FAQ

Does it take a long time to learn to play the hurdy-gurdy? Even if one has no ear for music?

If you don’t have „an ear“ for music, it will be much harder. But in any case I would still say, that the Gurdy is a good starter instrument. In my case it took me 2 weeks to learn all the basics on the Gurdy, but I used to play piano for more than a decade before, which definitely helped.

Where can one obtain a good quality instrument?

If you live in Europe, you will have a much easier time testing and buying instruments thanks to all the folk festivals. For several reasons the American market has not developed properly yet and it’s definitely a market gap. For second hand instruments and more information I can recommend the facebook group "hurdy gurdy player".

How much should one expect to spend on an instrument?

I can recommend saving up about 1000€ - 2000€ for a satisfying instrument on which you can learn well. However there are some options how to get a cheaper one, if you’re interested, join the Facebook group hurdy gurdy player or send an email to my friend Johannes Just. You can type the email from the little image, say hi from me!

What manufacturers or brands are suitable for a beginner?

Most luthiers make several models. Usually you have a beginner model, an advanced model and a pro model. Some also sell special instruments for travel, traditional playing or electric ones.

Which luthiers do you like most?

I have tested a lot of different hurdy-gurdies. However I made a list with the names of the luthiers you can never go wrong with. Please note that this list is by far not complete and I also don't get paid to list them here. These are just some "big" names that came to my mind. All those luthiers are completely different though and they are really hard to compare to each other. Always remember: there is not "one way" to build a gurdy, everybody builds it differently.

Walter Simons (Germany)
Helmut Gotschy / Alexandra Betz (Germany)
Sebastian Hilsmann (Germany)
Wolfgang Weichselbaumer (Austria)
Jaime Rebollo (Spain)

Is there such a thing as a "cheap" hurdy gurdy, for that anyone who's curious about learning and having a go of the instrument, but not sure about committing to it?

This is tricky. Please do not forget, that you can rent an instrument too! Monthly fees of 20 - 50 € are normal, depending on the quality of the instrument.

Also an important note to make is, that if you buy an instrument, it doesn’t really lose his value! And you will always be able to sell it rather quickly.

For more information, please ask my friend Johannes Just:

Where can I find sheet music?

I personally never liked learning with sheet music, so I am not a good example. I know, that on many workshops you usually get sheet music and of course some artists sell their sheets as well. Festivals like the french "Le son continu" are perfect for buying lots of old and new hurdy-gurdy music books!

How hard is it to change strings on the hurdy gurdy, and how often?

It depends on the luthier and the age of your gurdy. Generally speaking it is very similar to changing the strings on a violin or a guitar and you don’t have to do it often at all. I know people that have been playing on their strings for years and they still sound great.

Are there online tutorials that you can recommend?

There are plenty of free tutorials on YouTube, even I uploaded some! You can find them on my YouTube channel in the playlist "Tutorials".
So far I haven’t seen any proper online courses though, that I could recommend. If you created one that I should test, send an email!

How does playing the hurdy gurdy compare to playing other instruments? (How is it comparable to other instrumens?)

I would say it is a combination of piano and violin. I have made the experience, that people that played the piano, violin, cello, drums or guitar before, learn the Gurdy really quickly.

Can you recommend the self-assembly Gurdy by the compay with gear in its name as a beginner instrument?

NO! It’s a toy and not a functional instrument. They used music in their advertisement that is played on a high-end Gurdy to give people the impression that this is the sound you can get out of it - this is a lie!!! It’s really hard to get any nice sound out of it, I've tested it.
I do not recommend buying their products, not only because these are not proper beginner-instruments you can learn on, but also because this is not an ethical behaviour and I cannot support that. Sorry!