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  • Writer's pictureNathan Coles

How To Restring Black Swamp Castanets



In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps to restringing your older BSP castanets quickly and efficiently.



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Black Swamp Castanets

1st generation castanets by black swamp percussion

In 1997 we released the first Black Swamp handled castanets into the concert percussion market. Our unique handle design and construction allowed performers to easily play the castanets in the air and easily adjust the tension. Over the years, this handle concept largely remained the same, with the exception of a few tweaks to the knob assembly.


Although our current castanet models are completely elastic-free, our original, and subsequent handle design generations, did use elastic. Unfortunately, this type of material can wear out or break overtime, leading to sluggish (or non-existent) castanet action and frustrated performers.


However, as long as the castanets themselves are in good condition, we fully agree their age should not affect their performance. Restringing castanets is a simple process that can breathe new life into your vintage BSP instrument.


Preparation:

Before starting, you’ll need to identify which generation of Black Swamp castanets you have. There are 3 different generations of elastic tensioned castanets.


1st Generation:

These early model castanets are strung up solely with elastic, no internal wizardry. The knob was simply used to hold the elastic in place after adjusting to your preferred tension. Simple and effective.


Black Swamp 1st Generation elastic tensioned handled castanets

2nd Generation:

With this updated handle design, we advanced to a functional tension knob. You can identify this generation by seeing a small notched bolt in the back of the handle that the elastic was inserted into.


Black Swamp 2ndGeneration elastic tensioned handled castanets

notched tension screw in 2nd generation castanet handle

3rd Generation:

This generation has the same functional tension knob, but the internal bits were updated. A set screw was used to secure the elastic in a cute little extension nut. Basically, a quicker and more consistent assembly.


Black Swamp 3rd Generation elastic tensioned handled castanets

 

Tools & Materials Needed

Tools needed include:

  • A pair of scissors

  • Small needle-nose pliers (or two pair of pliers for the 2nd generation handle).

  • Small flat head screw driver may come in handy for that 2nd generation handle as well.

  • 3/32 Allen wrench for the set screw if you have the 3rd generation handle.


Materials:

Materials needed include:

  • 1/4 inch elastic cut into several 12-14 inch pieces. This material can be purchased at any local fabric store.

  • Your existing castanets and handles for restringing.


Stringing Your Castanets


Pre Assembly

Just so we’re all on the same page, initially stringing up the castanets to the handle is exactly the same for each of these three generations. It’s actually securing the elastic to the knob which is specifically different. So, we’ll get started with this initial assembly, and then break down steps for securing the different generations.


Step 1: Prepare the Elastic

Cut a 12 to 14-inch piece of quarter-inch elastic. This will be used to restring your castanets.


Step 2: Stringing the Castanets

1. Feed one end of the elastic through each hole in the top of the castanets, leaving a small loop at the top.

2. Feed each end of the elastic through the two small holes at the top of the handle.

3. Pull the ends of the elastic until the castanets are snug against the handle while still leaving the small loop of elastic at the top.


home made castanet restringing tool

Note: we have these little home made tools we use for stringing castanets. You may need to use a thin screwdriver or something to help push your elastic through the handle.


Step 3: Securing the Elastic

1. Twist each end of the elastic and feed it through the top loop created earlier, then down through the center hole of the handle.

2. Ensure the twists are nestled into the notches of the castanet sides, and the castanets are held in place.


Step 4: Cinching Everything Up

1. While holding the castanets against the handle, pull each end of the elastic tight to cinch everything up.

2. Make sure the the twists in the elastic remain in the castanet notches.

3. The two ends of elastic exiting the back of the handle should also be straight and flush with each other.


 

Finishing The Job

From here, securing the elastic to the handle is going to be a little different for each generation.


Step 5a: Securing with knob (Gen1)

1. Tie a knot in the ends of elastic 2-3 inches from the handle.

2. Bring the loop of elastic up over the top of the castanets.

3. Loosen the block knob without removing it.

4. Twist and cross the elastic in front of the handle.

5. Place the crossed elastic underneath the knob.

6. Tighten the knob until the elastic is held in place.

Important: do not over tighten the knob, as it may begin to cut the elastic.


Step 5b: Securing with notched bolt (Gen2)

1. Use needle-nose pliers to grab hold of the elastic and feed it through the notch of the bolt in the back of the handle.

Note: The notch cut in the bolt may need to be widened in order to fully insert the elastic. Use a small flathead screwdriver to gently open the notch.

2. Feed the elastic through the bolt with needle nose pliers. This is where a 2nd pair of pliers comes in handy, one to hold the elastic and one to compress the notch.

3. Cut off any excess elastic.

4. Turn the adjustment knob to the desired tension


Step 5: Securing with Set Screw (Gen3)

1. Use needle-nose pliers to grab hold of the elastic and feed it through the notch of the nut in the back of the handle.

2. Thread the set screw into place atop the elastic, ensuring it holds the elastic securely. 

Important: Do not over tighten the set screw, as this may damage the elastic.

2. Cut off any excess elastic.

3. Turn the adjustment knob to the desired tension.


 

Following these steps will ensure that your Black Swamp castanets are restrung properly, restoring their functionality and ensuring smooth percussion action.


If you’re still having trouble, or simply don’t want to mess with it, we also offer a restringing service by a qualified castanet technician. Contact us via our warranty submission form.

Note: We are not able to replace any missing parts for repair of older castanet models. This would be a restringing service only. 




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