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Because the Ruckers workshop used iron strings for the treble, as a result the scaling (the length of the vibrating part of the string for a given pitch) was longer, (always with the basic two sets of strings; one 8-foot and a 4-foot), with greater string tension, and a heavier case, as well as a very slender and responsive spruce soundboard, the tone was more sustaining than the Italian harpsichords', and was widely emulated by harpsichord builders in most other nations. 1600 were apparently the first to build two-manual harpsichords.
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A major innovation in harpsichord construction took place in Flanders some time around 1580 with the work of Hans Ruckers and his descendants, including Ioannes Couchet.
The Ruckers harpsichord was more solidly constructed than the Italian.
The earliest known image of a harpsichord, from the 1425 altarpiece of the cathedral in Minden, Germany.
The harpsichord is reversed in orientation in the original, not in the photograph. It is possible that the standard harpsichord mechanism, with jacks holding plectra mounted on retractable tongues, may only gradually have won out over alternatives.
Ottavini were also common later on in the early history of the harpsichord.
The earliest complete harpsichords still preserved come from Italy, the oldest specimen being dated to 1521.
A striking aspect of the 18th-century French tradition was its near-obsession with the Ruckers harpsichords.
In a process called grand ravalement, many of the surviving Ruckers instruments were disassembled and reassembled, with new soundboard material and case construction adding extra notes to their range.
Fine instruments continued to be made by Flemish builders in the 18th century, generally along French lines, most notably by the Dulcken family.
Another notable Flemish builder, Albert Delin, however continued making instruments close to the Ruckers tradition well into the latter half of the 18th century French builders were responsible for important further development of the Ruckers-type instrument.
Thus, the player could effortlessly transpose at this interval (e.g., to accommodate a singer) by playing on the second manual.