Upper manual 8'

What could be the purpose of having an “off” position for the 8’ on the
upper manual (on a “regular” double manual with 8’+4’, 8’)?

Maybe useful for ghosting when revoicing but hardly historical, I would have thought.

i remember reading somewhere that historical dampers supposedly didn’t dampen the string, so that the string would vibrate sympathetically when off. also it might be used on english instruments which had the doglegged 8’ on the top manual and, as such were played by both manuals. in that case disabling the top manual 8’ would also disable it on the lower manual, leaving only one to be played

Even for ghosting and revoicing, it wouldn’t be needed if you have it
“on” with a shim than can be removed on the left side (assuming it’s
plucking towards the right). And the price you’d have to pay in lost
quill length would be pretty high.

Le 14/12/2022 13:21, Matthew Daillie via The Jackrail écrit :

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HI Dennis and Matthew! :slight_smile:
Matthew: historical it is, at least two extant French doubles had the customary single 8’ choir and jack row for the upper manual, with the very exceptional handstop.
Dennis: I devoted to this matter a page in my “Playing the Baroque Harpsichord” book. I have such a stop and use it as a “piano” stop, shortening the plectra “protruding”. Fully unhistorical, of course, it is useful when over a time the instrument goes out of regulation, and it allows to keep the desired loudness balance between the two manuals playing a single 8’ each. For this purpose my handstop has a 1:10 movement ratio. Not what historical handstop had.

At this point, the only explanation known to me (and already voiced online) for the historical upper manual 8’ handstop is to leave the strings free to vibrate to produce the so-called “cathedral effect” when playing on the uncoupled lower manual. (Needless to say, this requires the upper 8’ jacks to have diagonal dampers: with flag dampers the use of the stop would bend and in the long term destroy the dampers).

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My double hasn’t an off position for the secondary 8’, and I’m not sure I have ever seen one that has. I couldn’t see any practical purpose.


Two examples are hardly a significant number to justify this practice. As described above, shims can easily be removed if wanted, though actually, I find the horizontal position of the jacks on my double hasnt needed any adjustment for years.


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