I offer a regular maintenance service for harpsichords, virginals and spinets, in the home of the musician.
I can also offer theoretical and practical advice on tuning an instrument.
Ideally, the harpsichordist tunes his own instrument, and knows how to carry out first aid : to replace a broken string, adjust a plectrum too hard or too soft etc.
However it is recommended to have an instrument regularly checked out by a professional, about once a year. This way, the harpsichord remains in good working order, minor adjustments are quickly carried out and problems do not accumulate.
Generally, for a well-maintained instrument, 3 to 6 hours of care (depending on the size of the instrument) are sufficient to remedy small ailments : to regulate the voicing of plectra, replace a few plectra or bristles as necessary, check the movement and position of the registers, adjust the plucking order of the jacks, tweak the dampers, perform reliability checks.
A new harpsichord owner may need some advice on maintenance, or learn how to tune it. I encourage harpsichordists to ask questions, observe how plectra are cut and voiced, listen to the temperament etc. in order to understand the whys and hows of voicing.
Love your harpsichord !
It will reward you by staying in tune, by keeping the subtlety of its voicing and the reliability of its action.
- Keep your harpsichord in a stable environment. A relative humidity between 50% an 60% is ideal. Avoid a relative humidity below 40% or above 70% (unless you live in particular climatic conditions and those have been taken into account during the construction of your harpsichord). Click here for an interesting article (in French) on hygrometry and musical instruments.
- Keep your harpsichord in a room that stays relatively cool in the summer. Do not overheat in winter: 16°C to 18°C is perfect. Avoid any brutal change.
- Pamper your harpsichord : offer it a humidifier, or a dehumidifier, depending on the climate. Or both ! In any case, keep an eye on the relative humidity with a reliable and well-calibrated hygrometer, for instance a good hair hygrometer.
- Show your harpsichord that you love it : play it a lot ! You'll be rewarded again since it is the best way to keep it on top form.