musical instrument

The Moraharpa build is well underway but I was reminded of another instrument I had come across by accident, and realised that I had enough wood left to make one. It’s also very simple, so has been bashed together very quickly. The photo shows the completed instrument; it’s known as a Jouhikko in Finnish, or a Tagelharpa in Swedish. My version has three strings, made from twisted horsehair.

The instrument is played by holding it on one knee, putting the (left) hand though the hole and changing the string length on the top string by using the knuckles! It feels a bit strange at first, but it does work.

Here’s the history of the build:

wood cut out

When I realised I had the wood to do this, I cut out the basic shape first to see if it looked likely to work. This was quite pleasing, and by adding a second slice there would be enough thickness to give a respectable volume for the soundbox.

tagelharpa and moraharpa

Here’s the second slice glued on (with the Moraharpa in the background). The back is a piece of the old piano soundboard, thinned to about 5mm. There was just enough left to make the back and top!


The clamps made for the Moraharpa were re-used to clamp the stages of gluing for this instrument too.

top almost ready

At this stage the hole is cut for the soundpost – I decided to add one in a similar fashion to the way a kontrabasharpa soundpost is fitted – and the top is roughly cut out. The first tuning peg is also made.


I remembered to put in the label before gluing the top! There is also the hank of horsehair – I have some good stuff (for bows) but though I’d need a bit more to make the strings.


I decided to cut a nice pattern for the soundholes, based loosely on a Sami snowflake pattern.

top clamped

Here’s the top clamped on whilst the glue sets.

soundpost wedge

The is the view of the bottom, showing the square hole for the soundpost, and the narrow piece which is a wedge to hold the soundpost in place. This is the same method used in the kontrabasharpa.

view through soundholes

Here you can see the bottom of the soundpost (and part of the label) through the sound holes.

finished instrument

Here’s the instrument complete apart from varnishing, and fitting the bridge, tailpiece and strings.

completed instrument

I used leather to hold the tailpiece; the trickiest bit is getting the strings twisted and mounted. Perseverance pays off!


I’ve included my drawing for anyone wanting measurements; click to see the full image. It’s on graph paper (2mm tiny squares) so measuring is easy.

I do have a little bit of video I must add once it’s processed on to YouTube.

Well that was fun! Back to the Moraharpa …