Featured Strange Musical Instrument

Discussion in 'Antique Discussion' started by Jo Taylor, Apr 24, 2024.

  1. Jo Taylor

    Jo Taylor Member

    My brother bought this a few weeks ago (UK) and we're both stumped as to what it is... we've both exhausted our web searches - zithers, harps, qis, etc. etc. etc.
    It's double-sided with 24 strings on each side.
    There are no markings or labels.
    Any ideas, anyone?
    Thank you!


  2. charlie cheswick

    charlie cheswick Well-Known Member

    nice !, looking into it, a guzheng seems to match the instrument set up.
    couldn't find a double sided 24 string though, so this might be a custom instrument
  3. Debora

    Debora Well-Known Member

    Did you try a guzheng?

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  4. Roaring20s

    Roaring20s Well-Known Member

  5. 2manybooks

    2manybooks Well-Known Member

    It looks like modern construction, so may not be identifiable as a strictly traditional instrument. With strings and a bridge on both sides, it would have to be played upright like a harp, unlike a guzheng. Or it might be reversible like the combination instrument Roaring shows. Is there any evidence of another leg/support anywhere?

    Using terms like upright double strung box harp, the only reasonable comparison I found was an "arpanetta", an instrument from the baroque period in Europe. It had sets of strings on either side of a sound box -


    The hardware used, and the acanthus leaf carving on the sides, may suggest a European origin rather than Asian.
  6. Jo Taylor

    Jo Taylor Member

    Thank you for the responses.
    I had looked at guzhengs but couldn't see any double-sided ones.
    And monochords - though none with the full-width bridge, those with multiple strings seem to have individual small bridges?
    2manybooks - I shall ask my brother if there is any evidence of another support. I thought the carvings looked Indian.
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  7. 2manybooks

    2manybooks Well-Known Member

  8. charlie cheswick

    charlie cheswick Well-Known Member

    ahh, so watching roarings 1st video, both sides are there for playing at the same time in unison, one side where the strings are played all together, the other side for individual stings to be picked

    but its hard to nail down a specific name as there as so many variations of each type, especially with that string number the same on each side

    i did stumble across a didgeridoo combo which is interesting :woot:

  9. Chinoiserie

    Chinoiserie Well-Known Member

    Could it be a hammered dulcimer?
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  10. all_fakes

    all_fakes Well-Known Member

    It could possibly be played with hammers like a hammered dulcimer; but in the US and most other countries, hammered dulcimers are trapezoid-shaped, not rectangular; and I've never heard of one being two-sided.
    And Roaring20s examples have a totally different bridge arrangement, and bridge arrangement is pretty important in classifying instruments.
    I'm at a loss, have never seen anything similar, and am not familiar with any ethnic instruments with a two-sided set-up.
    (There was in the US many years ago a company that made a few double-sided instruments the size of a ukulele, where each side had a fingerboard, bridge, strings, and sound-hole. One side set up like a uke, the other like a mandolin. Just flip it over to change instruments...however, both sounded terrible, and it was darned hard to play,)

    Last edited: Apr 24, 2024
  11. charlie cheswick

    charlie cheswick Well-Known Member

    i'd love one of them :woot:, but like you say, your probably gonna end up getting 2 bad instruments in one
  12. Chinoiserie

    Chinoiserie Well-Known Member

    Maybe you're only supposed to play one set of strings at any one time. They may have different qualities, tunings etc. A bit like slash on a double neck gibbo
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2024
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  13. Jo Taylor

    Jo Taylor Member

    No, you wouldn't be able to see what you're hammering at with it being double-sided.
  14. Jo Taylor

    Jo Taylor Member

    Thank you for your comments, yes, it's the full-width bridge/s that are the sticking point.
  15. charlie cheswick

    charlie cheswick Well-Known Member

    are they at the same positions on both sides ?
  16. Jo Taylor

    Jo Taylor Member

    I shall ask him - it looks like it in the photos.
  17. Jo Taylor

    Jo Taylor Member

    Answers from brother:
    "The strings are all the same gauge but are tuned at different tones in pairs(at the moment) don’t know how to tune it though. The bridges are opposite on each side and there are two feet so it would be played in the upright position."

    And a photo of each side:
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  18. charlie cheswick

    charlie cheswick Well-Known Member

    that makes sense that its supposed to be played upright with both sides at the same time, bridge mirrored(different) for both right and left hand

    stumped though on what it is

    gotta be either a guzheng or a monochord

    guzheng seems to fit it best with that full midline staggered bridge
  19. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    I think it could be a Javanese 'siter'.
    I haven't been able to find photos of the double-sided siter, but it is mentioned on this page on Gamelan instruments:

    The bridge and the carving alerted me to the possibility of Java/Madura. Indonesian zithers have a long bridge, and are often decorated with traditional floral scroll carvings called 'kembang Djawa' or 'kembang Madura'.

    Below is a photo of another Javanese/Madurese zither-like instrument, the 'celempung', with the same bridge and the classic 'kembang Djawa' carving, although not very recognizable:


    An example of traditional floral scroll carving on the lower part of a Madurese keris sheath, in this case 'kembang Madura':


    The ship is also covered with scroll carving (and the Madurese winged horse Si Megantoro), but that is too abundant to see any resemblance with the carving on OPs instrument. The Madurese love intricate carving.;)
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2024
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  20. 2manybooks

    2manybooks Well-Known Member

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