Perhaps these have always been my favourite instruments, but please don't tell my Square Pianos!
Relatively few original spinets turn up at auction, and prices are beyond the reach of most of us. However, it is not too difficult to make a decent spinet, and I hope that this page will encourage people to have a go. There used to be reasonably-priced kits available: the best were the Early Music Shop's 'Keene & Brackley', and the freelance designs of John Storrs.
I f there's anything you'd like to ask, or just to show interest, please contact me, David, on firstname.lastname@example.org
It was a pleasure to meet Alexandra Cade when she visited the UK recently. She is currently studying for a PhD at Winterthur, Delaware, on the topic of amateur piano makers in America, c. 1790 - 1810. There were few, if any such makers in London, but the spirit of self-sufficiency was strong in the new United States of America, and these amateur makers were an important part of the development of the piano in in the new country. Their surviving instruments show remarkable diversity and ingenuity, but more of this another time.
During Alexandra's studies for the degrees of B Mus and BA in American history at Rochester, she spent two summers as an intern at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and after graduating she returned as apprentice harpsichord maker, making English spinets using the materials and methods of the original makers.
Holding a partially-completed register...
...Tuning the first notes...
...and with Ed Wright, using a frame-saw to prepare a piece of timber.
It has recently been my privilege to share in the ownership of a remarkable spinet made by Edward Blunt in 1704, and to restore it to playing condition. This has been very successful, and the next stage in the story is to make a replica. This project offers the ideal opportunity for Friends of Square Pianos to follow the construction in real time.
For clarity, the story will be presented in several sections. Please click on the headings below: