This is a short demonstration of what the instruments I build look and sound like.
I wrote and recorded the melody in this video for this purpose, I call it ”The Luthier Polska"
Click here for sound
I build 3-row chromatic nyckelharpas based on traditional models.
If you are interested in my nyckelharpa constructions, feel free to contact me. If you would like to take a closer look and try out the instruments, you are welcome to visit my workshop in Midsommarkransen in Stockholm.
I own a nyckelharpa that Esbjörn Hogmark built for me in 1987, the same year I became Riksspelman (national fiddler). It has been my faithful companion on concerts and tours around the world ever since.
Esbjörn developed his nyckelharpa model with inspiration taken from old builders and traditions. Over the years, he has refined his instruments in terms of appearance, function and sound.
I have stuck to Esbjörn's design language and sound, mainly from his newer instruments. I keep them in mind when building my own ones, although I have added my own twist on certain details. I was also privileged to have Esbjörn as a mentor while building my first instruments.
As a fiddler, musician and sound engineer, I put a lot of focus on all the details that affect sound, function and form. Everything is equally important.
The instruments are made of carefully selected wood. The body and bottom are made of Swedish spruce. The lid is made of either Swiss alpine spruce or Swedish spruce. Key box, string holder, tuning screws, saddle, leaves and bridge are made of maple. The keys are made of birch.
The instrument is water-stained and lacquered in 3-5 layers of shellac and then polished silk mat. The tuning mechanics are from the Golden Age brand and are antique-treated nickel with black heads. The fine tuning mechanisms are from the Wittner brand.
The tone of the instruments I build are evenly balanced over all the strings with a clean and open treble, including a certain characteristic stiffness in the middle register, with a balanced depth in the bass register. The instruments always differ slightly as there are many factors that play into account as to how the sound becomes.
The frame has a slight slope and the C-bows are slightly angled. The height of the edging is 75 mm at the string holder and 65 mm at the neck. The lid is curved with a radius of 260 mm. The instruments weigh about 1800-2000 grams.
The playing strings are from the Prim brand and are made in Sweden especially for nyckelharpa. C-base, G and C have medium hardness and the A-strand is unspun 0.55 or 0.50. The resonant strings are half unspun and half spun steel strings.
If you want tips about microphones and other technical equipment that fits the instrument, I am happy to share my experiences.
In the autumn of 2020, Esbjörn Hogmark released the book "Nyckelharpan - a unique Swedish cultural heritage", an encyclopedia about the nyckelharpa. There he shares his knowledge, experience and all that he has accumulated as a fiddler, and in my opinion as the foremost harp builder. This book contains everything in depth about the instrument, its history, fiddlers and other builders.