Ah, if one now hasn't old-type racks or boxslides, but if the jacks
otherwise are constructed in a way that usually doesn't create an, er, flip
of the tongue, staples (or threads, which are used here) are a nice extra
precaution in any case. I mean, one never knows how long the springs stay
properly springy, or what other people start doing with the instruments, as
soon as the tech is out of the door.
Interesting discussion otherwise. I was planning to react to all this for
days, thinking that while I'm in principle with Bill, I wouldn't be so
exclusive in 'only this design works, but nothing else is good'. I mean, I
am in fact used to jacks with straight plectra, threads-staples and
paddings, and trust me, they work fine most of the time. The dynamic control
in the instruments here is as good as one can require.
(Talking as a player, that is, and actually not interested in proving any
point. I would be the first to be unhappy if these harpsichords wouldn't
Okay, about points to make, I admit, that while angled plectra are
historical, I have had hard times adjusting angled plectra so they did not
overpluck - in varying sorts of harpsichords. I'm more comfortable with
almost straight ones.
BUT then I am of a coincidence right now working on this renovation project
of my ensemble's harpsichord, (not a bad instrument at all, in fact, and I'm
friends with the maker etc. etc. nothing personal etc.) which also has jacks
made this way: straight plectra (most of them), threads (instead of staples)
and no superstiff bristles.
And there they come, all of a sudden: minor problems galore, and all because
of very local small imprecisions. Name one: the axles of the tongues show up
in the middle of the groove in which the bristle runs, which results in that
many of the bristles don't touch the groove at its top end (there's maybe a
quarter of a mm of loose play). This, together with slightly wide axle
holes, creates lateral tongue movement and results in bad repetition. (I
know what to do to solve this, so: no real trouble here, just a
Other trouble: plectra slipping off the string instead of properly plucking.
In my own instruments, that would only happen occasionally. Most of the
time, the instrument in itself is resonant enough to be reasonably
forgiving, until I notice the problem and replace the bristle.
But this is perhaps not an optimally resonant instrument, meaning also that
the plectra need to be somewhat thicker than the ones I usually make.
For some funny reason these thicker plectra tend to slide off the string
even earlier in the no-good way; also the flip and rattle in all sorts of
ways. The latter leads me to believe that there are many reasons beyond mere
jack design that influence their proper function, such as overall resonance,
stringing schedule, plucking points and plectra design. Difficult field for
too-exclusive conclusions, I think.
Back to work,