A set of my twined strings installed in the bass register of a client's Hubert 1784 clavichord copy.
Twined strings (sometimes referred to as "wreathed", "braided", or "twisted" strings) are an historically appropriate alternative to modern wound strings for the bass register of plucked and keyed wire-strung instruments. Twined strings are comprised of two or more strands twisted around each other, somewhat in the manner of a rope or a tight double-helix. In appearance, they may be described as mildly bumpy, with a notable direction of twist. Though sometimes referred to as "twisted strings," the making of these strings actually requires that any twist put into them in the making be taken out of the individual strands so as not to work harden the individual strands.
Twined strings are known to have existed from at least the 16th century and continued to be used into the late 18th century. They were eventually replaced in most instances by wound or overspun strings, which were easier to make and could be used at higher tensions through the implementation of iron, steel, gut, or silk cores.
Twined strings are best used for any of the following situations:
to replace inauthentic wound strings
to brighten up the sound where the use of a wound string is too dull
to replace strings where a change from yellow to red brass would be required
to replace plain strings that are too thick to fret in-tune for the desired pitch and scale length
Twined strings are an historically appropriate choice for the lowest strings of clavichords, bandoras, orpharions, and citterns of 16th-18th centuries. They are also called for (alongside wound strings) in the historical stringing of the Neapolitan mandolin.
Twined strings are very elastic and have a noticeable "stretch" to them -- a desirable quality that especially assists in tuning lower notes. The higher elasticity of the strings makes for a string that is richer in the higher partials, creating a greater focus than plain strings of "equivalent diameter" (or "ED" -- see Gauges, below). In most cases, twined strings sound brighter than historically appropriate wound/overspun strings.
All of my twined strings are made of two strands of yellow brass (nominally 70% copper, 30% zinc). Other alloys (red brass, silver, gold) may be requested by special order.
Due to the custom nature of twined strings, all twined strings are specially made to order.
Since the mass of a twined string is a confluence of factors including the diameter of the original strands, the density of the material used, and the twist ratio used, all strings are referred to as being of an equivalent diameter ("ED") to a monofilament string of the same mass.
Gauges from ED .012" (.030 mm) up through ED .044" (1.10 mm) can be made from the plain diameter stock I have on hand.
NOTE: The actual diameter of a twined string can be up to 1.3 times more than its specified ED. Please keep this in mind with regard to peg holes, nut/bridge slots, and bridge pin spacing.
Twined strings come supplied with one naturally occurring loop. A second loop can be added for an additional charge (see Prices).
For looped ends, please specify which size loop you would prefer. Loops come in three diameters: small (3 mm), medium (4mm), and large (5mm). Custom sized loops are available by special request at no extra charge.
Twined strings come standard with a counter-clockwise twist.
In clavichords this twist direction allows the direction of twist to run across the tangent instead of in line with it, allowing the tangent to touch the string without getting getting stuck or glancing off the strands (as sometimes happens with overwound strings).
In plucked, fretted instruments this twist direction aligns the strands of the string in such a way that the string reacts better both to the attack of a plectrum and to the grip of a finger in finger-style play.
A clockwise twist for left-handed players (or out of personal preference) can be done at no extra charge—simply specify when ordering.