the first third-generation cimbalom!


My instrument is a unique new piece from the HOLAK cimbalom workshops HOLAK, which we describe (with only a little hyperbole) as “the first third-generation cimbalom”. The first concert cimbalom was created in 1872 by József Schunda. His successor Lajos Bohák crucially improved the instrument by broadening the range (C2–A6), perfecting the pedal system, changing the location of the sound posts, and so on. Since that time, all future designs (such as those by Kozmosz and Artex) more or less copied that of Bohák’s cimbalom.

 the birth of the instrument

Our new instrument was finished in November 2012 in the workshop of Vladimír Holiš, with the significant contributions of his colleagues Jiří Krpec and Jan Pustka. This unique piece was built for Daniel Skála and represents the result of an intensive collaboration between Vladimír Holiš and several leading cimbalom players around the world.

what makes this cimbalom unique?

 It represents the fruit of fifteen years of intensive dialogue. The slightly altered sound post position in HOLAK brand instrument ensures greater balance across the range of the instrument, the extension of the strings in the middle of the range eliminates the problem of low string tension (which is about half that of concert grand pianos), the elaborate numbering (thickness) of the strings ensures smooth transition between various positions on the instrument.

Daniel Skála also initiated the creation of a radically improved pedal system, which was, up to that point, one of the weakest aspects of the cimbalom’s construction. This instrument can be dampened across its range, including the uppermost strings. This unique system for dampening the upper strings was created by Jan Pustka. One further advantage is that it can be added to any cimbalom of this type. The shape of the pedal lyre and the anchoring of the pedal itself are also completely new. The choice of top-quality resonant wood is a matter of course.

 unique design

 Another unique aspect of this instrument is its design. In collaboration with designer Jitka Škopová, Skála created utterly individual and elegant designs for a concert cimbalom. Given the high cost, this idea remains unrealised. The look of the existing cimbalom, however, finds considerable inspiration in these designs. 


 a greater range

Another improvement is the extension of the bass range down to A1, which created a more balanced sound in the extreme low register.

The greater range results in a different string lay out, which can lead to great confusion, particularly to players used to other cimbalom layouts. We addressed this issue by adding the possibility of inserting a felt strip under the added strings.

 “I’ve never met an instrument like it anywhere in the world. The unique character of this beautiful cimbalom leads me to continually discover new sonic and performing possibilities. Honest music is made all the easier by an instrument like this one!” Daniel Skála