stringing and tuning


Two knots are made side by side at the end of the string preventing it from slipping out of the loop of the string holder when it is under tension. The string is knotted in the loop of the string holder and put in a notch at the left or right side of the bridge. Then it is lead to the neck from above over the tuning ring which is braided from strips of hide and then it is wound several times around the ring until it cannot slip any more under tension. The left side strings are wound to the left and the right side strings to the rigth.

The deepest string is attached at the ring on the upper end of the neck. The other strings occupy the rings downwards in ascending tonal order and the highest string is attached at the lowest ring. In the ascending scale the strings are running alternately right and left over the bridge.


To tune the string lower the ring is shifted down. Sometimes a slight pressure with the thumb is enough to tilt the ring a little more.

To tune the string higher the ring is shifted up. Bass strings sometimes require much force, you have to hold the calabash between the knees and push the ring up with both hands. You may also put the string out of the notch, push the ring up without the string's tension and pull the string in the notch again.

When the ring has to be pushed further as there is space to the next ring then the string has to be pulled again.For that purpose the string is loosened by shifting the ring downwards, eventually also the following rings below must be shifted. Then the loops of the string around the ring must be pulled with a long iron nail like a pricker. When tuning to a higher pitch you have to begin with the innermost loop und pull the string outside through all following loops, this will shorten the vibrating part of the string and increase the tension of the string. When tuning to a lower pitch you have to begin with the outermost loop and pull the string inside through all following loops, this will make the vibrating part of the string longer and decrease the tension of the string.

Normally the rings are tilted somewhat by tension and hold so well at their position that tuning can be done in very fine microtonal intervals. When they glide the place where they should hold at the wooden neck can be made stickier by applying saliva, wet shugar, cigarette ashes, etc. on it. In more difficult cases put a matchstick in the gap between the wood and the ring.

Copyright 1997-2003 Harald Loquenz. All rights reserved