Technical Library

ACTION IV: Plectra material

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Delrin vs Celcon…
We offer several different types of harpsichord plectra, all manufactured exclusively for us. Color is not an identifying feature, as most plastics can be manufactured any color.

Delin® is a homopolymer acetal resin patented by DuPont in 1956, and marketed from 1960 with many initial applications including car gearboxes. The natural slipperiness and property retention of Delrin makes it an ideal material for harpsichord plectra, which must obviously bend and return to shape tens of thousands of times over their life.

  • Normal Delrin large wedge, natural
  • Medium Delrin large wedge, natural

Celcon® is a copolymer acetal resin marketed by Celanese in 1961, although it wasn’t until the late 1980s that it was first tried for harpsichord use. It has proven very popular with the US makers, but perhaps not so in tradition-bound Europe. Most Celcon is colored black.

  • Normal Celcon large wedge, black

Harpsichord plectra comparative sizes 4K jpeg

Nominal sizes are as follows:

  • Large wedge, 0.105˝ base tapered to 0.045˝ over 0.612˝ length
  • Standard wedge, 0.085˝ tapered to 0.045˝ over 0.408˝ length

The large wedge profile is particularly useful for revoicing certain instruments where the standard wedge profile might slip through the tongue mortise. The larger size also makes the quills much easier to pick up and handle. The standard wedge will be obsolete when current stocks are depleted.

We recommend the normal thickness (.020˝) plectra for unison choirs, and the thin (.015˝) or medium (.0165˝) to save voicing time for the 4⁠´ choir. The normal thickness is sold in packets of approximately 130, sufficient to quill two choirs. The thin and medium plectra are sold in packs of approximately 65, sufficient for one choir. Bulk packs of 1000 are available for professionals. Please refer to our Spare Parts pages for pricing.

No matter what quill material is used, the blanks must be properly voiced in the instrument. Good quality quills nicely voiced should last for a decade or more in an instrument used daily.

Material Thickness Color Profile Availability
Delrin .0165˝ natural large
Celcon .015˝ natural standard limited
.020˝ black large

Plectra samples 13K jpeg

We are presently supplying plectra to professional makers and technicians the world over in bags of approximately 1000 pieces.

Professionals should not hesitate to ask us for any further information or for our free sample pack.

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