Zither Pins

Last modified 7-2-2009

from Experimental Musical Instruments

 

These zither pins are suitable for any stringed instrument having lower string tensions than a piano and string diameters less than .048”, and with slight modification up to about .064″. Since piano string tensions are far greater than the tensions on any other standard instrument, this means that these pins can be used for any but the biggest or highest-tensioned instruments.

Strings of diameter greater than .048″ will be too large for the string holes in the pins. With overwound steel strings, you can make the string end fit the pin hole by removing the overwinding from a half inch at the end of the string. Alternatively, you can enlarge the string hole in the pin by drilling to accommodate the string, as long as you’re not exceeding the recommendations of the preceding paragraph.

The wood into which the pins are set should be a good, hard wood; soft woods will suffice only if the strings are not to be at very high tension or the instrument is a prototype that doesn’t need to last forever.

These pins are designed to fit tight in a pre-drilled hole of 3/16″. The pins should be at least 3/8″ apart on center; 1/2″ or more is preferable. When the strings need to be closer together than this, you can place the pins in a staggered arrangement to allow the necessary clearance between pins while still achieving the close string spacing.

The pins have a very fine thread (like a screw, but much finer) in the lower part of the pin. After pre-drilling, use a hammer to gently tap the pin into the wood just far enough that the threads will catch when you turn the pin. Use a tuning wrench to turn the pin clockwise, screwing it about 3/8″ or 1/2″ into the wood before attaching the string. Attach the string by running it through the hole and kinking about 3/8″ at the end to a sharp angle to prevent the string from slipping back through. Tighten the string by continuing to turn clockwise. Because the threads are so fine, you should be able to make many turns before the pin has been screwed too far down into the wood, thus you should be able to tighten and tune the string with room to spare. If the tightening does take too many turns and the pin ends up too far into the wood, then your string was too long to begin with. In that case, turn the pin counter clockwise to loosen and remove the string, shorten it to a more suitable length, reattach and tighten again.

It’s possible to tighten the pin using an adjustable wrench or pliers if you don’t have a tuning wrench, but this isn’t recommended. Not only is it an exasperatingly awkward and inconvenient operation; it will also eventually strip the pin and ruin it. You can get a zither pin tuning wrench from Experimental Musical Instruments at modest cost.

Purchase zither pins

Experimental Musical Instruments ● www.windworld.com

PO Box 421, Pt Reyes Station CA 94956 ● 415 663-9691 ● emi@windworld.com

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