Red brass in the treble

A friend just sent me the original stringing schedule of an Italian Heugel kit (drawn by Hubert Bédard), and I was surprised to see that it uses mostly red brass (for the 44 top strings). Isn’t it rather strange to have red brass in the treble? What kind of wire would that have been in the mid-1970s?



This list specifies bronze, not red brass.
In the 70s this would have been commercially available phosphor bronze, not an alloy of tin and copper only, with a marginally higher tensile strength than the yellow spring brass then available.
Best wishes,
Lewis Jones.

Phosphor Bronze

Dear Dennis,

It’s not red brass: it’s bronze. The color is almost the same. Other weird stuff such as beryllium copper was also used at those times.

I’ve just completely restrung an Italian shaped instrument from the 1980(!) which was completely strung in bronze. The instrument belongs to a music school and the new teacher complained very hard about the horrible sound it made (a kind of vibrato on almost every note like an old goat singing). After measuring all sounding lengths it turned out that yellow brass made a perfect fit for this instrument. The instrument has now been returned and she told me that finally it now sounds like an Italian instrument.

Che fine fortunato :blush:



P.S.: If you have the patience to measure all sounding lengths of the longest strings, I can help you out with a new stringing schedule which will hopefully be able to use Rose or P-wire.

All are correct in saying phosphor bronze. It was common at that time. While phosphor bronze is an excellent engineering material for ship’s bearings and so on, it’s too springy for harpsichords, and in a domain such as ours where people never agree (a good thing!), it is universally acknowledged that it sounds dreadful. Also red brass was not easily obtainable in the the 1970’s, if at all.

Thanks to all for setting me straight.

And thanks, Chris, for your offer. I will indeed measure the strings and get back to you.