Two Symphonies
A pair of Symphonies

TThe Symphony is one of the earlier and simpler forms of the hurdy-gurdy. Symphonies can be seen in the 13th century "Cantigas de Santa Maria", in various psalters, and in carvings on the walls of cathedrals. They became less common after the 15th century.

Two medieval gentlemen playing symphonies
Two gentlemen playing Symphonies

The Diabolus symphony is a three-stringed instrument, with a single chanterelle (melody string) and two drones. It has a twelve-note diatonic range, which is ample for most medieval tunes. I have improved the design over many years. It is now a lovely, stable little instrument, not too difficult to tune and play, but quite versatile.

It has a rich, complex tone, which particularly lends itself to contemplative music, although it is quite capable of jollity. It makes an attractive solo instrument, but it is also ideal for accompanying the voice.

I keep the basic design simple, and therefore relatively cheap. If you're after something more decorative, I can add soundhole roses, inlay, chip carving - tell me what you'd like and I'll work out a price. Strap buttons can be added if you want to play it standing up.

It is usually tuned in C - the chanterelle is G, with C and G drones. But it can be tuned in various ways to suit the repertoire you're playing, or to match other instruments. If you want to deviate radically from standard tuning, I can work out modified stringing.

Sound Clips

Two medieval songs - "Edi beo thu, heven-quene" and "Gabriel fram heven-king"

(People with perfect pitch will notice that this symphony is tuned in modern D, not C)


Medieval Symphony
Inlay, carving, stain, paint - please enquire.

To order or enquire, pleasecontact me


Cases - Excellent cases can be ordered from specialist manufacturers such as Kingham MTM, but they're pricy. I can supply an attractive, custom-built plywood case, black with chrome fittings, for £220 when ordered with an instrument.

Delivery - the price depends on where you live. Please enquire.

I hate it when websites say "Phone for a quote", so to give you some idea - getting a baroque guitar in its case to America, including insurance, is currently about £170. Getting one to Kent is about half that.

Waiting time, from placing an order to clutching your new baby, is currently about 16 months. It's very approximate, because the schedule often contains items that are somewhat experimental, and they may take more or less time to complete than anticipated. Usually more.

Deposit- I usually ask for £150 (non-returnable unless I'm dead, insane, incapacitated or incarcerated) to secure an order and cover materials. Once that's paid, your order is entered into my Magic Book. Nothing happens for several months, then you receive an email to tell you I've started construction. A few weeks later, a big parcel arrives, and you squeal with delight.

Anote on HUMIDITY - delicate wooden instruments are remarkably resilient, but they can have major problems with both high and low atmospheric humidity levels. I keep my workshop at the recommended humidity level, between 45% and 50%, and I strongly recommend that instruments are kept as close to that range as possible. Electronic humidity meters are available cheaply on the Internet. They're small enough to keep in your instrument's case.
Low humidity can shrink wood, resulting in cracks and distortion. Case humidifiers, again available quite cheaply, should prevent this.
High humidity can swell the wood enough to cause cracking and warping, but the main risk is the formation of water droplets, either from condensation or perspiration while playing. These can damage varnish and slowly dissolve glue joints. A silica gel sachet can be kept in the case, but use a humidity meter as well. Take care it doesn't reduce the case humidity too far.