Harpsichord

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Sabathil questions

  • 1.  Sabathil questions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-06-2021 13:03

    It has been over 40 years since I last saw a Sabathil. My winning streak is over! :-) What a bonkers stringing design. Oh well, the 20th century modern designers liked to push the boundaries. The goal is to get it up and running so I am giving it my best. I worked on it yesterday for a bit and got the back 8' up and running and will be returning to see what I can do for the front 8' and 4'.

    Might anyone have a trick on how best to hitch a 4' string on to the inverted hitch pin? I cannot see the pin well enough to easily attach the loop. My best guess right now is perhaps using a small mirror or maybe my endoscope.

    When I returned home I came up with an idea for a voicing block so I would not have to remove the dampers. I do not have have a Sabathil jack to demonstrate but you might get the idea from the attached picture. If it works I will post a photo with a Sabathil jack. I really do not want to remove the dampers if I do not have to.

    My best guess for regulating the stagger timing is the standard 4', back 8' and front 8'. However, this is a Sabathil so it could be different. Might anyone have thoughts or experience to share?

    Thanks, be safe and Happy New Year!

    Don



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    [Don] [McKechnie,] [RPT]
    [Piano Technician]
    [dmckech@ithaca.edu]
    [Home 607.277.7112]
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  • 2.  RE: Sabathil questions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-06-2021 15:57
    At least you don't have a 16 foot! 

    I assume you are just needing to replace a couple 4' strings. I'd use locking forceps to hold onto the hitch loop. I'd also remove the lid, so you can approach from the spine. That should give you a sight line to the pins (as seen in the photo I attach). It is fortunate that Sabathil didn't follow Neupert's lead in having a nut bridge for the 8' with slots for the 4' strings to go through. I had to replace one of those once, and it was quite the nightmare getting it threaded through, into the becket, wound on the pin.
    I think I might consider stringing it with the hitch loop temporarily on the 8' hitch pin, then transfer it under after the other end of the wire is on the tuning pin. I can't think how you could hold the loop on the 4' pin while manipulating to get the wire on the tuning pin. A spring clamp will do that when it is on the 8' hitch pin.

    These are just the thoughts that occurred to me while tuning one over several years, trying to imagine what I would do in case one broke - and none did, so I didn't get the dubious benefit of finding out how well the methods would work.

    I don't understand your voicing block photo, but assume the main point is that block is narrow enough to fit between the two sides of the damper as in the attached photo. I would make its base as wide as the jack, with a nub sticking up to voice against. That would make it easier to hold it and the jack steady with one hand while voicing with the other.
    I would go with 4', back 8', front 8', but I don't know what Sabathil did. 

    Regards,
    Fred Sturm
    University of New Mexico
    fssturm@unm.edu
    http://fredsturm.net
    www.artoftuning.com
    "All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone. " Blaise Pascal








  • 3.  RE: Sabathil questions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-06-2021 18:00
    Thanks for your suggestions Fred. I like your idea of temporarily putting the loop on the 8' hitch pin and will try that procedure.

    The voicing block is 3/16th thick and will fit between of the damper clip. On the top of the clip it protrudes out at bit at 90 degrees. The purpose of the slot on my block is to fit over that clip protrusion allowing more support for the plectra. I like your idea of widening the base for stability. I will let you know how well it works.

    Best,
    Don

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    [Don] [McKechnie,] [RPT]
    [Piano Technician]
    [dmckech@ithaca.edu]
    [Home 607.277.7112]
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  • 4.  RE: Sabathil questions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-07-2021 16:29
    Fred,

    I just noticed something interesting in the picture you sent of the strings and hitch pin rail. It appears that the inverted 4' hitch pins are visible. On the Sabathil I am servicing, there is very little distance from the top of the soundboard to the bottom of the hitch pin rail. The pins are not visible. The only reference I have is seeing the coil of the string loop. This is going to be fun!

    Best,
    Don

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    [Don] [McKechnie,] [RPT]
    [Piano Technician]
    [dmckech@ithaca.edu]
    [Home 607.277.7112]
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Sabathil questions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-07-2021 12:55
    Fun times! I have a client with a Sabathil (4, 8, 8, 16), and have replaced many strings over the years. To say it's a pain in the ass would be to understate how frustrating it can be! 

    That said, a hemostat is your friend when attaching the loop to the hitch pin, and good lighting is also very important, as there can be so many shadows, and trying to trace exactly where you need to run the string can be very difficult.  

    I liken it to the challenge of replacing a treble string on a piano, which runs underneath the overstrung bass. For that, I use long copper tubing, put the 180 bend in the wire where it will attach to the hitch, and put the two loose ends through the copper tubing. Put the loop over the hitch pin, and clamp the hemostat on the hitch pin and pull the copper tubing off of the strings.

    But I digress. Thankfully, harpsichord wire is nowhere near as unruly as piano wire! Best wishes and have fun!

    Eric Carlson, RPT
    Artistic piano service & sales
    632 Hickory Hollow Road
    Waterford, WI 53185
    262-930-8995

    Sent from my iPhone





  • 6.  RE: Sabathil questions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-07-2021 16:19
    Thanks Eric, I will be using a hemostat in my attempt to hitch the 4' string and plenty of light. As Fred mentioned, I am lucky this instrument does not have a 16'. Sorry for all the pain that beast you service dishes out. :-) I did not mention in my fist post about having one hitch pin for both front and back 8'. Like I said, what a bonkers design!

    Best,
    Don

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    [Don] [McKechnie,] [RPT]
    [Piano Technician]
    [dmckech@ithaca.edu]
    [Home 607.277.7112]
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Sabathil questions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 02-11-2021 11:30
      |   view attached
    Yesterday I again visited this beastie. Did I mention that the person/s responsible for this harpsichord design must have been seriously addicted to Loony Tunes? What other explanation could there be? :-) Anyway, this visit was to replace the remaining broken strings, including the two missing 4' strings, and try to get the front 8' and 4' registers functional. I succeeded in getting the front 8' working but it is going to take another visit to work out the problems with the 4' register.

    Replacing the 4' strings was indeed a challenge. As you can see in the attached picture, the 8' strings run on top of a common screw head. At first I tried hitching the string with the hitch screw in place but that proved impossible. The distance between the top of the soundboard and the bottom of the hitch rail is 2.5mm. The hitch screw is set so far back from the front edge of the rail that it is impossible to see clearly. I had the idea to remove the 8' strings from the screw slot and remove the screw. Then, I might be able to see down the screw hole just enough to align the string loop over the hole. The 4' hitch pin is actually a machine screw loosely fit into the hitch rail which turned out to be a saving grace. Many thanks to Eric and Fred for suggesting the use of a hemostat. Using the hemostat, I was able to align the string loop with the bottom of the hole and then drop in the screw. Using a screw instead of a pin in this application actually makes sense. It would have been a lot harder to keep the string on a smooth pin during replacement. The whole process was a challenge but a success in the end.

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    [Don] [McKechnie,] [RPT]
    [Piano Technician]
    [dmckech@ithaca.edu]
    [Home 607.277.7112]
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Sabathil questions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 02-11-2021 18:51
    I feel your pain!!  Glad you're making some progress on the beast.

    Eric Carlson, RPT
    Artistic Piano Service, LLC
    Artistic Recording & Sound, LLC
    632 Hickory Hollow Rd
    Waterford, WI  53185
    262.930.8995
     

    Watch my music videos here:  https://www.youtube.com/CarlsonMusicPro

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