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GUEST,Songster Bob Margaret MacArthur article (30) RE: Margaret MacArthur article 28 Dec 01


It so happens that a couple of months ago, one of those original "MacArthur Harps*" came up on Ebay, so I bought it. It needs some repair, but Bill D. and I have looked it over and think we can accomplish it. The back crack will be fairly simple to fix, since the back can be removed easily (it's sort of loose already), but the top has those zither-pin holes, you know? Hard to align a replacement with those holes, so it looks like we'll have to splice some wood into the open crack in the top.

As Bill says, the hard part about these instruments is obtaining the proper strings. Like an autoharp, you want the wound strings to match the length of the harp, so that the part that goes over the bridges is bare wire, not winding. The short length of some of these strings is such that autoharp strings won't fit.

* Once Margaret got her harp fixed up and started playing it, instrument makers began to make reproductions, and they're usually called "MacArthur Harps," in her honor. In the DC area, Keith Young is one such maker (and the one I'm going to ask about those strings I mentioned).

Ferrara has one of these harps, you know. I think it's a Keith Young version.

We'll see if I can get around to actually fixing the harp. I do have a few other repair jobs (not including household repairs) that I need to get to. I'm only a short machine bolt away from fixing a nice old banjo for another Mudcatter, and I'm hoping to go looking for the bolt soon (I have to match the thread on the banjo's tailpiece holder, to replace the threaded screw that's now there). We'll see if I can get around to it this weekend. There's always something coming up, you know?

Nice article about Margaret, though. She deserves every bit of good publicity she gets.

Bob Clayton


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