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The mid 16th century seems to be about the time when the first Flemish Harpsichords were made. Early German harpsichord making influenced the Flemish to depart from the Italian style which was already a mature tradition at the time and which continued with little alteration through the later centuries.
Flemish harpsichords have thicker and deeper case sides, taller bridges and longer string scalings in general than the Italians.
In particular the Ruckers/Couchet dynasty of Antwerp was the most prolific and influential group of Flemish makers whose harpsichords in turn greatly influenced the design of later instruments of the 18th century in France, England and Germany.
Much like the Stradivarius violins, the beauty of sound of Ruckers harpsichords results largely from the design and careful attention to the tone producing parts like the bridges and soundboards. Ruckers harpsichords were famously known and sought after. These prized harpsichords and virginals were often brought up to date to satisfy the current musical demands and fashions of the time by widening the case, expanding the keyboard range, adding additional registers and keyboards, and redecoration.
"Your harpsichord modelled on the Couchet/Blanchet/Taskin possesses, undoubtedly, the most beautiful and interesting sound among all the harpsichords shown and I was pleased when it evoked spontaneous applause from the audience during the demonstration of various harpsichords. I congratulate you on your superb work"
-Richard Troeger D.Mus