Saturday, September 15, 2018

6 October – Workshopdag voor bourdonmuziek, (bal) folk en samenspel; Netherlands | Stichting Draailier En Doedelzak

(English below; )
Inschrijvingen open! | Registration has started!

Workshopdag 2018 

Inschrijving geopend!


Jaarlijks organiseert Stichting Draailier en Doedelzak een interessante workshopdag in Zeist. De cursussen duren deze dag van 10:00 tot 17:00, waarna we de dag gezamenlijk met een hapje en een drankje afsluiten.
Deze dag bieden we verdiepende workshops voor verschillende niveaus aan. Er zijn curssusen zowel voor beginners als voor gevorderde spelers. Voor de deelnemers aan de beginnersgroepen draailier of doedelzak hebben we een aantal leeninstrumenten beschikbaar.
>>>Lees meer...
Het programma:

• Nyckelharpa: - Klassiek & Barok: Jantien Schaap (NL)
•  Alle instrumenten - Bretonse Muziek: Ies Muller (NL)
•  Alle instrumenten - Balfolk, dansbaar spelen: Greet Wuyts (Be)
• Doedelzak - (ver)gevorderden: Olle Geris (Be)
• Doedelzak - Galicische stijl op Cornemuse: Benoit Kesnier (Be)
• Doedelzak - begonners: Puck Duits (NL)
• Doedelzak beginners: Jonneke Jorissen (NL)
• Draailier - (ver)gevorderden: Francesco Giusta (It)
• Draailier - (half)gevorderden: Barnaby Walters (GB)
• Draailier - begonners: Joop Aalbers (NL)
• Draailier - beginners: Cor Westbroek (NL) & Lode Buscan (Be)

Altijd al meer willen weten over folk of bourdonmuziek? Ben je gegrepen door draailier of doedelzak? Tijdens onze jaarlijkse workshopdag in oktober, kan je hier meer over leren!

*** PROGRAMMA ***
• Nyckelharpa -  Jantien Schaap (NL)
• Alle instrumenten - Bretonse Muziek -  Ies Muller (NL)
• Alle instrumenten - Balfolk spelen - Greet Wuyts (Be)

• Doedelzak - (ver)gevorderden -  Olle Geris (Be)
• Doedelzak - (half)gevorderden - Benoit Kesnier (Be)
• Doedelzak - begonners - Puck Duits (NL)
• Doedelzak beginners - Jonneke Jorissen

• Draailier - (ver)gevorderden - Francesco Giusta (It)
• Draailier - (half)gevorderden - Barnaby Walters (GB)
• Draailier - begonners - Joop Aalbers (NL)
• Draailier - beginners - Cor Westbroek (NL) & Lode Bucsan (Be)

Er zijn workshops voor beginners en verdiepende workshops voor gevorderden. Ken je mensen die altijd al draailier of doedelzak willen spelen? Nodig ze uit, want dit is de kans om kennis te maken. Geen instrument? Geen probleem! Voor deelnemers aan de beginnersgroepen hebben we een aantal instrumenten te leen.

De workshopdag duurt van 10:00 tot 17:00 en sluiten we af met een hapje en drankje. 

Alle informatie en het inschrijfformulier staat op http://draailier-doedelzak.nl/workshopinschrijven.htm

-------- ENGLISH ------

Always wanted to learn how to play the hurdy-gurdy or bagpipe? Or are you an advanced player who wants to improve his or her playing? This will be possible during this Courseday of the Dutch Hurdy-Gurdy and Bagpipe Foundation. During this day there will be hurdy-gurdy, bagpipe and other music courses for the beginner and the advanced player.

The courses will start at 10.00 until 17.00. This day will take place in primary school "De Griffel" in Zeist (near Utrecht).

