I have just finished building my first psaltery and being a bit impatient I quickly made a bow with 2 thin pieces of pine laminated to form an arch and strung it with 40 strands of 8lb fishing line.
Bearing in mind that I have never played any bowed instrument before (in fact I have never played any instrument) I was surprised bow well the bow worked although it doesn't seem to hold the rosin very well.
I have now ordered some horsehair & started on another bow.
The picture shows the new bow roughed out at the bottom. it is made from obeche with a thin strip of ash laminated on for strength.
My question is how tight should you aim for when puting the hair on? should I put it on as tight as possible? I can adjust the amount of flex in the bow by taking some wood of the inside or outside of the curve but I assume the natural hair won't have the stretch of the fishing line.
Any thoughts would be appreciated
The tightness of the hairs on your bow is partly determined by personal preference and the type of strings that are on your psaltery. I play my tenor ( PB wound strings ) and alto ( solid wire ) with the same bows. For this reason, it is an advantage to be able to easily adjust the tension on the bows.
I like a little more tension for the solid wire strings since it allows you to move around the instrument a little faster. For me, a small amount of "bounce" is helpful. I found that the PB strings on my tenor require a little more pressure to obtain the desired sound.
I should point out that I use two 1/16th sized Glasser violin bows which allows me to finely adjust the string tension.
I would recommend that you experiment with different tensions. Look for a smooth transition to a pleasing sound (vibration of your string) as you initiate your bowing of the strings. After a while you will figure out the best combination of tension, rosin and pressure to make your psaltery sing.
Thank you both. I will wait till the horsehair arrives and experiment with the bow stiffness to make sure the hair is tightI think my temporary bow is a little slack as the bow string does deflect a bit against the instrument string.
I am using pb wound strings and find they do found better if bowed firmly