VIDEO DEMO of BIRDSONG INSTRUMENTS
16 and 14 STEEL STRING ‘TUNERS’ NIGHTINGALES
14 STRING TUNERS NIGHTINGALE PLAYED IN UPRIGHT POSITION IN CONTACT WITH THE PLAYERS EAR and BODY
‘EAR’ IDESCENCE DETAIL (in the shade)
TUNING CHORD GUIDES STORAGE DETAIL
Note: scroll down through this introductory text if you would first like to look at more photographs of the various Nightingale models.
‘Ear’-idescent Nightingales are autoharp-like instruments (an easy chording instrument, where by depressing a bar on the instrument the strings not in that chord are muted, and then strumming, you get a chord – no difficult fingering like on a guitar) with several significant differences which are summarized below:
1, Fewer strings for tuning (12-18 instead of 30-36) and guitar/mandolin tuning machines on some models for quick, easy tuning. This also results in a narrower profile when strumming chords. All standard guitar strings for easy and inexpensive re-stringing.
2. Rich 12 string guitar like sound (thin – 1/8 inch, more resonate soundboard and larger, deeper sound body – almost 3 inches – for more bass resonance). Sound hole at the bottom of the instrument on some models for uninterrupted soundboard sound transference. Deep body construction more structurally sound.
3. Moveable bridge for play in at least 8 Keys (one, two and sometimes three at a time). This is akin to the effect guitarists achieve when they use a capo. Also, instant A-440 re-tuning of all strings. For example, if the instrument as a whole has gone a bit flat and you want to play along with someone else at standard pitch, instead of having to re-tune all of the strings individually, just move the bridge slightly and all the strings will be instantly brought into tune.
4. Auto-transposition function (read music in any Key while playing in another Key). Select the Chord Guide matching the Key of the music you are reading and move the bridge to the Key position you actually want to play in.
5. Quick release and interchangeable chord bars and quick release chord mechanism. Additionally, the chord bars are designed to be pushed down at the end, not in the middle as with traditional autoharps. This facilitates more comfortable play when the instrument is played in an upright position. Unique Single Chord Bar feature available on the 12 string models.
6. Specifically designed to be held comfortably with one’s ear (reason for the ‘ear‘- idescent naming) and chest directly in contact with the instrument and to be easily played with the eyes closed. This produces an amazing sound and vibratory sensation. All Nightingales can be chorded on the lap as well (as with traditional autoharps).
7. Tuned in one (sometimes two or three – adjunct) Key(s) at a time for easy improvisation (Keys changed by moving the bridge and/or re-tuning one or two strings).
As with all the Seven Arrows Instruments, Nightingales are designed as colorful works of art to be displayed as such on any wall or facsimile. The ‘Ear’-idescent word is one of our own making, combining the notion of an instrument specifically designed with comfortable ‘ear’ contact in mind, and ‘idescent’ derived from the word ‘iridescent’, which is characteristic of all Nightingales (they are all a colorful blending of wood, metal, paint, iridized glass and/or holographic art paper).
All Nightingale Tuning and Chord Guides, tuning wrench (pinned versions), Single Chord Bar (12 string models) are stored out of sight on the instrument for easy accessibility. Each instrument comes with strap buttons and a strap and can be optionally fitted with an external soundboard pick-up for amplification. All are easily tunable with either hand held or clip on electronic tuners.
The number of chord bars varies from 10 to 15 and at a minimum includes all major and minor chords, one suspended chord and when depressing the suspended and its relative major chord together, an ‘open 5th chord’. On models with more chord bars, included would be dominant and maj 7th chords, minor 7th chords and other optional chords.
Note: Though 10 to 15 chord bars may not seem like many at first glance, remember that when the bridge is moved to a different Key position on the soundboard (all of which are clearly marked on the soundboard), pushing the same chord bar produces an entirely different chord in that new Key, so that the total number of chords playable on the instrument equals the (number of chord bars) x (the number of Key positions), a minimum of 10 x 8 = 80 different chords. And if this seems like it might be confusing, it is really quite simple and easy, remembering that there are easily interchangeable Chord Guides on the chord mechanism for identifying the chords playable in each Key.
Summary of ‘ear’-idescent Nightingales (latest versions)
(length x bottom width x top width – all instruments approximately 3 inches deep)
Medium body models – 24 x 7 x 9 inches – approximately 3 1/2 lbs
1. ‘Pinned‘ version using traditional autoharp tuning pins – 12 steel or nylon strings, 10 chord bars (optional), single chord bar, string spacing 11/32 inch, one Key at a time (C/F mode).
2. ‘Tuners‘ version using mandolin tuning machines – 12 nylon or steel strings, 10 chord bars (optional), single chord bar, string spacing 11/32 inch, one Key at a time (C/F mode – add 5 inches to overall length of instrument for tuners headpiece and 1 lb to the weight).
Large body models – 26 x 7 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches – approximately 4 lbs
1. ‘Pinned‘ version using traditional autoharp tuning pins – 14 steel strings, 12 chord bars, string spacing 5/16 inch, one Key at a time (G/C mode).
