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Introduction | Brief History | Maintenance

Introduction

I have been a professional builder and restorer of harpsichords, fortepianos and harps since 1978, and since then my instruments have found homes in the USA, Canada and Australia as well as more locally in this country. Much of my work is producing copies of some of the fine antique instruments that have survived the years of neglect since the end of the Baroque era. I also enjoy the challenge of designing an instrument to a certain specification and historical models will almost certainly influence this.
A finished instrument may use up to twelve types of wood and the same number of animal products. Holly, pear, ebony, boxwood, lime and spruce are all chosen for their particular qualities, while raven and crow-quills, buffalo hide, hog's bristles, play their part too.
I build every part of the instrument myself including the case with it's inlay and marquetry, the keyboards and action which are made up of several hundred parts and the final stringing, tuning and setting up.
From start to finish an instrument takes many months to complete. From the first careful selection of the timber every consideration is aimed to produce a reliable and beautifully toned instrument that could become the heirloom of the future.

What is a Harpsicord?

A harpsichord is a plucked keyboard instrument that usually has more than one string per note and the strings are parallel to the key levers. Virginals, spinets, muselars, ottavinos and clavicytheria all belong to the harpsichord family, but only have one string per note. Virginals and muselars are rectangular and the strings run at right angles to the keys. Spinets are usually in the shape of a wing with the strings at an angle to the keys. A clavicytherium is an upright harpsichord.
The clavichord is the odd one out and is really the forerunner of the piano. It is rectangular and the strings are struck with a brass tangent. Unlike the harpsichord it is responsive to the touch but produces a very small sound.
The 'Geigenwerk' is laid out like a harpsichord but a series of rotating wheels set the strings vibrating.