Double German Eye à la Ron Overs

The usual single or double German eye presents certain inconveniences to the technician. As tension is applied to the string the eye closes round the hitch-pin and is prevented from unwinding only by the tag bearing on the hitch-plate. An allowance needs to be made for this tightening both by the bass string maker and by the stringer. After chipping up, the eyes need to be knocked in and centralized, and owing to the great tightness of the eye on the pin, removal of the eyes is not easy.

Ron Overs discovered that if a double eye is made to fit the pin quite closely without being tight and if a bend is made in the wire where the wire passes into the finishing coils, the eye will not tighten round the pin when the wire is pulled up to tension. He discovered that it requires a double eye for this and that a single eye made in the same way, with the bend in the wire, will nevertheless tighten round the pin as the normal eyes do.

The process of making of this eye is essentially the same as for the normal German eye but between the operation of making the main coils and turning on the finishing coils comes the additional operation of adding the bend or kink. The angles involved are also slightly different.

The two pictures below show the tool for making the main coils. Since, owing to variations in wire gauge and hitch-pin diameters, it is necessary to use a variety of pin sizes so that the eyes may be equally matched to the hitch-pins, the tool is designed so that the pin can be quickly changed. A hole slightly larger than the largest pin needed is drilled to a suitable depth in a suitable piece of wood, here a beech bobbin for copper wire. Behind this hole are drilled two holes close together and into these are turned two long screws, which are then cut and filed flush. Another hole is drilled radially on the other side of the dowel and into this is turned a large screw with its end ground flat. This screw clamps the pin in the central hole into the screws behind, so that the pin is held upright and perfectly firm.

The wire is preferably straightened. The two coils are made in the wire by moving it round the pin while holding both ends under tension. An experienced workman will have no difficulty with this but others may prefer to wear goatskin gloves to make it easier or hold the dead end with pliers. Allow a good 6-8 inches for the dead end so that you have plenty to grip and don’t worry about wasting a bit of wire.

When the wire is removed from the pin it will look like this. Notice the angle between the two ends. Thinner gauges of wire will need to be wound further round the pin to achieve the proper angle when the coils are released. Never adjust the angle by opening out the coils.

The next operation is putting the bend in the wire roughly where the live end and the dead end cross in the picture above. For this you will need to adapt a pair of medium-sized (say 6”) round-nosed pliers. One of the jaws needs to be ground or filed down so that a bend of very small radius can be made at the proper place. Fit the main coils tightly over the unmodified jaw of the pliers with the thinned jaw between the coils and the dead end. Grip tightly and twist on the bend so that the line of the live end runs centrally along the diameter of the coils.

For making the finishing coils use a large pair of pliers, or Bernard pattern pliers, to grip the coils. The jaws of the pliers must be smooth or at least free of any tooling that would mark the wire. Grip the coils tightly and feed the coils round the wire with the thumb while twisting the pliers. Gloves will make this work less painful.

Two finishing coils is the rule and quite enough. You can make more if you like. One finishing coil on a normal German eye is in fact adequate, though rarely seen.

The tag ought not to be necessary with this eye, but whether or not a tag is left, make a nick with the wire cutters at the point where you want the wire to break. Then grip the wire with the cutters just beyond the nick and give the cutters a sharp twist. This will give a neat break in the wire.

Final comments — It ought to take 30-45 seconds to make an eye such as this once you get going. If something goes wrong, for example if you don’t pull hard enough round the pin, if you don’t get the coils nice and flat, if you nick or mark the wire etc., discard the eye and start again. Don’t waste time trying to put right a mistake. Give yourself plenty of wire to work with and don’t make the job difficult by being afraid to throw away a few pennyworth of wire.