Bowed keyboard- Streichklavier #6: back at it- ready for the keyboard

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Blog entry by JonJ posted 10-07-2009 07:29 PM 7644 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Adding strings Part 6 of Bowed keyboard- Streichklavier series Part 7: at the fall music festival in Ironton MO »

In case anyone was following this project, I haven’t given up…I just had to get away from it for a while. I didn’t get in done in time for the festival in May, but I did take it to show what I had done. I had spent so much time in the shop I was really testing my family’s patience, not to mention all the odd jobs that had piled up. The first order of business was pressure washing and sealing a chapel on my mother’s property that the family built as a memorial to my brother who died in 2001.
After that we sanded all the hardwood in our house and recoated with Varathane. What an ordeal, but I won’t go there now.
After a whole summers worth of this and that, a few weeks ago I figured I better tear into this thing again if I wanted to take it to the fall music festival Oct 17. Not really sure at this point if I have just wasted a lot of time on a fancy parlor decoration that looks like an instrument, but I figure I’ll go ahead and finish it and see what happens. I made a new smaller pulley on the flywheel to increase the speed I can pedal it- thus building more inertia while srill keeping belt speed down. It’s amazing what 1/2 reduction in pulley diameter can do. I also put a new belt on it (nylon ribbon). I rebuilt the guard rollers that keep the belt off the strings, my wife said the first one looked pretty rough. I didn’t really care – it’s hidden, but I made a new one anyway.
streichklavier peg guides
I then made a guide rail that holds little “fingers” that push the belt down on the desired string that you want bowed. At this point I’m making things up as I go. I have made sketches, but it’s hard to tell what’s really going to work until you can manipulate the working parts and see what they will do in reality. A lot of times I have found I spend way to much time figuring out a mechanism, as it turns out easiest way to do it works best. Now I’m to the point of making the keyboard which will directly set on top of the pins which push the belt down. I have a low quality video clip of me pushing the pins in without the keyboard…gives a little preview of how this works, and what it will sound like. The knocking noise is a loose crankshaft on my flywheel-and by the way, I’m NOT a keyboard player:) I have a week and a half before the festival. Maybe THIS time I’ll get it done, but I’m not holding my breath…

-- Jon

3 comments so far

View SteveMI's profile


1170 posts in 4577 days

#1 posted 10-07-2009 09:01 PM

First time seeing your project. You are quite the inventor.

I have been at the “much time figuring out a mechanism, as it turns out easiest way to do it works best” point many times. Some of my things have ended up being a Rube Goldberg prize contender.

Looking forward to seeing and hearing the finished product. (Even if for the 2010 festival.)


View scottishrose's profile


110 posts in 4448 days

#2 posted 10-08-2009 08:15 AM

Is that something like a hurdy gurdy? Is it plucked or bowed? Ya got me hooked.

View Karson's profile


35279 posts in 5683 days

#3 posted 10-09-2009 04:01 AM


Glad to see that you are still active. I hope that your get it finished so you can more on to more and better instruments.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

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