Hi. I'm a new member who does not own a BP yet. I've been looking on-line at both new and used. I need some guidance. I play the piano and hammered dulcimer, and a couple of years ago played my friend's BP immediately loving it. I'm short so I'm concerned about how far I can comfortably reach - I think 22" will be max. but I don't know as I'm seen different styles of playing on Youtube. I'm from ME and go south for the winter. I play for church at our RV resort and would love to play hymns, etc. on my BP. Most hymns have a range from middle C to D/E above the next C octave. So, should I be looking at a 30-32 string model starting at middle C, or will I be able to accommodate most hymns on a smaller 24 string? I have tinnitus and some of the instruments I've listen to on the net hurt my ears. Is there a particular wood that lends itself to a warmer not so brassy sound? Enough questions for now - appreciate your feedback............ thanks
For answering the hurt your ears question (I have tinnitus too), the psalteries with wound strings are usually lower in pitch. I have a psaltery with 30 unwound strings and it is okay for playing between C and the D or E above C in the next octave, but it is at a high pitch. I also have a psaltery with 36 wound strings with 3 octaves from C to C three octaves above (four C notes). More strings provides more octave choices for playing a song . Also, the wound strings are lower pitched and I can play it all day without it getting to where it bothers my ears.
For large psalteries, many players use a tripod psaltery stand and the psaltery is more vertical, which makes reaching all of the notes on the psaltery less difficult.
My first suggestion is to check the websites for all of the luthiers here on psaltery strings. My second suggestion is to try to find a way to try one of the instruments from one or more of these luthiers. I think you have some ideas on what you want and don't want and I think the best way to find something that suits you will be to play one before you buy one.
Thank you Dave. Dealing with the tinnitus was a real concern and I very much appreciate your info regarding the wound strings. I know you're right about playing an instrument before I buy it for both sound and feel. I've actually thought about calling some luthiers and asking them to play one of their instruments I've seen on their website over the phone for me. It's not the answer, but physically getting to any of their shops is not possible, and I doubt if they'll loan me a BP to try out. I do have one more question - I've been taking my hammered dulcimer back and forth to FL with me winters. I set it up in our coach house and go out to play 3-4 times a week. Unfortunately, I can not keep it in tune. The heat, humidity, wind (our site is very windy), whatever does a number on it. Having to tune 46 strings on a weekly basis isn't a lot of fun. Is a BP that sensitive? Again, thanks you........... Gail
Many of the psaltery luthiers that advertise on this site have plenty of sound samples, videos, or links to YouTube videos that demonstrate their instruments.
As for staying in tune while playing outdoors, metal expands with heat and contracts with cold. I think any string instrument will need to be retuned after (or during) any outdoor use, especially in the heat and humidity. Playing in warm humid conditions will also accelerate the time for replacing strings. I remember playing my guitar outdoors on a hot day. After a couple of hours it sounded like it was made of wet plywood. The strings had lost their timbre and would just thud instead of ring. So, not only tuning but loss of timbre on the strings are facts of life for any instrument that is played in the heat and humidity.
Thanks Dave. Your help is so very much appreciated!