First a disclaimer... I'm not a luthier, I'm a avid woodworker.  BUT, I love make music, either by playing or building!  I'm trying to find what size (gauge) strings would work best for a baritone bowed psaltery I just built. Here's the details... I build a 36" long bowed Psaltery which will have 3 full octaves (37 strings). I'd like to use the phosphor bronze wound strings to get a very mellow sound. Can I use wound strings even for the higher notes... which means 18 gauge, since I don't find any smaller wound strings. If I use a combination of wound and standard, won't I get a significant change in the tone of my notes when playing from one to the other? I've read a ton of stuff about how to select the proper string gauge, but I don't know how to apply it to reality!  Any help?????

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Thanks Serenity! I will post pictures, but I'm still in the glueing phase, so it will be another day or so before I can get good photos. I'm asking about the strings now, because I need to order them. One psaltery is solid Walnut... The side frames are 5/8" by 2.5" high. The pin block is rock maple. The second is walnut top and back with maple sides... Rock maple pin block. It will be only slightly smaller since I'm using the reciprocal cuts of the walnut. The overall dimensions are 36" by 12.5" at the base. Thanks for helping me.

Like you I'm not a luthier but I have just built my first psaltery.

Mine is a 2 octave Psimple Psaltery which I have strung with bronze wound strings to get a range of G3 to G5.

The higher notes are strung with .018 strings & the shortest string on mine is 5 3/4"

I hope that helps

Thank you David. My baritone is actually a scaled up Psimple Psaltery... Adding the G2 octave. Since the higher two octaves are the same as yours I presume the .018's will work for the high notes on mine. How did you decide when/where to change to larger wire! It's only a guess, but I'm thinking I should increase the string size about every 9 notes, so I would need .018, .020, .022 and .024 gauge wire. Again thanks for your input.

Hi Susy

I worked by trial & error. On mine the longest 2 strings on each side are .022 & the shortest 4 on each side are 0.018, All the rest are 0.020.

I have to say that it sounds OK (to me at least but I'm no musician) except that the G5 sounds a bit scratchy.

This may be down to my technique or the fact that I haven't made a proper bow yet & I'm using a crude bow strung with 8lb fishing line

I will post photos when I'm done. Dave, i guess I'll be doing the trial and error bit as well, since I scaled the size up to 36" overall length. I ordered some 18, mostly 20, and some 24 because of the significantly longer VSL. I'll let you know how it works. I'm also contemplating changing the strings on my original Psimple Psaltery to 18, 20 and 22 to get a lower more mellow sound. BTW, my G5 is also scratchy... I think it is because the string doesn't press firmly on the bridge. Again, thanks folks!


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