*** PROGRAM ***
• Nyckelharpa -  Jantien Schaap (NL)
• All instruments 1 - Music from Bretagne - Ies Muller (NL)
• All instruments 2 - Playing Balfolk - Greet Wuyts (Be)

• Bagpipes - (more)advanced - Olle Geris (Be)
• Bagpipes - (half)advanced - Benoit Kesnier (Be)
• Bagpipes - begunners - Puck Duits (NL)
• Bagpipes - beginners - Jonneke Jorissen (NL)

• hurdygurdy - (more)advanced - Francesco Giusta (It)
• hurdygurdy - (half)advanced - Barnaby Walters (GB)
• hurdygurdy - begunners - Joop Aalbers (NL)
• hurdygurdy - beginners - Cor Westbroek (NL) & Lode Bucsan (Be)

All information and the registration form is available (in English) at http://draailier-doedelzak.nl/workshopdag6okt_english.htm


OCT6

Workshopdag voor bourdonmuziek, (bal) folk en samenspel


Workshopdag voor bourdonmuziek, (bal) folk en samenspel (Event page on Facebook)


▶ Sturdy gurdy by Neil Brook





Sturdy gurdy

Published on Aug 5, 2018
Here is my latest creation which is designed to be as small as practical and super tough for outdoor pursuits.
520mm long and 19mm diameter weighing about 2.5 K, it still sounds like a "proper" hurdy-gurdy

Sturdy gurdy - YouTube


Monday, September 10, 2018

some upcoming hurdy-gurdy workshops


Germany –
28.09.-30.09.2018 Lißberger Leierkurse




Spain –



Curso e Concerto con Oscar Fernández –


– curso de zanfona a cargo de Oscar Fernandez (miembro dos cempes, doa, bonovo...). Despois comida de confraternización para zanfoneir@s e achegados e por ultimo un concertiño informal e abierto ao publico no que tocaremos boa parte dos zanfoneir@s de Ourense.


Curso de iniciación á Zanfona con Oscar Fernández





CURSOS AIZ CASAVIEJA
Otoño 2018  
5, 6 y 7 de octubre

XLVI CURSO DE ZANFONA
Impartido por Germán Díaz

XVCURSO DE NYCKELHARPA
Impartido por Daniel Pettersson

XV CURSO DE CANTO MEDIEVAL
Canto Mozárabe
Impartido por Marcel Peres

CURSO DE TROVADORES
Farai un vers, el arte de los trovadores 
Canto de trovadores acompañados con instrumentos de cuerda frotada y pulsada
Impartido por Domitille Vigneron y Thierry Cornillon

VI CURSO DE GUITARRA ,MANDOLINA Y BUZUKI
impartido por Carlos Beceiro


Los cursos se impartirán en la Granja Escuela de Casavieja (Ávila).
La recepción de alumnos será el viernes 5a partir de las 18:00 h.
En el precio está incluido el alojamiento y comidas en el mismo albergue.
El precio para acompañantes no asistentes a los cursos es de 80 Euros.
Para los interesados en hacer los cursos de zanfona, que no dispongan de instrumento podemos facilitarle uno para el curso.
Para hacer la reserva hay que ingresar 50 euros en la cuenta abajo citada.

CURSO AIZ Casavieja (Facebook event page)




Novo curso para a Escola Folque – Folque

Escola de Música d’aCentral Folque (EMaCF) continua máis un curso para a aprendizaxe e perfeccionamento na práctica e coñecemento das músicas tradicionais galegas. O Curso Maxistral e Aulas individuais e Colectivas en distintas especialidades con mestres en activo e con atención personalizada. 18 anos de docencia e reinventando na vangarda o ensino da música tradicional en Galicia, máis un curso en Santiago de Compostela para toda a cidadanía.
O curso comeza o 19 de outubro de 2018 e chega até o 15 de xuño de 2019. Oito meses de ensino especializado no que se farán outras actividades complementaria á docencia coma monográficos, palestras, foliadas, bailes, concertos, etc.
Novo curso para a Escola Folque – Folque
Folque – aCentral Folque, Centro Galego de Música Popular




Courses with Germán Díaz –
Un año más, comenzamos las clases de zanfona en el Centro de Música Fingoi -Lugo-, y en Cantigas e Agarimos -Santiago de Compostela- a partir de Octubre.

Clases individuales, Clases colectivas, Combo con diatónicos con el gran Pedro Pascual

Los lunes en Santiago, y los martes en Lugo -clases quincenales-

Toda la información sobre horarios y tarifas en

LUGO:
Centro de Música Fingoi
Aviación Española 37
Tel: 982 284 094 - 982 221 630
Fax: 982 250 696
secretaria@centromusicafingoi.com

SANTIAGO:
Cantigas e Agarimos
Antigo CEIP Ramón Cabanillas
R/ Castiñeiriño, 21 - 15702 Santiago de Compostela
A Coruña - España
Fixo: +34 981 939 084
Móbil: +34 618 518 524
contacto@cantigaseagarimos.




