The Wheelharp

The Wheelharp is a groundbreaking keyboard musical instrument that gives the player the ability to orchestrate a full chromatic scale of sixty-one (61) actual bowed strings at one’s own fingertips, almost like having a real chamber string orchestra at hand.

With an exotic profile and stunning rosette appointments, the Wheelharp’s appearance is equally as breathtaking as its audible character. It is available in a Radial Model (curved keyboard) and a Linear Model (traditional straight keyboard), and in several ranges.

It utilizes a patent-pending action and bridge to translate the player’s subtle fingerings into a range of bowing intensities, and comes equipped with a damper system and electronic pickup system, allowing individuals to sculpt astonishingly beautiful and complex sounds. For musicians, composers, and studios that seek to create the natural sound of classical string instruments while avoiding the frequently sterile quality of digital string synthesizers and samples, or for those looking to foray into new sonic territory, the Wheelharp presents a truly exciting opportunity.

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HOW IT WORKS

When the player presses any key on the Wheelharp, the action moves the selected key’s respective string toward a rotating wheel with a rosined edge, thereby bowing the string. With the right pedal, the player controls the speed of a motor that turns the wheel, which varies the bowing speed of the wheel against the string and thus changes the dynamic effect. For instance, the wheel speed and the key depth can both be used to create swells and decrescendos. The action for each note can easily be removed as necessary for maintenance or string replacement. The left pedal controls a full damper system that extends across the strings. An electromagnetic pickup floats above the strings and a piezoelectric pickup is mounted to the soundboard, allowing for the player to fully control the amplified timbre of the Wheelharp.

WHY THE WHEELHARP?

Bowed musical stringed instruments have been utilized since ancient times, and recently imitated through sampling and synthesis. Throughout the centuries, many have attempted to develop a mechanical keyboard instrument that can create the sound of multiple bowed string instruments. However, most of these instruments have been either needlessly complex and inconsistent or of limited capability. Today, string instrument sampling and string synthesizers have yielded innovative results that come close to but frequently fall short of creating convincing, authentic bowed-string sounds. The Wheelharp vastly improves upon these mechanical instruments by combining a surprisingly efficient design with extensive dynamic control and a full chromatic scale, giving the player a rich sound palette of actual bowed strings that cannot be equaled by synthesis or sampling.




HISTORY OF THE WHEELHARP

In 2001, as Jon Jones was regulating his hurdy gurdy, an ancient instrument that uses a rosined wheel to bow strings, he realized how great it would be to have a full-scale chromatic keyboard instrument on which each string would a different note that could be individually bowed on a rosined wheel. He then began building the first Wheelharp, which accomplished this goal with exceptional sonic beauty. He succeeded it with a smaller, more portable version featuring several improvements.





In 2010, Jones began a collaboration with Antiquity Music and its founder Mitchell Manger that would result in the next generation of Wheelharps. Featuring a tonal range of up to five octaves, and numerous innovations that enhance its playability, tone, and beauty, the Wheelharp – as made and sold exclusively by Antiquity Music – is a work of art and technology unlike any before it.

WHEELHARP GALLERY

LISTEN TO THE WHEELHARP

SPECIFICATIONS

Models:
  • Radial Model (curved keyboard)
  • Linear Model (flat keyboard)
Ranges: (available for each Model)
  • 5-octave range, G2 – G7 range, 61 strings
  • 4-octave range, C3 – C7 range, 49 strings
  • 3-octave range, G3 – G6 range, 37 strings
Dimensions:
  • Linear Model, 5-octave: 50” H x 48” L x 37” W
  • Radial Model, 4-octave: 42” H x 42” L x 24” W
Weight:
  • Linear Model, 5-octave: 150 lbs
  • Radial Model, 4-octave: 75 lbs
• Pedal-actuated damper system
• Pedal-actuated motor with speed control
• Piezoelectric pickup system
• Electromagnetic pickup system
• Optional microphone pickup system
• Laminated maple pinblock, oak body
• Cast aluminum pulley

ORDER DETAILS

Introductory Pricing (Linear Model or Radial Model):

  • 5-octave range: $11,900
  • 4-octave range: $10,900
  • 3-octave range: $9,900
• ATA Road Case for the Wheelharp (optional & recommended): $1,450

For further information, please contact Antiquity Music:

Antiquity Music
12405 Venice Blvd. #321
Los Angeles, CA 90066

Telephone: +1 (310) 439-2643
Email: info@antiquitymusic.com

Hours:
M-F: 10 to 8 (PST)
Sat: 10 to 5 (PST)
Sun: CLOSED


ABOUT ANTIQUITY MUSIC

Antiquity Music, LLC is an antique and vintage musical instrument retailer and manufacturer based in Los Angeles, California. Founded by music attorney Mitchell Manger, Antiquity Music has been serving the international music industry for over five years as one of the most prominent dealers of exceptionally rare and exotic musical instruments. Catering to clients who seek instruments that will “set them apart” from the crowd while providing excellent sonic utility, Antiquity Music is in a unique position to offer the Wheelharp to musicians and composers.


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