About the Hurdy-Gurdy: History
The hurdy-gurdy is a string instrument that produces a sound resembling one of a bagpipe by a hand-turned wheel rubbing against the strings working similarly to a violin and a fiddle bow. The history of this instrument begins in the 15th century. One of the earliest forms of the hurdy-gurdy was the organistrum (a portable organ) in Medieval Europe. After some modifications it became a common instrument among travelling musicians in England and went through its renaissance period in the later 17th-18th centuries as more of the noble class musical instrument for the amusement of the rich. Those instruments were decorated by craftsmen with inlays and carving and had the built-in hurdy-gurdy mechanism into the guitar or lute body. Some call the Hurdy-Gurdy music "a medieval rock’n’roll", which we find pretty cool. It captured us and we decided to create the Ugears' version of the Hurdy-Gurdy.
Based on the 15th Century organistrum, Ugears has created an intricately detailed, fully functional mechanical version of this medieval instrument. The finished model looks remarkably akin to the original 16th century hurdy gurdy, giving it a wonderfully medieval aesthetic. This wooden attractive and educational model has a highly detailed exquisite décor of the body crafted in romantic style and turns the assembly and playing process into an exciting game and brings you hours of pleasure and fun.
The design of the Ugears Hurdy-Gurdy is based on the original prototype, therefore it includes the body, front and back decks, gears, crank (handle), wheel, neck, tuning pegs or hitch-pins, strings and tangent box that altogether form a single beautiful instrument. This self-assembled mechanical musical model is super easy to play, creating sound as the hand-turned wheel rubs against the melody and bourdon strings.
The Ugears Hurdy-Gurdy’s tuning pegs have a gear reduction mechanism for finer sound tuning of the melody and bourdon strings. For a more clear sound you can switch off the bourdon string using a little lever in the keybox. Also we added the gear reduction mechanism into the crank (handle) to increase the number of wheel’s rotations. This allowed us to get a smoother and richer sound and preserve the compact size of the model itself.
6 keys are spring-loaded with rubber bands and little cranks in the keybox to ensure softer and more convenient play. Also the Ugears Hurdy-Gurdy has a special mechanism to adjust the height of both strings (melody and bourdon string) on the bridge and the beautiful planetary gears mechanism inside the body.
The length of the melody and the bourdon string is 250 mm (from bridge to the nut). The length of the strings between the middle of the wheel to the bridge is 30 mm.
The Ugears Hurdy-Gurdy comes with everything needed for assembly. All the pieces are precut into the plywood boards and are easily removed for assembly following the detailed instructions provided. The only non-wood parts, by necessity, are the two strings that rub against the crank powered wheel and the rosin used to wax it. Estimated assembly time of the Ugears Hurdy-Gurdy is 4-5 hours for beginners and less time for professional builders. Assembles without glue or special tools and without toothpicks.
The model has a melody string for playing melodies and a bourdon string for a background sound. 6 keys correspond to 6 notes that are played by pushing the key while rotating the crank. The released keys provide one more, seventh, note. The second (bourdon) string is tuned by tuning the peg in unison to the melody string or in any melodic interval (quart, quint, octave). The construction kit includes pieces of rosin to wax the wheel and improve the sound.
The Hardy-Gurdy by Ugears is a full-fledged musical instrument. It’s easy to play dancing melodies, from folk to modern. To start the music flowing, the player just need to crank the handle with one hand to kick off a drone sound from the bourdon and melody strings. Pushing the wooden buttons with the fingers of the other hand changes the pitch of the melody string, as "spring-loaded" wooden blocks essentially shorten the string. Ugears will include some tablature with the kit to get newbies off to a flying start. The instruction manual and a dedicated Hurdy-Gurdy landing page on Ugears website ugearsmodels.com will also include sheet music (tablatures), tips for assembling, tuning and playing Hurdy-Gurdy and musical lessons of playing Hurdy-Gurdy.
The Ugears Hurdy-Gurdy brings the unforgettable time of working together on things that are popular among people of any age. Just put it together and you are ready to throw an original party giving a new spur to whatever music you like – whether it is folk or modern – playing your new unique Hurdy-Gurdy solo, duet, trio or quartet.