Early in January, a friend asked on the hspchd list about how to deal with slipping loops of brass strings. I’m giving here a cross-section of the most valuable bits of the following discussion, with an emphasis on my own experience.
I hadn’t been aware of the problem of slipping brass loops at all when, a few years ago, some of the strings in a harpsichord used by my ensemble suddenly gave up keeping their pitch. There seems to be a dual explanation for my lack of experience: 1) The brass sections in my own instruments are strung in beryllium-copper, a material that has characteristics in some ways closer to early brass (for example it only stretches very little before settling, and it sounds pretty nice from the start on). As an aside, beryllium copper looks like copper-bronze (which many people find useless – I have no experience with it) but is something else nevertheless. What matters here: reasonably well-made Beryllium copper loops just don’t slip. 2) One of the things apparently typical to brass loops is that they begin to slip after years and years of behaving nicely. At the moment the trouble started, the instrument in question was about ten years old.
In any case, I went through all the steps of “what now?” solutions that, as I learned recently, make the entire harpsichord world happy.
I took off the string and tried to wind the loop tighter. It snapped.
When winding the loop for the new string, I tried to make the double helix tighter than usual in order to avoid the new string from slipping as the old had done. It snapped. (more…)