Single-fret Hanago makes a play for future tunesmiths
A new 16-string, single-fret acoustic instrument called the Hanago has launched on Kickstarter, which is designed to combine the best aspects of piano and guitar to make learning to play easy, while also laying down the foundations of music theory.
The Hanago is already on sale in South Korea via music brand Koaura, and is launching to US string pickers through Kickstarter. Rocking hammer dulcimer or zither vibes, the instrument can be held like a smartphone and the strings plucked with thumbs, placed on a lap and played using one hand while the other cups the top or laid on its side and strummed like a guitar. Though not mentioned in the product description, it could probably be sounded using dulcimer hammers too.
It's being aimed at folks who want to play music but are bamboozled by the complexities of doing so on piano or guitar. The 16 guitar strings up top are tuned to match notes from a piano keyboard – running from G3 through C4 and up beyond the octave to A5. This should make learning as easy as "do-re-mi" while offering familiarity to accomplished keyboard wizards looking for something a little different.
Like a single-fret guitar, the Hanago sports a "bridge" to the bottom together with tuners and a fret arc to the top with a short gap to the nut. There are black dots placed at certain positions within the gap, and pressing down the string at these points allows for semi-tones to be played. Simple chords can be formed by sounding three or four strings at once, and melodies by fingerpicking individual or combined strings.
Made from a beech wood core and mahogany base, the instrument can be played acoustically, but a piezo pickup is installed along with an instrument output jack for amplified tones. The picking hand is raised above the strings at the wrist by a safety cover for comfort (and to avoid accidental muting), the strings can be tuned using a regular clip-on guitar tuner and the supplied hex wrench, and it will ship with a cloth pouch to protect it during transport in a backpack.
The Hanago measures 13.38 x 8.26 in (34 x 21 cm) and weighs in at 1.43 lb (648.6 g). Kickstarter pledges currently start at US$99 – a saving of 34% on the expected retail price – and though the usual crowdfunding caveats apply, if all goes to plan with the already funded campaign, shipping is estimated to start in June. The video below has more.