The langspil is a traditional instrument of Iceland. It is a diatonic fretted zither with one melody string and two drones. The langspil is played by strumming, plucking and bowing.
When I first saw the above artwork of a woman playing a langspil I assumed the artist had taken liberties when portraying the playing position. I thought it would be difficult to play the langspil with the lower end of the instrument extending so far off one’s lap.
While looking for additional information about playing the langspil I came across this photograph of a man playing a langspil with the instrument in a somewhat similar position; the peghead end of the instrument is extending far off his lap.
I then noticed both players use their left thumb to fret the melody string of the langspil while the fingers of the left hand stabilize and support the instrument on their laps.
What began as a custom order has become a new standard model.
When designing this dulcimer I strove for balanced tone and volume between the two fretboards and ease of playability. I am very happy with the results.
The body is based on the basic shape of both my standard and baritone dulcimers. I chose to use a gentle asymmetry in the curves of the sides in relation to each other and an obviously more pronounced asymmetry in the tail end of the dulcimer.
The pegheads are fitted with mandolin tuners. They work very well and guitar tuners seemed a little heavy in proportion to the peghead design.
Before giving this instrument to it’s new owner I played it for several days and soon found myself switching seamlessly between the two fretboards and coming up with some interesting musical ideas.
I have begun making some more of these and I hope I manage to keep one for myself!