Custom Instruments

French double-manual harpsichords
of the 17th & 18th centuries


Harpsichord after Michel Richard (1688)

Harpsichord after Ioannes Goermans (1748)

Harpsichord after Henry Hemsch (1746?)
(Above available as custom instruments only)


Harpsichord after Pascal Taskin (1769/1770)
(Available as a custom instrument and in kit form)


Taskin on trestle stand
Taskin French Double-manual with trestle stand

No more idiomatic music was written for the harpsichord than by French composers of the 17th and 18th centuries. The harpsichords for which this marvelous body of music was composed were superb, and the products of the Parisian workshops were prized throughout Europe. There is nothing in the literature of the harpsichord which cannot be successfully performed on these instruments with their singing treble, fluty tenor and rich bass sonorities.

French VXIIth c. double-manual harpsichordThe late 17th century was a time of flux in French harpsichord making. The earlier native school of building was going out of fashion as the wealthy cast covetous glances at Ruckers harpsichords that had been enlarged with the increased range of contemporary composers such as d'Anglebert, Jacquet de la Guerre and Marchand in mind. One could hardly blame a prominent maker such as Michel Richard for making an instrument closely modeled on the Ruckers design and then passing it off as a Ruckers. This is just what he seems to have done in 1688. The instrument we offer on this model (the original does not currently play) is designed to be pitched at a'=392Hz, one whole tone below modern pitch. The sound is dry and incisive as one might expect from the smaller case but still dark and rich, much like the larger models of the second quarter of the 18th century that designs such as this helped spawn.  Our 17th c. French double after Richard can be built to play at a'=415 Hz with no loss of sonority.  More details may be found in the downloadable offering sheet.

Each of our 18th c. French double-manual harpsichords possesses a typical mid-late 18th c. range and is disposed with three ranks of jacks and three choirs of strings, 2 x 8', 1 x 4', with a shove coupler. The various details are listed in the appropriate downloadable offering sheet.

Goermans double-manual harpsichord on cabriole stand
Goermans French Double-manual with cabriole stand



Each instrument on this page is offered painted in a traditional French style, with contrasting interior and exterior colors reconciled by gold leaf bands on case and lid and gilded mouldings. Each is supplied with a simple trestle stand. Apron stands of various appropriate styles are available at additional cost. If desired, the soundboard and wrestplank may be decorated in 17th or 18th century French style.

French double-manual harpsichords (except Taskin) – Offering Sheet

French double-manual harpsichord after Taskin – Offering Sheet


Hemsch double-manual harpsichord, close decorative copy (Sheridan Germann)

Hemsch double-manual harpsichord in original decoration (Sheridan Germann)

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