Hello!  I posted this elsewhere before finding my way here.  Please forgive the redundancy if you've read this before.

I'm a guitar and ukulele player and have just purchased a used bowed psaltery.  It's missing its bow and has one broken string, but otherwise, it appears to be in very good condition.  The length is 21" and the width is 8.25".  It has a dolphin sound hole and 25 plain strings, with plain non-ball ends.

The seller believes the psaltery was made by Spring River Dulcimers in Hardy, Arkansas but I can't find that maker mentioned anywhere.  The only dulcimer shop I can find in Hardy is Flat Creek Dulcimers but he doesn't recognize this psaltery from its description.

Based on my limited psaltery knowledge and the 25 string count, I'm guessing this is a soprano or perhaps an alto?  Although I've been told that there is no such thing as a soprano or alto BP, it's just in how it's tuned.

All of the strings on this instrument are pretty rusty and I'm considering replacing them to start fresh.  I appreciate that it will be a lot of work, but I think I can do it.  The question is the gauge of the strings.  I understand that a soprano (if that's what this is) should have .012" or maybe even .010" strings.  This BP has what I measure to be .017" - .020" strings.  Can that be right?

I'd like to locate the builder to confirm the string gauge he/she used.  Barring that, does anyone have any thoughts on what gauge the strings should be on this instrument?

Here's a picture:

Thanks for your thoughts and help, and Happy New Year!

 

Ray

Views: 490

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Welcome! What a great looking BP. You can get strings (and advice) from Greg & Tish at www.westmaninstruments.com. They have a workshop in Beckley, West Virginia at the Tamarack gallery. They teach as well as creating some wonderful instruments. They made my maple bowed psaltery to order and I am thrilled with it. They also produce an annual 4-day workshop for all player skill levels, culminating in a bowed psaltery symphony performance for the public. Maybe we'll see you there...?

Ray,

It looks like you have a psaltery in what most of us would call an "alto" range.  I assume from your comment about rust on the strings that are solid wire and not phosphor bronze wound strings.

What is the string length of the shortest and longest strings?  Measure between the center of the hitch pin down to the center of the bridge to determine their length.  It appears, from the pin configuration, that your psaltery starts on a "F" 349.2Hz  (the longest string).  The shortest string will be an "E".  I think that the majority of psalteries built in recent years start on either a "G" or a "C" note but that doesn't mean yours is incorrect it just means the builder constructed it that way.

As far as the string diameter goes, I would recommend using two or three sizes.  I use .012 for the longer strings, .010 for the mid range and .008 inch for the highest range.  In order to accurately measure the string diameters you need dial calipers that will read down to .001".  If you plan on replacing the strings more than once in a while you may want to consider buying the wire in bulk.   Using bulk wire, rather than the ball end strings used in other instruments, will save you money in the long run and will give you lots of spare wire to practice tying your hitch pin knots.

If you're interested in seeing how the strings can be attached to the hitch pins, I have a short video on the subject that I could send you.  Plan on about 2 hours to restring and retune your psaltery.  Don't forget to get your tuning pins turned out to the same depth before you begin re-stringing.  I would also recommend replacing one string at a time to reduce the stress on the psaltery frame.  Remember that there may be a total of about 500 or 600 pounds of pull on the instrument when all the strings are up to their final pitch.

Good Luck 

 

Hi Charlie.  I think my psaltery starts and ends on B:

.............................B
.......................A# Bb
...............................A
.....................G# Ab
.................................G
...................F# Gb
...................................F
....................................E
................D# Eb
......................................D
..............C# Db
........................................C
.........................................B
...........A# Bb
...........................................A
.........G# Ab
.............................................G
.......F# Gb
...............................................F
................................................E
....D# Eb
..................................................D
..C# Db
....................................................C
.....................................................B

I measured the strings the other day in an effort to figure out what to buy.  There doesn't seem to be any logic to the gauges.  Some higher pitched strings have larger diameter than other lower pitched strings.  Using a digital caliper, I measured gauges from 0.0170" to 0.0205".  The average gauge is 0.0183".  All of the strings are solid wire, none are wound.

I understand that a BP like mine would normally have 0.010" or 0.012" strings.  That's why I'm confused by the gauges I measured.

Ray,

Take a look at the attached picture.  There are no "B" or 'E" notes on the left side of the psaltery.  That is why there are gaps in the pin spacing.  Just like a piano, the black keys are on the left side and the naturals are on the right.

The "F" note seems to be the only logical beginning note for the pin spacing on your psaltery.

Attachments:

Charlie,

Thanks for straightening me out on that.  Shows what I know, eh?  I noticed the 2 and 3 groups of accidentals, assumed the pitch increased moving UP the instrument, and thus began my descent into psaltery ignorance. 

Your picture clarifies things.  I do have an F to F psaltery.

It sounds like I should buy and use bulk .012 wire for the lowest (longest) 1/3 of the strings, .010 for the next third and .008 for the rest.  It looks like buying 25' coils is still the best way to buy the wire.

If you have a video on tying the strings, I'd like to see it.

Thanks.

Ray

Ray,

I need to make some updates to the re-stringing video but in the mean time you could go ahead and order the bulk wire that you mentioned in your last post.

I assume you already have a tuning tool and an electronic tuner for the project.

