Introduction: Talharpa / Jouhikko

This is a custom build bass talharpa or bass jouhikko

You can listen similar sounding instruments in soundtracks of bands like, Wardruna, Danheim.

The main features:

  • cello strings (C G D) 4/4 (635200, 635300, 635400)
  • hard wood cello tuning pegs
  • 1 meter height

Everything handmade except the horse hair for the bow, and the cello string, and tuning pegs.

We used pine wood for the body of the instrument. The other parts contacting with the string made from hard wood. The parts of the instrument is glued together with non flexible wood glue. (its important because the flexible glue will reduce the resonance)

This is our first try to build a stringed instrument. We looked at the topic thoroughly, but we are not sure this is the best supplies to build with. We are open to suggestions how to build better one. Probably we will build another one.

You can download the full schematic here:


  • pine wood sheet for the front and the back part
  • pine wood planks for the sides
  • hard wood for the other smaller parts
  • string (we used the lower 3 cello string)
  • horse hair for the bow

Step 1: Cut the Wood Planks

You have to make sure it's well connected before gluing. We used circular saw, and after that lots of sanding.

Step 2: Cut Outs From the Upper Part

It's easier if you do it now, before you glue this together. If you clamp together the two planks, it will be symmetrical when you cut is. We suggest to sand it after the cutting, because it's easier while it's separated parts.

Step 3: Glue Together the Frame

The pine wood easily can get damaged from the clamps so use some extra wood like on the pictures.

After the glue dried, sand down the joints.

Step 4: Cut Out the Back of the Instrument and Glue It Together

We used blue tapes to fix it together while the glue dry.

Step 5: Cut Out the Upper Part

We used the woodworking CNC to cut out the sound hole. The symbol is: The Triple Horn of Odin / The Horn Triskelion

Step 6: Place the Sound Post, and Glue It Together

Placing the sound post is important. You can check our positioning on the schematic drawings. The sound post is made with hard wood to.

Don't glue the sound post!
It has to be pressured between the back and the front part. Use extra caution, if you glue the top part you can't remove it to modified the sound post placing.

While the glue dried we made the tail piece, and the bridge.

Step 7: Tail Piece and Bridge From Hardwood

Has been cut out from hard wood. And sanded to the desired form. (it took lots of time)

Step 8: Chamfer the Edges, and Install the Tuning Pegs

After this stage, we can tried out the sounding with cello bow.

Step 9: New Working Bow

The new bow made from a branch.

There is a V shaped cut on the end. On the handle part there is a hole behind the insulation tape, and the horse hair fastened with wire on both end.

Instrument Contest

Runner Up in the
Instrument Contest