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Harpsichord?


S_Gould

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Can anyone tell me where to find a decent harpsichord? Piano stores are either clueless, or want to sell me kits, or instruments built from kits. What I want is a good, stable, playable professional instrument to live in my studio, and maybe loan to the local symphony once a year. Who makes/sells/imports/distributes harpsichords in the U.S. ?

 

Scott

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I don't know the answer really but I would suggest you go to your local music colleges and ask around. Schools often sell off used/leased pianos,etc every few years. A college that specializes in classical music studies is bound to have some Harpsichords around...my old school is the only place I ever had a chance to play one.
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This is the only place I know of. http://www.harpsichordcenter.com/ They are in the Los Angeles area. My only personal experience with them is visiting their showroom once. The only person I know who actually owns a harpsichord bought it there about ten years ago. I wasn't involved in the purchase, so I have no idea how much research she did, but she's been happy with it since then.
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Thanks guys -

I already checked with the local colleges, only one had a harpsichord, and it was donated. I tried the website too, only one instrument for sale there & it's a very fancy 17th century reproduction (and only one manual). Oh well, the search continues.

 

Scott

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Most harpsichords are from kits. I built a 8'4' with a buff stop in 1976; the company that designed the kit (Burton) has since gone out of business, but I believe Zuckermann is still in business, in NYC. They are quite good, but it does take 6 months of all your spare time, plus...However, the kit builders used to assemble them for an extra fee if you wanted, or a local cabinetmaker would be capable of doing it. My kit cost about $600 plus wood, I think.

 

Another route to go is to find a local maker. Most concert harpsichordists commision a custom instrument, for about $15,000. Your local college probably went that route.

 

The Steinway of harpsichords is made in Germany: Neupert. They were at the Musikmesse in Frankfurt with several different models from spinet to double manual. You have to decide that, by the way--how many sets of strings (8' + 8', or 8'+4'), how many keys (49 or 61) and how elaborate a finish.

 

When you're done with that, don't forget that you'll have the equivalent of a 122-string guitar to regularly tune, and you'll want to learn to regulate the action (not difficult, but a chore). That's one of the reasons kits were so popular...you wind up living with the maintenance with confidence.

 

(Makes me feel guilty...I've been using my harpsichord as a table for the last year, it probably isn't happy...)

 

On the other hand, Roland has an incredibly realistic digital harpsichord for a few thousand bucks, which is all set up in a nice-looking spinet case with 3 legs and speakers built in, etc. It has an 8' and 4' rank with a buff stop, plus a little pipe organ sample. For some reason, the samples in this are better than any I've heard out of a sampler. Plus, you don't have to haul 120 pounds of wood into your car...

 

--Dan Tinen

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Thanks Dan,

 

I've looked into the kits, and am not interested (my time is worth more to me than the savings involved). Like I said, the college had its harpsichord donated (someone delivered the instrument, they have no idea where it came from). The German instruments sound like what I'm looking for.

 

Scott

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  • 2 weeks later...
Hey-I'll bring this thread back from the dead. I've had an interest in harpsichords for a while (I'm still just a pianist, btw)-do you play harpsichords, S_Gould, or are you interested in learning how to play them? I'd like to know a little more about them myself. Anyway, I hope you're still interested (and keeping an eye on these threads) because I've just found a great looking, double manual harpsichord on ebay with no reserve! Ok, I don't know a thing about harpsichords, so I can't really tell you how great it is, but I can tell you that it's a Neupert, 8ft double manual harpsichord that is currently going for $710.01-auction ends on the 25th. I'd be interested in it myself, but I've got to save my money towards a synth instead!!! Anyway, I hope that helps. Good luck on your search! Oh, by the way, Tinen, how much do those digital 'chords go for, and where can you find them? That sounds a little bit more in my league.
"Bach is ever new"-Glenn Gould
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Hi -

I tried to reply a couple of times (using 2 different browsers) and got error messages...oh well. I've never used ebay, and have several friends who've been badly burned by it. Even if that weren't the case, I would be very leary of a harpsichord worth 10s of thousands going for $700. I'm a firm believer that if it looks too good to be true - it ain't true! The local symphony conductor is helping me in my search, and preliminary info leads us to suspect that there are deals to be had on quality instruments in the former Communist-block countries. What I really need now is a reliable U.S. source to broker the deal and handle shipping, customs etc. I'm in no rush, and want to be sure that everything goes right, so I'm taking it a step at a time.

 

Scott

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You've got some great points about ebay-you really should be a little cautious. Sometimes, it works out ok, but sometimes it doesn't. The only reason I was really looking there in the first place was because it's hard to find good synths for good prices where I live, but on ebay you can usually find what you need, used, but for a decent price, and take the risk-it's better to do that with a synth than a fine instrument, though. :D You sound pretty serious about this harpsichord-I'm just interested, are you professional, or are you training? It seems hard to come across a harpsichordist these days. Good luck on your search, and be sure to keep us updated if you find something!
"Bach is ever new"-Glenn Gould
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I'm a semi-retired musician & recording engineer with a pretty spiffy studio next door to my house. I have been fortunate enough in the past to have access to harpsichords, but no formal training. I just want a nice instrument for playing around with, recording and lending to the local symphony or chamber orchestra (at their last concert, which I recorded, they used a Yamaha digital piano through a Peavey amp - no harpsichord was available!).

 

Scott

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A friend of mine bought a harpsichord form Eric Herz. He closed his shop in 1995 but turned over the reins to Hubbard Harpsichords. http://www.hubharp.com Might be worth a look. While not professing to be an expert, I did get to take a semester of harpsichord at Indiana University. Well worth the time.

K.

9 Moog things, 3 Roland things, 2 Hammond things and a computer with stuff on it

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

S_Gould -

 

In case you're still looking, try this link:

http://www.serve.com/marbeth/harpsichord_addresses.html

 

and here:

 

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/hpsi.html

 

There are some decent links ...

 

I'd also strongly encourage you to give Hubbard a phone call - they're sort of the mothership.

 

Strange - I can't seem to find any info on William Dowd, who is the other "major" US harpsichord maker (it could be that his shop was swallowed up by Hubbard - they collaborated early on).

 

Good luck.

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