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There are a number of West African instruments that are handcrafted in the traditional style. The instruments are built with excellent craftsmanship and produces beautiful and unique sound. Here are some amazing West African instruments.

Bolon

Bolon

It is a traditional Mande harp that contains a large open-top gourd covered with skin. It has a fretless neck, bridge and 3 or 4 tunable strings. This a low pitch instrument compared to the other West African instruments. This instrument is associated with the warrior class. These are hand made in Guinea or Mali using traditional methods. It features large, thick calabash gourd having a diameter of 16 – 18’’ with a bass hole. On top, there is a thick calf or goat skin that is tied with decorative stitching. The fretless neck is curved and extends from end of gourd 32 – 38’’. It has a hardwood bridge with anchor that holds 3 to 4 leather strings in place. You can tune the instrument by sliding strings up or down the neck.

Jeli Ngoni

Jeli Ngoni

It is a traditional Mande instrument. It is alute that is played by the jelis. It has a solid handcrafted hardwood body that is 15 – 18’’ long and 4-5’’ wide. There is a hollow body with goat skin covering, similar to a drum. It has a fretless fingerboard and four to seven fish-line strings, that is strung over a bridge and tensioned by leather straps. The instrument is similar to banjo and is still popular today in modern Mande music. The instruments are built in Mali and Guinea.

Kamel Ngoni

Kamel Ngoni

This is part of the family of hunters lute-harps of the Mande people in Mali.It is similar to Kora with calabash gourd body, notched bridge, hand posts, and neck. It has 7 to 8 strings. The musician holds the two hands on the hand posts and plucks the open strings with thumbs and fingers.

Kora

Kora

It is a Mande stringed instrument. It is like a combination of harp and lute and produces a classical guitar-like sound. It is played throughout western Africa. Its main components consist of half-gourd, full-length neck, notched floating bridge, key-tuned tensioning and decorated hand posts. In order to play this instrument, you need to hold it facing towards you, hold the hand posts with both hand and then pluck the strings using your fingers and thumbs.

All these instruments are traditional and are still played in West African music. All the instruments are handcrafted with attention to great details, and thus making them precious.

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