I have a 2/1/2 octave bowed psaltery. On the two shortest strings, G & F#, I get only a dead, scraping sound. I think I have enough rosin on the bow because as I bow up the strings (lower notes) the sound is quite sweet. I tried replacing those two strings but it didn't help. Any suggestions?

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I have the same problem. The G won't even register on the electronic tuner. 

Hopefully, someone will have a solution. Thanks for the reply.

I had a similar problem when I switched to a tackier rosin. When I switched back to normal rosin the problem went away.  You may want o clean those strings in case they have oil from you hands on them. Then get a new coat of rosin on those strings. 

Thanks for the reply. I totally replaced the strings and cleaned them with a rag damp with paint thinner.  The rosin I have is for violin, viola, cello. Is that what I should be using?

Thanks, Brenda. It's worth a try.

 I was hoping one of the Bowed Psaltery builders would have a comment on this issue but here is mine. There are a lot of poorly built Bowed Psalteries out there. I see many with beautiful boxes but have the strings on the high notes too short to work properly. The shortest string shouldn't be any shorter than one and one quarter inch long, any shorter it gets hard for the string to have enough room to resonate. You should also look at the notch on top of your rail pin, is it angled straight with the direction of the string? Is the notch too deep? Is it a tight fit and pinching the string? I would ask who built your bowed psaltery and would you put up a picture of it here so we can see if we can spot the problem.

My pastry looks brand new but it is not.. It was made by Schuenhut and they no longer make psalteries.  The G string is 4.5 inches from hitch pin to tuning pin and the F# string is almost 6 inches. The grooves in  the hitch pins are very shallow - I can't see them and can barely feel them with my fingernail.

Well, I've tried to send this 3 times now, and can't get the picture loaded. If you get multiple replies from me it's because I have a new phone and the learning curve is agonizing! But everything you asked about checks out on this psaltery made by Dave Lucas. I did change from dark to light resin (box says violin, viola, cello) and it sounds better, so maybe that was the problem.
Well, I've tried to send this 3 times now, and can't get the picture loaded. If you get multiple replies from me it's because I have a new phone and the learning curve is agonizing! But everything you asked about checks out on this psaltery made by Dave Lucas. I did change from dark to light resin (box says violin, viola, cello) and it sounds better, so maybe that was the problem.

Sometimes with the very shortest strings you just need to have a VERY VERY light hand on the bow. Once you lighten up on the bow and get sound from those short strings, begin to gradually increase the "hand" on the bow and see how strong you can get and still play the string. Also try drawing the bow faster along with the light hand.

Hope this helps.

Happy bowing,


Yes, I can get some sounds from the longer strings but just a scraping sound on the short ones. Will try your suggestion - Thanks.


You might also see if you can adjust the tension on the bow hair.  Sometimes looser or tighter bow hairs will make a difference with sounding the strings.  The type of bow hair can make a difference on the highest and lowest notes.  I have the best luck with black horse hair on both of my psalteries.

Another thing to try might be to play the G a little farther away from it's pin.  You probably won't be able to do this on the F# but sometimes the sweet spot on certain strings is a little farther away from the hitch pin.

Last, some time ago I was struggling with making good sound on my baritone psaltery that has wound strings.  Some notes sounded great and then playing the same notes later I made bad sounds.  Part of the problem was my use of the bow as Brenda describes above.  Still on other strings I still had hit or miss results.  I kept adding rosin and that didn't help.  I wiped the bows with alcohol and didn't apply any more rosin.  I rubbed the bows on the strings while they were wet and after a short time the bows started making sound (what a surprise!).  I think the alcohol made the leftover rosin on the bows more sticky and/or rubbing the strings while wet contributed to making the bows more sticky.  I think my difficulty was a combination of "touch" with the bows and rosin application.

Today I use alcohol wipes that can be purchased at many stores like Walgreens, CVS, WalMart if I want to clean the bows.  I also use Rick Long's alcohol/rosin mixture on the bows.

I hope you find a solution in one of our suggestions.



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