Conversion of the kora arch (kora neck): from rings to machine heads

Changing of a traditional kora arch (also referred as kora neck, kora mast, kora stick) with leather rings (in Mandingka: konsos) to a modern arch easy to tune (with machine heads).
I do not need your kora in my hands to do the job, just send me some details that I will ask you about your kora and once I have the arch ready I will send it to you with clear and simple instructions on how to mount it by yourself (with online support if you need it).

Contact me to tell me your needs and for giving me also an idea of the peculiarities of your kora.

To change kora with rings to machine heads

Faloo STANDARD model

Weight : 1,7 Kg. aprox. (depending on the mechanical pegs).
Wood : Depending on stock, quality woods always (to ask).
Design : Standard (backside groove rail + mechanical pegs: electric or classical guitar).
Price : 350 eur. + shipping costs.

Some demo cases about the conversion of a kora arch (neck or mast)

Like many identically cases this owner bought a kora with leather rings in Africa (in other cases they bought it second hand in her homeland) at a very good price (that later becomes a wasted money) but once at her home she found very difficult and tiring to tune or/and keep in tune the kora so after giving up she parked it in a corner without playing it anymore for many years (end of the adventure).

Thankfully she found this website and the kora today is having a second chance. I made a new arch with machine heads and I did a soft restoration too. Ready to enjoy it just on playing it, anytime easy/ fast to tune.

To update the kora arch (neck)
kora neck changing
To update the kora arch (neck)

Another type of cases about koras abandoned in a corner are when someone is owning a kora with wooden peg tuners. These koras are looking fancy with those pegs but they are not precise while tuning as they do not work smoothly (you need more time and effort to adjust precisely). These wooden pegs are unstable to humidity, temperature: sun/ shadow, indoor/ outdoor changes making them, each one randomly, work differently (sometimes too sticky, sometimes too loose). At the end of the day they are a problem and just making you waste your time far from what it matters: music.

So in this case the owner asked for a new arch with machine heads and once ready I sent it to her to the other side of the planet… with a PDF document full of instructions (step by step with text and photos) on how to install the new arch and more tips around… she not only mounted it so easily but also she could do some healthy restorations in the holes of the kora calabash. Finally, so happy, she felt to decorate her “new kora”.

Kora neck converted
Kora neck (arch) changing

Advantages and disadvantages of an arch with machine heads

The main advantage is that it is easier and faster to tune your kora, with machine heads, and be ready to start playing (very convenient when you have limited time and/or when you are Live concert). In the same line an arch with mechanical tuners is very convenient if you need to change the tuning of your kora according to an open repertoire. Another fact is that it is more stable during and after tuning. Also a kora arch with mechanical heads ensures a perfect alignment and spacing between the strings.

The main disadvantage is that it is heavier than a traditional arch. The sum of weight of all the mechanical pegs (22 units) is noticeable, while a traditional stick uses leather rings that “weigh nothing.” Another less obvious aspect for beginners (but not for professionals) is that the sound does not travel in the same way in a perforated stick (pegs and groove rail) than in a solid traditional kora stick with tuning leather rings. The transmission of the bass is deeper and overall the sound resonates in a more “round” way inside the calabash of a traditional kora arch.

The sum of the pros and cons makes the majority of players to opt for the mechanical tuning koras, both beginners and professionals, finding it more practical.

KORA manding harps

Koras maker (West African Harps) · Contact : kora.manding.harps@gmail.com