NAMM 2013 - Wheelharp

Antiquity Music introduces the Wheelharp, a keyboard based instrument that lets you orchestrate actual bowed strings.


This unique and elegant looking instrument is set to wow the crowd at the coming 2013 NAMM Show, you can find them at Hall E, Booth #1280.

Although synths and samplers have produced some convincing string section sounds, many will still claim that they cannot compare to the real deal. The Wheelharp provides a real alternative to processed string sounds, it utilizes actual strings that are mechanically bowed.

According to Antiquity Music, Wheelharp is like having a real chamber string orchestra at hand. It is designed to replicate the sound of a string orchestra using actual bowed strings via a simple key press on the keyboard.

When you press any of its keys, its internal mechanism will move the selected key's respective string toward a rotating wheel with a rosined edge. The string is then bowed by this rotating mechanism which creates its basic sound. If you think dynamics will be lacking, the Wheelharp can translate your subtle fingerings into a range of bowing intensities!


The instrument comes with two pedals which add even more tone and dynamics control. The right pedal controls the speed of a motor that turns the wheel, this varies the bowing speed of the wheel against the string and thus can create dynamic variation. By playing with the wheel speed and the key depth, you can create convincing swells and decrescendos. The left pedal acts as a full damper covering all the strings.

Aside from the actual bowed strings, the Wheelharp comes with an electromagnetic pickup that floats above the strings. It also has a piezoelectric pickup mounted to the soundboard, letting you fully control the amplified timbre of the Wheelharp.

Quoting Antiquity Music: "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"

The Wheelharp by Jon Jones & Sons, is set to be available in two Linear or Radial versions, featuring a curved or flat keyboard, and you get to pick between 3, 4 or 5 octaves. The Wheelharp with 5-octave range is priced at $11,900, the 4-octave version is at $10,900 and finally the 3-octave version is available for $9,900. Find out more about this unique instrument by visiting Antiquity Music.

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Sounds like a Synth

Nice idea and looks great but it sounds like a bit like a synth. Needs a controller that can get the note transitions right - maybe something with a bow, possibly shaped a bit like a violin :)