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CLAVIERS BAROQUES replacement wire, plectra and emergency kits -- order on line (or not).

You can order and pay for strings, plectra and tools on line *right now* (we usually ship within 24 hours, but if it's a Friday we may not get it out until Monday), right from this page. If you'd rather not order 'on-line', or if what you want doesn't seem to be here, you can always order in the old-fashioned way -- just contact us and tell us what you want, we'll figure out the $$, you can mail us a cheque/check or money order and it all will happen. Oh, and while you're shopping, don't miss our Claviers Baroques sweats and T's, nifty mugs, and more!

 

Claviers Baroques harpsichord strings: replacement wires complete with hitching loops, packed in individual envelopes. Important note about the loops: our standard loops are made to fit hitch pins up to 0.1" or 0.25mm -- which is most, but not all of them. Some instruments, esp early kits and some scratch-built harpsichords, use thicker hitchpins, often they are copper. We can make loops to fit these, but you have to tell us what diameter you need. And it takes an extra day or so for us to make them up, depending on how many you need, but no extra charge.


Soft iron strings -- sometimes called Zuckermann wire as it was originally made to David Way's specifications for Zuckermann Harpsichords. Mild steel wire coated to resist rust and corrosion. This is the industry standard ferrous wire for historical keyboard instruments. Recommended replacement wire for the 4', treble, and midrange of most French, Flemish, German and English style harpsichords and forte-pianos up to around 1840. Suitable for both original instruments and reproductions in the historic style. Can also be used on revival instruments if the scaling is not too long, ie, sounding length of c'' 14 inches or less (what is c"? see Helmholtz notation) Longer? You'll need steel. See also yellow brass and red brass.

Price: $5.00 CAD, $5.00 USD, or € 5.00 each -- shipping by first-class airmail post included.

Diameter
Length*
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Material Inches Metric (approx) Inches Metric
CAN $
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US $ includes shipping in USA via first-class airmail

EURO €
includes shipping to Europe via airmail
Soft Iron .007 0.18 mm 60" 1.5m
Soft Iron .0075 0.19 mm 60" 1.5m
Soft Iron .008 0.20 mm 60" 1.5m
Soft Iron .0085 0.22 mm 60" 1.5m
Soft Iron .009 0.23 mm 60" 1.5m
Soft Iron .0095 0.24 mm 60" 1.5m
Soft Iron .010 0.25 mm 78" 2.0m
Soft Iron .0105 0.27 mm 78" 2.0m
Soft Iron .011 0.28 mm 78" 2.0m
Soft Iron .0115 0.29 mm 78" 2.0m
Soft Iron .012 0.32 mm 78" 2.0m
Soft Iron .013 0.33 mm 78" 2.0m
Soft Iron .0135 0.34 mm 78" 2.0m
Soft Iron .014 0.355 mm 78" 2.0m
Soft Iron .0145 0.37 mm 78" 2.0m
Soft Iron .016 0.40 mm 78" 2.0m
Soft Iron .018 0.46 mm 78" 2.0m
Soft Iron .020 0.51 mm 98" 2.5m
Soft Iron .023 0.585 mm 98" 2.5m
Soft Iron .026 0.66 mm 98" 2.5m
Soft Iron .030 0.76 mm 98" 2.5m
* Note: The standard length should be long enough for most instruments, but if you need a longer string, e-mail us stating the material, diameter and length of the wire you require (no extra charge, BTW, up to 118" / 3 meters). If you measure from the hitchpin to the end of your keyboard that should give you the length you need for the string plus enough extra to coil on the tuning pin.

Yellow brass strings -- we use wire drawn from an alloy of copper and zinc specially formulated for early keyboard instruments. Coated to resist tarnishing. Gives a clear ringing tone under the relatively low tensions and light plucks of historical instruments. Recommended replacement wire for the bass of French, Flemish, German and English harpsichords, as well as forte-pianos up to around 1840, and for Italian instruments throughout the range. Suitable for both original instruments and reproductions in the historic style. May also be used on revival instruments as a substitute for wound wire in the bass. See also soft iron, red brass and steel.

Price: $5.00 CAD, $5.00 USD, or € 5.00 each -- shipping by first-class airmail post included.

