Technical Library

TUNING IV: Tuning Hammers

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Deluxe tuning hammer 14K jpeg

Deluxe tuning hammer
Tuning Hammers…

Accurate tuning hammer fit is crucial to the highest standard of tuning. Make sure you have a tuning hammer that exactly fits the tuning pins on your instrument, because you will not be able to do a fine tuning without it. If you’re in the habit of misplacing things, you’ll need a spare one hidden away.

There are a few different types of pins used in harpsichords today. The threaded “zither” pin has a square head and a hole for the wire—it’s really a baby piano pin. The best hammers for these pins have a star head which enables the hammer to be positioned on the pin in four possible alignments. Our T-bar ones are American made and have a wooden handle for comfort. We also offer the traditional piano tuner gooseneck shape.

To order any of our tuning hammers, please check our Spare Parts section for pricing.

The historic tapered pins now favored by most makers have rectangular heads, some with holes, some without. You should be able to take your hand off the tuning hammer without having it fall off the pins and break your strings.

The latest addition to our tuning hammer range is our deluxe model (pictured) with a wooden handle made from Australian jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata). It is available in two sizes to match the two main types of historic pins: Either the standard ø4mm or early piano ø6mm.

The straight-slotted all-metal hammers we make to suit these pins have found favor with professional makers around the world. All our metal tuning hammers have a convenient hook in the middle of the turned handle to make hitchpin loops—if you are holding the hammer correctly when tuning, this hook should be between the fingers, with the open end facing away from the palm. Nonetheless, there are harpsichordists who prefer to remove the hook, so it is simply threaded in the handle and can be removed, or you may prefer the wooden handle of our deluxe tuning hammer without the hook.

We offer two models of metal hammers to suit different instruments, the pin always fitting in the hammer to the base of the slot:

There are many different profiles and sizes of historic flat-head tuning pins used in harpsichords today. Although each tuner has his own preference for feel of the hammer on the pins, generally the most accurate tuning can be obtained when the tuning hammer fits the tuning pins precisely, with the head of the pin bottoming out on the slot. Our movie below shows how you can customize the slot of the tuning hammer to exactly fit the pins used in your instrument.

Movie thumb 2K jpeg Movie 1K gif Customizing the tuning hammer fit
Carey Beebe customizing a traditional harpsichord tuning hammer to fit a particular pin profile.
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