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Virginals

Forte-Pianos

Toronto, Ontario, Canada


SOLD! to the gentleman from Irving, TX -- but you can still listen to the wonderful sound samples of John Farah playing Wm Byrd on it.

Italian polygonal virginal after Pertici (1684) by Matthew Redsell (Toronto) 1980.

Asking $4,000 CAD which is approx $3,850 USD / £1,890 GBP / € 2,790 / $ 41,300 MXN / ¥ 469,000 JPY at time of listing (please check current conversion rates at the Universal Currency Converter*) plus shipping from Toronto ON and applicable taxes & duties. Qualifies as duty-free in the US, Canada and Mexico under NAFTA. Interested? E-mail Claviers Baroques, or Skype us at claviersbaroques Skype Me™! .

Music to go! This charming little Italian pentagonal virginal was built in 1980 by Matthew Redsell from R. K. Lee's plans of the Ioannes de Perticis 1684.

Compass CC/EE to c''', 45 notes but short octave bass gives effective compass of four octaves. Transposing keyboard, A=440 or 415 without loss of any note. Single strung in brass and phosphor bronze. Case in pine with cherry mouldings and trim, cherry keytops and sharps, dust cover of birch and luan ply with pine mouldings finished with cherry stain. Pegged stand in pine.

To go? Oh yes, this little virginal is eminently portable. Weighs 10 kg (23 lbs) with the lid on -- less than a two year old child or two average cats. Max dimensions are 150 cm (59 inches) by 53 cm (21 inches) by 20 cm (8 inches) but the odd shape allows it to fit in most cars, even small ones if you can fold down the passenger seat or if you have one of those back seats that opens into the trunk. If you have a hatchback or small van no problem!

Works very well in an ensemble and since it transposes you can work with either modern or baroque instruments.

This style of instrument was popular starting around 1460 through to the end of the 17th century and there is a wealth of wonderful music written for it. It would be ideal for Elizabethan or Rennaisance re-enactors, Shakespearean players or just anyone who wants a small keyboard instrument that makes a wonderful sound. Hint: Celtic music is a natural on it and it is a beautiful pairing with singers.

Condition -- very, very good. Note from Claviers Baroques -- When we first saw this instrument in May 2007 it had been stored for some time and was not playing well (sticky keys and a few broken strings). The case was dusty and the stand had some mildew damage. Moreover, there was an alarming soundboard crack, but the owner told us he had purchased it that way and that he did not think it affected the sound. We didn't see how that could be, so entreated him to let us fix it first. Repair photos are here. We fixed up the keyboard and revarnished it and reoiled the case. We tuned it and tuned it and played it daily. We can now state without fear of contradiction that it is in first-rate playing condition *and* in very good condition cosmetically. Not 'mint' -- after all, it is nearly three decades old --but sound and well-cared-for. A particular bonus is the historic finishes (linseed oil with some oil varnish on the keyboard) which are renewable forever without stripping. If it is looked after decently there is no reason why it won't be as good as it is today for several decades more, maybe even a century or two. Why not? The original that the plans were taken from is over 300 years old and still around, so far as I know.

Note: the Universal Currency Converter will convert Canadian $ to to whatever currency you like, but be aware that this is a commercial (ie, large volume) mid-market (somewhere between buying and selling) rate. Current actual consumer rate to buy Canadian dollars from a bank of financial institution will be slightly *more* than calculated by the Universal Currency Calculator. But not a lot -- maybe one cent on the dollar, two cents tops. If you would be using a credit card or PayPal transfer, the rates are here. There may also be additional fees or service charges for handling foreign currency.

Sound samples: some selections from My Ladye Nevells Booke of Virginal Music by William Byrd, the player is John Farah. (thank you, John!) More information ahout the music here.

Munsers Almaine (excerpt) p 226.mp3 (524 KB, 33 seconds) Hughe Ashtons Grownde (excerpt) p 202.mp3 (623 KB, 39 seconds)
Lord Willobies Welcome Home (excerpt) p186, .mp3. (688 KB, 43 seconds) The Second Grownde (excerpt), p 166.mp3. (458 KB, 28 seconds)
   

[above] The soundboard is decorated with a pretty spray of wild roses in a lightly painted in a water-based medium, probably egg tempera or gum arabic, with traditional blue scallops around the edges and the bridges.

[right] The jacks are Matthew Redsell's standard pattern for virginals in beech with beech tongues. All are working well.

[below] The monofilament nylon jacksprings are still functioning. If/when they start to fail they can be replaced with new nylon or with spring steel wire. We replaced a few of the paper retainers, the rest are fine, as are the red damper felts.


[below] We replaced a few strings that were broken but left the other original brass and phosphor bronze strings. Thirty years is about the limit for h'chord strings, though, so you may want to consider replacing the remaining ones in the next few years for better tone, although it sounds OK as is. Hitchpin rails are holding tight, as you can see.

[above] Tuning pins are traditional historical-style tapered pins, and a tuning wrench is supplied. A pecularity of these little virginals is that the tuning pins work backwards, that is, turning clockwise flattens the note, and counter-clockwise sharpens it. Not a problem once you get used to it, but if it drives you crazy, they can be turned the other way if/when you have it restrung.

[below] The short (bass) bridge is tight, as are the hitchpin rails.

[above] Bridges appear to be cherry and are bent rather than cut. The long (treble) bridge had come away from the soundboard where it had split. The repair is holding well.

[below] Here is the music desk, sturdy and large enough for (of course) the Fitzwilliam Virginal book -- highly recommended, by the way.



[above] The keyboard is cherry throughout. We refreshed the finish with oil and our favourite treatment for keyboards, Birchwood-Casey gunstock oil. This oil-based varnish give a finish that is not only nice to look at but especially nice under the hands. If you should ever want to spiff up the keys (in another three decades or so), all that is needed is to steel wool lightly and rub on a thin coat of fresh varnish. In Canada you can buy it at gun supply shops, in the US you can get it at any KMart or WalMart. Sigh.

The keyboard transposes without the loss of any note, but transposing does screw up the short-octave bass tuning, if you are using it. It takes maybe five or ten minutes to retune, so it could easily be done during an intermission.



[above] Dust cover keeps out dust, small people's fingers and cats looking for a place to nap. Also reduces the volume so you can play all night without waking the neighbours.

Since the lid lifts off entirely, the sound goes up and out. Good sight-lines, too, whether you are accompanying, playing in an ensemble or conducting/directing from the keyboard. You can face the audience or the other players and still see over it.

[below] The pegged stand will knock down in about a minute for storage or transport. Set up takes a little longer -- maybe two minutes.

[right] Narrow profile fits in a very a small space. A particularly nice feature of these little virginals is the beautiful, delicate cherry mouldings. A colleague of Matthew's told us that he when he could not find any suitable mouldings available commercially, he had special router bits made so he could make exact copies of the original mouldings in the drawings.


SOLD! to the gentleman from Irving, TX -- but you can still listen to the wonderful sound samples of John Farah playing Wm Byrd on it. Asking $4,000 CAD which is approx $3,850 USD / £1,890 GBP / € 2,790 / $ 41,300 MXN / ¥ 469,000 JPY at time of listing (please check current conversion rates at the Universal Currency Converter*) plus shipping from Toronto ON and applicable taxes & duties. Qualifies as duty-free in the US, Canada and Mexico under NAFTA. Interested? E-mail Claviers Baroques, phone us at 1-888-597-0946 or Skype us at claviersbaroques Skype Me™! . [back to used instruments page]

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last updated December 20, 2007