A wonderful Shudi


In the entry for the instrument in Boalch-Mould Online, you can see pictures and a drawing of the unique, internalised, machine stop mechanism.

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I think Shudi’s are great. I think the reason they are not popular to copy today is that the veneering is a very big and hard job, and the machinery and mechanism is complex and hard. These are from the period when English precision watchmaking was at the peak of its blossoming, and people were becoming very good at complex mechanisms. Even the hinges on a Shudi are magnificent.


What wonderful playing! Articulate, beautiful melodic shaping, temperate enjoyment with lots of little surprises but not self-indulgent.


Miles was too modest to mention that he restored this harpsichord and made the drawing of the machine. These late English instruments are marvellous and have too few advocates. On the doubles with the lute stop there are 15 different tone colours available (2 kinds of buff for instance) and the swell and machine make them even more versatile. And they are better suited to a modern concert hall than almost any other kind of harpsichord. But they are complicated - the set-up of the lute and 4 foot is tricky. The machine - which is a very valuable resource - requires a 19th century level of precision to be achieved with 18th century methods, and it is awkward to incorporate with transposing keyboards. And hardly anyone has seen a working example to copy.

Veneering can be learnt and is not very much more difficult than the kind of high quality paintwork we see on other contemporary instruments.

There are a lot of reasons for the neglect of these instruments - I have a paper about them in gestation - from unfamiliarity to wobbly stands, but they can all be overcome. Well set up, with real quill, they can do anything and are especially good, in my opinion, for the late French repertoire.

Huw Saunders


It was kind of Huw to mention my work on the Shudi but I did work on it together with Chris Nobbs. The photographs are mine but I can’t take credit for the drawing. That was nicely hand drawn by Chris. It was 2003, one year before I got my 3D modelling software. We had that x-ray taken to check on the cheek to bentside joint.



@Miles Still, great work. Wonderful.

Must have been a big job to move the Shudi to an X-ray facility in a hospital!

Maybe they did it in a hospital for animals where they are used to handle large objects?

The instrument was stored with other furniture at either Hampton Court or Windsor, at the time. I forget which. I remember they had to evacuate the staff from the office below when everything was set up to take the x-rays! Here is the picture that I took.

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