Hi from the UK

I am a new member on this site and this is my first post.

I am not a musician & I guess at 67 I’m starting a bit late so what I’m about to ask might be really stupid.

I am building a Psimple Psaltery and am nearly at the stage of drilling for the hitch pins & tuning pins so I have to make the decision of how to string it.

As others have said on this forum tuning the BP from G4 to G6 seems a bit high & I understand I could use wound strings & tune an octave lower G3 to G5 but do I need to go that low.

Having had a look at some of the music I would like to learn to play not many are written to go below Middle C or above C6 so it could I tune my BP from C4 to C6

Would I have to change to wound strings or could I stay with plain strings but just change the thickness.

Any help would be appreciated

Views: 223

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion


I began building bowed psalteries using the Psimple Psaltery design a few years ago but have modified the concept a little to meet my needs.  If you follow the construction details in the Psimple Psaltery document carefully, you will end up with a very playable instrument.

I found that the 2 octave range was somewhat limiting in that there were a few songs that I liked to play on some of my other instruments that I couldn't play on the 24 stringed psaltery.  I currently build 30 stringed psalteries in two ranges: G3 to C6 and G4 to C7.  I like the idea of starting out the longest string on a "G" since my mandolin, violin and tenor banjo also have their lowest note as a "G".

I found that by changing the strings on my Psimple Psaltery project from solid wire to phosphor bronze wire wound strings I could easily tune it an octave lower.  The string sizes are split into three different groups on the psaltery.  The longest strings are .022", mid-range .020, and shortest strings .018 on the phosphor bronze wire-wound "tenor" model.  On the "alto " it's equipped with solid wire strings in the range of .012 inches, .010 inches and .008 inches.

Be very careful to get the lay-out of the pin spacing correct before you start drilling any holes and make sure your pins are all the same height above the sound board before you begin installing strings.  I wouldn't attempt to drill these holes without a drill press especially since the tuning pins are drilled at a 15 degree angle.

If you run into a problem, drop me a line.

good luck,

Charlie Marshall 


Thanks Charlie

I would have liked to have made a 2 ½ octave BS but struggled to get tonewood for the front large enough. Getting decent timber in small quantities in the UK is surprisingly difficult.

I think I will start with the PB wound strings as you suggest and tune G3 to G5.

I did wonder if I could add some extra strings but that would mean moving away from the variable hitch pin spacing so I think I will stay with the Psimple Psaltery Design.

I don’t have a very well equipped workshop but I do have a drill press. I’m just waiting now for some new drill bits to arrive.

The body – beech sides, pinblock & back with a spruce front is just about ready
Thanks again



The psaltery you are building can be expanded to 2 1/2 octaves by adding additional pins and still utilize the variable hitch pin spacing.  I attached a photo of one of five I built last spring.  The clearance between the PB strings and the adjacent hitch pins is very close in the shortest strings.  I use the variable pin spacing on all my psalteries because it makes sense.  The width of the instrument doesn't have to be wider than the Psimple Psaltery plans to do this but it does take careful planning when adding the extra hitch and tuning pins.  One nice thing about this project is that you could add the extra pins and strings at a later date. 

If you're like me, you will want to build another psaltery in the higher octave range using solid wire strings.  Some songs sound better on the tenor and some are more suited to the Alto.  One of these days, I'd like to build one of those they play in Japan ! 


Thanks again Charlie

Now I understand.

You're right about how close the hitch pins come to the extra strings. I have the psaltery drawn out on Autocad so I quickly drew in the three extra strings on the right side

For now I think I will stick with the 25 strings & add the others in later if I find I need to.

Yes those Japanese BPs and especially the Japanese players are amazing


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.

© 2022   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.