Christopher Brodersen's Website
Maker of Historical Keyboard Instruments
Welcome to my website. I have been an independent builder of historical keyboard instruments since 1978. Prior to establishing my workshop in that year, I was apprenticed to the organ builder Klaus Becker, Kupfermühle, Germany, and worked
for a time as Praktikant in the harpsichord shop of Martin Sassmann, Hückeswagen, Germany.
In May of 1983, in the middle of the Reagan Recession and with no orders in sight, I decided to take advantage of an offer from a local exhibit house and return to the engineering/architectural field. There I stayed for the next 27 years, eventually rising to department head at two different companies. You can see an example of the type of project I worked on here.
When my last job in the exhibit business abruptly came to an end in January 2009, I made the brave decision to go back into instrument building. In April of 2010, I fulfilled a lifelong ambition of building a 758 sq. ft. (70.4 m2) stand-alone workshop dedicated to the production of keyboard instruments. The workshop includes a so-called go-deck (German: „der Himmel“)
and all the essential hand and power tools to facilitate production. Included in the latter are a wood-turning lathe and a vacuum press for veneer laminating. Click on this link to see some pictures.
My instruments are custom-made to order, one at a time. I adhere to the highest historical standards, using only the finest materials such as seasoned alpine (European) spruce for soundboards, air-dried pearwood for jacks, poplar, beech and oak for casework. Typical keyboard coverings include ebony and cowbone, either in the style of French harpsichords (black naturals and white sharps), or the reverse.
My instruments are strung in iron, yellow and red brass, using gauges derived from the formulae in the Rose/Law book "A Handbook of Historical Stringing Practice". For the iron portion of the string band, I am now using the so-called "p-wire", or Nürnberg wire, supplied by Stephen Birkett of Wellington, Ontario. This wire is manufactered using 18th-century techniques and is quite different in composition from modern wire. P-wire has been shown to produce a richer, much more pleasing tonal pallette than the modern steel wire that heretofore has been the norm in historical keyboards.
Decorative schemes range from the simple to the highly ornate, depending on the historical model and the wishes of the customer. Materials and decorative techniques employed include gilding with 23 karat gold leaf, floral soundboard painting in tempera, faux marble, French polish, and soundboard rosettes and key fronts carved from multiple layers of parchment.
You are invited to click on the links below to see some of the models that I have built in the past. I have purposely kept the number of available models to a minimum in order to better concentrate on the musical qualities of each instrument.
In addition to my instrument building, you can read about my other activites, musical and otherwise, by clicking on this link.
I invite you to check out the article about me that appeared in the September 2013 issue of Hour magazine. I was disappointed in the pictures that they chose to include, but hey--it was free advertising!
Thanks for visiting!
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