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Swedish fiddles with sympathetic strings


This page about swedish fiddles with sympathetic strings is a result of eight months of blogging at The blog has been a method of investigating the history of swedish fiddles with sympathetic strings and news about this subject will be published there first. The aim of this page is to give an overview of swedish understringed fiddles, which a blog is not suited for

In Scandinavia, two different instruments are top of mind when it comes to sympathetic strings, the swedish Nyckelharpa and the norwegian Hardingfele. The not so well known fact is however that fiddles with sympathetic strings have been pretty common in Sweden too and those instruments originate from about the same period as the Hardingfele, i.e. late 17:th and early 18:th century. This was also the golden age of the viola d'amore in Europe and presumably the habit to put sympathetic strings on both the Nyckelharpa as well as on fiddles comes from continental Europe.

A couple of centurys ago, the design of musical instrument was less fixed and the individual freedom of different luthiers were higher. This is evident when studying swedish understringed fiddles. The historical instruments that are preserved until today have different design and different numbers of sympathetic strings. One type of fiddle is however more common than other, at least if you consider the amount of preserved instruments. This model is one with eight sympathetic strings were the pegs are placed in a pegbox with two levels. The upper level contains the pegs for the regular strings and the pegs for the sympathetic strings are mounted in the lower level. Strictly scientifically a proper name of fiddles with sympathetic strings is violino d'amore. This is a very broad term and all swedish understringed fiddles and also the norwegian Hardingfele would fall into this category. My personal opinion is that there is a need for a more distinguished expression for the fiddles with eight understrings. Due to the design with a two level pegbox these fiddles might be called double deckers, slightly humorous but it is a name which pretty well describes one of the most important features of the model. To this date I have only heard of three instruments with a two level pegbox outside Sweden so the expression pretty well distinguishes this swedish model from other instruments. On this page you are able to study pictures of both historical instruments as well as some newly constructed fiddles with sympathetic strings. If you have information about fiddles with sympathetic strings you are warmly welcome to contact me by email. The adress is info [at] resoneramera [dot] se . I also gladly publish photos of fiddles with understrings that you might have built

If you have information about fiddles with sympathetic strings that you like to share with me please email info [at] resoneramera [dot] se

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