I presently make Italian harpsichords, due to my admiration for their tonal qualities and design principles. These instruments are not always appreciated by others as much as I think they should be. Their bright sound projects well, they stay in tune more readily than other harpsichord designs, they are reasonably easy to move and set up, and they possess an understated yet elegant appearance.
My instruments are inspired by historical designs without being literal copies of every single detail. I sometimes use locally available wood (just as the old makers did), instead of the original materials.
Animal glues are used for the majority of the building process, and especially for the joining of soundboard staves, the fastening of bridges and nuts, and the gluing of the soundboard into the case. The use of animal glues allows glue joints to dry hard, while retaining the ability to be dismantled in future should the need arise.
Standard features on all new instruments:
Tools/supplies included with all new instruments:
True inner harpsichord inspired by Alessandro Trasuntino, 1531 (presently in the Royal College of Music, London). Single manual, 2x8', brass stringing, range GG/BB-c3. A=415-440 transposition (no loss of notes in either position). Bridge, nut and wrestplank of walnut. Casework of Alaska yellow cedar. Turned maple legs.
Spruce soundboard (instead of the original cypress). An outstanding conti
Harpsichord inspired by F.A., 1677. Single manual, 2x8', brass stringing, range C/E-c3. A=415-440 (no loss of notes in either position). Soundboard of spruce. Bridge, nut and wrestplank of walnut. Turned maple legs.
There are two ways to construct an Italian harpsichord, both of which are found in the historical tradition:
Keyboard ranges can be enlarged beyond the original, at additional cost.
Natural keytops can be made of boxwood, simulated ivory or bone. Prices vary depending on the material.
Natural key decorations include arcades, moldings and elaborate parchment fronts. Prices vary.
False inner-outer instruments are painted in a single colour. Other decorative options are priced accordingly; please contact me for more details.
Padded covers are made by a third party to fit my instruments, and are priced at the maker's cost (presently about $600; subject to change). They are strongly recommended for anyone that plans to move their instrument regularly.
A mover's dolly optimized for harpsichords, which attaches securely to the instrument with straps, can be provided for $200.
Harpsichord after Alessandro Trasuntino, 1531
False inner-outer: $12,000
True inner-outer without case or lid: $13,000
Harpsichord after F.A., 1677
False inner-outer: $10,000
True inner-outer without case or lid: $11,000
Outer case with lid for true inner-outer harpsichords: add $1,500.
Single-strung (1x8') harpsichords: subtract $1,000 from the prices above.
Ontario residents add 13% HST. Residents of other Canadian provinces add 5% GST.
Full details of the instrument to be built, the final price and payment terms are recorded in a contract that you (the buyer) and I must both sign.
As a sign of good faith, a non-refundable deposit of $500, fully credited against the total purchase price, must be made upon signature of the contract. This ensures that you are serious about making the purchase and prevents me from investing my time and materials into a project that you might not be fully committed to.
Payments consist of the deposit and three approximately equal installments of the remaining purchase price after the deposit is subtracted.
When work on the harpsichord commences, the first of three payment installments is due. The second installment is due at my discretion during the building process. When the harpsichord is finished and playable, you are invited to evaluate it. If you are satisfied, the final installment is paid and you take possession of the instrument. If you are not satisfied, all your previous payments with the exception of the initial deposit will be refunded, and the contract is voided. The instrument remains my property, should this occur.