Diameter
Length*
Add to Cart
Material Inches Metric (approx) Inches Metric
CAN $
includes shipping in Canada via first-class airmail

US $ includes shipping in USA via first-class airmail

EURO €
includes shipping to Europe via airmail
Yellow Brass .008 0.20 mm 60" 1.5m
Yellow Brass .0085 0.22 mm 60" 1.5m
Yellow Brass .009 0.23 mm 60" 1.5m
Yellow Brass .010 0.25 mm 60" 1.5m
Yellow Brass .011 0.28 mm 78" 2.0m
Yellow Brass .012 0.32 mm 78" 2.0m
Yellow Brass .013 0.33 mm 78" 2.0m
Yellow Brass .014 0.355 mm 78" 2.0m
Yellow Brass .016 0.40 mm 78" 2.0m
Yellow Brass .018 0.46 mm 78" 2.0m
Yellow Brass .020 0.51 mm 98" 2.5m
Yellow Brass .022 0.56 mm 98" 2.5m
Yellow Brass .025 0.635 mm 98" 2.5m
Yellow Brass .026 0.66 mm 98" 2.5m
Yellow Brass .030 0.76 mm 98" 2.5m

* Note: The standard length should be long enough for most instruments, but if you need a longer string, e-mail us stating the material, diameter and length of the wire you require (no extra charge, BTW, up to 118" / 3 meters). If you measure from the hitchpin to the end of your keyboard that should give you the length you need for the string plus enough extra to coil on the tuning pin.



Red brass strings -- our red brass wire is an alloy of copper and zinc specially formulated for early keyboard instruments. Softer than yellow brass, it is useful in the extreme bass of shorter instruments where yellow brass may sound dull. Recommended replacement wire for the extreme bass of French, Flemish, German and English harpsichords, as well as forte-pianos up to around 1840. Suitable for both original instruments and reproductions in the historic style. May also be used on revival instruments as a substitute for wound wire in the extreme bass. Note: If your instrument originally used phosphor bronze, we recommend substituting red or yellow brass. More information on that here. See also soft iron, yellow brass and steel.

Price: $5.00 CAD, $5.00 USD, or € 5.00 each -- shipping by first-class airmail post included.

Diameter
Length*
Add to Cart
Material Inches Metric (approx) Inches Metric
CAN $
includes shipping in Canada via first-class airmail

US $ includes shipping in USA via first-class airmail

EURO €
includes shipping to Europe via airmail
Red Brass .016 0.40 mm 78" 2.0m
Red Brass .018 0.46 mm 78" 2.0m
Red Brass .020 0.51 mm 98" 2.5m
Red Brass .025 0.635 mm 98" 2.5m
Red Brass .026 0.66 mm 98" 2.5m
Red Brass .029 0.74 mm 98" 2.5m
Red Brass .033 0.84 mm 98" 2.5m

* Note: The standard length should be long enough for most instruments, but if you need a longer string, e-mail us stating the material, diameter and length of the wire you require (no extra charge, BTW, up to 118" / 3 meters). If you measure from the hitchpin to the end of your keyboard that should give you the length you need for the string plus enough extra to coil on the tuning pin.

 

Steel strings -- steel is the original wire on many revival instruments and is useful on some historical instruments where soft iron keeps breaking, eg, some big doubles in the treble and/or 4'. It is also good for slicing cheese (really!!). We are not crazy about the sound it produces, but if the scaling is too long for soft iron or brass, you have to have *some* kind of string there. Steel might not give the nicest tone, but it won't break. And really, that high in the treble only dogs can tell. See also soft iron, yellow brass and red brass.

Price: $5.00 CAD, $5.00 USD, or € 5.00 each -- shipping by first-class airmail post included.

Diameter
Length*
Add to Cart
   
Material Inches Metric (approx) Inches Metric
CAN $
includes shipping in Canada via first-class airmail

US $ includes shipping in USA via first-class airmail

EURO €
includes shipping to Europe via airmail
Steel .008 0.20 mm 60" 1.5m
Steel .009 0.23 mm 60" 1.5m


* Note: The standard length should be long enough for most instruments, but if you need a longer string, e-mail us stating the material, diameter and length of the wire you require (no extra charge, BTW, up to 118" / 3 meters). If you measure from the hitchpin to the end of your keyboard that should give you the length you need for the string plus enough extra to coil on the tuning pin.



 

Bulk wire -- we assume you know what you are doing if you order bulk wire, or at least have read our How to Make Loop and feel, um, confident. See our soft iron, yellow brass, red brass and steel for the sizes we have available, make sure to tell us what diameter and material you need. as well as how many meters, and away we go.

