Inspired by the art of Celtic and Scandinavian medieval craftsmen, as translated through intelligent 21st century engineering, Ugears is proud to introduce the Hurdy-Gurdy—the world’s first (as far as we know!) mechanical model for self-assembly that is also a musical instrument. This extraordinary mechanical model kit is truly one of the gems of our catalogue. This isn't just a toy, it's a full-fledged musical instrument that you build yourself. The Hurdy-Gurdy has a sound that's perfect for folk melodies or dancing, bringing medieval times into the present day. When you purchase the Hurdy-Gurdy you will experience a unique combination: the fun and challenge of building, the appreciation of outstanding engineering and design, and the joy of music. Feel like a modern-day Stradivari as you show your friends an instrument you created with your own hands, then start practicing so you can play popular tunes on your Hurdy-Gurdy!
About the Hurdy-Gurdy: History
The hurdy-gurdy is a string instrument that produces a sound resembling a bagpipe. The sound is produced by a hand-turned wheel rubbing against the strings, similar to a violin being bowed. The instrument's history begins in Medieval Europe in the 15th century with the organistrum (a portable organ). After some modification it became a common instrument among travelling musicians in England. The hurdy-gurdy experienced a renaissance of popularity in the later 17th-18th centuries among the noble and monied classes, with intricate inlays and decorative carving by craftsmen. Often the hurdy-gurdy mechanism would be built into a guitar or lute body. Some have referred to Hurdy-Gurdy music as "medieval rock ’n’ roll," which we think is pretty cool. At Ugears our tagline is "old-school and oh-so-cool" so how could we resist creating a Ugears version of the hurdy-gurdy?
The Ugears Hurdy-Gurdy
Based on the 15th century organistrum, the Ugears Hurdy-Gurdy is an intricately-detailed, fully-functional mechanical version of this medieval instrument. The finished model looks remarkably akin to the original hurdy-gurdys, with a wonderfully medieval aesthetic. Our wooden 3D model has an attractive and highly detailed body, crafted in the romantic style. The fun starts with the assembly—the excitement of watching your very own musical instrument come to life—then tuning, followed by hours of pleasure as you learn to play an instrument built by your own hands.
Engineering and Design
The design of the Ugears Hurdy-Gurdy is based on medieval prototypes, including body, front and back decks, gears, crank (handle), wheel, neck, tuning pegs or hitch-pins, strings and tangent box, which together form a single beautiful instrument. The Ugears Hurdy-Gurdy’s tuning pegs have a gear reduction mechanism for finer sound tuning of the melody and bourdon strings. This self-assembled mechanical musical model is super easy to play, creating sound as the hand-turned wheel rubs against the melody and bourdon strings.
For a more clear sound you can switch off the bourdon string, using a little lever in the keybox. We also added a gear reduction mechanism into the crank (handle) to increase the wheel's number of rotations. This allowed us to get a smoother and richer sound, while preserving the model's compact size.
The instrument's six keys are spring-loaded with rubber bands and little cranks in the keybox to ensure softer and more convenient play. The Ugears Hurdy-Gurdy also features a special mechanism to adjust the height of both strings (melody and bourdon strings) on the bridge, and a beautiful planetary gear mechanism inside the body.
The length of the melody string and bourdon string is 250 mm from bridge to nut. The length of the strings between the middle of the wheel to the bridge is 30 mm.
Assembling your Hurdy-Gurdy
The Ugears Hurdy-Gurdy comes with everything needed for assembly. All pieces are pre-cut into high-quality plywood boards, and are easily removed for assembly, following the detailed instructions provided. The only non-wooden parts are the two strings that rub against the crank-powered wheel, and the rosin used to wax it (included). Estimated assembly time for the Ugears Hurdy-Gurdy is 4-5 hours (less time for experienced builders). The Hurdy-Gurdy assembles without glue or special tools.
Tuning your Hurdy-Gurdy
The model has a melody string for playing melodies and a bourdon string for the drone. There are six keys corresponding to six notes that can be played by pushing the key while rotating the crank. Fully releasing the keys provides an additional seventh note. The second (bourdon or drone) string is tuned in unison with the melody string or in any melodic interval (fourth, fifth, octave) desired. The construction kit includes pieces of rosin to wax the wheel and improve the sound.
Playing your Hurdy-Gurdy
The Hardy-Gurdy by Ugears is a full-fledged musical instrument. It’s great for playing folk tunes or dance melodies, from Elizabethan to modern. To start the music flowing, the player just needs to crank the handle with one hand to commence a drone sound from the bourdon and melody strings. Pressing the wooden keys with the fingers of the other hand changes the pitch of the melody string. We've even included some sheet music with the kit to get newbies off to a flying start! The instruction manual and a dedicated Hurdy-Gurdy landing page on Ugears website (ugearsmodels.com) includes sheet music (tablatures), tips for assembling, tuning and playing, and even basic musical lessons to get you started playing your Hurdy-Gurdy.
The Ugears Hurdy-Gurdy is an amazing combination of model-building, engineering and musical magic. Anyone from beginner to professional musician will get a kick out of playing an instrument they built themself. Whatever music you like—whether folk or modern— we invite you to experience the thrill of playing it on your new, unique, Hurdy-Gurdy from Ugears.
- Made by hand in Ukraine
- Finished size: 15.7 x 6.5 x 8.7 in
- Recommended age - 14+
- Keep away from children under 3, NOT recommended for children under 14 due to sharp parts.
- Self-Assembly without glue
- Precut boards (gently snap out individual pieces)
- Number of parts: 292
- Level: Medium
- Assembly time: 4-5 hours
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