04 May Rope system restored
I have repaired the strings and have the rope system restored of a Keita Balafon! A balafonist from Nordhorn, Germany, provided me with her balafon whose string had broken. According to my teacher Youssouf Keita, it was built by his brother Seydou Keita from the Ivory Coast. It is one with a so-called ‘hanging mat of sound bars’. According to Youssouf, these are ‘disign’ balafons that came about after much experimentation in the family of builders and many detail improvements. In my opinion, they are the best balafons you can get. Many great balafon players use the Keita Balafon. The frame therefore bears the builder’s ‘signature’. The balafon is a kind of mixture of the traditional Bobo balafon and the Ghane Gyll. Large gourds and a tension system to suspend the sound bars ‘freely’in such a way that when sounds of wood on wood are heard, it is almost impossible.
But yes, if the cordage of this is broken the whole thing comes loose; patchwork (elastic and plasters) doesn’t really help then….. I picked a nice sturdy cord, the rope system restored and made the new mat with it. While the balafon lay ‘open’, I also noticed that the fine tuning of the gourds could be improved in two places. So we took care of that as well. Within a week she had her instrument back home and ready for a performance with her friends from Twente.