The Harpsichord Owner's Guide: A Manual for Buyers and Owners

The Harpsichord Owner's Guide: A Manual for Buyers and Owners

The Harpsichord Owner's Guide: A Manual for Buyers and Owners

The Harpsichord Owner's Guide: A Manual for Buyers and Owners


The revival of interest in harpsichords has motivated thousands of people to buy, build, and learn how to care for these instruments. Yet few have any idea how the harpsichord operates, how to keep it in good working order, how to make simple repairs, or how to tune it. Edward Kottick, an experienced harpsichord builder, offers the first practical guide to buying, repairing, and maintaining a harpsichord.


The Harpsichord Owner's Guide was written to help owners maintain their instruments, and it seems to have fulfilled that role. Many of its readers have written or called to tell me how they found relief from some problem or other in its pages, and its worldwide distribution has allowed me the distinct pleasure of corresponding with harpsichord buffs living in some of the more exotic portions of the globe. Unexpectedly, it has filled some other niches as well. a fair number of kit builders have told me of its usefulness in the construction process. Because of the attractiveness of its illustrations and photographs, some have purchased it to give as a gift or to grace a coffee table. Some builders even give it away with every instrument they sell. in truth, the degree of good fortune enjoyed by The Harpsichord Owner's Guide has gone well beyond what I could have imagined when it first appeared five years ago. I can only express my gratitude, once again, to those who helped so much in the preparation of this volume. in particular I want to thank the dedicated staff at the Univeisity of North Carolina Press, who produced a beautiful example of modern bookmaking.

If The Harpsichord Owner's Guide has done well in the last five years, for the instrument itself there has been both good and bad news. Although interest in the harpsichord has continued unabated, sales have been slowed by adverse economic conditions. These same conditions have forced some professional builders to seek other means of income; by and large, however, the better ones are still at it, and the quality of their product is, if anything, even higher. On the other hand, fewer people seem to be making harpsichords from kits. Not that these are inferior--far from it! But as the price of harpsichords (along with everything else) has risen, so has the price of the kits. Potential owners seem unwilling to lay out substantial sums when it is perceived that the result could be an instrument of less than professional quality. It may just be that the thirty-yearold phenomenon of building your own harpsichord has come to an end. But as long as we continue to enjoy the music of the past, harpsichords will be built, bought, played, and listened to.

The paperback edition of The Harpsichord Owner's Guide differs from the original edition only in that a few minor errors have been corrected. I am grateful to those who pointed them out to me and hope that my readers will continue to let me know of any infelicities that remain.

Iowa City, Iowa
February 1992 . . .

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