Electric viola da gamba

My electric viola da gamba is finally in working condition. When I got it from ErgoInstruments it was unplayable, the frets had unseated in shipping and fixing them was way above my skill level. I spent half a year looking for a luthier that could fix it, and now I have found one. A local wizard of all things technical went over it and hammered the frets back in position, filed and polished them for me. Better than new.

However, as I talked with Jesse Blue at ErgoInstruments about the problems I got the feeling that he thought that the gambas were more work than they were worth. Getting those very wide frets right on the curved neck of the gamba right is not easy. The frets on my Ergo gamba are not tied like on an ordinary gamba, but metal inserted in the neck like on a guitar.

Now I can finally play it, and it sounds great. Way better than I had expected. I run it through a Zoom B2 multieffect, the thing with the highest input impedance (1 MOhm) than I have access to. I tried my Korg AX1500G first, but it sounded very strange. I can’t find any spec sheet stating the input impedance on it, but I assume it is much lower. I tried to find a page for the AX1500G on KORGs web site, but it has become obsolete since I got it, the new model seems to be called AX3000G.

Gamba and friends

Gamba and friends

Also I have rearranged the furniture to move all my music gear away from the window, less crowded in the play area, but a bit less spacey around the dining table. On the picture above the gamba is in the middle, on the left is my Krappy tapper (now with fret markings) and on the right is my cello, also made by Jesse Blue. Strings must be my addiction, twelve on the Krappy, seven on the gamba and five on the cello.

www.ergoinstruments.com – ErgoInstruments, where I got my gamba and cello.

www.krappyguitars.com – Krappy guitars.

www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/b2/index.php – The B2 page at Zoom Corporation.



  1. Eric said,

    October 25, 2009 at 10:24

    What a graet combination of instruments. The tapping instrument plus a bowed instrument. Do you record any of your sounds?

    • Wilhelm said,

      October 25, 2009 at 11:22

      Hi Eric!

      The tapping is more of a thing I’d like to learn than something I actually do. I bought the instrument after seeing Rob Martino’s One Cloud on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JjimMO2SdE

      Then I have gotten distracted by other projects along the way, the most recent one is to set up some kind of recording capabilities. So perhaps I’ll have something to show in the future.

  2. Mark LaRiviere said,

    June 7, 2010 at 23:44

    I’m looking for metal strings for an electric VDG I am making. Wheree do I get them?

    • Wilhelm said,

      June 8, 2010 at 06:06

      Let me start by making it clear that string selection is NOT one of my areas of expertise, when I buy an instrument I ask for the empty string envelope that the strings came in just so that I can buy the same thing again for replacements.

      Still here?

      Right. I take it you are building an instrument with magnetic/coil pickups? And it is a bass size instrument?

      I don’t know of any bass size instruments using such pickups, both the Ergo and the Rubyinstruments use piezos. Which of course work well with nylon and gut strings.

      The GuitarViol uses magnetic pickups, if you are building a “guitar sized” instrument you could use those strings.

      But for a bass size viola da gamba with magnetic pickups…

      You could have custom strings made for the instrument, but that would be a bit expensive I think. And a bother whenever a string breaks.

      If you want to use existing strings I suggest you use flat wound strings for electric bass/guitar, and get creative with the tuning. But then we have hit the limits of my knowledge. You should take your question to the TalkBass forum,

      Hope I were of some help.

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