I made this about a year ago now, so it has had plenty of time to settle in.
The carved Dragon figure-head is made of
The top 4 tuners are Ebony Viola pegs.
All the rest are Knilling Perfection Planetary Geared Viola Pegs.
(Which makes the tuning of the under-strings shockingly easy!)
The inlay in the Walnut finger board is made of Clamshells from the Watonwan River.
5 Bowed strings on top with
5 under-strings down below.
The Redwood top is decorated with Scandinavian designs in pencil.
And of course includes Thor's two most famous Ravens: Hugin & Munin.
The Walnut tailpiece has a clamshell
Viking in between two Sea Dragons.
(Our grand child calls it the 'Viking Stormtrooper')
The ends of the understrings are attached directly to an Ebony block at
the end of the body, thus relieving pressure on the tailpiece.
In the past, I've had some trouble with the bridge tilting forward over
time, but I am pleased to report, that even after a year, this bridge is
still as straight up and down as the day I strung it up!
The peghead, neck, body and sides are made of highly figured Maple stained a nice deep burgundy wine colored Marlot.
The depth of the side ribs are
1 - 3/4 inch deep.
One thing you might want to know:
Because I used some fairly heavy hardwood for the inside neck and tail blocks,
The total weight of the instrument itself weighs 2 pounds 8.2 ounces.
The top and sides of the case are made of carved Pine 2x4's stained Merlot...
...with a Leather strap and brass
hinges and hardware.
The inside is padded with foam and blue felt.
A small hinged compartment case
The back is made of a nice
piece of plywood.
(You'll probably want to provide your own bows)
I don't have any video/sound samples of it yet (Still working on that. Hopefully soon)
but this instrument will be on display and for sale at the Nisswa Stammen in
Nisswa, Minnesota, the weekend of
June 7 & 8, 2019.
The FiddleHarpa is also for sale!
And will also be available for inspection at the Nisswa Stammen in June, too.
(Scroll down the page a little way
for all the details)
The Nyckelharpa (or "Keyed Fiddle") is the national
folk instrument of Sweden.
I made my first Nyckelharpa in 1999 thanks to a grant from the Prairie Lakes
Regional Arts Council.
The design is based on the blueprints from the book I
bought from Soren Ahker. I eagerly awaited the arrival of the original 1998 copy
and was somewhat surprised (?) that the text was printed in Swedish! A bit of a
barrier that for some reason I either didn't think about at the time or simply
knew that the numbers, measurements and dimensions would be the same...
which thankfully they were.
(A few years later, this fine instruction manual was printed in English but I
have Yet to see a copy of it!)
Anyway...This is how it turned out. I was quite pleasantly surprised that it
turned out as well as it did. For at the time, I had never seen one in person
and certainly had Never played one before.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------- My next project was to build a
This is the
old medieval form (or ancient ancestor) of the modern day Nyckelharpa. There is
a stone carving on a church in Gotland, Sweden.
is an excerpt taken from the American Nyckelharpa Association web-site:
The oldest "evidence" of nyckelharpa use is a relief (left picture) on
one of the gates to
Kallunge church on Gotland from about 1350 depicting two nyckelharpa players.
I built this one from photographs off the internet. Its a very simple design and
also has a very limited playing range.
(It must have been more of an accompaniment to some sad, droning vocal
lament...so common in Medieval Scandinavia)
It turned out real nice, too but it was like driving in only one gear. A friend
of mine, who is part of a local Medieval reenactment group, bought this one.
My next attempt was to build a "Fiddleharpa".
The standard size Nyckelharpa is tuned like a Viola and I wanted
something that could be tuned and played like a Violin.
I experimented a little with the design, as this one has a carved arched
top and back. I have found that this didn't necessarily add to the sound of the
instrument, as the first one I made (with a flat top and back) actually sounded
better! I also added in a 4th row of keys for the 'G' string. (This was
apparently nearly un-heard of at the time, as I recall very few builders had
tried this) Times have changed though and it is now quite common to see several
different varieties and experimentation going on with the making of these
Made of highly figured Maple for the back, neck and keys. Walnut for the sides, tailpiece, peg box and top lid.
The soundboard is made of Western Cedar and is adorned with an intricate grapevine design in soft lead pencil.
key is attached to the left side peg box by little brass rods that are
easily visible when you press in a key. This makes it easier to see
where you are with the lid down.
keys are rounded to make it easier to slide up and down the scale. The
lid is a non-traditional addition that can easily be removed if it gets
in the way of seeing the moving keys.
'E' string tangents are made of pieces of oblong aluminum rods
(actually model airplane parts) It was an experiment that worked. The
rest are pieces of Cherry wood stained black.
Ebony 1/8 size Cello tuners for the main strings and a set of Gotoh
Mandolin tuners for the under strings. (I added in a piece of tree
branch as a thumb rest) Scale length, from nut to bridge, is 14 inches. (About the same scale length as a Mandolin)
The case is made of Pine and Plywood and is padded with foam
and lined with felt.
There is a small storage compartment with a lid. A half-size Violin bow an a leather strap is included.
The back of the case will have 4 black rubber furniture bumpers, as soon as I get them installed.
The lower side of the case has rubber furniture bumpers to keep the hinges from scratching up the furniture
Nice soft braided leather belt for the strap.
Here's something you'll probably want to know:
the years, I've actually had to re-build this thing twice. Over time,
the pressure of the strings (and a less than solid neck joint) has
caused the 'Harpa to bow up until it looked like a Swedish Cod Boat! The solution to this was to
re-angle the peg box, raise the bridge and re-align the strings with
the tangents. I've done this twice now, and I'm positive it has
'settled' and bowed up about as much as it can.
can see by the blue line down below that the line between the nose and
the tail is not perfectly straight, but ever so slightly bowed. This
will not affect the sound or playability of the instrument. It's just
one of the unique and quirky things about it that makes it special.
(Includes case, bow, leather strap and rosin)
Nyckelharpa # 4.
I made this in 2011 and it was sold in 2012. However... It is currently available
again, as the first owner never really learned how to play it, and she
says it's just too nice of an instrument to live out its life sealed up
in a box. As far as I know, it is in nearly the same condition (unused) as the day I sent it off.
This is the 4th Nyckelharpa
and is based on a design and blueprints from
Soren Ahker of Sweden.
The top is made of Redwood.
The neck, back and sides
are made of highly figured Maple
and stained with 'Merlot'
(A nice burgundy wine color)
The string length (from nut
to bridge) is 13 - 1/2 inches
and is currently tuned like a Viola.
The 4 main tuners are Ebony
while the under-string tuners are made of used
Mandolin tuning machines.
The keys are made of
The keybox is made of Ebony.
The case is made of Plywood for the top and back and carved Pine 2x4's for the
Inside is padded with foam
and covered with blue felt.
Brass hinges and latches, a
fine tick leather belt for the handle is attached with brass screws. The bow is
held in place with a piece of leather and a bent padded piece of brass.
There are 2 inner storage
compartments big enough for a rosin box and a tuner. Extra strings fit in the
open compartment next to where the the peghead is.
Current owner is asking for the
original 2012 price of: $2200