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Two-manual harpsichord from Hubbard kit,1970-1971

John S. Allen

In the fall of 1968, I had already come up with the basic idea of the Notebender Keyboard -- longitudinal key motion toward and away from the player. But before I could think of building a prototype Notebender, I needed some experience with keyboard instrument building. I built this two-manual French baroque harpsichord from a kit I bought from Frank Hubbard, of Waltham, Massachusetts. I received much good advice from my former professor at Middlebury College, George Todd, a harpsichordist. It was with George that I made the trip from Middlebury down to Waltham to buy the kit. The soundboard painting was by artist Heddi Siebel, at the time a Middlebury student.

All in all, the harpsichord was quite a success. I even sent a list of comments on construction details to Hubbard which elicited a nice letter in return from him. Still, if I had the job to do again, I would go with a natural wood finish. Painting and wet sanding the case were at least a third of the work. And there is one visible construction mistake in the photo below. Can you see it? It was easily corrected shortly after the photo was taken.


The harpsichord on display and in use, summer of 1971, at The Barn, studio of Philo Records, North Ferrisburg, Vermont.

Two-manual harpsichord built from Hubbard kit, 1970-1971 (23 KB JPEG)

Frank Gohlke photo


In building the harpsichord, I also built my confidence in taking my own initiative and seeing a large project through. When I finished the harpsichord, I left it with Bill Schubart at his Philo Records studio in North Ferrisburg, Vermont. Within a few months, I sold it to the Knopf family of Winchester, Massachusetts. Several years later, they sold it. I do not know where it is now. If you know, I would be interested to find out.

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Contents 1997 John S. Allen

Last revised 30 September 1997