Price: $2.00 CAD, $2.00 USD, or € 2.00 EUR per meter (a meter is 39.37 inches) -- shipping by first-class airmail post included.

Bulk wire by the meter (=~ yard)
Length*
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Material Diameter Meters
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Please specify material -- soft iron, yellow brass, red brass, steel Please specify diameter -- either inches or mm are fine, so long as you tell us which standard of measure you are using. Please tell us how many meters you want (a meter is 39" and a bit, so basically a nice, generous yard) - and we will send you one piece that long.

* Note: You'll need the length of the string(s) you are replacing (hitchpin to tuning pin) of course; allow an extra two feet/ 50 cm for each to give you plenty extra for the coil on the tuning pin and for making the loop.

 

Plectra -- Delrin® or Celcon®, various thicknesses. We can supply leather, too, but there's no standard for that, so if you need leather please contact us and we will sort out with you what is the right leather for your instrument. Or perhaps we can convert your instrument to accept plastic plectra. If you have a Burton, we have a few replacement tongues, but better still, we can supply tongues that fit in Burton jacks and which take standard (individual) plastic plectra -- contact us about that.

Installing a plectrum involves voicing it, ie, shaping it to give the desired tone and touch. This is done by cutting away some of the material. The usual tools for this are a scalpel or craft knife and a voicing block. We have the tools here and the how-to there. If you are new to voicing, it is prudent to order enough extras to experiment on.

Delrin® or Celcon®, which to choose? They are basically interchangeable, and either can be voiced to give whatever sound/touch you like. Which material you prefer will most likely depend on the size slots in your jacks (thickness) and your voicing style. We tend to prefer Celcon®, we find it easier/smoother to carve, but lots of people prefer Delrin®. When in doubt, go with what's already in your instrument -- more likely you will be able to match the present voicing. Not sure what you like/what you have? We can send you a sampler pack.

Still nothing just right? Well, if the plectra are too thick, you can often ease the slot in the jack if the tongue using a small jeweller's screwdriver. This will work with tongues made of wood or a pliable plastic. Some of the German revival instruments used Bakelite (bad idea) which is very brittle and the tongues will break. If the plectrum is to thick or too narrow, you can use a pliers to squish the it a bit (only on the end that goes in the tongue). Or you can get back to us and we will special order thicker or thinner plectra for you, or we may be able to supply replacement tongues (recommended if you have, say, a Sperrhake that takes leather plectra). Second to last resort, new jacks, and the very last resort is a new harpsichord.

 

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Celcon® plectra -- stamped from sheets of an acetal copolymer (type of plastic) made by Celanese AG, combined with a 'filler' of graphite (or so we have been told). Used for harpsichord plectra as in, "Quilled in Celcon."

Price: $5.00 CAD, $5.00 USD, or € 5.00 for 25 -- shipping by first-class airmail post included. .

Inches Metric (approx)
CAN $
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US $ includes shipping in USA via first-class airmail

EURO €
includes shipping to Europe via airmail
  • Celcon® (black) -- "medium" (standard thickness nowadays)
.020 .050 mm
  • Celcon® (black) --"thick"
.021 .053 mm
Delrin® plectra -- Delrin® is a high-molecular weight plastic made by Dupont Industries. It is used for machined parts, notably jacks, and also for plectra. The sheet stock that these plectra are stamped from uses powdered gypsum as a filler (so we have been told).

Price: $5.00 CAD, $5.00 USD, or € 5.00 for 25 -- shipping by first-class airmail post included.

Inches Metric (approx)
CAN $
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US $ includes shipping in USA via first-class airmail

EURO €
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  • Delrin® natural (white) -- "very thick"
.0225” .57 mm
  • Delrin® natural (white) -- "medium".
.0185” .46 mm
  • Delrin® natural (white) -- "thin" (currently out of stock, we expect to have more by second week of Nov, 2010)
.016” .41 mm      

Sampler pack -- 20 plectra, 4 of each of the above types, in separate bags marked so you'll know which is which. Useful if you don't know which size you need. Also handy to have if you are a travelling harpsichordist and never know what you'll be asked to play next, or what condition it is in.

Price: $5.00 CAD, $5.00 USD, or € 5.00 for 20 -- shipping by first-class airmail post included.

assorted assorted
see also Voicing tools:

Tools and stuff:

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Tools for tuning instruments and replacing strings, see also our CBExpert pages for how-to's

Tuning wrench, wooden T-handle for square (zither) pins.

