Hardangers

Hardangers

So I’m building an electric hardanger out of an old violin I have laying around. I was thinking about being "different" and using octave strings for the main strings. Ideas anyone? Has anyone here played a real hardanger? I’ve never even seen one in person, just heard them and I want a project to work on (as if a solo recording project isn’t enough…)

thanks,
ben

Re: Hardangers

Hey Ben…

Session member ijerry (https://thesession.org/members/15307) has a hardanger fiddle and has recently built a bridge for it. I’ve had a go… and the sound is amazing!

I’m sure he’d be willing to share ideas. You can contact him through his member page or through his blog:

http://www.lostbiro.com/blog/

🙂

Re: Hardangers

I’ve now met a couple of players, and one brings hers along to a session occasionally. The sound is lovely but I suspect that the repertoire, by nature of the mechanics of the instrument, tends to be a bit specialised.
Beyond the tuning pegs, what could you use for an electric hardanger from an old fiddle ? And why throw away the lovely acoustic sound ? Oh, yeah, you’ve got to build a soundbox. I understand, being an occasional builder of both electric and acoustics.

Re: Hardangers

I think you will find that Jerry’s hardanger is a converted fiddle (or violin) and some experts on this page reckoned that it did not sound hardangerish enough when playing ITM.
Sounds good to me tho’ and you can hear it from Davydd’s link above

Re: Hardangers

Hi Ben,

I am also building an electric Hardanger. I currently have the instrument built as a "Mandofiddle". For tuning I use Perfection pegs. With my transducer arrangement I am hopeful that the sympathetic string vibrations will be captured in abundance.

The only good Hardangers I have played have been from Norway - all the "foreign" built instruments I have played have not resonated correctly.

An Octave version may be even more challenging - an interesting project for sure.

Richard (Titch)
www.sonicviolins.co.uk

Re: Hardangers

The reason for going electric is

a) The acoustic sound of this instrument is terrible (the fingerboard was plastic, just to give you an idea).

b) I plan to have seperate bridges for the overstrings and resonant, and then mix the 2 together to the output so I can completely adjust the "hardangerness". I’m going to use mandoln tuners.

Re: Hardangers

I don’t have any experience with Hardangers but I built a Viola d’Amore a few years back. Trouble was, it was a bit like a nightingale! Sounded great on its own in ideal acoustic circumstances, but as soon as there was anything else going on, such as other instruments, it just sounded like a fiddle/viola with the sympathetics as a PITA! It seems to me that the Hardanger is basically a very specialised solo instrument. How happy would you be playing an octave solo all the time? Definitely don’t want to be negative, but if it’s an electric, what’s to gain that you can’t get by turning up a bit of reverb!
Tom

Re: Hardangers

Cross post there Ben. Fair enough re electrics. Check out the weight of your mandolin tuners though! I originally intended to use machines on my Vd’A then realised the weight would be unacceptable.

Re: Hardangers

Using this for ITM probably will sound wierd—the biggest part of the hardanger sound is its style (and I’ll be stuck in 1 key unless I spent 5 minutes retuning). Oh well, it will be cool to have on a few specialty tunes. I play more gigs than sessions, so I can get by with playing unique arrangements every now and then.

Re: Hardangers

I haven’t picked up the hardanger I know, but I would reckon it’d be pretty heavy anyway - usually they might be played with a strap, especially if you wanted to stand up. Use micro machines and the weight would be reduced a bit anyway.

Re: Hardangers

My hardanger is a converted violin - you can use most parts from an acoustic violin, but you may need to make larger end blocks - mine had to be in increased by about one-third to take the extra stress of the sympathetic strings. And of course you will need a new neck/peg box. Mine uses half-size violin tuning pegs to keep the size of the peg-box down and the proportion right. Other hardanger players reckon my tone is too round - but that has actually changed since I made a new nut and bridge, make it a bit more top-end-y.

A slight channel is routed into the neck, and a corresponding one in the upper fingerboard to provisde space for the sympathetics beneath the fingerboard.

The bridge is made from Tasmanian blackwood - but maple is fine.

I play the full Irish repertoire on it, and the sound is wonderfully full - like having a delay pedal - except it’s acoustic - and it really cuts through a crowd in a session!

I’m not sure how well octave strings would drive the sympathetics - but would be an interesting experiment.

btw I tune my sympathetics D,E,F#,A as I find that works best with Irish tunes.

I hope that helps - if you have any questions, just email me - ijerry @ gmail dot com

Cheers
Jerry

Re: Hardangers

Anyone reading my posts on this will realize that I have been having a senior moment, and I was thinking about a nyckelharpa the whole time.
Hardanger fiddle, yes, one o’them 8-string jobbies, jolly good idea, carry on then sergeant ( lead away quickly by men in white coats…….).
I think it’s the snow.

Re: Hardangers

Yeah, I’m not really sure about the octave strings. I just have them laying around and want to use them somewhere. The mando tuners are going to be heavy, but so are most solid body electrics anyway. Besides, this isn’t something I’ll be playing more than a few tunes on.

Best case scenario, it works primarily as an octave violin (they do have those, you know, and that’s what I started out building before I decided to go crazy) with the sympathetics there to add some high end ambience when I want it (a reverb pedal won’t do that), and I can turn them off (it’s electric) when I don’t want them and just want to sound like a cello. So I suppose it’s an octave first, and a hardanger second.

Worst case scenario, I waste $100. And have octave strings laying around (again.

Re: Hardangers

Oh, and thanks Jerry. I actually stumbled across your site a few weeks back when I was looking into the design on these things.

Re: Hardangers

It’s nice and loud Jerry! LOL

Re: Hardangers

If you are crafting an electric hardanger, might I recommend that you have a look at the Swordfish electric violin, So long as you are only building this instrument for your own pleasure and not offering it for sale they could have little complaint if you copied aspects of their design to make the instrument lighter. Basically, the hardwood they use for the body is quite chunky, but then they drill out large holes through, leaving something more akin to a lattice structure as found in bone, for instance.