Netherlands –

6 October – Workshopdag voor bourdonmuziek, (bal) folk en samenspel | Stichting Draailier En Doedelzak


Always wanted to learn how to play the hurdy-gurdy or bagpipe? Or are you an advanced player who wants to improve his or her playing? This will be possible during this Courseday of the Dutch Hurdy-Gurdy and Bagpipe Foundation. During this day there will be hurdy-gurdy, bagpipe and other music courses for the beginner and the advanced player.

The courses will start at 10.00 until 17.00. This day will take place in primary school "De Griffel" in Zeist (near Utrecht).

*** PROGRAM ***
• Nyckelharpa -  Jantien Schaap (NL)
• All instruments 1 - Music from Bretagne - Ies Muller (NL)
• All instruments 2 - Playing Balfolk - Greet Wuyts (Be)

• Bagpipes - (more)advanced - Olle Geris (Be)
• Bagpipes - (half)advanced - Benoit Kesnier (Be)
• Bagpipes - begunners - Puck Duits (NL)
• Bagpipes - beginners - Jonneke Jorissen (NL)

• hurdygurdy - (more)advanced - Francesco Giusta (It)
• hurdygurdy - (half)advanced - Barnaby Walters (GB)
• hurdygurdy - begunners - Joop Aalbers (NL)
• hurdygurdy - beginners - Cor Westbroek (NL) & Lode Bucsan (Be)


All information and the registration form is available (in English) at http://draailier-doedelzak.nl/workshopdag6okt_english.htm

Workshopdag voor bourdonmuziek, (bal) folk en samenspel (Event page on Facebook)





Monday, September 3, 2018

Curso Tobie Miller 2019 – In Madarcos (Sierra Norte De Madrid) 8-9 and 10 February 2019




I course of zanfona entresierras

Taught by Tobie Miller.
Organized by Rafa Martín and Jorge Garrido.
. The course will be delivered in madarcos in the heart of the biosphere reserve of the Sierra Norte De Madrid.
. The Student s' stay will be in the rural accommodation of madarcos.
www.madarcosturismo.es.
. The Price of the course includes classes, accommodation and maintenance, with two modalities possible:
1.- Bunk bed in shared room (3 people).......................................................... 192 euros.
2.- Accommodation in double room............... 212 euros.
. The Price for escorts not attending the course is:
1.- Bunk Bed........................... 76 euros.
2.- Accommodation in double room............ 96 euros.
. Reception of students will be on Friday 8 from 18:00 H.
. There is the possibility of loan loan for students interested in attending the course without an instrument.
. We have special menus for vegetarians, vegans and people with food intolerances.
Information and booking of places:
Rafa Martin
682261256
rafamartin@zanfona.com
Jorge Garrido
678345661
jorgegarrido1978@hotmail.com
Payment method: Kutxabank Es41 2095 0340 7091 1823 1046
To make the reservation it is necessary to enter EUR 50 in the account.
Data from participants:
- Name:
- Email:
- phone:
- place of origin:
- special food needs…



(Facebook group) Curso Tobie Miller 2019


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Sheet Music – Khronokrator, a new composition by Efrén López Sanz





ENG / CAT / ESP
Khronokrator, a new composition (3 pages) for hurdy gurdy to be included soon in the first album of our electric project EAR, featuring Adrian Perales on drums and Raül Bonell (Kavstik Kurva) on Warr guitar.
The tune is written following the rhythmic cicle of the Bulgarian dance "Kopanitsa" (11/8 divided 2+2+3+2+2) with some variations here and there (3+3+3+2 and others), although keeping always subjacent the initial 11 beats pattern.
It modulates between several modes in different keys (you'll find them written on every change: RE, MI, DO, SOL), , thus it's virtually imposible to change the drones for all them that quickly since all the melodies are very busy. To solve that, I play a bass line using a MIDI foot keyboard and my own drone samplers. Enjoy!

