Hubbard Bentside spinet after Harris Baker

Dear members,

I recently acquired 2 bentside spinets which are kits from the Hubbard workshop. Although both instruments are in good condition, the plectra & strings need to be replaced. I’ve now restrung one of the instruments using Rose wire at a1 = 440 (client really wanted this pitch). However at this pitch it’s not possible to use Rose brass throughout the instrument as the strings are very close to the breaking point. At 415 it’s possible as long if you use a rather light stringing.

Since I have the folder of this instrument, I know that Hubbard intended it to sound at 415 Hz and offered phosfor bronze to put it at 440 Hz. For the brass the folder mentions “spring brass” which I translate as “harder drawn than Rose brass”.

Out of curiosity: does someone still have the original stringing list provided by Hubbard?

I’ve looked at Stohlberg messing as well. At 415, the string tension seems a bit too low in my opinion. At 440 Hz it looks a lot better.



Archaeological fragments remain of the Hubbard website. According to that, confirming the A415:

As in the original, the keyboard for this instrument is made with bone-covered naturals set off by English style mouldings at the fronts of the keys and stained hardwood sharps. The spinet is strung in brass throughout and designed to be pitched at a’-415 Hz. A transposing keyboard is available as an option for those who must tune their spinets to a’-440.

Carey Beebe’s stringing list for the Paris Workshop Delin Spinet is avaialble on his website. That instrument uses iron in the treble. Perhaps that is a solution if the instrument in question is not a transposer. May not be authentic or original, but then, neither is A440 likely to have been for that spinet.

Here is the stringing I’ve used for a1 = 440 Hz

Nr Note Material Diameter
01 FF RedCu 0,65
02 FF# X X
03 GG RedCu 0,65
04 GG# RedCu 0,65
05 AA RedCu 0,60
06 BBb RedCu 0,60
07 BB RedCu 0,60
08 C RedCu 0,56
09 C# RedCu 0,56
10 D CuZn 0,56
11 Eb CuZn 0,56
12 E CuZn 0,56
13 F CuZn 0,52
14 F# CuZn 0,52
15 G CuZn 0,48
16 G# CuZn 0,48
17 A CuZn 0,44
18 Bb CuZn 0,44
19 B CuZn 0,40
20 c CuZn 0,40
21 c# Fe 0,36
22 d Fe 0,36
23 eb Fe 0,33
24 e Fe 0,33
25 f Fe 0,30
26 f# Fe 0,30
27 g Fe 0,30
28 g# Fe 0,30
29 a Fe 0,30
30 bb Fe 0,30
31 b Fe 0,30
32 c1 Fe 0,30
33 c1# Fe 0,30
34 d1 Fe 0,30
35 e1b Fe 0,30
36 e1 Fe 0,30
37 f1 Fe 0,30
38 f1# Fe 0,30
39 g1 Fe 0,30
40 g1# Fe 0,30
41 a1 Fe 0,30
42 b1b Fe 0,30
43 b1 Fe 0,30
44 c2 Fe 0,30
45 c2# Fe 0,30
46 d2 Fe 0,30
47 e2b Fe 0,30
48 e2 Fe 0,30
49 f2 Fe 0,30
50 f2# Fe 0,30
51 g2 Fe 0,30
52 g2# Fe 0,30
53 a2 Fe 0,30
54 b2b Fe 0,30
55 b2 Fe 0,30
56 c3 Fe 0,30
57 c3# Fe 0,30
58 d3 Fe 0,30
59 e3b Fe 0,30
60 e3 Fe 0,30
61 f3 Fe 0,30



So indeed you used iron. I see no objection to that.

I’ve a second as good as identical one which I intend to string in brass. If the pitch is 415, then using Rose brass would force me to use 0,21 mm starting from f to avoid being uncomfortably close to the braking point (e.g. less than a semitone). As you know a little shift of humidity and/or tempature can make the strings go up and that would result in a spectacular number of strings breaking :frowning:

So I’ll have to use Stohlberg brass which can withstand more tension. I’ll hope I’ll be able to make a sound recording of both instruments so that one can hear the difference in tone.

Do we have sources about the way English bentside spinets were strung in the good old times?

Dear All

Besides the alternate long string/short string length shared with virginals, spinets can pose a special problem around the hook of the bridge. I’ve provided Chris the Hubbard Baker Harris Spinet schedule privately, which requires bronze instead of brass for the middle octave or so of the instrument @ A440. The scaling is just too long in that area for brass to be safe.

My own original 1770 Baker Harris spinet had its treble strung in iron when I purchased it. Iron sounds dull on such a short scale, and is best avoided. Of course, you can increase the diameter of the iron in attempt to get sufficient tension, only to make it sound more dull. I soon very successfully restrung my spinet in brass sizes down to .27mm. I keep it @ A415 but I suspect the original pitch could even have been a bit higher.

Here is my page on the Baker Harris. It has a very distinctive tone which everyone loves. There’s a link to Olivier Garde playing Rameau’s Le rappel des oiseaux down the bottom.