Electro-acoustic Hurdy Gurdy.

My instruments are  routinely fitted with internal piezo sensors but control of the final sound is usually still the domain of the soundman. This can result in some interesting experiences such as the soundman trying his best to eradicate the annoying buzz he kept hearing ! That apart, the ability to personalise the tone of the instrument during performance  can add much interest.

I have designed this instrument around the "Artec triphonic" active unit which was designed for guitar but fills every requirement for the hurdy-gurdy.

Essentially, the unit comprises two mixable piezo inputs with three band eq and an interior microphone with brightness control which can be added to the mix for greater acoustic accuracy. There are then master volume and phase reversal controls. 

The unit has a standard jack output and an xlr socket which can provide phantom power as an alternative to the battery. Both outputs can be used together - typically one through effects and one clean signal.

 In order to make the controls easy to get at and also to avoid compromising the soundboard, I have built the unit into the headstock. This meant that the machine heads needed to be fitted to the sides. Standard banjo tuners are used for the chanterelles and the other strings are tuned using banjo fifth string tuners.

 The slider functions from the top of the photo are :

Bass, middle, treble eq,

 Chanterelle/bourdon + trompette mix. 

 Microphone brightness, Microphone mix.

To improve comfort when playing whilst standing, the body has a strongly arched back ( the same curve as the soundboard ). An added bonus of this shape is that the overall height of the instrument is less than one inch greater than the full size 7" wheel. This puts it comfortably within  flight locker capacity.
 In operation, the sound has 4 sources. Each bridge has a piezo transducer under the soundboard and then there is the electret microphone suspended in the body. The signals from the 2 sensors under the drone bridges are passively  mixed using the control knob on the keybox side. This allows relative volume of trompette and bourdons to be balanced. This mix and the signal from the chanterelle bridge are the inputs to the unit. They can now be actively mixed and  have 3 band eq added.           The microphone is a separate input and can be mixed separately. A brightness control is fitted on this circuit.                    
An alternative system uses a basic two band eq and volume unit operating from a single transducer.            The upper slider is the volume control. The two lower sliders actively affect the tone to alter the apparent volume of  drones and trompette.                            While lacking the sophistication of the multi sensor system, this unit is very simple to use and delivers a great sound. It also allows the traditional tuning peg layout to be used and can be retro fitted to any of my full sized lutebacks.

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