Here’s what it’s going to look like – very roughly! The blocks of wood that will form the body have been laid out in roughly the right places on the floor.

rough shape

It took a while to identify the best bits of wood to avoid knots or holes in the final kontrabas body, but this should work fine. The surface condition does not matter as most of it will be cut away; though the faces to be joined will be cleaned up, of course.

Back from a great day of music at the Northern Streams festival; the nyckelharpa had a lot of exercise in the workshops and session (the only nyckelharpa there I’m afraid!). Superb workshops from Sally Simpson and Markus Räsänen (Swedish tunes) and Ingunn Bjørgo and Åasmund Reistad (Norwegian tunes). Ingunn and Åasmund also gave a fantastic performance at the concert in the evening – she does write some beautiful tunes. Also an interesting workshop on playing for dancing (that will be useful for the Greenbank Buskers ceilidh band!) and a session where we played what we’d learned as well as other songs and tunes – the nyckelharpa used for “Da Silver Bow” again (Sally knew that one), and did a duet of “Emma from Finland” with a friendly melodeon in the cafe!

Here’s a video from the TMSA (the Edinburgh branch organises the Northern Streams Festival) until the Facebook link breaks:

Amazing session with Ingunn Bjørgo and Aasmund Reistad sounding great guys! ??

Posted by TMSA Edinburgh and Lothians Branch on Saturday, 23 April 2016


Just got back from the first Edinburgh concert of this year’s Northern Streams festival which was great. Sally Simpson and Markus Räsänen (Scotland/Sweden) – fantastic fiddle and accordion playing followed by The Quiggs (Scotland/Denmark) folksinging duo. I can forgive Stephen Quigg for using the banjo since it was only for one song 🙂


I had originally thought I would build the kontrabas nyckelharpa using new wood, and spent some time on the web finding suppliers, especially local ones. However I eventually drew a blank locally (though found one later in Bristol – see a later article on making the top).

An alternative suggested itself though – we had an old piano (Collard and Collard from the 1920s) that used to belong to my grandmother – indeed, it’s the one that was bought for my father, who was a great pianist and church organist, to learn on. We moved it to Edinburgh after her death, and used it for a while, but in recent years it had become very difficult to keep in tune, and one of the bass strings was broken. I discovered that no-one wants such ityems these days, and it would have cost a small fortune to get someone to take it away and dispose of it – these old pianos are very heavy!

So I decided to dismantle it myself, and recycle it into a kontrabas nyckelharpa. There’s some excellent wood in an old piano like this!

First of all, it was easy to take most of the front off – everything was screwed together, no glue. I then took all the strings off (to get rid of all that dangerous tension!) and took out all the tuning pegs – that was a long job, each one had to be twisted and pulled out.

It’s when I got to this stage that the fun started.

old piano keys off Continue reading

Another session at the Diggers – mostly fiddlers but the nyckelharpa had a good time. Tidlösa Valsen proved popular again – that’s the second session in a row people have been scribbling down Peter Hedlund‘s name! Maybe he might get one or two extra CD purchases as a result … Anyway here’s harpacam in action again …


Harpacam photos at the session in what was the Wigtown Ploughman yesterday afternoon. A great time had, the harpa enjoyed it very much It attracted the usual amazed interest from the punters!

The pub is now called “Craft”. We are told that the burgers are excellent – must try sometime!