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date: 15 November 2019


  • Hugh Davies


An electromagnetically amplified lamellaphone invented by Ernst Zacharias in 1963 and manufactured by Hohner in Trossingen until 1965. It consists of a rectangular metal container about 33 cm long from which protrude the ends of 36 metal tongues, arranged in three rows and tuned in alternate 4ths and 5ths; this lay-out allows the basic chords in every key to be fingered conveniently. Each tongue, when plucked by the thumb or fingers, transmits its vibrations to a smaller second tongue, tuned to the same pitch, which is amplified by means of an electromagnetic pickup. A lever-operated damper mechanism is provided. The total range of the instrument is a minor 13th. Although a commercial failure, the guitaret was used by several pop performers including Leo Abrahams, Warren Ellis, and Roland Wolff, and its sound has been sampled for electronic reproduction. Zacharias experimented with this and other products (e.g. Cembalet, Clavinet, Pianet) as a means of modernizing older conventional sound-sources, in this case the so-called thumb piano or kalimba....

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