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A CLAVICYTERIUM is a harpsichord with the soundboard and strings mounted vertically.

A rather rare instrument, but very interesting. You can admire it in the beautiful engraving of Michael Praetorius (Syntagma Musicum).

The main advantage of a clavicyterium is to have the sound source facing the player (similar to what happens in a pipe organ).

The action converts the vertical movement of the keys in the horizontal movement of the jacks. The instrument takes up little space (less than a spinet), obviously you must have a vertical space of over 280 centimeters.




The instrument in the photo is inspired by an original by Albert Delin (Tournai, 1752) regarding the action, while the sounboard is inspired to a Ruckers harpsichord. The decoration of the soundboard is a copy after Andreas Ruckers (Castello Sforzesco, Milan).

All models of harpsichords, both single and double manual, can be built as a “clavicyterium”.

The weight of the keys remains unchanged in comparison with the traditional version, because the return of the jacks is obtained without any springs, using only the weight of the action levers.




  • Original: Albert Delin, Tournai 1752 /Johannes Ruckers, Antwerp 1638
  • Dimensions: cm. 282 (height) x 99 (width) x 61 (depth)
  • Weight: Kg 80
  • Compass: FF-f3 (61 notes)
  • Disposition: one keyboard, 8’8′ , lute
  • Pitch: a = 415 Hz, transposable +/- one semitone (440/392 Hz)
  • Materials: case in lime, soundboard in spruce (from Val di Fiemme), keyboard in spruce covered with boxwood and walnut, registers and bridges in beech, jacks in service
  • Decoration: painted case, with gilded and mouldings, gilded rose on the soundboard
  • Stand with four turned legs



Two colors painting
Key covers with bone or ebony (naturals) and ebony or bone (sharps),
Hand carved Keyfronts in parchment, after Ruckers
Decorated Sounboard
Bench with adjustable height, standard or in style
Transport cover

Listen to this instrument:

PlayF. Couperin, Premiere Prelude
William Horn

PlayF. Couperin, Les Baricades
William Horn

William Horn