Music

UGears launches mechanical hurdy gurdy kit to build and play

UGears launches mechanical hur...
The kit comes as a number of ply boards, with patterned components ready to be pushed out and assembled
The kit comes as a number of ply boards, with patterned components ready to be pushed out and assembled
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The numerous hurdy gurdy kit components snap together without needing glue or special tools
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The numerous hurdy gurdy kit components snap together without needing glue or special tools
The patterns and detailing are pre-cut into the ply components of the hurdy gurdy kit
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The patterns and detailing are pre-cut into the ply components of the hurdy gurdy kit
Once complete, there will be a crank to the bottom that drives the flywheel, six keys to alter pitch and two tuning pegs for the strings in the ornate head at the top
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Once complete, there will be a crank to the bottom that drives the flywheel, six keys to alter pitch and two tuning pegs for the strings in the ornate head at the top
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
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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
Tuning pegs at the head allow for fine tone adjustment
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Tuning pegs at the head allow for fine tone adjustment
UGears says its Hurdy Gurdy build kit should result in a 16th century-styled instrument that will sound as good as it looks
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UGears says its Hurdy Gurdy build kit should result in a 16th century-styled instrument that will sound as good as it looks
Pushing the wooden buttons changes the note of the melody string
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Pushing the wooden buttons changes the note of the melody string
Sound is produced by the edge of a rosined wheel coming into contact with bourdon and melody strings
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Sound is produced by the edge of a rosined wheel coming into contact with bourdon and melody strings
The kit comes as a number of ply boards, with patterned components ready to be pushed out and assembled
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The kit comes as a number of ply boards, with patterned components ready to be pushed out and assembled
The attractive and educational hurdy gurdy kit is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign
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The attractive and educational hurdy gurdy kit is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign

Stringed instruments bowed by a wheel cranked by hand have been around for centuries, and come in many shapes and sizes. Inspired by 16th century instruments, mechanical model maker UGears has created what it's calling the gem of its collection, a self assembly hurdy gurdy kit launched on Kickstarter that should appeal to wooden puzzle fans and musicians alike.

A hurdy gurdy sounds when a spinning rosined wheel comes into contact with strings running from body to neck in a similar fashion to a violinist bows a fiddle. All strings are usually sounded simultaneously, and the pitch of one or more changed by pushing buttons on the "neck" part of the instrument. The whole experience is delightfully mechanical, and in skilled hands can sound amazing.

You don't need to be a master to make music though, and UGears says its hurdy gurdy build kit should result in a 16th century-styled instrument that will sound as good as it looks. The kit comes as a number of ply boards, with patterned components ready to be pushed out and assembled. These are just snapped together in accordance with detailed step-by-step assembly instructions – no need for glue or special tools.

Once complete, there will be a crank to the bottom that drives the flywheel, six keys to alter pitch and two tuning pegs in the ornate head at the top.

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
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

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. And that's about it. UGears will include some tablature with the kit to get newbies off to a flying start.

The attractive and educational hurdy gurdy kit is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. The project has already been funded with more than a month left to run, and pledges start at US$49. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in October.

Have a look at the pitch video below to see if this project strikes a chord with you.

Sources: UGears, Kickstarter

UGEARS Hurdy-Gurdy: unique mechanical musical model

3 comments
sk8dad
Intriguing. A work of art for sure, but is there a large market for obscure 9th century musical instrument aficionados?
Matt Fletcher
A fun project, market is not only musicians but hobbiests: puzzle builders and craftsmen. For $50
Matt Fletcher
for $50 I would buy and build with my daughter. In the video they also show a train, which I think would sell just as well if not better at Christmas time if they can make it a full loop track.