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Zuckermann with organ keys

  • 1.  Zuckermann with organ keys

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-09-2019 15:33
    Hi,

    I thought this get-it-to-play job would be some new strings and a few adjustments, which goes to show how inexperienced I am.

    Well crud.  It turns out that most of the jacks are cut too short--they're just hanging there by their dampers.

    I haven't contacted the owner to see how he feels about buying a new set of jacks, yet. Without being too much of a hack job, I was wondering what other options there might be like:

    1--Adding the appropriate thickness of plywood to the backs of the keys, even though that means removing the cloth and re-doing it.
         Adding the thickness of plywood to the bottom of the key, though that would introduce a bit of a tilt, but there are weights in the backs of the           keys.

    2--adding a layer of cloth to the back rail.  I'm not so crazy about adding something soft that will compress, though.

    3--I pulled out the keys; the frame doesn't seem readily adjustable. Maybe it is. but the screws sure aren't conveniently placed. Has anyone ever
         pulled one of these out?

    Oh golly.

    Any suggestions?

    Thank you.


    ------------------------------
    Barbara Richmond, RPT
    near Peoria, Illinois
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Zuckermann with organ keys

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-09-2019 16:40
    Hi, Barb,

    I suspect the jacks aren't too short, but the strings are too tall because humidity has caused the soundboard to bow higher, taking the strings higher, too. The higher strings literally lift the jacks up off the keys because the dampers sit on the strings. We had a concert harpsichord that had screws coming up from the underside of the bottom. When you turned the screws, the back rail was lifted or lowered. That would normally affect key dip, except that there were no punchings under the front end of the key. Key dip was determined by the jack stop rail. In your case, you'll have to worry about key dip if you put a shim under the back rail. You may have to also shim the balance rail. I'm not sure what harpsichord key dip is, maybe around 1/2". Or you could just redo the key dip of each key at the front rail, add or subtract punchings. 

    Or just wait until winter when things dry out. But if you "fix" the problem now, you may have undo what you did in the winter.

    Some harpsichords have jacks with adjustment screws on the bottom of the jacks. Purists don't like those. They also don't like plastic jacks. Wooden jacks will swell and shrink along with the rest of the instrument. In theory, then, the jacks would lengthen and take up the space created by higher strings.  In theory.

    I wouldn't suggest changing the position of the dampers to lower the jacks. That will change the position of the plectra in relation to the strings. The pluck would be late. You'd essentially create too much lost motion between the plectra and the strings.

    There may be other complications I'm not thinking of. I haven't serviced a harpsichord in quite awhile. Hope someone will chime in. In any case, food for thought. 

    Richard West





  • 3.  RE: Zuckermann with organ keys

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-09-2019 17:06
    It looks like you could insinuate a spacer under the cloth at the back of the key. Is the lower felt glued, upper tacked on? It would be better to have the spacer on the wood of the key, if you used wood for the spacer. But a firm felt would serve. This jacks are so light, there shouldn't be a significant problem with compression.

    Are all the jacks that way, or only some? For relatively smaller increases of size of ZUckermann jacks, with their I-beam shape, I have taken layers of sticky paper (address label and the like) and wrapped them around the bottom. You could also take a length of square profile toothpick, place it on the bottom, and wrap sticky paper around. I suspect that is what I would do in the circumstance.

    Harpsichords can be real surprises, especially kits. 
    Regards,
    Fred Sturm
    "The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination." - Einstein






  • 4.  RE: Zuckermann with organ keys

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-09-2019 17:18
    Barb-
    Is there a chance these are the 4 foot jacks placed on the 8 foot strings?

    ------------------------------
    Ed Sutton
    ed440@me.com
    (980) 254-7413
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Zuckermann with organ keys

    Posted 06-10-2019 17:23
    It would seem that drilling a small hole in the end of the jacks and inserting an adjustment screw might be a good option, because any adjustment could be undone when humidity changes. Of course it's a tedious job. And it's a toss up whether ordering a complete new set of jacks would be easier, remember you have to quill and voice each one. I agree with the other poster that the soundboard may be bowed because of humidity and age etc. Ah the joys of harpsichords.
    Incidentally, I wondered at your term "organ keys" I believe that those are the original keys that those early "Z-Box" es had.
    GH

    ------------------------------
    Gregory Hamilton
    Music Director, Faculty
    Holy Trinity Seminary
    Irving Tx
    832-545-0900
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Zuckermann with organ keys

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-09-2019 17:43
    Thanks, Richard.

    In this case, I don't think extremes in humidity are much of a problem, since it's been in my climate controlled shop for a year.  Unless it was put together in the dead of winter in the northeast, which is a possibility.

    Look forward to seeing you in Tucson. Hope I'm done with this by then.  :-)

    ------------------------------
    Barbara Richmond, RPT
    near Peoria, Illinois
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Zuckermann with organ keys

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-09-2019 17:52
    Thanks, Fred.

