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CLAVIERS BAROQUES -- Soundboard cleaning and other random thoughts

To get the dust off your soundboard:

Those new static dusting cloths (e.g. Pledge "Grab-It" and the opposition's "Swiffer") work beautifully for getting the dust off soundboards. Just gently slide it around under the strings; use a small paint brush, the eraser end of a pencil to push it around, a piano mute on a stick is ideal. Cut the cloth up smaller to get it around the tight places. Update: I just got a "new improved" type of Swiffer, it seems to be a lot fuzzier and leaves bits of white fur on the bridgepins, so if you have a choice, go for the old, unimproved variety. I have found a non-brand at my local dollar store, they are great and not fuzzy at all.

Short Jacks:

If a jack is too short and can't be lengthened - add padding to the keytail. This can be cardstock put under the keytail cloth or another layer of cloth added on top. Billiard cloth (as on pool tables) works well.

Another trick that is good for plastic jacks without bottom screws (e.g. ZHI brown jacks). Get some thick super glue (Super Jet, Hot Stuff, Zap) from a hobby store. Also get the "kicker" accelerator. Rough up the surface to be glued a little, put a bead of thick super glue on the bottom (or the top) of the jack and spray it right away with the kicker. The resulting lump can be sanded or filed to the desired shape and thickness. Thanks to my brother, Tom Ciul, for this one.

Leaky Damper:

You can often improve the damping of the felt in a jack by removing the little piece of felt cloth from the slot and turning it over and putting it back. Use needle nosed (pointy) pliers.

How can you tell when a string is going to break?

When you are tuning and turning a tuning pin and the pitch doesn't change - you might be turning the wrong pin (the most common cause of broken strings) - or - the string is stretching and is about to break, or the loop at the hitchpin is slipping (more common with brass than iron).

Humidity and tuning:

If you tune during a dry period and the weather suddenly gets very humid - the tuning will often go sharp - sometimes sharp enough to break strings!

Do you have a specific question? Perhaps we can help via a phone call or private e-mail, feel free to contact us.







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last updated August 25, 2010