Monday, 6 November 2017

Strung Out to Dry

Sorry it's been a while since our last update.

We're having a pretty tough time of it at the moment.

Something we thought would be relatively straightforward has turned out to be extremely difficult - strings.

After a good start with Hellerbass, who provided the bass strings, we're really struggling to source steel strings for the midsection and treble.

These are made from thin spring steel wire. We've spoken to one of the leading spring steel manufacturers in East Africa and they basically told us 'not a chance', so we cast our net further afield.

We sent a sample board to one of the leading piano wire manufacturers in the world, based in Tennessee, USA. We were going to send it via UPS for quick next-day delivery, but that would have cost over £50, so we decided to send it via the local post office. This cost about £2, but also took a fortnight to arrive.

After two weeks, we still hadn't heard anything, so we gave them a call.

Yes, they got our letter. No, they hadn't read it. What did we want again?

So disappointing. Seemed like they couldn't be less interested in selling us strings. We tried ordering via their online shop, but it wouldn't let us add everything we needed to the cart. Then we saw the postage cost!

Just over $50 worth of wire was going to cost over $440 to deliver to Rwanda! Again, courtesy of UPS.


It's not like someone has to get on horseback and traverse the Kalahari Desert to get it to us. How can it possibly cost that much?


The only good thing to come out of this was that the string manufacturer was able to accurately measure our string samples and tell us exactly what we need: 19, 18, 17, 15, 14 and 13 1/2 (diameter: .043, .041, .039, .035, .033 and .032 to US standards).

That's a big help, but it still leaves us slightly stranded unless we can find someone who can supply those sizes at a sensible delivery price. We've tried contacting several sellers, but they either don't respond or don't export. We honestly had no idea it would be this difficult.

Going to check out India and China to see if they have anywhere producing it at a better price.

We'd hugely welcome suggestions from anyone who's got a few hours to devote to internet research. It's a major sticking point in our project.

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