6/23/2016

1992 Gravikord "Electric Double Harp"





This is a truly wonderful and crazy instrument -- being a dedicated, electric, hybridized variant of the kora, mixed with a modern kalimba's playing-style, and having some of the "open note" sound of a koto. The first and last bits (kora/koto, tone-wise) I picked-up on myself, just with my ears, though I found (hilariously enough) that the builder described the tone that way in his hyperbolic advert that came along with the instrument.

Of course, this has to be a consignor's instrument, and it is! It came in needing a few strings replaced and a tuning-up, which I did a while back -- and then I realized that I never posted an entry for it. That's what comes with being busy! Anyhow, if you want all of the details, Mr. Bob Grawi (the maker) has a 90s-retro site devoted to his creation and Wikipedia also has a nice, more concise writeup, too. Two thumbs-up for Wiki's easily-deciphered tuning chart.

Obviously, I can't play the instrument worth a hoot in the soundclip, but at least you get an idea of the raw, unfiltered, direct-to-mixer sound of the pickup. It has a huge, wide, range and the piezo unit installed in the bridge is quite "hot" and very sensitive. This is a good thing as it's easily plugged into any amp (it sounds great through a bass amp) without needing a preamp in front of its signal. I was very impressed with how responsive the pickup is, to be honest. This is a challenging instrument to amplify.


How does one even take a proper picture of this?


This has 12 strings on each side of the bridge. They're spaced relatively close together, so my unpracticed hands had a difficult time fingering individual strings cleanly. If you're already a kora player, however, the spacing is very similar to the ones I've had the chance to fumble with, so this is a "pilot error" issue, only.


While the instrument came with a bunch of extra string material, I restrung the very highest strings with some quite-thin fluorocarbon strings instead of the "orange nylon" stuff, since I knew that those two highest strings were right at the snapping point of the original material.





The tuners are quite decent, though one could find argument with the way a standard-issue 1/4" guitar jack wasn't installed on the body and a long, 10' cord was wired instead. It would be easy enough to change that, however.


Picture the right hand doing the same and you get the idea of how to hold and play this. To facilitate "stage" use, the instrument also comes with a mic-stand-mountable clip to help hold it while you're playing.

As I recall, the owner also told me that the handles of the instrument were cut-down and bent inwards, slightly, at one point to make it easier to hold.


It comes with its fitted, original case and...


...original sales material and extra strings.


4 comments:

Alex Robinson said...

Well done Jake. There's no doubt about it. You'll give anything a go, and mostly pull it off reasonably well.
.

Joel Elvery said...

Very cool. How much will this be selling for?

Unknown said...

1200.00 shipped

Unknown said...

They are 2000.00 new