You will also need a "good" pair of small wire cutters for cutting the strings.  The music wire is very hard and will quickly dull cheap steel cutters.  A set of hemostats would also be handy but needle nosed pliers will also work.

Attachments:

Ray,

I've posted a slide show (video) on Youtube at the following link:

http://youtu.be/dsRJwRR0fTg 

Also you should be able to find it on this site.

Wow, very pretty. I love the sound hole, but to me (very much a beginner) it seems rather large. Hope you find your answers. I live in fear of one of my strings breaking. I can barely change my guitar stings.

Peace,

NaloMeli

Ray,

Here's a follow-up photo attached to answer your question about the wraps on the tuning pegs.  

Charlie Marshall

Attachments:

RSS

Featured Video

Amplified Psaltery with Cello Strings built by Rick Long

This video is a personal favorite because it shows a unique type of bowed psaltery with a gorgeous sound. When I heard it I broke out in goose bumps!

Featured Song

Click on the title for the current
featured sheet music!

Clergy's Lamentation

 

 

 

What is Psaltery Strings worth to you?
A dollar a month?
Your help to offset the cost of keeping our Community alive is appreciated.

Thank you.

    

Groups

Members who build bowed psalteries for sale

Spring Creek Psalteries - Sharon & Terry Kirby

http://www.springcreekpsalteries.com/

330-323-0618

From the Wood - Wayne Gaydos

765-468-7387

http://fromthewoodsinstruments.com/

to see his work visit

http://shop.indianaartisan.org/collections/musical-instruments

Waynie Psaltery - Wayne Simms

http://www.wayniepsaltery.com/

 

Prairie Psaltery - Richard Celata

http://www.prairiepsaltery.com/

 

Loon Song Psalteries-Charlie Marshall

http://www.loonsongpsalteries.com/

 

New Tradition Dulcimers- Dan Daniels

http://www.newtraditionsdulcimers.com/index.html

 

Psalteries by Dave- Dave Lucas  

http://www.davespsaltery.com/

 

Jon Williams Psalteries
(386) 853-0944

Westman Instruments - Tish & Greg Westman
http://www.westmaninstruments.com

Ringing Strings - Rick Long
http://ringingstrings.com

Michael J King Instrumetns - Diatonic Psalteries
http://www.michaeljking.com/psalterymaking.htm

Inspired Instruments – Carol and Joe Esch
http://www.windridgefarm.us/bowedpsaltery.htm

James Jones Instruments
http://www.jamesjonesinstruments.com/bowedpsaltery/bowedpsaltery.html

Omega Strings – Richard Spencer
http://www.omegastrings.com/

Master Works Bowed Psalteries - Russell Cook
http://masterworksok.com/

Members that teach Bowed Psaltery

Paul G.Sykes - MS  

Located in Hattiesburg
Contact Paul at
 pgsykes1@hotmail.com

or call him at

601-583-4115

 

Gregg Schneeman - California
Contact Gregg here on Psaltery Strings
greggschneeman@psalterystrings.com

 

Peter Tommerup - California
San Francisco Bay Area
Bowed Psaltery and other Instruments
408-867-4324
ptommerup@juno.com

 

Celeste Howard Ray
Bowed Psaltery lessons via Skype
347-796-4484
Skype name celesteray88

 

Maureen Barnes - Illinois
Bowed Psaltery lessons in Bloomington, IL
309-828-7957
dulcimergal98@yahoo.com
http://www.dulcimerdreams.com/

 

Dona Benkert -
Illinois

Lessons at Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, IL
Phone: 773.728.6000
& Folk-Lore Center, Warrenville, IL
Phone: 630.393.1247
http://www.folk-lorecenter.com/

Tish Westman - West Virginia
Lessons at Tamarack, Beckley, WV. Wednesday workshops also available for individual classes and to teach at festivals.
Sunday "Jam" 3:30 to 6:00. All instruments welcome, play mostly Old Time, Celtic & Gospel Music, not opposed to trying any tune called, once did a rap on Bowed Psalteries.
1-304-575-0998
tishwestman@yahoo.com
www.westmaninstruments.com

Rick Long - Tennessee
Lessons at Rick's home/workshop in Clinton, 30 mins N of Knoxville
(865) 660-4026
http://www.ringingstrings.com/lessons.html

Karla Armstrong - Pennsylvania
Karla plays a variety of instruments and does workshops as well. Please visit her web site for additional information or contact her via the web site or the information below.
(717) 632-8099
karlaarms@upontheharp.com
http://upontheharp.com

Carol Esch - Kentucky
Lessons in Carol's home/workshop south of Lexington.
606-676-0128
esch@qx.net
http://www.windridgefarm.us/bowedpsaltery.htm

Honey Smith Walls - Florida
e-mail Honey for more info honey@offthewalls.us
Melbourne, FL
http://www.offthewalls.us/Psaltery.htm

Visit Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer

Please sign up on the bowed psaltery players list

Tish's list is a valuable resource when searching for other players. http://www.westmaninstruments.com/Bowed_Psaltery_List.html

If you are already on Tish's list, why don't you stop in and update your info? While your there take a look to see if there are new players in your area. Who knows, you might get together and make a recording.

© 2020   Created by Donna Malus.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

To add a scrolling message to your NingBar, change this text, and add the code to your Custom Code Box. If you want, you can add simple links like this: Visit JenSocial This is a great way to make announcements to your site visitors.
-->