Bowed keyboard- Streichklavier #8: A short recording of bowed keyboard

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Blog entry by JonJ posted 10-28-2009 10:30 PM 8430 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: at the fall music festival in Ironton MO Part 8 of Bowed keyboard- Streichklavier series no next part

For those of you that have not seen this yet, a short recap…A harpsichord type instrument that uses a rosined nylon belt driven by a foot treadle to bow the strings when a key is pushed. This is a little video I made while it was working halfway decent. The first little clip is shot with video mode on still camera- the rest is an audio recording with older shots of construction to fill the video void. I plan on adding another keyboard that will pluck strings similar to a harpsichord, but with softer plectrums to sound like a harp. The squeaky noises are little rollers that need oiled. The belt also slipped once if you hear something like a seal barking…

-- Jon

6 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118297 posts in 4867 days

#1 posted 10-29-2009 12:31 AM

Well done Jon looks like a good and interesting build I think GaryK built a very similar instrument.


View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1530 posts in 5415 days

#2 posted 10-29-2009 01:16 AM

Neat! I’m having trouble hearing when the bow stroke changes direction. Is that when on the held notes it seems to get quieter then pause?

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Karson's profile


35279 posts in 5690 days

#3 posted 10-29-2009 02:12 AM

Jon some interesting music. Nice build on the instrument.

-- 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]

View JonJ's profile


163 posts in 5130 days

#4 posted 10-29-2009 04:14 AM

Thanks guys!

A1Jim, I actually pestered Gary quite a bit on details of how he built his harpsichord. Those were some nice instruments he built.

Dan, the pause you hear is probably the splice in the belt- It makes a dead spot for a second. It is actually always running in one direction. I hope to get the splice shorter…I’m refining my splicing process, so the next belt I put on should have less of a lag spot.The belt is a loop that runs around a set of pulleys like the fan belt on a car. It is made from 1/2” nylon ribbon. It is the best material I’ve found for this particular setup, and it’s cheap!

Thanks Karson! hopefully after some more refining and the addition of other features, it will sound a little better.

-- Jon

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1530 posts in 5415 days

#5 posted 11-04-2009 12:09 AM

Jon, thanks for the explanation, that’s why I wasn’t hearing the rest of what I expected to from a bowed sound. Love to see one of these in person some time!

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View léomaurel's profile


1 post in 3857 days

#6 posted 05-16-2011 07:42 PM

I’m a fan of your work. I build instruments with circular bow since 4 years, you can see my work here: but it’s in french…
Sometimes, I think about coming to see your music instruments in US but it’s a little bit far away for me.
So, I have some (in facts so many) questions :
I’m starting working on a project of adapting a continued bow on a bass, for a friend, and I want to test with rosined belt, so did you test with several materials for the belt? leather, natural fiber? Wich kind of nylon do you use and how do you glue it? What do you think of the akio obuchi’s method, to glue horse hairs on the nylon? Is that not to fragile?
You can answer me at this adress : [email protected]
à bientôt.

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