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HPSCHD-L  November 2010

HPSCHD-L November 2010

Subject:

Re: key balance

From:

Michael Johnson <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Sat, 6 Nov 2010 15:21:13 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (94 lines)

Dennis wrote:

Can keys depend on the weight of the jacks to return to their resting 
position? I find that the keys that are heavier in front simply don't 
come back fast enough to repeat properly, especially when more than one 
choir is engaged.

Thanks,

Dennis

On 06/11/2010 07:07, Carey Beebe wrote:
>   The days are over
> of the indiscriminately drawn pencil line across the keys for the
> addition of a lead slug at the same point in each key!
>
>



The angled line on a Johnson keyboard has nothing to do with balance at 
all, it's there for the use of keeping the keys in their correct order 
off the frame, I do not number them.

The reason, apart from sound, that players like to use instruments from 
certain periods for certain literature is because the action and 
keyboard design is such that the technicalities, not a good word but you 
will know what I mean, of the music can be so much better to 
interpreted.Italian keyboard fulcrums are very forward and that gives a 
shallow dip, heavier and faster back drop and therefore a quick action 
much needed for the music written for that period.The French went the 
other way and indeed a lesson was learnt from that experience way back 
in 1976 and came from a player.The 1976 French instrument built for Bob 
van Asperen was brought back for some reason and I was horrified to find 
he had cellotaped lead on the back of every lower manual key.The tape 
left a nasty sticky mess on the key blanks and as you can imagine I was 
not at all pleased.Back in those days Bob had been through a stage in 
his life where he had I believed put some kits together and he openly 
considered himself an authority on the subject of making harpsichords, 
we did fall out then as both egos were attacked but I think we are now 
the best of friends and he stills uses that instrumentJWhat he failed to 
note whilst complaining at the lack of return from the keys, was that 
the bottom holes on the lower manual keyboard had tightened up from a 
long stay in a very damp Church and simply needed easing on. However, 
what I say from now on is applicable to my keyboards and the style of 
boxes I make and perhaps advice would be better got from your own maker 
regarding your instrument.

Firstly in order to get the fulcrum working properly you must have the 
minimum of friction at that point and indeed all the other locating 
points at the back or front end of the key.I say front because Peter 
will say his instruments have a front pin or bat, mine work from a back 
pin and rack.I choose to use a chassed top to the fulcrum with a cleared 
hole through to just a millimetre or so thickness of wood bottom hole 
where it fits onto the balance rail.That bottom hole is adjusted with a 
tapered awl so the key will fall back on its own but there must be no 
forward or back play which will occur if you are over enthusiastic.The 
chase at the top is adjusted so that no friction drag is there and the 
minimum of play is left to allow the key work quietly; the same rule of 
thumb applies to the back pin and you are helped there if you use piano 
centre pins as they come in many diameters. Most keyboards are designed 
to have an angled slope back when they bed on the backtouch rail, I like 
to create that so that the key is almost level at the bottom of the dip, 
just a tad of back angle.In order for you to get the key working at its 
best, you will be need to make sure the balance pin is slightly forward 
of upright to give that total freedom, this is an important detail and I 
have found on some instruments, when you depress the key you feel a 
variation in the resistance because that has not been understood.We now 
come to balancing; I like the mass to be as low as possible and all 
balancing done by carving away the wood not needed.There are usually a 
few keys that are stubborn, the top treble key on a d3 has a lot of 
wood, and I sometimes use a lead plug there.So I think Denis will need 
to do that on the few he has that are not working well but do check the 
friction freedom first.Generally speaking there is not a need to have 
every key perfectly in balance with its neighbours, if the keys are 
working well a little variation will not be noticed after the instrument 
has been well voiced.I used to be very fussy with that detail but with 
experience you learn where and where not to use your time.

Sorry for such a longwinded post.

M


-- 
www.michaeljohnsonharpsichords.co.uk


::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Note:  opinions  expressed on HPSCHD-L are those of the  individual con-
tributors and not necessarily  those of the list owners  nor of the Uni-
versity of Iowa.  For a brief  summary of list  commands, send mail to
[log in to unmask]  saying  HELP .
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

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