Various acoustical features of the fretted clavichord, in some ways the simplest of keyboard instruments, are investigated experimentally and theoretically. The unusual excitation mechanism, in which a metal blade strikes the string and holds it deflected, yields an excitation force spectrum level with a smooth slope of 6 dB/oct, though the radiated spectrum depends greatly on the properties of the soundboard. Energy loss from the paired strings occurs primarily through the bridge to the soundboard, interaction between the strings giving a two‐stage decay as described by Weinreich [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 62, 1474–1484(1977)]. The uncomplicated soundboard configuration allows its measured response from 50 to 1000 Hz to be well accounted for theoretically. In this important range, a series of couplings between normal modes of the soundboard and of the enclosed air cavity considerably modifies the system response. The sound pressure level and sound decay time to inaudibility across the compass of the instrument are consistent with the string and soundboard behavior.

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