Price: $28.00 CAD, $28.00 USD, or € 28.00 each -- shipping by post included.

Tuning hammer, metal, with hook*, for standard flat ('historical') tuning pins -- shipping by post included.

*Note: the hook is for making hitching loops for harpsichord strings, also strings for fortepianos and most clavichords, we show you how here. If you plan on making a lot of loops, it is worth getting one of these even if your instrument has the other kind of tuning pin. Alternatively, you can use a cuphook on a dowel, we can supply one or you can make your own.

Price: $45.00 CAD, $45.00 USD, or € 45.00 each -- shipping by post included.

Tuning hammer as above, metal, with hook*,*small* for *small* flat ('historical') tuning pins as for instance many spinets or our Bermudo clavichord -- shipping by post included.

Price: $45.00 CAD, $45.00 USD, or € 45.00 each -- shipping by post included.


Tuning hammer as above, metal, plain (no hook), for standard flat ('historical') tuning pins

Price: $40.00 CAD, $40.00 USD, or € 40.00 each -- shipping by post included.


Tuning hammer as above, metal, plain (no hook),*small* for *small* flat ('historical') tuning pins as for instance many spinets or our Bermudo clavichord.

Price: $40.00 CAD, $40.00 USD, or € 40.00 each -- shipping by post included.

 

Dowel with hook. This will do in a pinch for making loops. They don't spin as nicely as the tuning hammers with the hooks above (the cross-arm acts as a flywheel), but they do the job and are good value. For even better value, you can make your own if you have a bit of dowel or broom handle and a cuphook around.

Price: $3.00 CAD, $3.00 USD, or € 3.00 each -- shipping by post included.

ScotchBrite® abrasive pad -- for cleaning tuning pins when you replace a string. 3 1/3" x 2" ( approx 9 x 5 cm). They last a long time, one will probably do you a lifetime unless you lose it.

Price: $2.00 CAD, $2.00 USD, or € 2.00 each -- shipping by first-class airmail post included.


Wire brake -- If you are making lots of loops and your partner, children, friends and neighbours are getting tired of holding the other end of the wire while you do it, you might consider getting a wire brake. You can make one of these yourself or buy one of ours. They come with a quick-clamp to attach it (temporarily) to a workbench, kitchen counter or coffee table. -- Price: $30.00 CAD, $30.00 USD, or € 30.00 each -- shipping by post included.

Mutes -- you won't need a mute to tune a harpsichord unless you have a 300 year old Italian 2 x 8' with fixed registers (and that is not likely), but a mute is really handy if you have a double-strung clavichord and is absolutely necessary if you have a forte-piano -- you'll want two if it is triple-strung. The mutes with handles are also good for soundboard cleaning.
  rubber mute -- shipping by post included.      
  rubber mute with handle -- shipping by post included. Also useful for propelling a dusting cloth under the strings to dust your soundboard.      
 

dusting cloths -- synthetic, low-fuzzing, cheap. These are cheap knock-off of the expensive top-brand ones, but I find they work better for this. The ;'real' ones tend to catch on the pins and leave bits of fuzz.

     


TUNING METERS!!!!
Life is much simpler if you have a good tuning meter. Well, if your life includes tuning instruments, anyway. These are the meters we use and heartily recommend. You can order them below. Note: These links go to external suppliers. These guys buy in quantity and can sell them to you for cheaper than we can buy them wholesale. But don't worry, you won't be trapped into buying anything. Go ahead and check them out, and if you don't want to buy, or don't want to buy now, just hit the 'back' button or the "x" on your browser.
Korg® CA-30 and the very similar CA-40 -- Your basic vanilla tuning meter, equal temperament only, but will do every note on your h'chord. You can tweak to any temperament from there, and *way* more convenient than a tuning fork. Click on the link to the right for more info and/or to order.

Korg® OT-120 (OT as in Orchestral Tuner). Does equal temperament, of course, and 11 other temperaments including Valotti, Kirnberger, Kellner and Werkmeister. Click on the link to the right for more info from SpringdaleMusic-dot-com and/or to order.
Korg® MT-40 -- Tuner and metronome in one. Equal temperament only, but really handy at rehearsals. Tap-in feature lets you tap the tempo, it tells you what the metronome marking is -- very useful at rehearsals (the maestro is often surprised). Click on the link to the right for more info from Shoreline Music (AmFulf) and/or to order.

