Around 12 years ago, Sona Jobarteh began a quest to develop koras that would benefit from the convenience and reliability of a modern adapted tuning system whilst still retaining the rich sound of koras made with traditional construction methods. This quest came as a result of her challenges as a performer seeking an instrument that could provide a well-rounded depth of sound, alongside reliability. Previously, she had tried playing many different types of koras that had been adapted with the modern tuning system which uses guitar tuning heads instead of traditional twisted leather rings. However these adapted koras did not come close in matching the depth of sound that came from the traditional koras she was accustomed to playing made by her great-uncle and master instrument maker Alieu Suso. This is where her journey began. She spent a number of years perfecting a design that finely balanced construction techniques used by her great uncle with the modern adaptation of tuning heads until she reached a prototype that offered both the sound quality and convenience she was seeking.
Very soon after she had successfully developed this design, Sona's kora students began requesting to purchase these koras, as they also noticed the difference in sound quality. For the past 9 years, the only koras Sona has ever performed with have been the very koras that she has adapted with her design.
Following the success of these koras, and in order to allow sales to expand, she spent a number of years training the accomplished instrument maker Abdoulie Keita in The Gambia to build these koras. As a result she has a successful workshop in The Gambia where koras, kora cases, kora modifications, designs and accessories are produced for both local and international customers.
These Koras are renowned for their superb sound-quality and depth of tone. Using uniquely adapted building techniques which have been refined over the years, these Koras are a perfect balance between traditional and modern.
Guitar tuners on the neck of the instrument allow the player to tune the instrument with ease, thus overcoming the challenging aspect of tuning and repairing strings on the old model. This subtle development brings this instrument into the modern era without compromising the old techniques that have been refined and handed down over generations of traditional instrument-makers from West Africa.
Unlike some other high-end pegged koras on the market these Koras are entirely built in The Gambia, West Africa from start to finish. This adds a highly valuable aspect to the quality and authenticity of the instrument. They are built using the finest craftsmanship and the necessary climate needed to create the best sounding instruments.
The neck of the instrument is built from top of the range mahogany hardwood which is beautifully hand crafted to an elegant smooth finish.
One of the most exciting aspects of these Koras is that they are uniquely fully customisable due to the skilled workmanship on hand at the workshop in The Gambia. Whether its a beautifully carved neck, handles, or bridge or stunning designs on the calabash, the option to customise gives a unique identity to your kora.
You can request any customised design that you can imagine, just by describing what you would like, sending us a picture or sketching your required design.
Painted Calabash designs are a bold and unique way to customise your kora.
Carved Calabash designs give an added layer of depth to the images.
From simple designs to complex carvings, the neck is a perfect place to add a unique feature to your kora.
£10 - £40
Not only can we offer designs to your bridge, was can also make it to fit the size of your hand.
The handles are a great place to add a personalised feature to your Kora.
All koras include standard tuning heads, however you can upgrade the tuning heads to premium quality.
£30 - £50
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