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Tuning the resonance strings

Most beginners will find their nyckelharpa already has the resonance strings tuned, at least approximately.  Of course the nyckelharpa will not sound it’s best until the resonating strings are precisely tuned, however it can still be played (perhaps in the closet :-)) and the beginning focus will be on finding the correct keys (notes) with the left hand and making reasonable sounds (vibrations) on the playing strings with the bow held in the right hand.  Tuning the resonance strings can be difficult in the beginning.  If possible, work first with someone who has experience tuning the nyckelharpa.

Here are some basics for tuning the resonance strings.

  • In the most common configuration, the resonance strings are tuned up the scale starting at G# for the lowest sounding string, located nearest the C playing string, and up to G for the highest sounding string, located nearest the A playing string.  So the twelve resonance strings sound G#, A, Bb, B, C, C#, D, Eb, E, F, F#, G from low to high.
  • Using an electronic tuner is probably the best way to tune the resonance strings.  However (when the tuner battery is dead) one can also use the nyckelharpa keys to play the desired notes on the playing strings, and tune the corresponding resonance strings by ear.
  • Note that as the strings are tuned, they change the stresses on the instrument, especially on the bridge, and it may take several iterations over the set of twelve resonance strings (and the four playing strings) to get the instrument sounding really good.

For more details and alternate schemes for tuning the resonance strings see the page “Tuning (placement) of nyckelharpa strings” under “Tips > Strings & Tuners”.