I forgot to mention four of my bowed psalteries were biult by that master luthier in Tennessee, Rick Long, Ringing Strings. I also have a concert psaltery biult by Richard Spencer, Omega Strings. Also a master luthier in my opinion. Ron Clawson
Well this was a suprise, this email from Teresa Emmons-Psaltery Strings! To answer your question, yes I'm still playing my bowed psaltery. This time of year i'm usually playing seasonal music. I don't practice enough to be good but it fills a spot in my life. I have five bowed psalteries in various keys, one hog nose psaltery that I made, two hurdy gurdies, one really good that I purchased in Oberhoff Germany built by a true master, Helmut Seibert. I recently purchased a hammered dulcimer and have two mountain dulcimers that I made. The stuff I made is mediocre at best. I can play tunes on all the instruments but master of non of them. I give up on the building of instruments. It takes years to achieve the status of a master luthier such as Helmut Seibert and at my age it's to late to start. I really do enjoy the instruments I have but to practice more I'd have to give up fishing and that ain't happenin'. Ron Clawson
I enjoy listening to psalteries, though I play hammered dulcimer, one-handed. My husband, Bob plays bowed psaltery one-handed, but we're not Quite up to playing together. We were introduced to both, a couple of years ago, by a friend from Louisiana who makes them.
Well, I've never played one myself, but have been in groups that were playing them. The people I’ve talked to that own them like them very much. His craftsmanship is beautiful, no doubt. The theory behind the compact certainly makes sense (reducing the reach from the one side to the other) and it might be easier to hold.
My music teacher doesn't feel that the unusual shape makes any significant difference and another builder I've talked to doesn't believe it does either.
Personally I don't like the way the compacts look as much as the regular style, but if aesthetics aren't that important to you that shouldn't matter. It's moderately priced and well made. If you particularly like the way the compact looks, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t get one. If you think that the unusual shape will make playing much easier or give you an edge, I’m not so sure that will be the case.
My recommendation is decide which ones have the musical range you want and the price range you want, then see if any of those steal your heart for any reason. I have 5 psalteries and recommend 4 of the 5 builders that made my instruments….Westman Instruments, Ringing Strings, Phantasy Psalteries and Inspired Instruments. I know that Omega Strings, James Jones, Masterworks, Unicorn Strings are all owned by group members and are recommended. That does not mean that the other builders listed aren’t good as well, I just don’t know anyone with one of their instruments.
Hi Thierry (is that the correct spelling?)
I love the lower sounds as well. Unfortunately if you go too low, the sound gets very slow ( I call it muddy). My lowest and longest range is on a Rick Long (Ringing Strings) bowed psaltery that runs three full octaves from the C below middle C and upward. He labels it a baritone though I think using voice standards it would really be a tenor. Eric Meier made a three octave that went slightly lower than that, but the sound clip of the lowest notes didn't sound right to me. Of course, that very well may have been the clip itself and an unfair representation of the real sound.
Wound rather than plain strings will give you a lower sound as well. Because I like lower tones I was careful to buy a psaltery that had its lowest tone below middle C and wound strings. My first psaltery, and the one I play the most, is a Phantasy psaltery, built by Eric Meier. It is two and one half octaves and begins with the G below middle C. It also has wound strings. My music teacher likes to play duets with me because her psaltery is about an Octave higher than mine (and plain strings) and they sound nice together.
We’ve had a couple discussions regarding baritone vs. tenor vs. alto etc. There really doesn’t seem to be a set standard. I like to use the terms as they are assigned to the various voice ranges, but that doesn’t seem to be how it’s being done. I am not musical scholar either, so there may be an appropriate set of definitions that I am completely unaware of.
Does that help at all? Please don’t hesitate to ask more questions or for clarification from me or on the forum. Also, look at some of the old forum posts and you might find additional info that you can use.
Again, don’t hesitate to ask me more!!! I’ll do my best to answer.
Dona Benkert -
Illinois Lessons at Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, IL
& 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 firstname.lastname@example.org www.westmaninstruments.com
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 email@example.com http://upontheharp.com
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.