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Simon Chadwick's
Early Gaelic Harp Emporium

Tuning pins

The old Irish harps have beautiful decorated brass tuning pins. I think that the pins would have been the most expensive part of the harp.

I am hand-making Irish harp tuning pins to order.

Irish harp tuning pins are different from modern classical pedal-harp and lever-harp tuning pins. Irish harp tuning pins are made from brass, and they have a square drive head which is as wide as the wide end of the tapered shaft.

The shaft of the tuning pin is tapered (technically it is a truncated cone). For my pins, I buy in brass shaft blanks in standard Imperial taper (1:48 ratio). This gives a consistent size and angle and allows the use of standard Imperial taper reamers to make the holes in the neck of the harp. It also potentially allows an Irish harp which has been fitted with classical steel pins, to be re-fitted with brass Irish harp pins. I use #4 and #5 pin blanks of different lengths which allows for different tip diameters from about 4.5mm up to 5.5mm.

The drive head of the tuning pin is also tapered, in the opposite direction. (technically it is a truncated pyramid). The large drive requires a much larger tuning key socket than a classical harp; I think a 6mm key should fit almost any Irish harp pin drive (a classical key is typically only 4.75mm or 5mm and will be too small). The taper of the drive head ensures a very snug tight fit to your tuning key, even if the hand-made drives vary slightly, or your key is a size bigger or smaller; the large size of the drive gives a more positive engagement of the key. Both of these factors give you a lot more control over the tuning pin, which means it is easier to tune more accurately. This is very important with the metal wire strings of an Irish harp, but is not necessary for the stretchy gut or synthetic strings of a classical pedal or lever harp.

Please get in touch to discuss your needs.


36 pins

Standard brass Irish harp tuning pins
(Type 1 in my typology of harp tuning pins)
These pins are made as copies of the old Irish harp tuning pins. The broad drive head is silver-soldered onto the brass shaft, and then filed to shape and decorated with filed lines. These pins have standard Imperial 1:48 #4 or #5 tapered shafts. I can copy the size, shape and details of any specific old pin. If you are commissioning or making a replica of one of the old harps, I can make copies of the original pins.
No.4 pins, £25 each.
No.5 pins, £30 each.

Castle Otway harp tuning pins.
The tuning pins in the Castle Otway harp are slightly different from the normal old Irish harp tuning pins. They have fatter tapered shafts, and more slender hammered and filed heads. They are type 2c in my typology of harp tuning pins. I can make copies of these pins; made from #5 brass blanks, with the drive heads hammered and filed to shape and with filed lines and notches as decoration.
£15 each.

29 pins

Queen Mary harp tuning pins.
The tuning pins in the Queen Mary harp are different from the normal old Irish harp tuning pins. They are type 2cR in my typology of harp tuning pins. I can make copies of these pins; made from #4 x 3" brass blanks, with the rectangular drive heads hammered and filed to shape and with filed lines as decoration.
£13 each.

iron pins

Medieval harp tuning pins.
I can make brass or iron pins of Type 2c and type 2cR (see my typology of harp tuning pins) They can be plain or decorated, with square or rectangular heads, and with slots or holes for the string. I can copy a specific old pin if you require. These are typically made from #4 x 3" blanks.
£13 each.


I can also supply a handmade tuning key or key socket to match the pins. Type 2cR rectangular headed pins require a key with a rectangular socket; I can supply a specially made Queen Mary harp tuning key with rectangular socket. See my tuning keys page for more info.


I am happy to make single pins as well as sets. I am happy to supply a single pin to be used as a model for casting if you prefer to source your pins elsewhere. Please get in touch to discuss your needs.

Resin cast of the Monaghan pin (c.17th century), for study or for use as a model.
£24 each.