2. ‘Tuners‘ versions using mandolin/guitar tuning machines –
(a) 14 nylon or steel strings, 12 chord bars, string spacing 5/16 inch, one Key at a time (G/C mode – add 5 inches to overall length of instrument for tuners headpiece add 1 lb to the weight).
(b) 16 steel strings, 15 chord bars, string spacing 9/32 inch, two (adjunct) Keys at a time, e.g., C and F, and when bridge moved, D and G, then E and A, etc. (add 5 1/2 inches to overall length of instrument for tuners headpiece add 1 lb to the weight).
3. ’Pinned‘ version using traditional autoharp tuning pins – 18 steel strings (2 octaves in ascending order – 3 Keys), 15 chord bars, string spacing 1/4 inch, three Keys at a time (e.g., C, F and G and when bridge moved, Db, F# and Ab, then D, G and A, etc.).
4. ‘Tuners‘ versions using guitar tuning machines (add 6 inches to overall length of instrument for tuners headpiece add 1 1/2 lb to the weight). By special order only.
(a) 18 steel strings arranged in doublets, 15 chord bars, string spacing 1/4 inch between doublets and 3/16 inch within doublets, one Key at a time (D/G mode). These one Key at a time versions have a fuller sound because there are more strings played with each chord.
(b) 18 steel strings (2 octaves in ascending order – 3 Keys), 15 chord bars, string spacing 1/4 inch, three Keys at a time (e.g., C, F and G and when bridge moved, Db, F# and Ab, then D, G and A, etc.).
Note – You will notice as you scroll through the pictures below that many of the chord bars on these instruments are colored coded in order to make it easy to differentiate between major, minor, suspended and 7th chords, so as to enhance improvisational play.
12 NYLON/STEEL STRING ‘PINNED’ NIGHTINGALE
(NOT CURRENTLY SHOWN)
Our smallest, simplest, least expensive Nightingale. A good starter instrument for children (age 10 and up) and traveling instrument for adults.
Overall dimensions 24 x 7 x 9 inches, traditional autoharp tuning pins, 12 nylon or steel strings, 10 chord bars, string spacing 3/8 inch.
Only the 12 string Nightingales come with the additional Single Chord Bar feature which facilitates easy lap held chording of all major, minor and 7th chords in one Key at a time (please see the photograph below).
Note – this version may be purchased without the 10 bar chord mechanism (a substantial savings) and then added at a later date if desired.
price – $300 (add $125 for the 10 bar chord mechanism)
12 NYLON/STEEL STRING ‘TUNERS’ NIGHTINGALE
Overall size – 29 x 7 x 9 inches, weight 4 1/2 lbs
12 nylon/steel strings, 8 chord bars (future models 10)
With moveable bridge in the C/F position, note range is c to g’
Quick release chord mechanism and chord bars
Single Bar Chording
Chord/Tuning Guides – C/F, D/G, and E/A
price – $ 550
QUICK RELEASE CHORD MECHANISM REMOVED
14 STEEL STRING ‘PINNED’ NIGHTINGALES
(All of the 14 and 16 string large body size Nightingales are recommended for ages 12 and older)
Pictured above on the left is the last remaining original 14 string ‘pinned’ Nightingale embellished with iridized stained glass. Its dimensions are 27 x 6 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches and weighs almost 6 lbs because of the stained glass. It has 8 wide chord bars making this instrument quite suitable for a large person with big hands. The unique chord mechanism can be played either right or left handed. It has 4 Chord Guides for the Keys of Bb/F, C/G, D/A and E/Ab.
price – $395 (reduced from $475) – SOLD
All 14 string models, with the bridge in the G/C position, have a diatonic (7 tone) 2 octave note range from g to f’. To clarify, most Nightingales are diatonic instruments playable in one Key at a time (the exceptions being the 16 string and one of the 18 string versions). The beauty of the one Key instruments is that by raising or lowering the doublet set of mid-strings on the instrument by a half-step, the instrument is instantly converted to play in the adjunct Key. For example, when in the Key of C, raising the two f tuned strings (a doublet in the middle of all the strings) to f#, instantly converts the instrument into the Key of G. The Chord Guides are organized so that the two Keys playable at the same bridge position are on each side of one of the Guides, e.g., for the two instruments pictured above, Bb/F, C/G, D/A and so on.
The newer instrument pictured above on the right has 12 chord bars with quick release chord mechanism and bars. It dimensions are 27 x 7 x 10 1/2 inches and weight 4 lbs. It has Tuning and Chord Guides for the following Keys – Bb/F, C/G, D/A, Eb/Bb and E/B.
price – $475
Note: there is a lot more descriptive information provided here than is really necessary, mostly because all of the instruments currently for sale herein were experimental models and were intentionally varied in order to try out different options. They all are beautiful in their own unique way.
14 and 16 STEEL STRING ‘TUNERS’ NIGHTINGALES
(Newer 14 string ‘tuners’ Nightingales to accommodate both nylon and steel strings)
14 STEEL STRING TUNERS NIGHTINGALE
The 14 string ‘tuners’ Nightingale pictured above is the original ‘tuners’ version and a little smaller than the rest, measuring 31 x 6 x 10 inches and weighs 5 lbs.
