Custom Instruments

Hendrik Broekman
Writes about the German Double-Manual...

Astute and wholesome design, exquisite workmanship, robust construction, tasteful decoration, and acoustical efficiency - all are hallmarks of 18th century Germany's Hass family of harpsichord makers. For these reasons, we have selected the instruments of Hass as prototypes for our German double-manual harpsichord.

german_double_smrt.jpg (5107 bytes)The German doubles that now leave our shop represent our enlargement of pre-1740 designs of Hieronymous Albrecht Hass to the more traditional 18th century, wide-range instrument. Unlike most modern extended designs, the sound of the extreme treble does not differ from the rest of the instrument in either quantity or quality. The sound sustains throughout the range and is capable of a fine legato even in the extreme treble.

Case walls and bracing are entirely of spruce, pine or fir. The wrestplank is maple. The soundboard is European spruce and the bridges and nuts are beech or maple. The turned-leg trestle stand, similar to the original Hass stand, is relieved on top to contact the bottom of the instrument only in the vicinity of the legs. The case is assembled with hand-cut dovetails at each corner and with the wrestplank and header pegged through the exterior of the case. These expensive and worthwhile features are seen as shadowed in the painted finish.

The exterior is normally painted a dark color and the string surrounds and underside of the lid a contrasting lighter color. Gold bands are applied to these surfaces (with the exception of the spine) as well as to the mouldings around the interior edge of the top of the case. Butternut veneer and cherry stringing inlay cover the keywell. Endblocks and transverse rails are butternut or cherry with applied mouldings. The natural keys are covered with ebony; the walnut sharps are capped with bone selected for whiteness.

In his Historischbiographisches Lexicon of 1790, Ernst Ludwig Gerber wrote, "The Hasses, father and son, made splendid harpsichords and clavichords which are still much sought after." The passage of time has not given cause to amend these assessments.

Back to the description of the German Doublemanual


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