Everything about the Clavichord


What is it?

The Clavichord is a European instrument first mentioned in a poem in 1404.

Here’s how it looks and sounds

Not to be confused with

You may hear about it with other names like Germ, clavicimbalum, clavichordium and klavichord. Pronounced / ˈklæv ɪˌkɔrd /, from the clavis,meaning “key” and called Clavicordio In spanish, Clavicorde in french and Clavicórdio in portuguese. A person that plays it it’s just called a clavichord player.

Category

The Keyboard family which means that it has a row of keys, buttons or levers that make the sound when you press them and from the subcategory chordophones meaning it makes sound with string vibration.

Materials

Different types of wood, anything from hard maple, basswood, beech and yellow poplar with the strings and wires made of high-carbon steel.

Variants

The types are determined by the pitch of a string:

  • Fretted: each string can play different notes depending on the place you play them (like a guitar), but has problems if you want to play two notes at the same time that are on the same string.
  • Double fretted: with more strings and each string being able to play one common note and one uncommon one, it was easier to play more complex songs.
  • Unfretted: having a single pair of strings makes the sound less incisive and brighter.

Prices

For the Double Fretted Clavichord (most common), around $ 3,500 – 5,500 USD, the cheapest we found was a TPW Double Fretted Clavichord Kit after Hubert School  and the most expensive was a TPW Unfretted Clavichord Kit after Gerlach School.

Weights and sizes

The size of [most common variant] goes around 50 x 14 x 4 In – 68 x 22 x 7 In (127 x 36 x 11Cm -173 x 55 x 18Cm) and has a weight from 40 Lbs (18 Kgs) to 66 Lbs (30 Kgs), that’s the size of a refrigerator and the weight of a microwave.

Brands

We checked a lot of brands and rated them based on customer experience. Models and series are confusing?  check this guide. Not picky? you have more options.

In terms of brands you’re not going to find much, the instrument is now only found as a second hand instrument, custom made for you or in very niche stores, as a beginner we recommend going for other similar instruments.

Accessories

Here’s a list of a lot of them, but for this you don’t need much, maybe stopper to avoid scratching the floor, stickers with the key names for beginners (make sure they can be removed no problem once you’re done and a metronome to make sure you’re playing music sheets correctly.

Start playing   

We recommend learning to read sheet music to get the basics. We review resources to help you choose how you want to learn. Now that you know how to read them, you need to get some. 
Sheets come in different notations so we recommend checking various versions of the same sheets, searching for “scores” to get all instruments and even the “song name for clavichord to save on translations.

Don’t forget all the details that combined make a big difference like the way you hold it, efficient warmups, positions and techniques.

Remember,the clavichord is difficult to learn and it will take time if you start from 0. It’s also similar to the clavinet, digital piano and dulcitone, so you can combine those resources to help you learn.

Luis Gerardo

Musician as a hobby for +6 years, documenting every instrument in simple words for this website.

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