Khronokrator, una nova composició (3 pàgines) per a viola de roda que s'inclourà aviat en el primer àlbum del nostre projecte elèctric EAR, amb Adrian Perales a la bateria i Raül Bonell (Kavstik Kurva) a la Warr guitar.
La melodia està escrita seguint el cicle rítmic de la dansa búlgara "Kopanitsa" (11/8 dividit 2+2+3+2+2) amb algunes variacions ací i allà (3+3+3+2 i d'altres), tot i que manté sempre subjacent el patró inicial d'onze temps.
Modula entre diversos modes en diferents tonalitats (els trobareu escrits a cada canvi:RE, MI, DO i SOL), per la qual cosa és pràcticament impossible canviar els bordons a temps, ja que totes les melodies són prou complexes. Per tal de resoldre aquest problema, toque la línia de baixos amb un teclat MIDI de peu i els meus propis samples de bordons. Bon profit!

Khronokrator, una nueva composición (3 páginas) para zanfona que pronto se incluirá en el primer álbum de nuestro proyecto eléctrico EAR, con Adrian Perales a la batería y Raül Bonell (Kavstik Kurva) en la Warr guitar.
La melodía está escrita siguiendo el ciclo rítmico de la danza búlgara "Kopanitsa" (11/8 dividido 2+2+3+2+2) con algunas variaciones aquí y allá (3+3+3+2 y otras), aunque mantiene siempre subyacente el patrón inicial de once tiempos.
Modula entre varios modos en diferentes tonalidades (las encontraréis escrites an cada cambio:RE, MI, DO y SOL), por lo que es prácticamente imposible cambiar los bordones a tiempo, ya que todas las melodías son bastante complejas. Para resolver este problema, toco la línea de bajos con un teclado de pie MIDI y mis propios samples de bordones. ¡Espero que la disfrutéis!


NOTE: the album is still being recorded, and will be released when its ready!

facebook post


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Just Cue :: hurdy-gurdy & bagpipes


'A Hornpipe' / 'Lancashire Hornpipe' at Château de Sarzay.

'Karina' at Château de Sarzay



Liesa Cue - Bagpipe (Jon Swayne)

Johannes Just - Hurdy Gurdy (Jaime Rebollo)






Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Nuremberg Bourdon Days • 11th to 13th January 2019 • Nürnberg, Germany


with 5 Hurdy Gurdy teachers!!

Welcome to the Nuremberg Bourdon Days

(read in German)
The second Nuremberg Bourdon Day’s will take place from 11th to 13th January 2019.
Our instructors 2019 will be Johannes Hellmann, Simon Wascher, Johannes Just, Alex Zwingmann, Thomas Zöller, Daniela Heiderich, Jan Budweis

For those who want to have a first try at Hurdy-gurdy or Huemmelchen, learn new playing techniques, search for inspiration, extent their repertoire or simply experience a great weekend with like-minded:
You found the right event!

Additionally to the instrument workshops, we offer 30-45 minutes of mini-workshops on Saturday before and after lunch. There, every participant can try different instruments.

In addition: Experience the unique ambience of the historical castle of Nuremberg. The weekend takes place in one of the world’s most modern Youth Hostels. You will be housed in rooms containing four beds. If you want to share a room with your family or friend – just tell us during registration.
More information on accommodation, meals etc. can be found at room & board
Questions? Send an e-mail to: info@nuernberger-borduntage.de

We are looking forward meeting you!
Your organizational team (Alex, Matthias, Lena)

A BIG “thank you”, to all that participated in our first Nuremberg Bourdon Days, January 2018



Welcome to the Nuremberg Bourdon Days | (read in German)

www.nuernberger-borduntage.de

Nürnberger Borduntage - Facebook




Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What to Look for in a Hurdy-Gurdy | Arle Lommel | Hurdy Gurdy Community

– for a nicely formatted version of this, please visit the note on Hurdy Gurdy Community Facebook group!



What to Look for in a Hurdy-Gurdy

ARLE LOMMEL · MARCH, 2017

Hurdy-gurdies are complex and expensive instruments. As with most instruments, you can find the range from masterwork to wall hanging. Unfortunately, bad instruments can still set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars or euros.

My best advice is to have an experienced player look at any instrument you are interested in. However, I recognize this is not always possible, so this document lists features and characteristics you should look for in evaluating a hurdy-gurdy.

It starts with basic features for beginner instruments, and is followed by a list of specific issues that quality instruments should exhibit. It closes with some features you might consider for a “step up” instrument.

If you are looking at an instrument online and cannot determine how well it meets these criteria and the seller cannot or will not provide you with enough information to tell, pass up on the instrument, no matter how attractive it may seem, unless you are prepared to make repairs yourself.

