I finally got all the strings on my new (used) psaltery replaced and all tuned with electronic tuner left over from my bagpiping days. Now can't get any sound when I use the bow! I ran it through a chunk of beeswax, could the problem be that I need to find a block of harder resin?

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HI, Frances,

What the bow needs is violin or cello rosin.   I'm afraid you may need to start with a new bow.

Thanks for your reply. I've got the right kind of rosin now - I'll give it a try and hope the beeswax didn't ruin the string.


Hello Frances, I'm sorry to tell you, you will have to replace the horse hair, it won't work to just try to rosin over the wax, and it will be hard to remove the wax contaminating your psalteries metal strings. If you try to use a new correctly rosined bow on waxy strings the wax will mess up the new bows horse hair. You will probably have to replace all your brand new strings. You wax skies to go faster down hill, you use rosin to provide traction. If its any consolation your not the first person to make this dreadful mistake.

Thanks - now I know. Do you recommend horsehair or synthetic horsehair for the bow?

 I personally prefer horsehair but some bows are designed to use synthetic horsehair and that's what they get. 

Thanks. I'm going to try to clean the psaltery strings with paint thinner. I ordered a hank of synthetic horsehair which a reviewer said made 4 bow strings, so if I can't get the strings clean I'll be able to restring the psaltery and bow. 

You don't want to get paint thiner any where near the finish on the wood of your bowed psaltery! The only way I can think of to deal with your problem: Use a lot of Q tips, try to heat them somehow and then rub the warmed cotton head length wise trying to absorb as much wax as possible. repeat the process with a lot of Q tip on each string on all sides with as many new Q tips as necessary and then some more to make sure you have removed the wax especially in the area of the string that gets bowed on but you can't leave wax anywhere that might migrate to the bowing area which includes the area where the string runs over the rail pin probably has wax hiding. I'm not certain paint thinner would do anything to dissolve wax, I wouldn't find that out by smearing it on my Bowed Psaltery strings. 

That is a good idea. Thanks

Hey Greg for whatever it's worth turpentine will dissolve beeswax on a Q-tip but I would also follow it up with some denatured alcohol. I use a combination of turpentine and beeswax when I seal wood for spar varnish I did this on that very first psaltery I built that you strung up and set the action for and it still has the original strings on it too I've never change them fingers stabbing strings.

Thanks. I'm getting good sound out of all but the two shortest strings on each side.

If ever you get ahold of some good violin bow hair used what works good to clean it and get the old rosin and dirt out of it I was taught to use Woolite if it works good on Kashmir and alpaca it must work good on horse hair I've strung up mini of bows with used hair from a university and PCC. Also would I like to use for a comb for the horse hair is old fine bristled toothbrush good how are you have cut down the bristles 3/16 to 1/4 of an inch do not burn the bristles cut them.


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