Installing Strings

Picture of Labeled Strings - measured, cut, with loop ends made , ready to be installed. Tuning key at lower left.

Labeled Strings – measured, cut, with loop ends made, ready to be installed. Tuning key at lower left.

Installing kantele strings is a bit of a challenge the first time around. The music wire I used is very hard and can have dangerous, sharp ends. There is a very specific way to install the strings successfully; precision is necessary to prevent small ends of sharp wire from sticking out and creating injuries when handling the instrument. I had the experience of being punctured and cut with it several times while making the looped string ends and while handling other instruments where it wasn’t done properly. I was therefore very motivated to do the final installation properly.

Varras Technique

Strings are attached first to the varras. The loop is pulled under the varras from the bottom. A needle nose pliers is very helpful at this stage. The string is then pulled through the loop and pulled taught.

Picture of pulling the first string under the varras with needle nose pliers

Pulling the first string under the varras with needle nose pliers

Picture of pulling a string through the loop in the string so that it wraps around the varras

Pulling a string through the loop in the string so that it wraps around the varras

Zither Pin String Technique

  • At the other end of the instrument, the string is inserted through the hole in the zither pin and then clipped off leaving about 2 ½ to 3 inches of extra string sticking through.
  • The extra string is pulled back flush with the side of the pin so it doesn’t stick out.
  • The tuning pin is tightened about one half turn.
  • The string is pulled back taught to make a bend or becket in the string that will hold it in the hole in the zither pin without slipping.
  • The string is then held taught with one hand while winding with a tuning key until tight. The turns are watched carefully while winding. Pressure from the hand and fingers holding the string is also used to push the winds of the string close together on the tuning pin.
Picture of after inserting the string, the 2 -3 extra inches are pulled back so the end is flush with the tuning pin

After inserting the string, the 2 -3 extra inches are pulled back so the end is flush with the tuning pin

Picture showing after the pin is turned about one half turn, the string is pulled back taught to make a bend in the string that will hold it in place in the hole in the zither pin without slipping while it is wound the rest of the way

After the pin is turned about one half turn, the string is pulled back taught to make a bend in the string. This will keep it from slipping and hold it in place in the hole in the zither pin while it is wound the rest of the way

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