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An Ingenious Epinette

An Ingenious Epinette

by John Bromka

Originally published in American Lutherie #31, 1992 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Three, 2004

While attending a festival of bourdon (drone) instruments in Lissberg, Germany in May of 1991, I saw and heard this ingenious épinette des Vosges, made by Gilles Pequinot, a native of the Vosges region of France. He was interested in hearing about the GAL and very happy to share his design with fellow luthiers through American Lutherie.

The traditional soundbox for the épinette is found on this example in the slender, tapered, rectangular box that constitutes the middle portion or upper deck. Gilles has added a fancier and much bigger secondary soundbox underneath the ancestral original soundbox, as seems to be the custom now for the new breed of more cosmopolitan épinette players. It’s rather like what we Americans are doing with hollowed fingerboards on mountain dulcimers, only more so. As you might imagine, the sound of this épinette is hereby amplified to a rich, silvery ringing presence. And it even held its own while Gille’s wife led us through a workshop of dancing bourrées.

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