Ringmaster Services LLC

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Preventive Maintenance YOU Can Do

Taking care of handbells is not “rocket science.” You can do some of it. Here are care and maintenance procedures you could well be able to handle.

  • Keep your bells cleaned and polished
    • Polish the outsides with Simichrome.
    • Don’t polish the insides.
    • To keep polish out of the insides, polish the bells face down (the bells, not you!) on a towel on a table top.
    • Wipe your bells down with a polishing cloth each rehearsal before you put them away.
    • Wipe off the residue from the polishing cloth with a diaper, not the outside of the polishing cloth. (You can wash the diaper. You can’t wash a polishing cloth without ruining it.)
    • The insides can be wiped with a slightly damp (NOT wet, just damp) cloth.
    • Dust can be blown off the springs with “dust off” or similar compressed gas in a can.
    • Finger prints inside can probably be rubbed off with a polishing cloth.
    • You are tripling your work and trouble if you polish the insides of your bells. Keep them clean, but don’t bother polishing them! 
  • Store your bells properly
    • Keep them in an environment that isn’t hot or humid. 
    • Heat and humidity promote tarnishing. 
    • If your cases get damp, open them up and dry them out in a heated or air conditioned environment. 
    • Do not let the cases sit where the sun can shine through a window on them. (We made that mistake!) 
    • Polish your bells thoroughly before you put ‘em away for the summer.
    • Vacuum out the cases once in awhile. 
  • Keep the handles tight
    • If you notice a handle is starting to wiggle when you polish the bell, tighten it.
    • Line up the clapper, handguard and handle so they are properly oriented with the strike point in the casting. Then tighten the cap screw in the handle. When you tighten, pinch the clapper against the casting so the inside is immobilized and does not want to turn with the cap screw when you tighten it. Then crank it down good and tight --- not with all your strength, but tight, so it won’t wiggle when you polish the bell. 
  • Keep the springs adjusted
    • We are not going to describe how to do that here. See “Resources for Help” below. But, here’s what you’re looking for. A properly adjusted bell is easy to ring forward, but not so easy it rings itself when you go to lay it down. It should be difficult to ring backward, so you do not get a back ring when you pick it up quickly, but not impossible to back ring, so when you shake it, the clapper will still strike on both sides of the casting. That’s called “uneven tension” -- easy forward, difficult backward. (Some advanced choirs advocate even tension, but we are a proponent of uneven tension adjustment for the real world of ringing.) 
  • Adjust the clappers for proper voicing 
    • Don’t fall victim to the trap of “Oh, we’re going to ring loud, let’s set ‘em on Hard. Now, we’re going to ring softly, lets set ‘em on Soft.” 
    • Set the clappers on your bells (Soft, Medium, or Hard) so that each bell’s timbre blends best with the rest of the set. A good place to start is to set all your clappers on M (medium) and then ring up and down the scale, listening and comparing. Tone down or bring out bells that are relatively too strong or too weak compared to the rest of the set by moving their clappers to a softer (S) or harder (H) setting.
    • Achieve dynamics with ringing technique, not by fooling with the clapper settings. Yes, clapper settings will affect dynamics, but that also affects the timbre or color of a bell’s sound. Think of your set of bells not as a collection of instruments, but one instrument that is a collection of bells. A piano is one instrument with 88 keys, not a box with 88 instruments in it. The piano technician “regulates” a piano with that one instrument approach. You can voice your set of handbells the same way.


Where to Get Maintenance Advice and Help

  • Schulmerich’s handbell maintenance guide is available in on their web site. Hard copy is available from us, and is provided with every new set of bells.
  • “The Handbell Workshop”, a 45 minute video available on CD ROM ($15.00), is available to order. It does a nice show ‘n tell of handbell care and maintenance. 
  • If you’re uncomfortable with adjusting and voicing your set, bring it in to us to do that for you, and stick around to watch. We will be glad to show you how it’s done, and maybe it will not seem intimidating to you next time it should be done. (See our Reconditioning section which describes our services and gives some guidelines on costs.) 
  • You are always welcome to call or Email with questions or for advice. We can do a quickie emergency repair on a problem bell “while you wait” if you bring it, or turn it around in a day and mail it right back to you, assuming that we are in town when it arrives. By all means, though, be safe and call for an appointment before you bring or send us a bell.

News

Business Changes

After 32 years in Allentown, PA, Al has moved. And after 22 years as your Schulmerich rep, his position has changed to that of "ARC" an Authorized Refurbishment Center. Al is no longer a Schulmerich rep, but he is still in business with Schulmerich. Click here to get his updated contact information and business status.

Westlake Ringers
It had to happen! We started a community handbell choir that rehearses in our Ringmaster Services office. Randi is directing and Al is again the “dumb old bass ringer.” Click here to view our website. All seven of us who work on handbells at Ringmaster Services also ring in Westlake Ringers.
The Jubilation Ringers

If you are looking for information on the Jubilation Ringers, we are no longer hosting a page about them as they have their own site. Visit http://jubilationringers.asburylv.org to get the latest updates.