Schaller® Oyster microphone -- has a 1/4" phono jack that plugs into Korg® and other tuning meters, very useful for tuning in noisy places. Also can go direct to a pre-amp or amp if you need more sound than your h'chord, clavichord for f'po can supply - ga-WHAAAAM!!!!

 

Voicing tools: you will need something sharp to carve the plectrum with and something to support it on while you are carving it, see our how-to-voice-a-plectrum.

The sharp thing: Most professionals use a scalpel (yes, *that* sort of scalpel) for the carving. We like the folding ones because (1.) the larger handle is easier to manipulate for the angles and (2.) the blade folds into the handle so they are safer in a toolbox. If you are shy of scalpels (which I understand, after all, they are designed to cut flesh), a craft knife such as Xacto will (sort of) do. Other methods of voicing/carving we have encountered involve fingernail clippers, pliers (to 'squish' the plectra flatter), and thumbnails (don't ask). We have worked on some instruments where the plectra appear to have been gnawed, possibly by humans but perhaps by rodents. We cannot recommend these methods and urge you to try the scalpel, or at least the craft knife.

The support bit: most professionals use a voicing block, a smallish piece of wood which supports the plectrum while you carve it. It is tapered so that you can reach both sides of the jack (pictures below). The plectrum will be in the jack for this operation, so the block has to be pretty small, and made from a hard wood to withstand all the cutting.. It is easier to see what you are doing if you use a white block for black plectra and vice-versa. It's still tricky, but a voicing block makes voicing possible. Without one, it's simply not

Our preferred method of voicing is here on our how-to page, with photos and there is even a video. This is the Hyman Cut, which we learned from the great David Way,and he learned it from his teacher, the legendary builder William Hyman. This method is also explained and beautifully illustrated in Ed Kottick's wonderful book, The Harpsichord Owner's Guide. I wish I'd written that book.

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Scalpel handle, folding, plastic and stainless steel. Uses standard #11 blades, 10 blades included. Made in Sweden. It's the best and the one we use.

Price: $30.00 CAD or USD or , shipping by post included.

Scalpel handle, #3, stainless steel. Uses standard #11 blades, 10 blades included. Durable and good value.

Price: $15.00 CAD or USD, shipping by post included.

#11 scalpel blades -- pack of 10, fit both the folding and the #3 handles above. This straight blade is the best choice for voicing plastic plectra or birdquill.

Price: 10 for $5.00 CAD or USD, shipping by post included.

Scalpel, disposable, c/w integral #11 blade -- good in a pinch and cheap; comes with its own protective cover.

Price: $2.00 CAD or USD, shipping by post included.

Craft knife, with 5 blades.

Price: $2.00 CAD or USD, shipping by post included.

Voicing block, white -- boxwood (usually), for use with black (usually Celcon®) plectra.

Price: $2.00 CAD or USD, shipping by post included.

Voicing block, black -- ebony, grenadilla or blackwood, for use with white (usually Delrin®) plectra.

Price: $2.00 CAD or USD, shipping by post included.

Miscellaneous but useful stuff. Tools that do what nothing else can, like our tiny cabinet scrapers -- the ideal tool to smooth rough spots off wooden or plastic jacks. A tiny bottle of fish glue, just the thing to re-attach damper or buff felts, or flaking bits of veneer.

 

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Coming soon -- Emergency Kits!

Yes, it happens. When it does, be ready. These kits contain a supply of plectra in your choice of Celcon (black) or Delrin (white), a scalpel with spare blades, a voicing block in either boxwood or ebony, (whichever contrasts with your plectra), an abrasive for cleaning the pin and an assortment of wires with loops, PLUS instructions on how to replace broken strings and plectra, including how to carve the quills, all packed in a tidy plastic case. It's like having a harpsichord technician in your pocket, only not as lumpy.

  • Italian emergency kit includes 20 plectra and 10 looped yellow brass wires in assorted sizes.
  • Franco/Flemish single emergency kit includes 30 plectra and 20 looped wires in an assortment of soft iron and brass.
  • Franco/Flemish double emergency kit includes 40 plectra and 30 looped wires in an assortment of soft iron, yellow brass and red brass.
  • Custom emergency kits available, let us know your requirements and we will give you a quote. We might even name it after you!
 

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last updated November 24, 2010