If you are not in a position to try out the instrument yourself, or you do not yet play, ask other players for their opinion of a maker’s work. Unfortunately, there are a few well-intentioned and prolific makers who nevertheless produce marginal instruments, and asking others about their experience will help you steer clear of these makers.

This list should help you see why you should avoid a certain maker of bargain-basement instruments with very low prices seen on eBay. Even a quick glance at the photos this maker provides tells you that they fail to meet even basic requirements for a usable instrument.

Beginner features



When you first look for an instrument, ask yourself the following questions:

What sort of music do you want to play? Unless you want to play music from a specific hurdy-gurdy tradition, you should probably look for a contemporary French-style instrument. Most makers produce this type. The primary modern alternatives are Hungarian-style (called tekerő or tekerőlant) and Galician (zanfona) instruments. If you are interested in historical music, you might consider older styles, like the box-shaped symphony. You may encounter other types, but unless you are looking at diving into those traditions, you will probably find the French-style instruments to be a more versatile option. This document assumes you are looking at either a French or Hungarian instrument, but most of the advice applies to other types as well.

What is your budget? Hurdy-gurdies are expensive instruments. Any instrument you find under $1000 is likely to be an inferior instrument that will only frustrate and limit you in the long run. You are generally better off saving up for a quality instrument or putting a deposit on an instrument and paying it off before delivery. As a rough guideline, basic French-style instruments with six strings from makers in the U.S. and Western Europe are likely to cost around US$3,000. Hungarian-style instruments will be anywhere from US$1,500 to $2,000. Some simpler instruments cost less than these amounts, but if you find a deal that seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.

Are you looking for a new or used instrument? Sometimes you can save money by buying a used hurdy-gurdy, but this approach can be risky. You may be getting a great instrument that someone is moving on from, or you may be paying to take someone else’s problem off their hands. If you buy directly from the maker, you have some assurance that the instrument is set up properly and does not suffer from major problems. In most circumstances (there are exceptions, of course), you should not buy used instruments from eBay or other sources: A lot of would-be players have been burnt taking this approach. Instead, buy directly from the owner and find a way to get some first-hand experience with the instrument before you commit to buying it.

For a beginner instrument, look for the following as the basic features your instrument should have or exceed. If it falls short of these requirements, look for a different instrument.

Three or four strings. One or two chanters and two drones (bass and tenor). More strings are fine, but you should not use them until you are comfortable with the basic strings. The basic French setup has six strings (two melody + four drones). Hungarian instruments have three or four (one or two melody + two drones).

Buzzing bridge (unless you are specifically learning a type without a buzzing bridge). The buzzing bridge should have a string bridle-type adjustment, unless you are playing a Hungarian instrument, in which case you will use a wedge block system. Have someone who plays well verify that the buzzing bridge is easy to control and has a crisp sound.

Chromatic keyboard. While some “starter” models have diatonic keyboards, these models will limit your music. Even if you have to spend a little more for it, a chromatic keyboard should be a non-negotiable requirement.

Pickups. If you plan to play with amplification, start with build-in pickups. (If you do not plan on ever amplifying your instrument, you can ignore this, but my experience is that you may wish down the road that you had gotten an instrument with this capability.)

Two-octave range. Although some instruments have a larger range, these instruments are usually not suitable for beginners.

Your instrument should also have the following basic features:

String catches or hooks. These allow you to control which strings are sounding and are a required feature.

Easy-to-use tuners. My personal preference is for geared tuners. If your instrument is French-styled and has friction pegs, it should come with a “wrench” of sorts that allows you to turn them when they are under pressure. Hungarian instruments have larger pegs that do not require a wrench. If pegs slip or bind, you can often resolve this with peg dope or chalk, but if you find the tuners difficult to work with in general, it makes the instrument hard to work with.

Buzzing bridge that responds well at different playing speeds. This is hard for new players to assess, so ask for a demo. You should hear a crisp response with fine control at a variety of speeds. If the bridge buzzes uncontrollably at higher speeds, it probably means you will need to replace the bridge. (This is one change that should be easy for a maker and many players to do).

Standard strap knobs or strap locks for the straps. You should be able to change out the strap easily. For French style instruments, you should have two knobs at the head end of the instrument and two at the tail. If you have just one at the head end, you will need a “Y strap” to play standing. If there is just one at the tail end, you will not be able to play while standing.

