Robert Hicks Harpsichords


Carlo  Grimaldi, 1703

Information on the instruments I build


Maintenance-general principles and specific techniques
Completed  Instruments

Taskin 1769

FF-f3; 2x8',1x4', buff; at A=415 but transposable to 440 or 392. 92" long.

A strong concert-stage instrument with a richly-colored sound, reedy without being thin.

My French doubles are known for their largesse of sound and the strength of their basses.

The Taskin usually has a Swiss pine soundboard, and has walnut bridges and nuts, and a basswood case.




Stehlin 1760

FF-f3; 2x8', 1x4', buff; at A=415 but transposable to 440 or 392, retaining f3 at 440. 92" long.

A design with deep plucking points and large soundboard area, sweeter than the Taskin and just as full-sounding.

Basswood case, walnut bridges and nuts, usually a Sitka spruce soundboard.


The eighteenth-century French double is the most orchestral of the many types of harpsichords. That is the new direction music had been moving in - away from the voice as the ideal sound.  The French double has more soundboard area, more mass to be put into motion, than other harpsichord designs, and the Stehlin has a wider waist, a longer tail, and thus a greater 8' soundboard area than any other French double.  The result is more sound for the player to work with.  Clarity of line is put aside in favor of fluid shaping of sound. Of the two styles of French double that I offer, one is more tradition-minded and the other perhaps an extreme of the avant-garde. The Taskin design has a comparatively limited soundboard area, and comparatively more 4', with relatively shallow plucking points, making it closer to the Flemish-derived Blanchet designs of Pascal Taskin's background. The Stehlin soundboard has a large 8' area which reduces the 4', and the stringband is set forward in the case, giving deep plucking points, and, with the bridge farther from the bentside, long after-lengths to the strings (long enough to sympathetically vibrate).

In a sense, the Stehlin is a diapason instrument, and the Taskin is a mixture instrument.


Flemish double

GG-d3; 2x8', 1x4', buff; at A=415 but transposable to 440 or 392, retaining d3 in the 400 position. 88" long.

Not after any original in particular, but the result of my knowledge of ravalement instruments. A smaller, dryer instrument than the French: clearer speaking, with a simple strength.

Basswood case, pear bridges and nuts, usually a Swiss pine soundboard.




Joze (Jose) Calisto 1780, Portugal

GG-g3; 2x8' in brass, buff on the front 8'; at A=415 but transposable to 440 or 392. FF, is also possible. 104" long.

Despite looking like a large Italian this is not a dry isntrument: it has enough after-ring for the French music and to fill out the two-part writing of Scarlatti, while having the clarity of attack to handle Bach's counterpoint, and a differentiation between a dark bass and a bright treble to create shading in Frescobaldi or turn Scarlatti's repeated phrases into statements and replies.

Englemann spruce case, walnut bridge and nut, Swiss pine or cedar soundboard.



Carlo Grimaldi, 1703, Italian

This is a lightweight, inner-case style Italian, with maple  case walls for sturdiness and for contrast with the shadow lines of  the moldings. This design has a sweet, singing treble, and a clear-speaking  s.a.t.b.

 GG-c3 as on the original, or to d3; chromatic bass.  2x8',  strung in brass.  Maple case and moldings, with maple or cedar  soundboard, and walnut bridge and trim.  At 415 but transposable to  392 or 440, retaining the same range.  Length, 89", give or take.





completed  instruments

building a taskin

Robert Hicks Harpsichords
314 Hall Road, Lincoln, Vermont. 05443
802 453 3996... robert@hicksharpsichords.com