The closest string to the player is the melody string, with a set of frets underneath the string. The player creates tones by stopping this melody string with the left hand, while plucking with a plectrum in the right hand. The other strings are drone strings which are tuned in major thirds or open fifths. Even though there is no concrete proof that the langeleik is a medieval instrument, most researches declare that this instrument must originate from that period.

The langeleik is most common in Valdres, which is the only area possessing an unbroken tradition of slått playing on the langeleik. It is usually played as a solo instrument, although langeleik ensembles will sometimes play together. In Valdres there is a tradition for dance playing, as a rule springar, and for playing tunes for listening only, called lydarlåttar