on 2/17/08 1:26 PM, Peter W Redstone at [log in to unmask] wrote:
> This brings me to a very interesting point. How closely should one
> copy an old instrument? As far as I am concerned, if the resulting
> instrument is unstable to the point of being unusable, the original
> maker will not be blamed, but _I_ will be!!!!
> Some years ago I encountered an instrument made in the early 70s by a
> Well Known Maker, which was a disaster. It had to be placed on the
> stage exactly where it would be used. If, after tuning it were picked
> up, you could hear the strings go "chink, chink, chink" over the
> bridge pins, and the tuning was kaput, muerte, deceased - totally
> unplayable. Such an instrument does no good to the maker, or
> harpsichords in general.
On the one hand, I have my Dowd 1976 Blanchet, which has been remarkably
stable and rarely needs tuning. It receives regulation at least once a
year--very little needs to be done. Since I had it restrung in Rose wire and
revoiced, it's a much better instrument than it was when new--not the very
finest, but a whole lot better instrument than I deserve.
On the other hand, one is tempted by a copy of the Colmar Ruckers by a
Famous Maker. The base price of this instrument is $50,000 US, which doesn't
include any stand, decoration, key arcades, or even leather-covered
registers! The sound of the thing is phenomenal. On the one recording I
have, it comes so close to the sound of the original that I would easily be
fooled if I didn't know it was a copy. However, I have heard rumors that
this maker's instruments are sometimes subject to considerable structural
If I lived close to such a maker and felt assured that he would stand by his
instruments, I would take the risk to achieve such a beautiful tone. Since I
live in the middle of Harpsichord Nowhere, I think I'll stick with what
works. That tone is awfully tempting, though. Downright seductive.
Of course, the Dowd, like my 9 year old Toyota, does have one important
virtue: it's paid for :).
James R. (Jay) McCarty, MD
Fort Worth, TX
"Sine arte, scientia nihil est"