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My treatise on The True Art of Making Musical Instruments—A Practical Guide to the Hidden Craft of Enhancing Sound is now published and available on Amazon.com. Here is the link for that page.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1791889611

There has never been a book written that covers the craft of enhancing sound until now. Indeed, most books written about sound are based on the physics of sound. In the 46 years I have been making musical instruments, I have never found it either necessary or useful to know anything about the physics of sound. My reason for this total disregard for such knowledge is that ALL the greatest musical instrument makers from 1400 to 1840 including Stradivari, Guarneri del Jesu, Amati, Ruckers, de Zentis, Blanchet, Taskin, Cristofori, Stein, Hubert, Walther, Graf, Schnitger knew nothing about the physics of sound. That is because all such knowledge wasn’t discovered yet. What these makers knew was vastly more important and valuable, but unfortunately was secreted away only in their instruments.

My attitude when I began making musical instruments in 1972 was to restrict myself to only that knowledge available to those great musical instrument makers. That body of knowledge, which was acquired over a period of 350 years, had as its foundations the teachings of Pythagoras. Based on his ideas of the musical ratios, makers of all kinds instruments developed the craft of enhancing the sounds of their materials to make their instruments sound as beautiful and as resonant as possible. Then, towards the end of the 18th century, with the development of modern scientific methods and attitudes, all that lovingly acquired ancient Pythagorean based knowledge was put aside and immediately forgotten. Even Conrad Graf in the beginning of the 19th century had to relearn that body of knowledge to produce the sounds of his pianos. But little of what Graf had learned was acquired by apprentices in his workshop. Recovering all that lost knowledge was my goal.

This treatise is meant to preserve this knowledge of how the greatest instrument makers in history thought about sound and how to enhance it. ——————————————————————————————————————————

After 40 years of making musical instruments professionally, I still have not acquired any special taste for a particular design or style of harpsichord making. As long as an instrument sounds fantastic and inspires a wealth of musical ideas, it pleases me. However, in the last few years, I have found some designs more enjoyable to make than others. These are what I have included in this catalogue. My reasons for making these selections are: That the originals are relatively free of mechanical and aesthetic defects and are of exceedingly high musical quality. And that certain designs, the originals of which are not playing or the sound of which has been destroyed during restoration, nevertheless, produce compelling and interesting musical results.

THIS HARPSICHORD IS MY OPUS 4 3 6 MADE IN 2011 after THE 1 7 6 9 TASKIN IN THE RUSSELL COLLECTION IN EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND . IT IS OWNED BY  SIMON NeaL  in Cambridge, england

THIS HARPSICHORD IS MY OPUS 4 3 6 MADE IN 2011 after THE 1 7 6 9 TASKIN IN THE RUSSELL COLLECTION IN EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND . IT IS OWNED BY SIMON NeaL in Cambridge, england

 

Standard with each harpsichord are: a very simple music desk, a painted finish on the interior lid and exterior surfaces, and gilded moldings on the inside rim of the case, ebony naturals and stained sharps topped with bone, and a tuning hammer. Each harpsichord I make comes equipped with wooden jacks and delrin plectra. Each harpsichord needs a stand that is right for it. Therefore, ALL THE HARPSICHORDS   I  OFFER ARE  PRICED WITHOUT  STANDS. You will need to select from the list of options a  stand you wish for your instrument. What you select needs to be appropriate to the style of instrument you are ordering.

 

NOTE:

 

Because the best teacher for a young musician is the best sounding musical instrument, since the best sounding instrument teaches players how to make music that makes sense, I do everything in my power to make such instruments affordable to those who desire to own one. If that means directing prospective buyers to instruments made by one of my students because my own instruments are priced out of their range, I am happy to do that.

What is the best sounding instrument? In my view, it is that instrument the sound of which inspires the Soul, challenges the mind, and mirrors perfectly the performer's intention. For each player, the instrument that does this for the player is the one that person should own. My instruments are not the best instrument for every player, because not every player seeks the kind of instrument I aim to make. But for those players for whom my work is best suited, I try in every way possible to make sure that they have a way to acquire one.

Also, not every possible solution to keep prices within the reach of those who desire to own one of my instruments can be outlined in this my price list. If you need one of my instruments and do not have the resources to afford one, do not hesitate to inquire about what is possible.

DOUBLE   MANUAL   HARPSICHORDS

 

This is my Opus 236 made in 1989 after M. Mietke

German Harpsichord - after Michael Mietke, ca.1710, located in Berlin.

