth a try. Having strung up several harps using this method of anchoring the strings, I am sold on it.
The Z toggle is nothing more than a piece of 14 gauge fence wire bent into a Z shape. You can get a 1/4 mile spool of the material at a farm supply store for about $20, this should last you about three lifetimes if you restring your harp a lot. (Share it with friends.) Cut pieces about 1-1/2 inches long, and grip them in the middle with some narrow pliers. Bend the ends that are sticking out both sides in alternate directions. The wire is stiff, but you can do this.
There are several advantages to using the Z toggle to anchor your strings. Once you get familiar with the process, you can attach a string very quickly. Secondly, there is very little, if any, slippage. This means the string settles in more quickly, and does not creep later, as a compressing wooden toggle will do. The big plus, to me, is that if your soundboard string hole is large enough (around 1/4 inch), you can insert the string from the front of the harp. The Z, with string attached, is snaked into the hole. Once inside, the Z swivels into place, anchoring the string. You run the string up past the tuning peg in question, and leaving enough to wind on, you clip it off the coil. You have wasted no wire, only using exactly what is needed.
Here is the method of
attaching a string to a Z toggle:
Practice a few times with some soft copper wire, to become familiar with the process. You can successfully attach all gauges, from very thin to monster. With the very thin, you may want to wrap around the narrow section of the Z more times. Likewise, with very heavy strings, you only want, or need, to go around once.
It may be helpful to
print out the drawings, and keep them in front of you the first
few times you try this.
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