Christian Gottlob Hubert
fretted, a' 415 Hz
Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg, MIR 1058
Gregor Bergmann 2012, 2013 & 2013
Does it have to be unfretted?
'It has to be unfretted; that is: every key must have its own strings (choir), so that e.g. not c and cs or cs and ds are generated by the same strings. One can never tune an unfretted clavichord acceptably pure. When playing two notes on the same choir of strings, only the higher note is audible. Certain passages can not be rendered at all, or only mutilated and so' (Daniel Gottlob Türk „Clavierschule…“, 1789)
Christian Gottlob Hubert was a distinguished maker in his time. Of particular value to us is the fact that 18 of his instruments still can be seen and studied, some even played. The same is true for the the 25 surviving signed clavichords by the Hamburg makers Hieronymus and Johann Hass and Per Lindholm in Stockholm, at least 17.
By comparing these instruments we can gain a much better understanding of period instrument making. Hubert is intersting in many respects but it is surprising that he built fretted clavichords throughout his whole career. While his instruments cover a period of 33 years (1756-1789), preserved are only three unfretted instruments (1771, 1772, 1775). He was still building them when Türk published his book cited above. Maybe Hubert was more satisfied with the musical and technical results of fretted clavichords as they do have advantages over their big brothers. The string load is much less, the overall size more compact, the keys can be shorter, etc. This results in instruments that have an excellent touch and tone. And, of course, for amateurs an instrument that comes with the temperament all set is easier and faster taken care of. This may have been important to some of Hubert’s clients and it would still make a great companion these days.