Description of the Nevel Harp
The Nevel is classified as a harp. It is similar in over all shape to the lyre. The Nevel is a unique harp in that it has a soundboard made of taunt hide. The term Nevel seems to refer to "skin-bottle" and may be related to the term N'velah, meaning carcass (in reference to the hide soundboard).
The Soundboard is made of hide stretched over a frame of wood. The frame can be round or square. On the top left and right sides of the frame are the arms, or pillars, of this harp. A brace runs between the pillars. The tuning pegs are inserted in the top of this brace. The nylon strings stretch from these tuning pegs down between the pillar arms, across the hide soundboard, over a free floating bridge, and attach to the string block at the base of the soundboard. This hide soundboard provides a surprisingly full sound. The strings can be played from both sides while seated or walking.
Origin of the Nevel Harp
The Nevel is considered a Biblical harp. Obviously its appearance in the Bible as a fully established musical harp indicates a long period of development. While the Bible’s translations now use the word ‘harp,’ the style of the original instruments can be debated. Some scholars believe the biblical reference was not a harp but was actually a dulcimer. Others embrace the folk harp shape and still others accept only the lyre shaped Kinnor as the Biblical harp.
Mention Biblical Harps, and for most people King David comes to mind. As a boy he played the harp while shepherding in the fields. As a young man, David may have been the first documented music therapist. According to Samuel 16:23, Young David played the harp to sooth King Saul who was often afflicted with evil spirits. As King, David played the harp to accompany his praise and worship. Whatever the style of harp, it is clear that stringed instruments were very important in daily lives and worship.
DulcimerShofar Nevel Harp
The Nevel that DulcimerShofar sells is approximately 26 inches long. It has a round framed soundboard that is braced in the back. The Frame is covered in calf skin for strength. The arms and body of the Nevel are made from solid Rosewood. A shoulder strap runs from the upper arm to the lower part of the resonator. This shoulder strap makes it easier to play while walking. The Nevel has 15 nylon strings and comes with a carrying case. The harp has a one-year warranty on workmanship. There is no warranty on strings.
Tuning the Nevel Harp
You Nevel harp will not be tuned when it arrives. To tune the harp you will need to set the bridge in the appropriate place on the soundboard. The movable bridge sits at an angle on the soundboard, higher on the left and lower on the right. Start on the left side. The optimum position of the bridge, under the High E string, is 11 ½ inches up from the string block. The string block is on the outer edge of the base of the soundboard. On the right side, under the Low E string, the bridge should be 3 inches up from the string block.
Biblical Tuning (and String Size)
When tuning, remember to push firmly inward to tighten the peg. The pegs are tapered and will hold more firmly as you press inward. Use a piano or electronic tuner as a reference for tuning. Traditionally, Biblical harps are tuned to compliment the voice of the singer. We suggest the following notes for the strings from left to right facing the soundboard:
High E (.030”), D# (.030), C (.030), B (.035”), A (.035”), G (.045”), F# (.045”), E (.045”), D# (.050”), C (.050”), B (.050”), A (.060”), G (.060”), F# (.060”), Low E (.060”) High E is one octave above Middle C
These strings are not easily broken, but if replacement strings are needed, they are available as monofilament line in sporting goods departments. The above sizes are in thousandths of an inch and need not be exact.
Playing the Nevel Harp
The Nevel can be played while sitting or, with the shoulder strap, while walking. The strings can be plucked or strummed from both sides. Biblical readings seem to imply that the music played on the harps was spontaneously inspired. They do not refer to specific songs. The Music itself was a form of worship and flowed freely from the player’s heart/soul to the strings. Biblical readings seem to imply that the music played on the harps was divinely inspired. There are no references to specific songs. The music itself was a form of praise and worship. This musical praise flowed freely for the player’s heart/soul to the strings.