    The lengths vary. And yes the cloth on the end of the keys is glued with the upper one tacked on. At first I tried putting punchings in between the felt. I wondered if they would stay. Maybe I didn't try hard enough.

    I had wondered about adding length somehow (there are good glues out there) but also wondered if whatever-I-used would stay in place. I'm familiar with the sticky paper business and couldn't add enough of just paper/tape to take up the space. I will try your suggestions. Thank you so much.

    ------------------------------
    Barbara Richmond, RPT
    near Peoria, Illinois
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Zuckermann with organ keys

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-09-2019 17:39
    Hey Ed,

    Who knows what the story is.  The instrument has two registers, but only one set of jacks (where I found them), one set of strings and it was never finished. I'm not finishing it either-and the customer doesn't want or care about a four foot choir.  I looked at the other register, considered trying them there, but didn't.  I guess I should.

    The spiel I was given is-a student at Juilliard bought the it from the school. He ended up going to Europe, so had his parents keep it at their house-in Bloomington, Illinois. They got tired of it, I guess, and gave it to the music minister at their church. He called me.  It's been sitting in my shop for about a year.  Yeah, well, I had shoulder surgery, and am just now getting around to it.

    ------------------------------
    Barbara Richmond, RPT
    near Peoria, Illinois
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Zuckermann with organ keys

    Posted 06-09-2019 17:50
    Hi, Barb,

    FWIW, I think that Ed is on the right track here.

    Several centuries ago (e.g., much, much earlier in my career), I spent
    entirely too much time finishing/rebuilding various "kit" instruments
    from various suppliers. One the most consistently common denominators
    was that the erstwhile "builder" failed to read the manual, and/or
    failed to properly assess their various mechanical and woodworking
    skills before diving in.

    As a result of such lack of preparation, errors of the kind that are
    present in the instrument you have are fairly common. Thus, checking
    the length of the jack v. the register makes perfect sense. If it turns
    out that the jacks fit the 8' and not the 4' register, then someone
    needs to make some choices about whether to buy a set of jacks for the
    8' register...or...perhaps to simply call it a day.

    Since the instrument presently has no extrinsic value, the choice (for
    me) would be between being able to make my normal shop rate, or not. If
    the instrument has insufficient intrinsic value to the owner(s), maybe
    you can burn it and make S'mores....just a thought.

    Obviously, YMMV.

    Kind regards.

    Horace

    On 6/9/2019 2:38 PM, Barbara Richmond via Piano Technicians Guild wrote:
    > Please do not forward this message due to Auto Login.
    >
    > Hey Ed,
    >
    > Who knows what the story is. ??The instrument has two registers, but only one set of jacks (where I found them), one set of strings and it was never finished. I'm not finishing it either-and the customer doesn't want or care about a four foot choir. ??I looked at the other register, considered trying them there, but didn't. ??I guess I should.
    >
    > The spiel I was given is-a student at Juilliard bought the it from the school. He ended up going to Europe, so had his parents keep it at their house-in Bloomington, Illinois. They got tired of it, I guess, and gave it to the music minister at their church. He called me. ??It's been sitting in my shop for about a year. ??Yeah, well, I had shoulder surgery, and am just now getting around to it.
    >
    > ------------------------------
    > Barbara Richmond, RPT
    > near Peoria, Illinois
    > ------------------------------
    > -------------------------------------------
    > Original Message:
    > Sent: 06-09-2019 17:18
    > From: Ed Sutton
    > Subject: Zuckermann with organ keys
    >
    > Barb-
    > Is there a chance these are the 4 foot jacks placed on the 8 foot strings?
    >
    > ------------------------------
    > Ed Sutton
    > ed440@me.com <ed440@me.com>
    > (980) 254-7413
    > ------------------------------
    >
    > Original Message:
    > Sent: 06-09-2019 15:32
    > From: Barbara Richmond
    > Subject: Zuckermann with organ keys
    >
    > Hi,
    >
    > I thought this get-it-to-play job would be some new strings and a few adjustments, which goes to show how inexperienced I am.
    >
    > Well crud.?? It turns out that most of the jacks are cut too short--they're just hanging there by their dampers.
    >
    > I haven't contacted the owner to see how he feels about buying a new set of jacks, yet. Without being too much of a hack job, I was wondering what other options there might be like:
    >
    > 1--Adding the appropriate thickness of plywood to the backs of the keys, even though that means removing the cloth and re-doing it.
    > ?? ?? ??Adding the thickness of plywood to the bottom of the key, though that would introduce a bit of a tilt, but there are weights in the backs of the?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??keys.
    >
    > 2--adding a layer of cloth to the back rail.?? I'm not so crazy about adding something soft that will compress, though.
    >
    > 3--I pulled out the keys; the frame doesn't seem readily adjustable. Maybe it is. but the screws sure aren't conveniently placed. Has anyone ever
    > ?? ?? ??pulled one of these out?
    >
    > Oh golly.
    >
    > Any suggestions?
    >
    > Thank you.
    >
    >
    > ------------------------------
    > Barbara Richmond, RPT
    > near Peoria, Illinois
    > ------------------------------
    >
    >
    > Reply to Sender : https://my.ptg.org/eGroups/PostReply/?GroupId=1195&SenderKey=2be038ed-03a2-4f76-bbda-db100bfaa87e&MID=704344&MDATE=756%253e45%253b45%253e&UserKey=3feecf45-4a69-4cff-bbb2-fd6c7eaf0569&sKey=KeyRemoved
    >
    > Reply to Discussion : https://my.ptg.org/eGroups/PostReply/?GroupId=1195&MID=704344&MDATE=756%253e45%253b45%253e&UserKey=3feecf45-4a69-4cff-bbb2-fd6c7eaf0569&sKey=KeyRemoved
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    >
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  • 10.  RE: Zuckermann with organ keys

