vielle plate

Pressure of the strings on the wheel

On it depends the power of the sound of the instrument. Each hurdy-gurdy player will have to thus carry out a personnal adjustment at this level, according to the way he wants to use his instrument : traditional dances, concert, accompaniment of song etc.

Don't forget however that the heavier the pressure of the strings will be, the more the wheel will offer resistance : here again it is a question of personal choice, some preferring a "hard" wheel others a "light" wheel. Leave the extremes aside.

Thus the hurdy-gurdy player has the possibility of modifying the balance of his instrument, of reinforcing such or such drone etc... Each one will however according to his taste to follow a simple rule : the strings must also relate to the total wide face of the wheel, and not form an angle in any part. This rule is particularity strict with regards to the melody strings, the sounds of wich must be very clear, neither choking, noor squeaking. Too many hurdy-gurdies produce melody strings by pressing on the wheel too much, therefore the sound is yelling with a doubtful accuracy.

One can modify the pressure and the angle of the strings on the wheel by assessing the wear of the coton. A wear on the right side of the wheel indicates a too heavy pressure on the rest. One can raise the string with a piece of paper or of leather.

figure 1

A little way : take a piece of cigarette paper (not the gummed face !) ; place the string without coton ; turn the wheel slowly by placing the paper as to put it between the wheel and the string. If the pressure is too big, the paper does not slide between the wheel and the string. If the pressure is too weak, the paper is going to slide between the wheel and the string and maybe even pass on the other side. If the pressure is good, just an end of the paper will slide between the string and the wheel and you can remove it free without problems. (Alden Hackman et Marcello Bono)

The Cotton

"We need to put cotton on hurdy-gurdy's strings, because without cotton, the strings would produce only shrills sounds and disgracious to the ears, and that without cotton, the strings would be soon worns."

Du Coton, dans "Principes pour toucher de la vielle", par M. Bap. Dupuit - 1741

Where the wheel rubs on the strings, one surrounds these ones with a little cotton-sheath, what has the effect :

For the raw cottons, it's better to streamline them in the turpentine, to rinse them, then to air them. To end, to card them.

Main defect in the begining, consists in putting too much cotton, and irregularely : this suppresses sound, and if layer of cotton is not perfectly regular, there are unpleasant snores.

Having put some cotton, it is always necessary to put rosin.

image 1


Indications and precise for the maintenance and the adjustement of the following elements :

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Copyright juillet 2001 - Xavier AIME - Reproduction interdite - Source: document ecrit par un vieux vielleux, transmis par Pascal Cranga (luthier).