Methods & Standards

Our resarch is oriented at the present standards following ICOM and CIMCIM [1].


[1] Comité international pour les musées et collections d’instruments et de musique (International Committee for Museums and Collections of Instruments and Music; Comité internacional para museos y colecciones de instrumentos y de música)




At a first stage dimensions of an instrument and its individual parts are surveyed and  recorded, including all traces of manufacturing, repair and restoration processes, aging and damage.

The focus is on a complete documentation of the instrument "as is at present" as a record of the historical state of the instrument as such as well as a fundament for future data interpretation.

(See an example here).




This forms a basis for the drawing of plans which enable hypotheses about any original or concept state of an instrument based on the documented traces of manufacturing or changes. Only then any reconstructions of eventual concepts can be based on a  solid data fundament. These also can be realised on a virtual basis without any modifications or alterations of the original instrument.



Re-Engineering/Experimental Archaeology

These plans and the recorded work traces allow the production of a replica within a separate  re-engineering process.

By comparison of recorded work and tool traces with those left during the replica productioning re-working the traditional handicraft process permits insights in the original planning and production stages of the original instrument, without any affecting, deteriorating or destroying any traces in the original instrument. 

(See here some recent examples;

1: hammer shanks

2: key fronts)

The result is a fac-simile replica based on scientific data with permanent control of its manufacture that can for itself form a basis of future research.




A fac-simile replica permits investigation of playing and sound characteristics etc. in theory and practice, without any tampering with the historical original instrument, thus allowing the preservation of an original as a memorial and historical source for future generations, and offering a research and interpretation fundament unaffected by the wear and tear of the original as well as serving as a prototype and reference for further fac-simile replicas, in this way forming a reference for enduring aging processes.


Documentation Methods and Hardware

3D measuring systems like our Faro scan arm provide a minimally invasive CAD documentation with a tolerance of 0.08 mm.

This level of precision helps to develop criteria of distinction of degrees of importance. For a sound scientific judgment a degree of uncertainty of data needs to be defined as clearly as possible to form a solid basis for the interpretation of the preserved substance of the original instrument.

Koordinaten-Messarm / 3D scan arm

Measuring microscopes like our Merlin 2D video microscope with an accuracy of 0.001 mm permit measuring of touch sensitive substances, like eg organ pipes (tin-lead alloys) if measuring can affect the measured object itself.
They also permit the measurement of soft materials like leather and fabric used in historical keyboard instruments.

No-touch measuring applications follow modern conservation standards.

Messmikroskop /measuring microscope

X-ray photography with technical x-ray applications allows depictions to a degree of revealing individual tree rings.  Unlike x-ray in medicine technical x-ray works with reduced radiation energy but long exposure, showing minuscule details. This can be combined with scan arm records for measuring.

Steinflügel Röntgenaufnahme
Röntgenaufnahme / x-ray

Boriscopes like our flexible and rigid videoscopes by Karl Storz with diameters of  3.8, 5 or 8 mms (flexible) and 1 mm to 45 mms (boriscope, rigid) can be supplemented with laser measuring to record internal structures of instruments with a tolerance of 0.01 mm and x-ray for non-invasive collecting data of internal structures within seconds.


Photo documentation  with high-res digital cameras (Leica, Hasselblad) for detail as well as overall views can be combined with electronic measuring devices at a tolerance of 0,01 mm.


The documentations tools we use establish a database for highly precise as well as easily understandable two- and three-dimensional representations of the various objects, containing all measured data, thus available for further research. Such a database can be achieved within reasonable time and financial efforts.

See here a recent example

Our researchers study archival records and reference materials to provide history and context of a specific instrument.

Überprüfung des rechten Winkels
Sägen mit der Hand

Re-creating and re-engineering a historical instrument, on a basis of a thorough documentation and re-establishing the techniques and methods as visible by tool traces in the original  is a process known from experimental archaeology, as an approach to methods without unbroken traditions to present times. Construction, function, and realisation of the expressive and esthetic desires of an era can thus be experienced and understood.

Thus a public interest to experience the sound of a historical instrument and to demonstrate its artistic qualities can be equally met with the demands of preservation, conservation, and the avoidance of imminent dangers of further wear and loss by using a precious original to deterioration.

We try to achieve a better understanding of the historical musical instrument as a precious document and source of our cultural and technical heritage.


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