Can I Build It from a Kit?



Unless you have significant wood-working skills and building your own instrument is a primary goal for you, buy a complete instrument rather than a kit. Building an instrument can be a rewarding activity, but it is not for the faint-hearted and probably won’t save you much money (if any) after you buy the needed tools. If you do want to build an instrument, I would recommend looking at the kits from Hurdy-Gurdy Crafters. Do not buy the Kelischek or MusicMakers kits: These have significant design flaws and by the time you have worked around them to arrive at a mediocre result, you will have spent more than you would have if you had simply bought a good starter instrument.

Evaluating a Hurdy-Gurdy



Regardless of your skill level or the complexity of the instrument you are buying, there are specific things you should look out for in an instrument. Do not get caught up in a feature list that may hide problems with the instrument. I break the items you should look for into several areas.

The following assumes the instrument has been kept at a proper humidity. Because hurdy-gurdies are made of wood, you can expect parts to move and you may find that parts do not fit or move as well if the humidity is too high or too low. When you evaluate an instrument, look for problems that a change in humidity would not address. For example, if you are in a dry environment and they keyboard binds, the problem will only get worse with increased humidity, but if the keys are a bit loose, increasing humidity could help.

Wheel, Axle, and Crank



A proper wheel system is perhaps the most critical aspect of the instrument. Almost anything else can be fixed, but if the wheel is bad, fixing it may essentially require rebuilding the instrument. Look for the following in this system:

The wheel should be made from high-quality laminated materials (like Baltic birch plywood) or composites. In general, avoid solid wood: It moves too much with changes in humidity and is not stable.

The wheel should have a smooth surface, free from irregularities. Rough grain will result in uneven tone.

There should be no wobble, play, or binding in the wheel or crank system. Grab the crank and push and pull it away from and toward the body of the instrument, up and down, and side to side. Any play here is a cause for concern. Turn the crank. If it grabs or scrapes at any point this is a dead giveaway for major problems. If the wheel squeaks, it could indicate that the bearings need lubrication, or it could indicate more serious problem.

The axle should have a proper axle. Stay away from any instruments that use  furniture “T bolts” or similar hardware without a bearing.

The gap between the wheel and the soundboard should be minimal. Large or uneven gaps indicate sloppy construction and allow dirt and debris to enter the instrument and the bearing system.

The axle and wheel should be removable. Although you will not generally remove the wheel, this is essential if the instrument ever needs to be serviced.

The wheel should turn easily with no drag when no strings are engaged. If the wheel takes effort to turn, it indicates problems inside the instrument.

The crank’s handle should spin freely on its own axle. If the crank handle does not turn, it is harder to play. Fortunately, this is usually easy to fix.

The crank should be easy to remove from the instrument. Many players remove the crank when transporting instruments to prevent damage.

Keyboard



No side to side play of the keys. Grab the keys and see if they wiggle side-to-side. If they do, it will result in imprecise intonation. You shouldn’t see up-and-down play either, but this is less important.

Tangents should hit the string close to straight on. When properly set up, tangents should be in tune without having to turn too far to the left or the right. If individual tangents are shifted significantly but their neighbors are not, this indicates a keyboard with the wrong spacing. If the ones at the end closest to the bridge are all shifted in one direction, this indicates a problem with the way the instrument is cottoned, but does not point to a problem with the instrument itself.

The keys should line up. Hold the instrument away from you. The keys should line up evenly. If they are uneven – i.e., some stick out more than others – or you find gaps between them, this indicates a poorly designed keyboard. (Exception: Hungarian keyboards have a different structure with gaps in the upper row. This is fine for that type of instrument.)

Key stems should be durable. Look for keys made from a hard, durable wood that takes a smooth finish. Ebony or rosewood are ideal.

Tangents should be durable. Look for ones made of a hard, durable wood (unless you have metal tangents).

Tangents should be adjustable. Do not consider any instrument where the tangents are not adjustable! They should stay in place under normal playing pressures yet move easily enough to be adjusted by hand

Key stems should be straight. All key stems should be straight with no twisting. If one or two show twisting, it indicates that humidity has warped them. You can have a luthier replace them. But if many or most are twisted, it indicates major problems.

