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This African kora harp was made in the south of France, and combines a traditional sound and playing style with some more modern features - you'll note the rotamatic style tuners, which are a considerable improvement on the usual friction pegs. The body is still goatskin stretched over a calabash, though. It's played facing the musician, with the fingers gripped around the vertical posts and the strings picked with the thumbs.
The owner wanted me to fit a pickup system. After some initial experimentation I recommended a K&K Trinity Mini Pro system.
The Trinity Mini Pro is a dual source pickup/internal mic system with a dual-channel preamp for steel-string guitars. The three-head transducer pickup is the same system used in K&K's best-selling Pure Mini. The Trinity Microphone features an integrated 5" gooseneck (allowing it to be positioned in a number of ways) and 20-20,000 Hz frequency range. As this is a stereo system, it is complemented by the Trinity Preamp - a dual-channel, external, beltclip model with adjustable gain-vol-bass-mid-treble for each channel. The system comes with a stereo endpin jack and a 6-foot stereo cable - no soldering required!
The mic adds some extra air and shimmer to the overall sound, which is very beneficial with an instrument like the kora. The mic can be included in the mix as much as the situation allows for, using the preamp's controls. As a general rule, the lower the stage volume, the more mic can be blended in. This system is great for home recordings too!
After some trials, we mounted the three transducers on the inside of the goatskin head, under the middle of the bridge. The gooseneck mike was attached to what on a banjo would be called the 'perch pole' through the middle of the instrument - no idea what it's called on a kora! Sounded fabulous. Wish I could play it, though.