The strings on a kora used to be made of thin strips of animal hide but since nylon
fishing line became readily available that is what is used. Fishing line is referred
to both in terms of its thickness (diameter) and its weight, or rather the weight
it can take without breaking (BS).
The thicker, stronger lines are used for the bass notes, progressing up to quite
fine line at the top. If you use too heavy a line and try and tune it high you are
putting unnecessary strain on the line and it will keep breaking. So contrary to
what seems natural, if the line keeps breaking, try a slightly thinner line.
Below is a suggested list of lines used on a kora with the first bass note set to
F. Higher pitches may need lighter strings throughout. This is what we use as standard,
but there are no fixed figures and koras vary a lot so use what works and achieves
the sound and tension you like.
The line most readily available is monofilament nylon. We sell sets of strings as
below for £19 inc UK postage.
Also available is Fluorocarbon line (sometimes referred to as KF) It gives a brighter
sound and more volume but is harder to control as a player as it has more sustain,
so we would recommend it only for more experienced players. It is also very expensive
in the thicker gauges and hard to find in the UK, so we often make a twisted string
for the first bass string. We can provide sets of Fluorocarbon strings for £60 inc
We are investigating the use of harp strings which are in essence KF line, watch
this space for updates!
Pink - use 1.8mm, approx 250-300lbs Green -use 1.2mm, approx 125lb Yellow - use 1mm,
approx 70-100lbs Purple - use 0.7mm, approx 60lbs Red - use 0.6mm, approx 45lbs Grey
- use 0.5mm, approx 30lbs