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 aim to 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. The EMS one is still available from the Paris Workshop, but is expensive. The plan alone is more affordable.
Other plans are available, notably from the Royal College of Music (the basis for my own spinet above) and from Edinburgh.
Please follow this Page for more ideas, and a very unusual Special Offer!
And of course, for any queries, or just to show interest, please contact me, David, on email@example.com
It's always nice to know what other people have done, and to share knowledge, challenges, and successes. So on this page we will be featuring instruments made by Friends. Thanks to Andrew Nolan for contributing the first of these, an English Spinet with an Australian accent.
This fine spinet is based on the Longman & Broderip spinet (made by Culliford) which is in the collection of the Royal College of Music, London.Andrew writes: "I used a 'plan' picture of the L&B spinet (from the RCM Brochure) along with the dimensions and scaling details from the RCM site and made a drawing on the baseboards. I worked out the vertical dimensions starting with the length of a surplus set of jacks I had."The original has upper and lower guides but he decided to go with a box guide built up from blocks. I used Tasmanian myrtle which is similar to pearwood in being a fine grained timber which is able to be planed to a smooth slippery surface. The blocks were cut out to match the jacks I had, using a bandsaw with fences for depth of cut and position of cut."The bottom and framing are spruce (known here as 'Baltic pine'). The sides back and pinblock are American oak. This oak bends easily when heated. The external veneer is Tasmanian Blackwood, fiddleback and plain for crosbanding. The keywell and inside the rim is Tasmanian myrtle, with mapa burl (poplar I believe) for the lighter bits. The solid cabinet work -lid stand etc is Tasmanian Blackwood. The soundboard is recycled spruce from an upright piano. Nut and bridge from Euro beech."The stringing is in iron with similar scaling to a Kirckman but the plucking points are a bit higher giving it the flutey spinet tone. The instrument had been used to accompany arias for the Handel Messiah in a large church, quite effectively."
When I was young (a very long time ago...) I wanted to make a spinet or a small harpsichord, but I was put off by the fear that jacks were too difficult to make. (Actually it's not too bad, but that's another story.)
Anyway, in a bid to encourage our younger Friends in particular, here's a very special offer. We have a set of 60+ factory-made jacks, the bodies of which are made from a good quality hard plastic, possibly GRP. If this is the nudge you need to 'have a go', then these are offered to you. To work out the price (in £) just deduct 10 from your age. Yes, if you are fifteen, these are yours for a fiver. And if you are a pensioner like me, then they're still good value.
They would be ideal for a spinet, virginals, or even a small single-register harpsichord. I will offer every possible encouragement and assistance to help a first-time builder - we need you!
And by the way, who actually is our youngest Friend? It is a fact that many of us are of a certain age, and we do recognize the importance of encouraging those who will follow. So if you think you are in with a chance of winning this prize (what prize?) please drop me an email.
Or to buy those jacks, of course.
David at firstname.lastname@example.org