It has a quick release chord mechanism and chord bars (10) and is fitted with a pick-up.
It includes Chord Guides for the Keys of F/C, G/D, Ab/Eb, A/E and Bb/F. Note that this gives different combinations of Keys playable at the same bridge position than other versions.
It has one very unique feature – an adjustable, retractable knee rest for positioning the height of the side of the instrument comfortably against one’s ear.
Note that this was the first Nightingale to use the sound hole at the bottom design, which seems to result in a louder more resonant sound, probably because the transference of sound waves through the soundboard is uninterrupted by the conventional sound hole in the middle of the instrument found on most instruments.
price – $525 (reduced from $650)
16 STEEL STRING TUNERS NIGHTINGALE
Pictured above is the second 16 string ‘tuners’ Nightingale. Its overall size is 34 x 6 x 11 1/2 inches and it weighs 6 lbs.
It also comes with quick release chord mechanism and chord bars (10).
Depending on the bridge location, it plays in the following Keys at the same time – F/Bb, G/C, Ab/Db, A/D, Bb/Eb, and B/E and has Tuning and Chord Guides for all the above Keys.
This particular instrument includes a mute to dampen the out of Key notes if one is wanting to play in one Key with eyes closed and therefore not play the out of Key strings.
As with the 14 string models, the strings range in pitch, with the bridge in the G/C position, from g to f#’ (i.e., g a b c d e f’f f#’f# g a b c d e).
price – $500 (reduced from $ 600)
16 STRING TUNERS BRASS SOUNDBOARD NIGHTINGALE
This is another unique, one-of-a-kind Nightingale, fitted with a very thin brass soundboard with incredible sustain properties.
Its dimensions are 36 x 7 x 11 inches and its weight 7 lbs. It utilizes a re-conditioned 15 chord bar autoharp chord mechanism.
It comes with Chord Guides for playing in the following Keys, two at a time, depending on the position of the moveable bridge – F/C, F#/B, G/D, Ab/Eb, and A/E.
Additionally, it has two chord bars for muting the out of Key strings, facilitating random improvisational play.
This Nightingale is also fitted with a pick-up for amplification.
price – $550 (reduced from $700)
16 and 14 STRING TUNERS NIGHTINGALES
The 16 and 14 string ‘tuners’ Nightingales pictured above are the latest versions available. Both come with re-conditioned autoharp chord mechanisms. Their dimensions and weights are as follows:
16 string – 33 x 7 x 10 1/2 inches, 5 lbs; 14 string – 31 x 7 x 10 1/2 inches, 5 lbs
The 16 string on the left has a 15 bar chord mechanism, with two of the bars designed to mute the out of Key notes. It has the following Chord and Tuning Guides and is playable simultaneously in the Keys of Bb/F, C/G, Db/Ab, D/A, Eb/Bb and E/B.
price – $650
The 14 string on the right has a 12 bar chord mechanism and Chord and Tuning Guides for the Keys of Bb/F, C/G, D/A, Eb/Bb and E/B, and simply requires either sharpening or flattening the two mid-strings to change from one Key to the other, e.g. from C to G.
price – $600
18 STEEL STRING ‘PINNED’ NIGHTINGALES
(Description and photo to be inserted soon)
price – $550
18 STEEL STRING ‘TUNERS’ NIGHTINGALES
(Both of the 18 string Nightingales are recommended for ages 16 and older.)
The 18 string ‘tuners’ Nightingales pictured above are the only versions currently available. These one Key at a time versions have a fuller sound because there are more strings played with each chord. Both have re-conditioned 15 bar autoharp chord mechanisms. Their dimensions and weights are as follows:
18 string left – 35 x 7 x 11 inches, 6 lbs; 18 string right – 37 x 7 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches, 5 1/2 lbs
The latest instrument on the left has 9 sets of doublet strings tuned like this with the bridge in the D/G position – g’g a’a b’b c’c d’d e’e f#’f# g’g” a’a”. The Keys arrangement and Chord/Tuning Guides on this instrument (one Key at a time, changing Key by raising or lowering the two c strings) is as follows – F/C, G/D, Ab/Eb, A/E and Bb/F.
price – $700
The instrument on the right (the first 18 string) also has 9 sets of doublet strings tuned like this with the bridge in the C/G position – f’ f g’g a’a b’b c’c d’d e’e f#’f# g’g”. The Keys arrangement and Chord Guides on this instrument (one Key at a time, changing Key by raising or lowering the four f strings) is as follows – Bb/F, C/G, D/A, Eb/Bb and E/B.
price – $500 (reduced from $700)
Note – there are no three Keys at a time ‘tuners’ Nightingales available at this time. Please request by special order. With the bridge in the C/F/G position, the string tuning progression would be as follows:
g a bb b c d e f f# g a bb b c d e f f#
price – $725
Note: there are even more Nightingale photos on the Miscellaneous page.