The Long Neck Tarhu
Long Neck Tarhu
4 playing strings with 8 sympathetic strings.
Body made from 18 ribs of figured Blackwood, Blackwood neck,
Ebony and/or Boxwood fingerboard, Schaller gold machine heads
The price above does not include case, freight or GST (if purchased within Australia). Long neck tarhu cases $600 (laminated wood construction)
The necks have an adjustable truss rod, with sympathetic strings running along a channel in the middle of the neck.
The vibrating string length ranges from 80cm which is the maximum length available using cello strings, down to 68cm, which is normal cello string length. A huge range of tuning options are available, depending on musical requirements.
Spikes of various lengths are available, depending on the holding position being used. A spike that sits on the floor can be quite useful as it allows the instrument to be comfortably held much lower. Instead of sitting it on top of the thighs, it can then be held between the knees so that the bow moves across just above knee height. This can significantly reduce strain on the left arm when reaching notes at the top of the neck, especially for shorter players.
Sympathetic strings are of plain steel/brass in a range of gauges. These strings sound best if the tension is kept low, which also means that breakages are very uncommon. The sympathetic strings are usually tuned to whichever scale is being played, or alternatively to a selection of chromatic notes when the music played involves a lot of modulation
The long neck tarhu was the first instrument in the tarhu family to be created. Its design brought together two different streams of stringed instrument playing: the long slender neck allows 2½ octaves to be played on a single string with the melodic fluidity encountered on traditional instruments that employ along-the-string techniques (as in tanbur and erhu); the use of 4 playing strings facilitates across-the-strings playing (as in the violin family), and extends the range of easily available notes to over 4½ octaves.
The tarhu design uses a unique acoustic system, where the string’s vibrations are transferred to a featherweight wooden cone suspended within the spherical body. This design creates extremely sensitive instruments with an unprecedented range of tone colour variations.
When the tarhu’s acoustic properties are combined with the wide range of available playing techniques, the result is an instrument that is capable of playing many styles of music inspired by both East and West. The long neck tarhu can be played using bow, several different forms of plectra, and fingerstyle
Fretted and Fretless
Traditionally, long-necked bowed instruments are fretted with threads tied around the neck, and this method has been found quite suitable for the tarhu. Many different tuning systems are available using tied frets, as the threads are moveable, and frets are easily added or removed. Systems range from 12 tones to the octave, thru to traditional Turkish tanbur fretting of 27 notes to the octave.
When playing with a bow, the traditional Turkish fretting produces a result that is close to fretless, in that the tones are so close together that an almost smooth glissandi can be achieved. However, once a fretless longneck tarhu has been tried, it becomes clear that there is a big difference between a fretted "almost smooth glissandi" and a fretless glissandi that is actually smooth. There is also a deeper level of tone colour exploration possible without frets. When used as a plucked instrument, the difference between fretted and unfretted tarhus is more pronounced, glissandi of any sort not being possible when frets are present.