JASPER McCORMACK - Hurdy Gurdy
My 13 year old son “Jasper” was given a hurdy gurdy kit bought in 1979 and never built by the previous owner. The kit needed a lot of adaptation for optimum performance.
The soundboard was very small and the ribs were far too heavy duty. The string length is only 315 mm and the key box was setup for a diatonic scale. There was no trompette bridge and the wheel was minute only allowing for 3 strings. Jasper wanted a chromatic scale with trompette, so we redesigned the keys to fit sharps and flats for just over the first octave. A dog bridge was designed and a low drone capo was setup to extends the range of the instrument. Then Jasper started on the construction. He was inspired to carve the peg head and make the body more ornate (to great effect). He started the construction in April 2008 and finished and started playing it late September 2008 at a Steiner school music camp in Melbourne. We have set up the chanter to g below middle c the trompette to middle c and the low drone to G 2 octaves below middle c. This gives a very mellow balance to the little gurdy. The body measures only 230 mm at its widest, 100 mm deep and 660 mm from tail to head. We thinned down the soundboard to make it more responsive, floated the key box to give the soundboard the best chance of resonance. The small wheel gave the advantage of more space on the soundboard next to the wheel, allowing for more soundboard resonance. We also installed a sound post (which wasn’t part of the plan). All in all the instrument is very good.
Here follows a few photos of the instrument construction.
----Well done Jasper----
The body partially together and wheel set in place. See the heavily built ribs and corner braces. I reckon you would be able to jump on this instrument and not break it.
The mock up of the peg head (in plasticine)
Jasper carving the peg head
The keys assembled
The before and after photo
This is to show the capo mechanism. We wanted to be able to play with a low G or low c drone. The capo had to sit under the soundboard due to lack of space on top of the soundboard and under the keys.
The Rams Head carving finished
Jasper setting up his new instrument
The completed hurdy gurdy and case
The Case is Closed!