The Drop-Leaf Spinet

This kit is more difficult to build than harpsichord or virginals because none of the corners is rectangular and there is a lot of decorative woodwork on show.

The Bolton drop-leaf spinet meets the need for an easily portable instrument that takes up an absolute minimum of space, thanks to the "drop-leaf" feature. Despite the small size, the spinet has a compass of over 4 octaves (B to D at modern pitch, C to D at baroque pitch) and good tone. Changing from modern to baroque pitch is instantaneous, thus it is highly practical as a continuo instrument either at home or away and it is also suitable for much of the solo repertoire.

The basically triangular shape of the case is relieved by faceted corners and an inset keyboard. Its appearance can be further enhanced by contrasting shades, e.g. of oak embellished with cedar mouldings. The keys are a little narrower than standard, like some French keyboards.

The way the "drop-leaf" feature works can be seen from the pictures. One holds up the front of the spinet with one hand, swings the gate-leg in with the other and then lowers the body of the instrument to the vertical position. The action of swinging the gate leg in brings out a "fourth leg" with a ball foot, on which the nose of the case can be seen resting. There is nothing complicated about the mechanism - just two pairs of hinges. The main hinges are provided with a loose pin so the stand can be separated from the spinet. In this condition it can easily be carried by one person and loaded into an ordinary car.

Hear the Drop Leaf Spinet