Clavichord - John Kilpatrick

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This unfretted clavichord is the only instrument I have made to my own design.
Body: ash; 130cm x 46.5cm x 12.7cm.
Range: GG - e3, chromatic, strung in brass throughout with no wound strings.
Stand: ash; two trestle ends, two stretchers with connecting bolts, two bolts to bottom of instrument.
Music desk: above keyboard; folds down flat.
Keys: keyboard of poplar; naturals of West Indian boxwood; sharps of ebony; balance pin and rear rack.

The instrument works well and is a pleasure to play. The keys around the bass-A region, where the overall string length is greatest, bottom if pressed down too hard - but that could be seen as an aid in developing a suitable touch, which is light and responsive. Some soundboard cracks have developed (and been filled, but more have appeared), but they don't have any musical effect. Instead of the usual wide-open lid acting as a music desk, a lid prop and folding desk are provided: thus people with normal or short sight can actually read the music.  There is one hitch-pin per string, and the strings are spaced enough for tangents not to hit adjacent notes. A small downward bend was incorporated in the diagonal structural member, but the string tension has pulled this back to a little beyond the level - but only to the extent normally experienced in a clavichord. A pattern is carved into the top of the keys under the strings.

The lid was made several years after the rest of the instrument, from wood that proved less seasoned than would be ideal. It has developed a twist that becomes evident if the lid is left propped open too long, though it lies reasonably flat when left closed; also it was made a tad too short in width - the lid being rectangular, but the instrument having a skew of about 2mm. Setting all that aside, the lid actually looks quite nice.

Click on a thumbnail to see the full-size picture.

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