Keys should move smoothly. Keys should smoothly with light finger pressure and return under gravity without shuddering or sticking. Some noise (clicking or slight sliding sound) is normal, but loud scraping indicates problems.

Low action in the keyboard. The keys move no more than 4 mm before touching the string.

Consistent tangent action across strings. If more than one melody string is present, all tangents on a key touch their strings at the same time

No interference from the keybox lid. All keys should move freely when keybox lid is open.

No collisions between adjacent keys. Make sure all keys move independently. If you press one key and another one moves with it, look for obvious causes (like tangents that touch each other).

Smooth keybox lid. The top of the keybox should be smooth and allow easy motion across its surface. Carved keyboxes look nice, but if they impede the motion of your hand, you are better off with something else.

For Hungarian instruments, bracing on both sides of the tangents. Some cheaper instruments have slotted supports only on the side with the keys. Such construction is less stable and tends to have excessive play in the keys.

Wood/body



No cracks or warps. Cracks or warps can indicate major problems. Even if they are cosmetic, why take the risk?

No sunken spots in the back or soundboard. These usually indicate serious structural damage to the instrument.

Quarter-sawn soundboard. You can recognize this because all grain will appear to run parallel, with no obvious grain figuring.

Strings and tuning



Is the instrument set up for the tuning you want? This can be easily changed, but order it for the tuning you want.

Stings should just barely touch the wheel. Without any shimming on the bridge the wheel should just barely contact the string. If you need to add large amounts of cotton to bring the strings into contact with the wheel, this indicates the bridge needs to be cut down. Excessive pressure is easier to deal with: You can add shims beneath the string.

Other



Support piece running from tailpiece to bridge. Hurdy-gurdy bridges must stand up to a lot of pressure. They should be anchored to the tail piece so that this pressure does not pull the bridge toward the wheel. Traditional Hungarian instruments solved this problem by using a heavy bridge that was glued to the soundboard and this construction is also acceptable.

No non-traditional bridge shapes. If it looks strange, ask a luthier to evaluate the bridge. Bridges that are the wrong shape can deaden the instrument’s sound.

Advanced/Step-Up Features



If you are looking to upgrade your instrument, the following features are ones you may consider adding:

More than two melody strings. Third or fourth melody strings add tuning options. Very rarely, instruments will have more than four melody strings.

Additional drones. The standard French configuration has four drones. Adding additional drones allows you to use alternative tunings.

Planetary-gear tuners. These geared tuners look like traditional ebony pegs, but allow more precise tuning.

Active pick-ups and on-board mixer. This setup allows you to balance sound in the instrument itself when you plug it in.

Sympathetic strings. Sympathetic strings provide a richer tone.

Multiple buzzing bridges. These will generally be “stacked” above each other in a small tower and will play at different pitches.

Adjustable bridge. Adjustable bridges use a jack screw system to adjust the height of strings without the need for paper shims. However, not all adjustable bridges are equal and a poorly designed system can deaden the sound. Some move the entire top of the bridge, but if you have more than two melody strings, ones with screws for each string are more versatile.

Capo on the trompette string. This single capo, often made with a harp lever, allows you to raise the pitch of the trompette by a full step to facilitate playing in other keys. For C/G instruments, it will raise the trompette from C to D. For G/D instruments, it will raise the pitch from G to A. This feature does not apply to Hungarian-style instruments.

Capo system for chanter strings. Capo systems change the open string notes on the instrument. Look for capos that operate with a push-button system and that can be adjusted for accurate intonation.

Fingerboard under the drones. This uncommon feature allows you to play notes and harmonies on the drones. Sometime these fingerboards are fitted with movable capos for the ultimate in control over tuning your drones.

String lifters. String lifters are levers or buttons that engage and disengage individual strings without the need for the player to touch the string.

Extended scale. Instruments with an extended scale (sometimes called “alto” instruments) are longer and have a range of around two and a half octaves. They are almost always fitted with capos that allow the instrument to be played as a standard-scale instrument.

Quarter-tone keys (rare). Very rarely you may encounter quarter-tone keys that allow you to play notes in between standard pitches for a few notes. These are most common on the third and sixth degrees of the scale.

Conclusion



It is my hope that these guidelines will help individuals looking at investing in a hurdy-gurdy.  Please add comments to [this document] with suggestions for additional items or corrections. Any faults in this document are my own.



This guide is available under a Creative Commons 4.o Attribution license.


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