French Spinet

The French spinet, as made by many of the well known later 18th century French makers, might be seen as the smaller cousin of the better known larger harpsichords. Perhaps the contemporary equivalent of today’s upright piano, the spinet makes an excellent domestic instrument, taking up considerably less house-space than a harpsichord.

I have chosen as my model here, the 1753 instrument by Goujon, to be found in the Musée Instrumental in Paris. The sound is surprisingly robust, with a strong, resonant bass allied to a clear middle register and a bright treble, all with a definitive French characteristic markedly different from the sound of the English spinet.

The full 5 octave compass together with its particular tone-quality allows a very large repertoire to be performed. It will also hold its own in accompanying voices and small ensembles, and its single register makes for less maintenance and tuning than a harpsichord.




As with other French instruments, many schemes of decoration can be applied very successfully to this instrument – painting, gilding, decorative borders, lid paintings, or walnut with tulipwood inlays.




Range FF – f3 transposing A415 – 440
Disposition  1 x 8′
Keyboards Ebony naturals with boxwood arcades, bone-topped accidentals

Painted one or two colours, with gold bands, an supported by 4 turned and fluted legs, painted and gilded en suite. Many options for decoration are available, including decorated soundboard, table stand in either Louis XV or XVI style, lid paintings.


Dimensions  Max length and width 71” x 26″ (180 x 66cm)


After Goujon  £8200

Soundboard decoration from £875

Table stand from £1950

Lid painting from £2150

Walnut case from £950

Goujon spinet - D'Anglebert ' Chaconne '

by Gary Cooper