This is one of the most fascinating instruments to play, being even more colorful in sound than the Zell harpsichords. Playing it feels more like playing a clavichord than any harpsichord I have played. The sound is so flexible that you might have the impression you are molding clay with your fingers instead of depressing keys. Yet it is also tart and resonant. As with the Hubert clavichord, you get the sensation of biting into a string, as a bowed string player might do, when you shape gestures with your fingers. It is especially wonderful for improvising.  4 and 3/4 octaves from GG to e''', 2 x 8', 1 x 4', strung in brass, with handstops in the keywell.   L = 92", W = 32", H = 10", Wt. 110 lbs. Price: $39,000.00.

 

Flemish Harpsichord my opus 1 9 4 after the ahaus ruckers of 1 6 4 0 belongs to Mirelle Lagace in Montreal., canada

Flemish Harpsichord my opus 1 9 4 after the ahaus ruckers of 1 6 4 0 belongs to Mirelle Lagace in Montreal., canada

Flemish Harpsichord - after the 1640 Jan Ruckers in Munster/ 1624 Hans Ruckers in Colmar

The original began as a transposing double with 4 sets of jacks. At some point it was modified to be an expressive double. This instrument, like the Couchet described below, with three 8' registers offers a plethora of possibilities. These Flemish instruments are my favorites to make because they both produce the strongest, fullest, most brilliant, resonant, colorful, intense and inspiring sounds imaginable. The main differences between them are in the size and the disposition of the jacks in the gap. I offer both instruments in a variety of dispositions. If one of these two instruments interests you, we can discuss the possibilities.    

4   1/2 octaves from AA to d''', 3 x 8', 1 x 4', strung in iron, with handstops in the keywell. 

L = 89", W = 32", H = 10", Wt. = 130 lbs. Price: $39,000.00.

4   3/4 octaves from GG to e''', 2 x 8', 1 x 4', strung in iron, with handstops in the keywell. 

L = 90", W = 34", H = 10", Wt. 140 lbs. Price: $37,000.00.

 

Walnut double 1.jpg
Harpsichord by Keith Hill Opus 4 8 made in 1977

Harpsichord by Keith Hill Opus 4 8 made in 1977

17th Century French Harpsichord - in the manner of Vincent Tibaut of Toulouse from 1681 - Built in a way that appears to be Italian but with a short Iron scale.  You can hear from the recently recorded samples of one I made in 1977 played in a recent concert by Roger Sherman on Orcas Island.  Just for fun, I have interpolated a movement from the Tibaut original made in 1681 so you can compare my early attempt to aim at a sound that at the time was as yet unheard because there were no known playing harpsichords by Vincent Tibaut or any other 17th century French harpsichords for that matter.  The only thing I will say about the original is that it is grossly understrung which renders the sound too wirey, a defect ubiquitous amongst harpsichords in most museum collections.

4 ½  Octaves from GG/BB to d''',  2 x 8', 1 x 4', strung in iron with handstops in the keywell.  L =84", W = 30", W = 10"  Wt. Ca. = 105lbs.  Price: $37,000.00.

4 ½  Octaves from GG to e''',  2 x 8', 1 x 4', strung in iron with handstops in the keywell.  L =84", W = 33", W = 10"  Wt. Ca. = 115lbs.  Price: $39,000.00.

 

Harpsichord after f. blanchet in paris, france my opus 3 9 8 made in 2 0 0 8 belongs to Elizabeth Farr in boulder, colorado

Harpsichord after f. blanchet in paris, france my opus 3 9 8 made in 2 0 0 8 belongs to Elizabeth Farr in boulder, colorado

French Harpsichord - after the 1735 Blanchet in Paris.

Leaner and drier than the later French harpsichords, it is intensely resonant and rhetorical in nature--like a great French Cabaret singer.

4 3/4 octaves from GG to e''', 2 x 8', 1 x 4', strung in iron, with handstops in the keywell. Leather covered registers are standard. L = 90", W = 35", H = 10", Wt. = 150 lbs. Price: $38,000.00.

my Opus 4 0 3 made in 2 0 0 7 after the 1 7 6 9 Taskin in edinburgh, scotland for Robert Ploger in tucson, arizona

my Opus 4 0 3 made in 2 0 0 7 after the 1 7 6 9 Taskin in edinburgh, scotland for Robert Ploger in tucson, arizona

French Harpsichord - after the 1769 Taskin now in Edinburgh.

Contrary to the myth of ultra-refinement which most modern copies of this particular instrument tell, the original is robust, earthy, focused, colorful, round, voluptuous, and direct in its sound. This is how I insist my copy of this instrument should sound. I especially like the fact that the original manages to avoid the trade off between vigor of tone and size of keyboard compass.

5 octaves from FF to f''', 2 x 8', 1 x 4', strung in iron, with handstops in the keywell. Leather covered registers are standard. L = 90", W = 36", H = 11", Wt. = 180 lbs. Price: $41,000.00.

