Harpsichord

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Zuckermann Jacks

  • 1.  Zuckermann Jacks

    Member
    Posted 01-01-2019 16:00
    Just saw a harpsichord for a customer to see what needed to be done to get it up and working. It looks like a Zuckermann kit. The delrin quills in this instrument look like they are held in place with a wooden wedge in a square hole and then glued. Has anyone had experience working with this style of jack and have any advise for replacing quills?
    The Zuckerman that I own has a slot for the quill and replaces like a normal quill with a press fit.
    Thanks.
    Rex

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    Rex Roseman
    Akron OH
    330-289-2948
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  • 2.  RE: Zuckermann Jacks

    Posted 01-01-2019 17:42
    Zuckermann  sells conversion kits for older style jacks, I'd recommend contacting them directly http://zhi.net/parts/actionupgrades.shtml

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    Martin Snow
    Boston MA
    617-543-1030
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  • 3.  RE: Zuckermann Jacks

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-02-2019 08:32
    It sounds like the original plectra was leather and someone did a delrin conversion. If the jacks are in relatively good condition you might be able to requill. The problem will be the glue holding the plectra in the tongue. If the glue is holding the plectra tightly in the tongue you will have to drill them out with a small jewelers bit. As suggested, your best course of action may well be to replace the jacks with the conversion kits sold by Zuckermann.

    Don McKechnie, RPT
    Piano Technician
    Home: 607.277.7112
    Cell: 607.339.8679

    Sent from my iPad





  • 4.  RE: Zuckermann Jacks

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-02-2019 08:47
    It sounds like you have the old, large original Zuckermann clickity-clack jacks with a a small lead weight. I believe this plastic is beginning to degrade on some instruments.
    If you support the tongue and wood plug, you may be able to slide out the delrin plectrum and slide in a replacement.
    But if the customers will pay for it, the upgrade is worth it.

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    Ed Sutton
    ed440@me.com
    (980) 254-7413
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  • 5.  RE: Zuckermann Jacks

    Member
    Posted 01-04-2019 12:36
    Thanks for the responces. I checked the Zuckermann site and I believe that the cost of the replacement kit (+labor) is more then they should invest in this instrument with it's structural problems. I have sent them a quote, but am going to first see if the plectrum can be replaced with the spacer intact as Ed suggested.
    If this were my instrument, I would definitely tear it down, rebuild it and use the replacement kit. This instrument is to see if their son is going to stay interested enough to upgrade to a better instrument. Because he likes to tinker with it and because harpsichordists, unlike pianists, have to be able to maintain their instruments, I think this will work out. Sort of the opposite philosophy of pianos were a poor piano will discourage a starter, a harpsichord that needs TLC may just encourage him to keep at it. Sweat equity can be a great motivator.
    Rex





  • 6.  RE: Zuckermann Jacks

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-04-2019 13:17
    Rex-
    This sounds like a good use of an old Zuckerbox,
    What I have done in this situation with both Zuckermann and Sperrhake instruments is
    1) Carefully remove the old leather plectrum
    2) Cut a little plug of balsa wood from a stick a little larger than the mortise
    3) Compress the balsa wood plug, press it in the mortise and slide a delrin plectrum in place.
    4) Holding the tongue away from the jack and pointing down from the axle, put a drop of thin CA glue on the balsa wood plug. Not too much, and be careful it doesn't run into the axle.
    This basically converts the balsa into a little plexiglas plug and converts the mortise into a slot for delrin or celcon.
    The glue does not adhere to the delrin, so it can be pushed in or out.
    In my experience this is a permanent fix, it doesn't come loose.

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    Ed Sutton
    ed440@me.com
    (980) 254-7413
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  • 7.  RE: Zuckermann Jacks

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-04-2019 13:46
    This is somewhat tangential to the focus of the thread, for which I apologize in advance.

    Rex wrote:
    "...harpsichordists, unlike pianists, have to be able to maintain their instruments…"

    Why is that? Why don't harpsichordists call in a tech, like pianists do? And conversely, why don't more pianists learn how their instrument works, and how to do simple things (like retrieve a foreign object)?

    Alan


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    Alan Eder, RPT
    Herb Alpert School of Music
    California Institute of the Arts
    Valencia, CA
    661.904.6483
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  • 8.  RE: Zuckermann Jacks

    Member
    Posted 01-04-2019 17:17
    Alan

    The way that I look at it is that the Harpsichord is a transitional instrument between most string instruments/harps/guitars and the piano. While it has a lot in common with the piano in that there are things that need a tech to properly handle (the structure of the instrument, the initial setup of the voicing, etc.) more like other stringed instruments it is in constant need of tuning and touch up to keep it playing. A harpsichordist needs to know three basic things that are not usually necessary  for the piano, 1 tuning (as mentioned above), 2. minor regulation of the jacks (plectrum length reaching under strings, damper height and length, jack height or plectrum level under strings) 3. major adjustments to the jack registers (and sometimes setting keyboard height). These things change daily or seasonally. The same way a good guitarist or violinist knows how to set up their instrument to function at it's best, so should a harpsichordist.

    I agree that there are a lot of things with the piano that players should be taught such as being able to retrieve items. The piano is both a much more stable instrument and a more robustly constructed instrument and needs less constant maintenance then the harpsichord. On the other hand, when it does have a problem, its is usually more technical and complicated.

    Yes, I agree pianists need to know much more about their instruments, but I don't think that we will have many of them adjusting regulation, tweaking voicing, or doing back action work, all of which are included in the list above for harpsichordists as per their instrument.

    Hope that helps to see another perspective. I always try to leave the player with as much information as I think that they can handle without extensive training and tools.

    Thank.

    Rex