2000s Helmut Gotschy "Phoenix Standard" Hurdy Gurdy

This appears to be a "Phoenix Standard" model hurdy gurdy and it was made by Mr. Helmut Gotschy before his apprentice, Alexandra Betz, took over building from him. It's a one-owner instrument and was bought new in the early 2000s, as I recall. They brought it down here from Burlington about a month or so ago to put it up for resale and every now and then asked me how it was coming-along.

While it's basically near-new save some very minor scuffs to the wheel-cover and key-cover, a replacement tuner, and a teensy ding here or there, it would not make much sound (save squealing pig noises) and I noticed that a good two-thirds of the keys were sticking a bit in use (it's summer, now, and the humidity swelled them enough to stick). I knew that I'd need to spend some time with it so I needed to log some hours to get it going.

Luckily, in the last couple days, I was able to spend a few hours with it and re-fit the keys so they move quickly (time-consuming because they have to be disassembled and shaved down with a file) and added enough powdered rosin to the strings to get some sound out of it. I'm sure it would sound better with maybe some dark rosin (it has powdered light-amber rosin at the moment) and some new felting/wool to wrap the strings, but I was happy to get it sounding mostly like a proper hurdy gurdy for the soundclip. Clearly, playing it is pretty simple -- but I can tell that to play it like a pro, one would need to spend a fair amount of time getting used to holding it comfortably.

So, long story short: this is a lightly-used, good-pedigree, professional-quality hurdy gurdy and it's ready to roll. The owners did supply a giant drum bag to serve as a gigbag, but to be honest I think it's too large to really use for transport and seems more of a liability than a useful bag -- so if you're planning to pick this up to use busking or playing shows, I definitely suggest finding some sort of more-fitted hard case to travel with.

I will include a baggie of powdered rosin -- I applied it with a brush to the wool/felt on the strings.

4:1 geared banjo pegs make tuning easier than the traditional wood pegs.

Here's the top with the wheel uncovered -- the whole instrument is made from nice-quality hard maple save the top, which looks a lot like cedar to me.

The strap buttons are for supporting the two straps that help make this useful for stand-up playing.

I love the handmade crank and knob, too.

I currently have the two "chanter" strings tuned G and an octave G above that. The big drones are tuned D for the high and G for the low. I have the third "trumpet" drone string tuned to a B note, so you get a major G chord with all the drones engaged. Of course, one can tune this however they like. There are a few standard tuning practices which probably sound a little more traditional, but this seemed to be where the instrument liked the tension at.


Unknown said…
A fascinating and visually appealing musical instrument.