50 pound gauge fishing line should be used.
Paul Sedgwick is the first "pioneer" from the United States to go to Gambia in 2004 and 2006 to learn how to make and play akontings. The first one he built was a prototype that matches traditional instruments built in Africa, but the second one he built with proper tuning machines, and a neck out of wood that would not bend.
Locating a luthier was not an easy task. I did not find out about Mr. Sedgwick until I did some searches about the akonting on Youtube and found his name from a video by Bill Evans. This search led to Mr. Sedgwick's website and another one called the Ships of the Sea. It had a nice video of Chuck Levy, Greg C. Adams, Paul Sedgwick, and Sana Ndiaye playing the akonting and talking about the history of the instrument.
This akonting is well liked by fellow enthusiast, Sana Ndiaye, due to its large gourd and great sound. Mr. Ndiaye lives in America now, but he is Jola, from whom this instrument originates.
Mr. Sedgwick was going to build a brand new one for me, but due to time constraints since he was writing a new book, he decided to sell me the second akonting that he ever made. Mr. Sedgwick does not make them regularly any longer, so he was kind enough to sell me this one in particular.
Thankfully, Greg C. Adams was kind enough to meet with me personally and teach me the fundamentals of the proper "downstroke" style of playing. We discussed the history of the akonting and its connection with the banjo we also love today.
Possible ancestor to the banjo.