I found this reference on John Gardner's web pages:
"What better a way to celebrate today than with a themed album release! Earlier in the year, I worked with composer Louis Mander on this set of original compositions and arrangements, largely inspired by the English folk tradition and, of course, this beautiful country in autumn. It was also the first opportunity I had to bring my new instrument, the ‘Sympolin’, to the outside world. This very special violin, commissioned by me and designed by David Bruce Johnson, is based on the Hardanger fiddle of Norway and the viola d’amore: whilst it plays like a modern violin, it also has 8 sympathetic strings which give it a ghostly, glassy sound."
Bob in Lone Oak, Texas
I haven't ever seen a Hardanger Fiddle "On Steroids"!
Makes sense that both John and Marie play the "Sympolin" - probably both use the exact same instrument (they're Married). ...haven't seen them both playing one, together.
John said he had his "Sympolin" custom made - most Hardanger fiddles only have 4, maybe up to 6 sympathetic strings. I'm actually surprised he's not using at least one more main string.
The "Sympolin" almost reminds me more of a "Viola d'amore" except it doesn't look to have a viola body.
John seemed so excited about this instrument (and it sounds GREAT)... so why's there's only one video with him playing it - in 7 years?
Maybe he ran into a snag with the harmonics while trying to get the most from his Jazz improvisations? Or, maybe he hasn't explored enough different tunings? Hardanger Fiddle players are big on tunings & droning - yet, I'm pretty sure Marie showed the "Sympolin" sounded wonderful with the main strings tuned GDAE/regular violin!
Maybe it will become more popular now that John's wife seems to enjoy it?
Jim Dunleavy - Thanks for sharing this!
You can check out Norwegian Hardanger in the "Scandinavian Fiddle" thread.
Jim Dunleavy, Bob, Gordon Shumway -
I just posted a wonderful PBS Special (26 minutes) titled, "Sympathetic Strings" on Page 3, in the "Anyone Interested in a Scandinavian Fiddle Genre?" thread. It's from May this year & you might find it very interesting - very relatable to this current thread.
You may also be interested in information/music played on a 5-string "Violoncello Da Spalla" (including a comparison w/viola) - also on Page 3 in the "Anyone Interested in a Scandinavian Fiddle Genre?" thread.