Expand all | Collapse all

Harpsichord restringing questions

  • 1.  Harpsichord restringing questions

    Posted 08-15-2016 06:11

    I'm rebuilding a 1969 Morley double manual. It's 2x8, 1x4, and about 7 feet long. It's been sadly neglected and abused.

    I contacted Morley in London, who still services pianos and harpsichords, and got the original stringing schedule. It's slightly different from what I measured, but I am sure strings have been replaced.

    They used phosphor bronze wire for the bass. Would that be a good choice now? Alternatives?

    Tuning pins are fine. If this were a piano I would replace them with oversize. Would you do this on a harpsichord?

    I believe this Morley has a laminated soundboard - it's still in perfect shape.

    I've had some harpsichord experience, in that I built one from a kit 30 years ago! I'm working my way through the archives for this list and have found some interesting and helpful information.

    Thanks in advance for the help!

    Sam Smith
    Sam Smith Piano Service
    Palmetto GA

  • 2.  RE: Harpsichord restringing questions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 08-15-2016 09:12

    No oversized pins, please.

    Harpsichord pins don't need the high torque of piano pins.

    If a pin is slipping, pull the pin, put a slip of paper in the hole, and reinsert the pin.

    Ed Sutton
    (980) 254-7413

  • 3.  RE: Harpsichord restringing questions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 08-15-2016 09:33
    Phosphor bronze is generally considered by harpsichord purists to be inferior in tone quality. However, from a practical standpoint, it has a higher breaking point. It is often used in instruments where the scaling is such that they work at low pitch (415) but break strings at 440. So I would tend go with phosphor bronze on the assumption that it is needed so that string breakage won't be a problem. If you want to consider brass instead (which should probably be spring brass for Morley), you should measure lengths and calculate breaking point % before doing it.

    And, yes, keep the tuning pins. They can be removed and hammered back in repeatedly before becoming loose enough to be a problem. It is normal to do so when replacing broken strings, as it is very troublesome to transfer a coil from a dummy pin to one in the instrument, nearly impossible. And there are no oversized pins available anyway, to the best of my knowledge.
    Fred Sturm
    "I am only interested in music that is better than it can be played." Schnabel

  • 4.  RE: Harpsichord restringing questions

    Posted 08-15-2016 20:30

    Thanks for the advice guys, it is much appreciated.

    Fred, I was at your talk in Norfolk, learned a lot, but didn't get a chance to pester you with my questions!

    Samuel Smith
    Palmetto GA