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The Hurdy Gurdy
2/6/2008 (updated 1/18/2011)

I bought my hurdy gurdy as a kit from the Early Music Shop in the UK, in the 80s. At the time, it only cost 120 Pounds, I'm sure it's gone up since then. The key box was preformed, and the wheel was cut, but everything else needed some, or a lot of, work. The Early Music Shop rated it as 'difficult' (but not as hard as a harpsichord). It took me well over a year to make it, because I would get frustrated, curse the poor diagrams, and throw it in a drawer for months at a time. Danny Ferrington seriously baled me out on several occasions, sprayed on the lacquer, and cut out the little cutesy moons and stars. I would say, it's not as easy to play as a dulcimer, and far, far harder to keep running. It's crucial that the wheel is revolving accurately, and rosin is required to keep the strings biting properly... If it is possible, geared tuning pegs will save huge amounts of frustration. To play a basic drone and a simple tune (about my level) is not too hard, but to play like Nigel Eaton will take great application and dedication. If you admit defeat, and just hang it on the wall of your living room, it's a fine conversation-piece. - RT