I just finished hammering out the details of a 'new' design for the psaltery with Rick Long of Ringing Strings.  It's a small soprano instrument that has a couple of neat features.


Based on Rick's popular chromatic and diatonic instruments that he designed to play easily with mountain dulcimers, this new model features 17 strings all along one side only that are tuned in a modified diatonic scale:


B C C# D E F# G a b c c# d e f# g a' b'


Note the C natural hidden in the middle of the scale.  The instrument is tuned in fundamental D major with three additional notes below the tonic D and extends a further octave and a half to high b'.  The C natural "odd ball' string allows the instrument to play the same scales as the Irish tin whistles or Irish flutes that play in D.  It can play in D major, G major, E minor and a modal scale of A.  It is also similar to the 'half frets' of the mountain dulcimer so that it can play along with dulcimers without having to reach over to the other side.  This arrangement of strings should allow for a very fast psaltery that is ideal for the Irish repertoire.


For anyone unfamiliar with Rick and Ringing Strings, know that he is a very innovative thinker who really understands the psaltery.  And he's a great guy to work with to boot!

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Hi Tim, Leah has a Rick Long D and the style is very similar to yours. Her's is 16 notes starting at the low end with A. I bought one of Rick's new D tenors, they look similar also but I'm sure they are bigger than yours and Leah's. The D tenor has wound strings, 18 notes and begins at the low end with an A. It's nice not having to cross over to the "dark side" when playing in the Key of D and it is indeed faster!

Hope all is well with you Tim!


Thanks for replying on my behalf, Donna!  That is indeed what I have...how do you like the D tenor?

I hesitated, but then went ahead and responded  : P

I like the D, it's nice not having to go over to "the dark side", you can play faster, but probably not as fast as yours or Tim's because the tenor is bigger with wound strings.

I can also tune it to G, and those are my two favorite keys to play in.


For a first step into psalteryland, I do like the D.  The D tenor has my curiosity..do you use a horsehair bow? 
Tim, Have you posted any video or sound file of you playing this BP? Sounds like it would be wonderful to hear.

Hi Ann,


No, sadly I have no ability to record or post videos.  I suppose I could have someone record it on their cell phone or something, but there are a lot of really awfull recordings out there done that way, and I think it takes away from the instrument.  But maybe some day I'll find a way to post a high-quality recording.

Tim, now that you've had this BP for a while, are you able to do with it what you were hoping for? How are you using it?

It's very fast with practically no sustain, so that allows quick playing for Irish trad music.  It's not as well suited for the elaborate ornamentation as I'd hoped for, but the basic tunes can be played up to speed easily.  I'm working on an idea for a larger instrument that would duplicate this modified scale on both sides of the psaltery.  That would allow for two bows moving very fast indeed.


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