 

Harpsichord inspired by the 1 7 2 8 Christian Zell in Hamburg germany my opus 2 2 0 made in 1 9 8 7 for edward Parmentier in ann arbor, michigan

Harpsichord inspired by the 1 7 2 8 Christian Zell in Hamburg germany my opus 2 2 0 made in 1 9 8 7 for edward Parmentier in ann arbor, michigan

 

German Harpsichord -  after the 1728 Zell in Hamburg

This Zell type harpsichord is outstanding for playing counterpoint on.   All the voices remain distinct and individual in timbre, a quality that is typical of almost all 17th and 18th century harpsichords.  Mr. Parmentier purchased this particular instrument in the photo when he played it in my shop in 1988.  

It is a 5 octave FF to f ''' instrument that has 2 x 8', 1 x 4', & Buff.  Ebony naturals and Bone topped sharps.  It is strung in Iron with handstops in the keywell.  Wood registers are standard for German harpsichords,

 (L = 96", W = 37",  H = 10.5") Wt. = 180lbs.  Price: $45,000.00

 

1 6 ' harpsichord my opus 3 61 inspired by the 1 6 ' harpsichords of Hass in Hamburg, germany from the 1 8 th century.  it is my personal instrument and has been featured in a number of compact disc recordings made by elizabeth farr

1 6 ' harpsichord my opus 3 61 inspired by the 1 6 ' harpsichords of Hass in Hamburg, germany from the 1 8 th century.

it is my personal instrument and has been featured in a number of compact disc recordings made by elizabeth farr

German Harpsichord - after the 1734, J.A. Hass residing in Brussels.

This is a 16' harpsichord. Now that German style harpsichords are becoming more acceptable to those who go with the fashion, I hope that the 16' harpsichord will once again take its rightful place among the normal offerings available from harpsichord builders.

The most fun I have ever had playing the harpsichord has been playing a 16' harpsichord--especially when there are knee levers or pedals to engage the 16' and the 4'. The crescendo effects possible are spectacular when tastefully executed. Nothing can match a really grand sounding 16' instrument, because nothing is as glorious, as powerful, as embracing, as majestic, or as magnificent.

4  3/4 octaves from GG to e''', 1 x 16', 2 x 8', 1 x 4', strung in iron, with handstops in the keywell. L = 114", 

W = 36", H = 11", Wt. = 240 lbs. Price: $68,900.00.

 

" Tailoring" a keyboard to fit your hands. If your hands require an octave span of a special size, I am happy to provide a keyboard(S) with an octave span which gives you optimum playing comfort.

Note: Before selecting any options, please refer to the list (in the box on page 3) of those items included as standard with each Harpsichord, in order to avoid any duplication.

 

List of Options for Harpsichords

Action options:

Quilling in real quill, per register....................................................750.00
Transposing keyboard: for a double...............................................950.00
for a single..............................................................................................590.00
Wooden Jacks, per register..............................................................2100.00
Height adjustment screws per register of jacks............................790.00
Buff stop, with wrestplank lever.....................................................1000.00
Buff stop, with keywell lever............................................................1200.00
Drawknob handstops, per stop.......................................................1200.00
Leather covered registers,per slide...................................................750.00
Bone coverings for naturals, per manual........................................900.00
Arcades for keyfronts, per manual...................................................750.00
Hourly rate for regulation work.......................................................115.00
Hourly rate for shop work..................................................................115.00

Platform Stand options:

Four screw-in legs……………………………………..................................1500.00
Integral platform stand with turned legs......................................4300.00
Single frame with turned legs..........................................................6300.00
Single frame Flemish style with sq. tapered legs........................7200.00
Single frame with carved legs.......................................................14,700.00
Double frame with turned legs....................................................12,700.00
Double frame with carved legs....................................................17,800.00
Fancy frames, add...............................................................................6900.00
Knee levers, each add........................................................................2900.00
Pedals, each add..................................................................................3500.00

Other options:

Hourly rate for acoustical work........................................................650.00
Paperwork for Insurance valuations etc............................................90.00

Options needing Quotes: Sound board decoration, Veneering, Extra Gold leafing, Carving, Chinioserie, Lid paintings, Keyboard replacement. If there is anything you desire which is not in these lists of options, do not hesitate to inquire about it.

Questions about shipping

I ship most of my instruments to places around the world by air freight. In all the years I have been doing this, I have never had a single unhappy event take place. This is because I build a crate which is totally sealed and sturdy enough to take rough handling. The current price of such a crate is $850.00. This price includes the crate, packing and handling of the crate to load it into the shippers truck, and the paperwork involved in shipping the instrument. Recent increases in the price of everything from wood to gas mean that the above price may be different by the time the instrument is ready for delivery. If you wish to include the price of the crate into the contract to order an instrument, you should add 20% to that price.

 

 

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