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Information About Kanteles

Carl Rahkonen's Kantele site

Carl Rahkonen is a music librarian and professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the kantele, and makes his dissertation available on his website. His research interests include music bibliography, fieldwork and sound archiving, Finnish, Scandinavian, Baltic, Russian and Celtic folk music; and folk instruments - especially the Finnish kantele.

Kantelista: a blog about kantele-related acoustics, music and culture.

The World Music Tradition Project: World Music Tradition is a non-profit Internet-based project whose purpose is to provide information about traditional cultures and music. Their kantele pages include information on the history, construction, decoration and playing technique of the kantele.

Kantele Groups/Associations

Want to chat about kanteles? Check out Kate Laity's group on Yahoo by clicking here.

Kantele This Facebook group is for anyone who loves playing or listening to the kantele.

Kantele in Japan Kanteles are popular in Japan. This Facebook group is for anyone who wants to keep up with kantele activities in Japan.

New Kantele Music This Facebook forum helps players and composers become aware of new music and playing styles for kanteles.

Kantele Makers

Baltic Psalteries has made over 2,000 psalteries since they opened in 2002. Around 10% of their instruments are donated to orphanages, music institutions and large families. The company offers custom-made instruments that can be painted or inscribed. They are located in Pushkino, near Moscow, Russia.

Gerry Henkel is the major supplier of kanteles and jouhikkos to North Americans. He builds traditional Finnish kanteles and jouhikkos in a small shop near Duluth, Minnesota and approaches making instruments as a craft and an art. In a workshop I attended, almost every single person was playing one of his instruments! I love the mini-ten string he made for me.

Koistinen Kanteles are known world-wide. The company is based in North Karelia and makes everything from small five strings to concert kanteles. You can also find accessories, such as kantele bags, strings, tuners and semitone levers on their site.

Michael King makes some of the most beautiful looking and sounding kanteles that I've ever seen. They have delicate lines and beautiful inlays. I own one of Michael's pentatonic kanteles and love the warm, rich sound of the music.

MusicMakers sells a ten string kantele, as well as a kantele kit that includes everything you need to put your own kantele together. A series of videos are posted on their website to help guide you in construction.

Pekka Lovikka has worked as a professional kantele builder since 1983. His company makes the Lovikka brand kantele and they deliver mostly in Finland, but also in Europe, USA and the rest of the world. I have one of his five string kanteles, as well as several of his piccolo kanteles. Not only do they sound good, they hold their tuning longer than any other kantele I've played.

Soitinrakentajat AmF is a Finnish cooperative of 7 craftspersons. In addition to building instruments, they sell something called a molliponsi that allows you to change a 5 string kantele quickly from major to minor and back - while playing. This is the company where I bought my first kantele and I play it almost every day.

Charles T. Young Charles Young is a Houghton, MI kantele maker who makes 5, 11 and 15 string kanteles. Prices range from $200 - $400 (not including shipping or carrying case). His kanteles have walnut or cherry solid sides, Finnish birch ply back and spruce tops. For more info, you can email him at ctyoung@mtu.edu.

Teachers and Workshops

Online Teachers

Arja Kastinen uses "slideshare" to show you how to change a string on a 5-15 string kantele.

Michael King has a five part video "course" on how to play the 5 string kantele posted on YouTube.

Michael King's instructional video for 10 string kanteles is also posted on YouTube.

Michael King, a kantele maker from the UK shows you how to play the first six chords on an 11 string kantele.

Matti Palonen explores fingerings for 5, 11 and 15 string kanteles. You can find additional kantele tutorials from him on YouTube.

Maija Pokela demonstrates how to play an 11 string kantele.

Peter Widenmeyer has written a 20 page ebook showing you how to play a 5 string kantele as an accompaniment instrument. You can download it from his website here.


Kasha Breau is a kantele teacher in Marlborough, Connecticut. You can email her at kantele@att.net.


Diane Jarvi is a kantele teacher and player in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Valerie K. Blessley: Email. Valerie lives in Vancouver WA and teaches Perho River Valley style Finnish kantele. She performs with the harp duo Celtic Muse, the NW kantele group Livakat, and the Evergreen Kantele Ensemble.

Performers and Songwriters

dianejarvi.com Diane Jarvi's home page. Diane is a singer, songwriter, guitar and kantele player from Minneapolis, Minnesota U.S.A., She sings and plays folk, jazz and world music and you can hear some samples here.

Eija Kankaanranta Eija Kankaanranta performs on the kantele as a soloist and chamber musician, focusing on contemporary music and improvisation. She has appeared as soloist with the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, Pori Sinfonietta, Joensuu City Orhestra and the Netherlands Wind Ensemble. She has also played the kantele in various orchestras like the Uusinta Chamber Ensemble, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble and Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen.

Merja Soria received her Master's Degree from Sibelius Academy in Finland. She combines kantele playing with singing the traditional songs of her native Finland. She has performed at the Los Angeles Music Center, Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., Toronto Centre For the Arts, Peninsula Music Fair and many other music festivals in United States and Europe.

Timo Väänänen This is the homepage of Timo Väänänen who is a member of Loituma, Taith, Matara and A' tre -ensembles and a part time teacher at the Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department in Helsinki. He's one of the most recognized kantele players in the world.

Where To Find Kantele Music

Digelius Nordic Gallery You can find Finnish jazz, rock and folk music here.

Inkoon Musiikki Led by Matti and Sinikka Kontio, this site says it has "almost everything for the kantele" including CD's, sheet music, tuners, and studio equipment. They also deliver their products outside Finland.

Kantele Music: by Gerry Henkel. I like Gerry Henkel's music a lot. He's just plain fun to listen to, and he has an interesting and inventive style. According to Gerry, the tunes on this CD aren't formal compositions, but a type of improvisation. I just know that his music makes me smile. There's humor in some of his tunes, but that's not what I'm talking about. Gerry's music just puts you in a good place! All fourteen pieces on this CD were written by him. I Scratch, Therefore I Am is one of my favorites. Give him a listen...you won't regret it! How To Order: Send $10 cash, check or money order to Gerry at The Kantele Shop, 1541 Clover Valley Road, Duluth MN 55804 USA.

Merja Soria I wish Merja would make another CD. She has one of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard. Her CD, Arctic Silence; is a collection of ancient Finnish songs and it is one of my most treasured CDs. One of the songs is featured in the National Geographic Television’s program “Beyond the Movie: Lord of The Rings”. You can preview her CD or purchase it here.

Northside Young musicians from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sбmiland bring new ideas, arrangements, influences and instrumentation to the music and instruments of their ancestors. This site has audio excerpts, CDs, interviews, and articles.

Vilhon Vintiltä (From Willie's Attic): by Wilho Saari. Wilho Saari is one of my favorite kantele composers so I was pretty excited to learn about this CD which includes 23 of his own compositions as well as his interpretation of Kreeta Haapasalo's Mun kanteleeni. Haapasalo is Saari's great, great grandmother and it's obvious that he's inherited her ability to compose. I particularly loved his tune Koivukannel (Birchwood Harp) with its wood thumping rhythm and beautiful melody line. Saari plays a 36 string kantele on this CD which was lovely to hear, but I was even more interested in his five and ten string tunes since I'm very partial to the small kanteles. I especially liked hearing his versions of Potpourri and Sunrise since those are two of his songs that I like to play. (I found out that he plays Potpourri just a bit faster than I do!) This CD costs $15 and can be obtained from Wilho Saari at P.O. Box 111, Naselle, Washington 98638