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-09-2019 18:22
    Barb-
    So this is an old Zuckerbox with the jack upgrade kit.
    You could glue steps on the backs of the keys, or raise the key frame if possible.
    It looks to me like there's too much cloth on the back of the key already. The jacks are light and won't make a lot of clatter, they don't need so much cushioning.
    I would want to somehow raise the key backs enough to be able to re-trim the jacks to a good length.
    [Do this by trimming octave samples to length, then laying all on a bench top with a straight edge along the tops of the jacks, then trim the bottoms to match the samples. It's quick.]

    ------------------------------
    Ed Sutton
    ed440@me.com
    (980) 254-7413
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Zuckermann with organ keys

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-09-2019 18:47
    Thanks, Horace. I know what you mean about the builders of kits. The only really good harpsichord I worked on was at Illinois Wesleyan University, when I was on staff there. The rest have been kits-each with it's own set of peculiarities!  My favorite was the one with a strip of elastic stretched over the jacks as an attempt to get them to return.  :-)


    ------------------------------
    Barbara Richmond, RPT
    near Peoria, Illinois
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Zuckermann with organ keys

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-09-2019 18:43
    Thanks, Ed!

    ------------------------------
    Barbara Richmond, RPT
    near Peoria, Illinois
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: Zuckermann with organ keys

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-09-2019 20:39
    It looks like this larger model "Z-box" never had its 4 foot done: no hitch pins. I'd guess the former owner (who supposedly got it from Juilliard) bought the jack conversion kit, started in, was not careful in cutting jacks to length, and ended up with many too short - not at all uncommon. 

    It looks from your photo like you have a fair number of virgin jacks, never been cut. So I'd figure out how long the jacks ought to be, lay them all out, and see what you've got. Maybe between the ones that were cut and the ones that are uncut, you'll have enough to get it working adequately. If not, you can lengthen a few as I described to make up the difference.

    The simplest fastest way involves a bandsaw and a fence. I guess a table saw would work, but a little less comfortably. Lacking those power tools, an Exact saw, fine toothed Japanese pull saw, or similar can be used. Cut a wee bit over size, then clean up the cut with sandpaper (most rapidly a power tabletop disc sander) or a file.

    This leaves you with the job of voicing, and I'd strongly advise checking the nut pinning as a first step, since the conversion kit uses a register with spacing different from the original Zuckermann kit, and is made for different string spacing. Take one jack with an appropriate length plectrum, and insert it in each slot. How consistent is the pinning? If it is all over the place as expected, it is quick and easy to pull pins, insert a glued toothpick, cut off, drill and replace the pin. For details, see these files from a class I gave about ten years ago.
    "Believe those who seek the truth; doubt those who find it; doubt everything, but don't doubt yourself." Gide






  • 14.  RE: Zuckermann with organ keys

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-09-2019 21:47
    Thanks, Fred!   As a matter of fact, I still have the hand-out from that class!   :-)

    ------------------------------
    Barbara Richmond, RPT
    near Peoria, Illinois
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Zuckermann with organ keys

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-09-2019 22:29
    The link will also give you a pdf that has the photos.






  • 16.  RE: Zuckermann with organ keys

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-10-2019 18:04
    That design of jack doesn't allow for a screw. It is I-beam shaped, and about 2 mm thick. 
    Regards,
    Fred Sturm
    University of New Mexico
    fssturm@unm.edu
    http://fredsturm.net
    www.artoftuning.com
    "Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself." John Dewey






  • 17.  RE: Zuckermann with organ keys

    Posted 06-10-2019 18:27
    OK oops! Thanks.

     
    youtube channel:   ghmus7
     

    Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions
    To all musicians, appear and inspire:

    Translated Daughter, come down and startle

    Composing mortals with immortal fire.


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