Rick Long's Blog (10)

Black Bog Oak Psaltery Build

I recently had a great experience building a new tenor psaltery. The great thing about it was,  I had the opportunity to work with some extremely rare wood. I was asked to build the psaltery using some 2000 year old black bog oak found in Mississippi.

I had only heard of bog oak from hearing the news of the log found in the UK last year. You can see the pictures of it being excavated from the farmland on this web site…


Added by Rick Long on January 31, 2013 at 2:00pm — 10 Comments

Theoretical or Empirical?

I didn’t know what empirical meant, when someone mentioned that it describes how I have always worked and designed the psalteries I build. I was happy to find out it meant to experiment and observe to arrive at a solution. A name for my madness.

It was interesting to read Richard’s post on String Theory 101 that was posted the other day. It’s great to share knowledge, especially on this great forum, and I do want to learn all that I can. I wanted to add my thoughts and relate how I…


Added by Rick Long on December 2, 2012 at 4:20pm — 3 Comments

Bowed Psaltery Cousin?

The other day,  a friend of mine pulled a small instrument out of a bag and asked if I had ever seen one.  This is what he had -

I about fell on the floor, I thought it was the oldest bowed psaltery I had ever seen, the missing link!  No kind of markings, other than the numbers and note names along the edges.  It's really small, about 14 inches long.  It's…


Added by Rick Long on January 30, 2012 at 10:30am — 2 Comments

What is this Cove Lake deal all about?

This past weekend I hosted an invitational bowed psaltery gathering here in East Tennessee at Cove Lake State Park.  I had a couple of motives for doing this and the way it was done.

I have long thought I would like to see another bowed psaltery gathering, there too few right now.  I only know of The Lucas's Down Home Psaltery Festival and the Westman's Bowed Psaltery Symphony.  One of my motives was to invite several folks I know, who are as keen on the bowed psaltery as I am, to see…


Added by Rick Long on November 22, 2011 at 7:00pm — 1 Comment

Home again

Good to be back home, but I sure have enjoyed the last few weeks. Several craft demos and dulcimer festivals later, I am tired, but happy.

The festivals are great fun with loads of music and meeting old and new friends. I learned a lot of new tunes that I can add to my list. I gave a short workshop at the last festival on bowing technique. This seems to be where most folks struggle. I think most that attended went away with some idea of how to improve on that. I notice that…


Added by Rick Long on May 11, 2010 at 8:47am — No Comments

First Festival of the Year

First for me that is. Just returned home last night from the Southern Strings dulcimer festival in Hattiesburg, MS, over a thousand miles on that old bus we travel in. First time for me to visit Mississippi, even though I have lived in the South all my life. I guess I just don't get out much.

This festival is a great one. I had a wonderful time and felt right at home. Everyone very friendly and helpful. They even had a member of their club stationed at the campground…


Added by Rick Long on March 2, 2010 at 12:56pm — 5 Comments

Another Snowy Day to Spend in the Shop

Well, we woke up to another snowy morning. Canceled a doctor appointment and settled in for a work day. I have been busy getting things ready to travel on our first music related trip for the year. I'll be headed to Hattiesburg, MS next week for the Southern Strings Dulcimer Festival. I've never been before, but have heard good things about the festival and the folks that run it. Looking forward to a great time and itching to join in on lots of…


Added by Rick Long on February 16, 2010 at 11:58am — 1 Comment

A Day in the Shop

I'm spending the day in the workshop. Got the heaters going and it's about 60 degrees in here. A good place to be when it looks like this outside.

It's been a while since my little workshop looked like this.

I've been putting the strings on a few psalteries after building and finishing the bridges. Experimenting with piezo pickups. I've got my amplifier plugged in and sitting on my router table. I'm testing with different… Continue

Added by Rick Long on February 1, 2010 at 10:30am — 5 Comments

Drill Press Repaired

Well the trip to Lowe's was successful yesterday. I had to settle for a bolt that was the same thread I needed and then grind the head off of it. There weren't any set screws in the size I had to have. I ground the head off and cut a slot for a flat screwdriver. Gladly it worked and I was able to remember where all those parts went to put it back together. That drill press is one of the tools in my shop that I can't do without for very long.

They say there is a snow storm moving in… Continue

Added by Rick Long on January 29, 2010 at 1:57pm — 2 Comments

First Blog Post

I hadn't considered a blog until I noticed that Donna had added the option. First off, big thanks to Donna for starting, moderating, and maintaining Psaltery Strings. I see it is growing everyday and can see it easily being "the" place to come to if you already love bowed psalteries or want to find out about them.

I have been a psaltery fanatic since the early 80's and it hasn't worn off yet. There's just something special about playing an instrument that has a mysterious background.… Continue

Added by Rick Long on January 28, 2010 at 11:30am — 1 Comment

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.



Members who build bowed psalteries for sale

Spring Creek Psalteries - Sharon & Terry Kirby



From the Wood - Wayne Gaydos



to see his work visit


Waynie Psaltery - Wayne Simms



Prairie Psaltery - Richard Celata



Loon Song Psalteries-Charlie Marshall



New Tradition Dulcimers- Dan Daniels



Psalteries by Dave- Dave Lucas  



Jon Williams Psalteries
(386) 853-0944

Westman Instruments - Tish & Greg Westman

Ringing Strings - Rick Long

Michael J King Instrumetns - Diatonic Psalteries

Inspired Instruments – Carol and Joe Esch

James Jones Instruments

Omega Strings – Richard Spencer

Master Works Bowed Psalteries - Russell Cook

Members that teach Bowed Psaltery

Paul G.Sykes - MS  

Located in Hattiesburg
Contact Paul at

or call him at



Gregg Schneeman - California
Contact Gregg here on Psaltery Strings


Peter Tommerup - California
San Francisco Bay Area
Bowed Psaltery and other Instruments


Celeste Howard Ray
Bowed Psaltery lessons via Skype
Skype name celesteray88


Maureen Barnes - Illinois
Bowed Psaltery lessons in Bloomington, IL


Dona Benkert -

Lessons at Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, IL
Phone: 773.728.6000
& Folk-Lore Center, Warrenville, IL
Phone: 630.393.1247

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.

Rick Long - Tennessee
Lessons at Rick's home/workshop in Clinton, 30 mins N of Knoxville
(865) 660-4026

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

Carol Esch - Kentucky
Lessons in Carol's home/workshop south of Lexington.

Honey Smith Walls - Florida
e-mail Honey for more info honey@offthewalls.us
Melbourne, FL

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.

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