Best cheap hurdy-gurdies for beginners on a budget

The most common question we hear is “How do I get started on the hurdy-gurdy when I’m on a budget?”

The first answer is to check out our complete FAQ, and also our list of hurdy-gurdies to avoid to steer clear of those! The second answer is to read the below article on quality, cheap hurdy-gurdies that fit your budget!

All instruments on this list are simple, no more than 6 strings, and have a 2 octave melody range. They are all under $2000 USD, and they all have recommendations from expert hurdy-gurdy players in the community. Keep in mind that prices, accessories, and waitlists change – and you will need to email the makers to get specifics! If you notice any inaccuracies email me at Max.Enloe@gurdyworld.com

On the list you’ll notice numbers similar to “1/2/1” or “2/2/2” – this refers to the amount of strings on the instrument.

  • The first number is the amount of trompettes – alto drones, if there are more than 1 trompette, only 1 will have a chien, unless specified otherwise. The other will act as a normal drone (aka mouche).
  • The second number is the amount of melody strings – the strings that play the melody via keys
  • The third number is the amount of drones – low, tenor drones that create a bass sound on the instrument.

So if an instrument is a 1/2/1 – it will have 1 trompette, 2 melody strings, and 1 drone.

If you are looking for instruments on a larger budget – check out the makers list as well ask around in communities!

Nerdy Gurdy

The Nerdy Gurdy is by far the cheapest way to get a beginner instrument. The instruments are mostly laser-cut plywood and 3d printed parts, and are sold as kit and pre-built instruments. You can also print your own if you own the machinery. Click the button below for a complete overview as well as information on where to buy.

Price: $350 to $820 USD

Waitlist: No waitlist, but they sell out fast monthly

Country: The Netherlands

Woods: Plywood

Strings: 1/1/1, 1/2/1, 2/2/2

Accessories: 1/1/1 and 1/2/1 models come with capos

Symphonia by Robert Mandel

The Symphonia model by Robert Mandel is based on the historical symphonia shape, while being a fully featured hurdy-gurdy. It is a simple, plywood instrument with no capos or extra features. Great for a starter instrument. You can read a review by Sergio González for more information and opinions.

Price: ~$800 USD

Waitlist: Less than 1 year

Country: Hungary

Woods: Plywood

Strings: 1/1/1

Accessories: None

Trigo by MM instruments

Another plywood instrument on the list, the Trigo is built by a team, so they are able to produce instruments quickly for a short wait list. The melody string is a G4, higher pitched than the Aplo. The Trigo is a bit of a non-standard tuning, having the trompette in G – but still a quality starter instrument for beginners. This is a new release by MM instruments as of 2024.

Price: ~$1100 USD

Waitlist: Less than 1 year

Country: Poland

Woods: Plywood

Strings: 1/1/1

Accessories: No available extras

Catnip-b by Radosław Malisz

The Catnip-b by Radosław Malisz (KNYS instruments) is an option for a plywood instrument with a full standard setup of strings (2/2/2). The chanterelles come in both G and C (or D) so you can try out any tunings you want. The long scale length (400mm) makes the keys larger than a standard sized instrument. Additional sound samples found on Noelle’s YouTube.

Price: ~$1300 USD

Waitlist: Less than 1 year

Country: Poland

Woods: Plywood

Strings: 2/2/2

Accessories: Case included, adjustable bridge, capos upon request

3-string by Gordiy Starukh

The Gordiy 3 string model is a simple, solid wood (not plywood) instrument with beautiful color stains and a mesmerizing design for the crank. The instrument is very small without avoiding ergonomics, a good option for beginners. The bridge design is a unique, non-standard device. Take a look at Gordiy’s YouTube but be aware that he often uses electronics to change the sound. An acoustic version may sound different!

Price: ~$1300 USD

Waitlist: More than 1 year

Country: Ukraine

Woods: Solid woods

Strings: 1/1/1

Accessories: Talk to Gordiy about adding capos or other accessories

Sirena by Sedo Garcia

Sedo makes a great quality hurdy-gurdy on this list that use Solid wood instead of plywood. Sedo has been making gurdies for over 40 years and knows what he is doing. While his waitlist is long, the price is good for such a well-built instrument. Sergio shows off this instrument in one of his videos.

Price: ~$1750 USD

Waitlist: More than 1 year

Country: Spain

Woods: Solid woods

Strings: 2/2/2

Accessories: Capos, extra strings, and other accessories available upon request

Simplex by Joël Traunecker

Joël is a very good luthier out of France, who studied under Denis Siorat, a famous, retired luthier. His instruments are made of solid woods (not plywood) and sound very nice. You can find sound samples on his website below. Keep in mind Joel does not ship, so you will have to pick it up from his workshop in France.

Price: ~$1750 USD

Waitlist: More than 1 year

Country: France

Woods: Solid woods

Strings: 1/2/1

Accessories: 1 capo on both drone and trompette, no other extras available

Galipette by Benjamin Pouzadoux

Benjamin Pouzadoux is the only maker on this list to make a beginner luteback. The instrument uses Solid wood (not plywood) and is well built. The only downside is he does not ship outside Europe, so if you aren’t in Europe, this instrument is not available to you unless you have a friend who will ship it to you.

Price: ~$1850 USD

Waitlist: N/A – you can email him to ask

Country: France

Woods: Solid woods

Strings: 1/2/1 (pictures shows optional extra drone

Accessories: Additional strings, capos, and adjustable bridges available upon request.

Aplo by MM instruments

Another plywood instrument on the list, the Aplo is built by a team, so they are able to produce instruments quickly. The melody strings are in G and D so you can try out multiple tunings. The Aplo is a bit of a non-standard tuning, having the trompette in G, and missing the alto drone (or mouche) – but still a quality starter instrument for beginners. Scott Marshall has a playlist showing off the instrument.

Price: ~$1960 USD

Waitlist: Less than 1 year

Country: Poland

Woods: Plywood

Strings: 2/2/1

Accessories: No available extras

If you know of other luthiers that belong on this list email me at Max.Enloe@gurdyworld.com and let me know as much information as you can! GurdyWorld is always looking to increase the amount of information on our website.

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