How to Make a Tin Can African Kora Harp + Cigar Box Kora

Discover a wild instrument from Africa and make your own using a tin can!  Then keep scrolling to discover other Cigar Box Nation members who have created cigar box versions, too.

Nicolas Bras is a Youtube star who makes instruments out of junk.  In this tutorial, he re-creates a traditional African kora harp from a big tin can, a wooden stick, classical guitar tuners and strings.  He then creates a fantastic song with it and other homemade instruments.

First, some background on the instrument:  The kora and it's close relative, the kamele n'goni are African harp instruments that have two rows of vertical strings that are played with your thumbs.  The body is typically a large calabash gourd with a goat hide body and neck that passes through the body like a cigar box guitar.

Pictured: A traditional Kora made by Kalachev Arts and Craft.

Here's a video featuring musician, Watcha playing "Djina Bantan" on his traditional kamele n'goni

HOW-TO BUILD TUTORIAL:  Follow along as Nicolas Bras' goes through the steps to build the Tin Can Kora:

Get his full blueprints for the instrument here.  Note:  His measurements are in millimeters.

EXTRA:  Cigar Box Nation members create cigar box koras!

Steve Dahm, a.k.a. Low Budget Luthier created this 16 string cigar box kora back in 2013. 

His bridge sat very high in order to contain two rows of eight strings.  Look at it bending!

Another view of Low Budget Luthier's kora.  His tuners are zither tuning pins.

This cigar box kora was built by Gene Jaimez of Laredo, TX.  He says, "This instrument is a hybrid of the African Kora. It has 15 strings instead of the 21 strings usually found on the African Kora. This instrument is tuned to various pentatonic tunings. The strings are steel or bronze guitar strings instead of nylon. The box is made from poplar wood as is the neck. The tuners are econo guitar tuners with a piezo transducer affixed to the bridge. I fashioned the 15 hole tail piece from angled aluminum."

Have you made your own version of an African instrument?  Post photos and descriptions below!   

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Man, got strings? That Nicolos makes some kool stuff, you should hear him play the flute! 

Brian, you got that right!  His Youtube channel is one of my favorites lately.

-shane

Nicolas is incredibly resourceful. His channel is fascinating!

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