Fretted Clavichord after Bodechtel

[Fretted clavichord after Bodechtel]

This clavichord was made in 2006 for the late Susan Alexander-Max. At the time she possessed a fine five-octave unfretted clavichord, and wanted to supplement it with a fretted instrument for Bach and the earlier repertoire. It was the first instrument I made to a design based on Johann Jacob Bodechtel’s one surviving clavichord (Nuremberg, c. 1785). The original belonged at the time to Christopher Hogwood (it is now on long-term loan to the Royal Toronto Conservatory of Music). One extra note (BB) was added to the compass, which can if necessary be tuned down to BB♭ or AA.

Susan played this instrument in several public recitals, and in 2010 she used it to record J. C. Bach’s Op. 5 keyboard sonatas for Naxos (CD No. 8.570476). Clips from this recording can be heard on the Naxos website.

The colour for the case exterior was carefully chosen to match the red on Susan’s Chinese cabinet. The inside of the lid was decorated with hand-printed papers, with a pattern of birds and flowers in bronze-gilt on a white background. The printing was done on hand-made paper in my workshop, recreating an eighteenth-century technique; the printing block we used was originally made by Christopher Nobbs, to a pattern found on an anonymous clavichord of similar date.

This clavichord is in superb condition. I have been asked to offer it on behalf of the owners, Susan’s family, and all expressions of interest should come to me in the first instance. For specification, see below.


[Printed papers design]
Detail of the printed papers on the inside of the lid


[The clavichord at home]
The clavichord in a domestic setting


Compass BB–f ³.

Pitch: =430 Hz (slightly below standard modern pitch); alternatively, it can be tuned to = 415 Hz. Fretted in pairs from note e♭ upwards, with Ds and As unfretted – the usual German system.

Temperament: Equal.

Size: 1350 × 390 × 130 mm (4 ft 5 in × 15½ in × 5 in).

Weight: about 18 kg (35 lb), not including stand.

Keyboard: Naturals of ebony; accidentals of pear, capped with bone. The keylevers themselves are made of lime with traditional roof-carving.

Case: pine; the interior plain, exterior painted red.

Soundboard: of European spruce (Picea excelsa) with bridge of walnut.

Strung in brass, the lowest basses having specially made open-wound strings.

The instrument has a tool-box at the left-hand end of the keyboard, and is supplied with tuning key, stringing tool and wedge. Music rests on a removable shelf and is supported by the open lid.

Stand: oak, with turned legs copied from another eighteenth-century clavichord. It can be taken apart for transport.

Price: negotiable, but in the region of £6,000


[Close-up of soundboard]
Detail of soundboard and bridge


[Return to Contents]


Updated November 2017