Along with drums and flutes, strings are one of the oldest known sound-producing techniques. The first simple stringed instruments originated from hunting bows. Subsequently, stringed instruments continued to develop in almost all cultures, becoming more and more adapted to the corresponding musical needs and fashions.

The longboard harp is a new addition to the family of stringed instruments.

While pretty much all acoustic stringed instruments combine the static and sonic function in one body, the design of the longboard harp separates these two functions. The strings are held by the solid wooden frame, while the soundbox stands freely on the strings via a bridge.

The soundbox is located exactly in the middle of the strings, resulting in the string sections on both sides of the bridge.sounding exactly the same. When the strings on one side are excited, the strings on the other side resonate.

The 6 to 8 strings made of piano wire with different diameters can be tuned to any tone system above the fundamental G. The strings are played with bows, mallets and by plucking. Markings on the string show the vibration nodes. By touching these points and simultaneously exciting the string, the overtones of the strings can be played. It is also possible to use a slider in combination with bowing or plucking.

Longboardharps are semi-acoustic instruments. They can be played purely acoustically, with the corpus amplifying the string vibrations analogously, or with the help of electromagnetic pickups (humbucker type), which can be attached to both sides of the instrument.

The acoustic sound and the electrically amplified sound have different characteristics. While the wooden soundbox amplifies both string vibrations and tactile sounds (plucking, bowing), the pickups register solely the string vibrations. The pickups can be used for amplification and recording. By using two pickups, a stereo sound can be produced.

The longboard harp can also be played by two musicians simultaneously, with one musician on each side of the instrument. Both musicians have basically the same, but mirrored, musical possibilities.

The Longboardharp was developed in 2016, presented to the public for the first time in 2019, and has been under constant technical and sonic development ever since. After initially using plywoods, the soundboxes are now made of thin solid woods, using materials and techniques from classical instrument making. Special tonewoods (Sitka spruce, Alpine spruce) are also used for the soundboards.

The aim of the Longboardharp project is to further develop the new instrument and to constantly improve its acoustic potential. For this purpose different designs and different materials are experimented with. Also different playing techniques are developed and tested.

Since 2019, the instruments are used in experimental musical performances and collaborations.

(see: Open Studio Krakow)

project Longboardharp

string instruments  /  experimental music project

Longboardharp IV   2021

Longboardharp I

Longboardharp II

Longboardharp III

Longboardharp IV

Semi-acoustic live performance for the opening of the exhibition Dzwieki Pierwotne (Primal Sound)   17.05.2019

Ethnographic Department of the National Museum Gdansk (PL)

Curated by: Anna Ratajczak-Krajka, Krystyna Weiher-Sitkiewicz, Waldemar Elwart

Exhibition design: Grupa Gdyby

The recording is a mix of the ambient sound and a direct recording from the pickups.

Session recording at Studio Lastadia, Gdansk PL, 15.06.2021

Longboardharps III & IV with Loop, Delay and Distortion pedals

Longboardharp III played acoustical Session recording at Studio Lastadia, Gdansk PL, 19.11.2020

Corona Lockdown recording No.8, April 2020

Longboardharp II with additional soundboxes. recorded with microphones and pickups.

Recording made for the exhibition NN Kunstpreis (Kunsthaus Nürnberg)

Longboardharp II, natural recording 21.06.2020