A spinet is very popular version of a keyboard, such as a smaller piano or an organ. These are primarily known for their unusual angle of the strings used in the construction of the instrument. In this article, we shall study about the history, making, parts, and working of this harpsichord.
Pianos are available in many varieties. You can find Concert-Grand, Semi-Concert, Baby Grand, Horizontal, Classic-Upright, Studio, and Spinet pianos.
What are Spinets?
Spinets are musical instruments that belong to the harpsichord, piano, or organ family. Although the term spinet has been used to describe any sort of harpsichord, it is more accurate to use this term only for those instruments which are small, have one keyboard, one string for each note which are perpendicular to their respective keys. The unique feature of a spinet is that, unlike a harpsichord, it has a small soundboard with strings that are angled at 30 degrees to the keyboard towards the right. Due to its small size, a spinet can easily fit in a small home. It usually has few tones in the upper notes, and a weak overall sound.
History of Spinet Pianos
Upright Spinet Piano
In the 1920s, the sales of large pianos suddenly dropped with the invention and mass production of phonographs and radios. Also, with the Great Depression of the 1930s, most piano making companies had to shut down. In such a setting, a new and small version of the piano was created in 1936, called the spinet. With its small size and price, it was instantly popular with most of the populace. Larger pianos were considered to be old-fashioned, and were replaced with the spinets. The Acrosonic Spinet became one of the most popular models in production.
Spinets were available in a few variations, such as octave spinets, which pitched at a higher octave than normal; bentside spinets, which looked like a twisted harpsichord; English spinets; and 5-octave spinets. After the Second World War, imports and the increasing popularity of guitars affected the production of all kinds of pianos, and although the spinet was still popular with the public, technicians and piano tuners disliked this instrument, because even the smallest repairs turned into a long task, which required removing all the connecting rods and keys and refitting them afterwards. For this reason, spinets gradually declined in number. Nowadays, people prefer to use electric pianos instead.
Action Parts of Spinet Pianos
Keys of a Spinet Harpsichord
The major action parts of a spinet piano are the bridle tapes, hammer shanks, flange screws, hammer butts, damper levers, upright jacks, and jack springs. However, it is difficult to find these parts in stores nowadays, although one might have better luck searching for them online.
While most harpsichords have 2 – 3 sets of strings, spinets have one set. The casing of a spinet is always smaller than that of a regular piano, with a shorter top. Due to this size, the strings are quite short, leading to a lower quality in music, especially for the deeper notes. Also, the small size of spinets led to the addition of drop action keys, which would strike the strings directly, leading to sharper sounds. The mechanism of drop action keys makes the equipment very cramped, making it a little difficult to play. These disadvantages make a spinet a strict no-no for professional piano teachers and serious students.
The average dimensions of a vertical spinet piano is approximately 24 inches in width, 60 inches in length, and 40 inches in height. The weight of a spinet piano with these measurements would be around 300 pounds. As such, this instrument is a good choice as a family instrument if the budget and space is limited.