Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Albarda 1973 pedalboard -- lwith bench in place , lid upRare Albarda Pedal harpsichord 1973 (used)

Jan Albarda, author of Wood, Wire and Quill. An Introduction to the Harpsichord. (Toronto: Coach House Press, 1968) was one of Canada's pioneer harpsichord builders back in the 1960's and 70's. An architect by training and profession, he began, as many builders of the time did, by building a Zuckermann Z-box kit. He built several instruments of that design and through research and experimentation expanded his knowledge until by the end of his career he was building instruments based more closely on historical models and principals.Albarda 1973 pedalboard -- looking at pedals , lid upThis pedal harpsichord, so far as we know the only one he ever built, was originally made to accomodate a Z-box or similar design but was later adapted to be used with a small Wittmayer. (Update! a reader in western Manitoba reports seeing a double-manual Albarda harpsichord in rosewood with a matching pedal harpsichord. We stand corrected! Anyone else know of any other such insturments?) The lid and visible case parts are a light mahogany. The instrument is in two sections, the pedalboard and the harpsichord. It sits on the floor and a regular harpsichord is put on top of it (not shown), and the player plays it with his feet, like the pedalboard of an organ. Some of you may recall the Bach trio sonatas that famous organist E. Power Biggs recorded in 1966 using a pedal harpsichord made by John Challis. He also recorded some Scott Joplin tunes, too; both are currently available on CD from Sony. I have heard that Dr. Biggs had his pedal harpsichord made so that he could keep in practice while at his cottage -- good idea!

Disposition is 8 and 16', each may buffed separately or together. The compass is 32 notes, CC to g, as is usual on organ pedal-boards. The all-wood pedalboard and matching bench may have originally belonged to a small organ.

Asking: $5,000 CAD / $3,300 USD plus shipping and applicable taxes & duties. This instrument was donated to a Toronto high school, along with the Wittmayer harpsichord it was paired with. The school has no use for the pedal harpsichord portion (no organ students!) and would like to use the proceeds to refurbish the Wittmayer and to help with instrument maintenance. Why do they need the money? Check out this article about the current state of music departments in the Toronto schools. If interested, or for more information e-mail Claviers Baroques or give us a call. Note: qualifies under NAFTA.

Under the hood:

[left] Foot-operated rockers engage the registers and the buff stops.

[right] Four or five of the connecting levers have been broken off in the harpsichord section of the instrument. The breaks are at the balance pins. It would not be difficult to make replacement key levers.

Albarda 1973 pedalboard -- looking at pedals , lid up

[left] The spruce soundboard shows several old cracks which have been expertly repaired, probably decades ago. There is no sign of new cracks. The 16' foot strings are only slightly longer than the 8' strings.

[right] The square mortices which hold the harpsichord's legs have been enlarged to accomodate the Wittmayer, which has a slightly narrower stance than the Z-box it was originally designed for.

[left] The case was designed for a Z-box or similar, but could easily be adapted to any harpsichord, including a substantially larger one, by moving the leg mortices, by addition of a stand, or by moving the legs of your harpsichord.

[right] The all-wood pedalboard [above] and matching mahogany bench [below] may have originally belonged to a small organ.

{left] The old-style black Hubbard jacks have been fitted with new-style Delrin tongues and Delrin plectra. [right] All are in good condition.

[back to used instruments page]


The Paris Workshop Kits

Harpsichord expert

What's up

Mugs & more

Contact Us!

Friends & Links

© 2004-2011 Claviers Baroques