New BP Lover- Looking for First Purchase (and first build) -- Help ?

Hi all, I'm James from Atlantic Canada.

Unfortunately, I'm not so musically gifted, actually fail on most strings.  Can pick up the harmonica well enough. I have a fiddle and concertina, and electronic bagpipes -- and though I've not learned them, yet, they are my kind of sound.

I saw the BP on Youtube and fell in love. My "thinking" is that they could be played like a Fiddle Picker's delight... that is, for someone who loves violin and fiddle, but wants something that might sound like it but a little easier to play at first.

Make sense?

Anyway, I'm good with my hands for building things, so, I do plan on building one, but I also know I need to get playing as my work shop can't be used til Spring.

Can you all help (probably answered these a thousand times) - and I did try to scour forum answers first before posting. So if old hash, feel free to just give a few points  8) goes:

First-- What I like.... Like I said I prefer Fiddle over violin. I love old-timey, Bluegrass, Gospel, Old Country (Honky-Tonk) type music.  Love Irish reels and Scottish airs. (my other instruments were bought to play Irish music and Sea-fairing music - might know it as Breton Music (Cape Breton Music)). Lower pitch is better than higher.


Seriously under-budgeted... I'm looking in the $100 new range (I know.)  ZITHER HEAVEN makes a 22 model for $97. Solid Wood. Top in Maple, Cherry or Walnut.   They look like well built units, no bad feedback.  But hardwood for a soundboard?

Anyone use these? any experience? Any alternatives in that price?

And I'm really confused what I need as for size and strings. As someone else had said, a tenor to one is a baritone to another, 2 oct, 2.5, 20-35 string...  I do believe I need Wound Strings (for the deeper sound less tension and no 3 foot units).


*I'm looking for plans (free or modest priced). I found some but they seem to compromise build sophistication for cheapness (or to avoid giving the full info).

*Soundboard.  As mentioned, the Zither Heaven only uses hardwood, but a music store said that would sound brittle... the opposite of deep and warm.  I know Spruce is standard, but I love wood figure, like Longhi, Burls, Aromatic cedars etc...  Anyone with experience on alternatives?  With building one, no expense to be spared.


Really looking forward to getting into one of these.

ps---- is there any good music out there in the music types I mentioned for these yet?


Happy New Year!


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---- forgot to ask.

Does anyone know the Sound Quality / Plyability DIFFERENCE between the Model with Sound Hole,  and the Solid Body with Scoop Out ??

My one limited experience with a scooped out psaltery wasn't very good.  I found the volume to be surprisingly low and the tone to be rather tinny.  They seem to work more by reflecting the sound (the scoop sort of acts like a parabolic reflector) rather than resonating the sound in a proper chamber.  The upside to these that I see is their robustness. I think you could hit it with a hammer, so they're probably great for children.  It's also a very cost effective construction, so that keeps the price in the beginner's range.

If someone were to give me one I wouldn't refuse, but I wouldn't personally go in search of it.


I asked because I can get the scooped type for $50, or the regular one with sound hole for $100

Not too worried about projection as it's only for learning.

But it IS for an adult and don't want a "toy" type item.  Also, I'm hoping for something as lower pitched as possible (ie - play more fiddle type songs on it)

Maybe this isn't doable.

James if you havent already gotten a BP.. look at Ebay  Its an amazing psaltry with excellent sound.  I play one and everyone falls in love with the tone and sound this produces.    George Kelicheck was a master builder and is no longer making BP. its worth far more then the Current bid price

James,I think you will be disappointed with any of ZH's psalteries. There is a fine line between toys and musical quality psalteries. The ZH models look more like wall hangers. Musical quality BP's are greatly under valued instruments. For $200- 400 you get a lot for your money. If I were you I would hold out for something better... Bob...


well... i already bought the Zither Heaven.... the soundhole one

So, hoping for good things.

And yeah, at $200-400 its not an instrument for me , i just dont have that kind of cash to buy something.

my hope is ill be able to learn on this, and i plan to make my own... much cheaper for me to get the supplies, and i am able to build... so hoping this arrangement works out   8/

ps- i mean, i do appreciate the $400 handmade item, just not where i can be, not just now but at all...

you'll completely be able to learn on it - i think you'll actually be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the ZH.  it has a beautiful enough tone to instantly obsess me with this instrument.  

Thanks Julie !

I'm now trying to decide on Canarywood or Red Cedar for the top of what I will build in the spring !

--PS--- are there any Online FREE LEARN HOW TO PLAY guides?

I looked around here, but can't find any just general "First Steps" kind of thing.  I don't believe the BP I bought comes with so much as a tuning guide.


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