I recently got my hands on a valiha (an string instrument from Madagascar) which seems quite old, despite still working. I would have loved to change the strings since they seem a little bit old, but they appear to be nailed in place, so I can't safely remove and change them.

Therefore, I am trying to find a way to keep the strings as clean as possible. Would there be an efficient way to protect and/or clean the strings?

EDIT: As requested, some information about the valiha I have. First of all, a photo.

Side view of the valiha

There are 17 strings, which are definitely nailed in place, I can't change them (good valihas have tuning pegs, not mine). It is a plucked string instrument. Here is another photo; it's a top view of the instrument that shows the nails piercing through it.

Top view of the valiha

1 Answer 1


There are lots of products on every guitar store that help you mantain/clean your strings.

Based on a quick search online, i've read they use bicycle brake cords as strings, my guess is that you can use a regular electric guitar cleaning product, and also, in case you can replace them, i guess you can use regular electric guitar strings, just be careful choosing the gauge according to the tuning of the instrument.

this might be all wrong, but it's just my opinion, since i've never had one of these instruments and there's not much/none info online about it, wikipedia has a page about it, but the bottom page links are dead...

I guess you'll pretty much have to teach yourself how to mantain this instrument, unless someone that has experience with one comes around :p

also, try posting some photos of the instrument, first because it would be interesting to see how it looks like, second, i'll try to take a look at it and help you find a way to replace the strings, they must be replaceable...

Also, post some useful info about the instrument, just for curiosity's sake :p For example:

How many strings does it have? What's the tuning? How do you play it? (you pluck, hammer or bow the strings? have you tried something crazy like bowing if its made for plucking and the other way around? :p)

  • I'll try to addd some information then. It's true that there are not that much information about valihas on the internet.
    – Morwenn
    Sep 14, 2013 at 9:07
  • first of all, it's an extremely interesting instrument :p since as you say, you have no tuning pegs, im assuming you have to move those little wooden pieces if you need to tune, right? well the most reasonable way to accomplish changing strings in this that i see is, you try to carefully remove the nails, which is going to be quite hard since i dont see a plier and your hand fitting the cavity where you could reach the nails, and put ball end strings in it's place, the problem really, is the other end, where i dont know how the strings lock in place (char limit) Sep 16, 2013 at 8:22
  • *if it is nails again, maybe try either nailing them yourself again, or just without removing the nails, lock the strings, if you know what i mean (try to remove the nails just enough so the new strings fit the hole and then lock them back in place).If you think this might be too hard to accomplish or you dont want to risk ruining the instrument, try to go with the string cleaner, although it is a lot less risky, the tone wount be as "renewed" as if you actually had new strings, but for a start, i would clean the strings, and then see what happens,props on the cool instrument and happy playing Sep 16, 2013 at 8:31

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