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Guide to Clavichords

Clavichord : What is it?

Clavichords

A clavichord is a European keyboard made with strings  that use touch-controlled dynamics. Like a guitar and a violin, it requires a unique fingering and striking mechanism to vary the pitches and tones of a note. It is stable, portable, and very easy to maintain. 

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Types of Clavichords

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Kinds of Clavichords include the following:

Fretted clavichord

  • The fretted clavichord is the earliest type of clavichord.
  • It is made with strings that produce several notes when pressed and stroke in different places.
  • It works like other fretted musical instruments such as the guitar and the violin.
  • It has fewer strings to tune.
  • It has a soundboard that requires less tension but produces a louder sound.
  • It cannot play two notes in the same string set at the same time; it can only play the higher note.

Double-fretted clavichord


  • A double-fretted clavichord is designed to play two notes at the same time.
  • It plays note pairs not usually played together such as C with C sharp or F with F sharp.
  • It is a powerful instrument that can play most of Bach’s compositions.
  • It is ideal for playing wide repertoire.

Unfretted clavichord

  • An unfretted clavichords is also known as a bundfrei model.
  • It does not require fingering motions because its strings do not need to be pressed and stroked.
  • It is ideal for playing classical and romantic themes in which the legato style is prominent.
  • It plays notes that already have their own pair of strings. The notes are completely independent of the keys being played.
  • It has more strings to tune.
  • It has a broad and heavy structure that can withstand the additional tension caused by the additional strings

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Choosing Clavichords (Buying tips)

Flexibility: For greater versatility and flexibility, choose a double-manual clavichord, a unit where one clavichord is stacked on top of another. It is cheaper and more convenient than purchasing two separate clavichords.

Strings: Look for a clavichord made with brass wire strings that provide excellent tone, volume, and yielding degree for intonation control.

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