do you like your psaltery, plain or fancy?  The BP is an interesting instrument in that it lends itself to a vast variety of decoration and embellishment without having to sacrifice much of its tone.  There are simple ones and those that sport all manner of exotic decoration.


Me, I tend to go for simple lines and very basic ornamentation.  I did choose a lovely Celtic knot for the sound hole of my Phantasy Psaltery, but otherwise it's very plain as psalteries go (I think Eric was a bit bored making it).  My two Ringing Strings are elegant in their simplicity, and I wouldn't change that for the world.  But there are some beautifully ornate instruments out there. do you like yours? Plain or Fancy?

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I think that's the best sort of advice, Gene. In a popular mandolin forum that I frequent, beginners often come in to ask if they should buy a simple instrument to start or an ornate one. Most people will say that you can get better materials and craftsmanship with a simple instrument for the same money, and technically that's good advice. But if the instrument appeals to your eye and tastes, I think you're more likely to play it. You're prouder of it and more interested, so you spend time with it. And it's time, patience, practice, and effort that makes good players of any instrument.
I like the simple beautifull and simple I think the fancier ones are beautifull and Im not saying I would not own one but I like the simpler ones
Wow, I like them all.....I think simple is elegant and fancy is pretty.....Maybe that's why I have four : P (all diferent sizes and ranges) I have two fairly simple and two a little more fancy, but none that are really fancy. If you have a beautiful piece of wood, fancy ornamention might detract from the natural beauty. If you have a plain piece of wood, a little ornamentation might be just the thing to turn plain Jane into a pretty little instrument!
Notice I said a "little" ornamentation.....I think I have to say I learn towards the plain side but do appreciate some fancier ones as well.
Painted decorations aren't seen too often on bowed psalteries. There are a couple in the photo section here, but I think only two, possibly three. I wonder why there aren't more of those?
There were a few more pictures of painted psalteries here than I thought, here they are....
Anyone have any more?

Oh How pretty They all are I love looking at instruments of all kinds Would love to hear them
Oooooo! I am such a sucker for eye candy! I heartily agree with Gene; you'll be looking at it for hopefully a long time, the prettier the better! I acknowledge that extra money for "bling" doesn't necessarily insure a better sound (size certainly does, though); and I also would never advise anyone to go into debt to obtain the instrument of their dreams. But I'd urge anyone to get as much as they can possibly afford, and then trade up until you're happy! All blessings...

I like enough bling to make an instrument (or anything else, for that matter!) stand out just a bit.  Ebay has scads of BPs that are painted.  I know nothing about the seller/maker, but they are nice to look at.  I would be concerned about paint deteriorating and chipping, so I would favor a cool soundhole, some inlay, or maybe woodburning.  Maybe colored staining instead of painting?  Just a thought...

Oh, the BP in Donna's post, the purple and green?  WANT!

Leah D

That purple and green one is a Phantasy Psaltery (Eric Meier) it is very cool!!

I'm pretty sure the BPs your refering to on eBay are made by Dave Lucas. He does paint some and he puts some scroll work on the sound board of others. I have never heard a Lucas BP, but I've been told their voice is particularly loud. That could be useful in jams when the BP can't be heard above the other instruments, though you might not like it at home playing alone. As always, It's a matter of personal preference.

Archie Smith makes some very decorative psalteries also, beautiful pieces. Altarwind (see the picture in the header for this web site) did inlays in their BPs and I would be very interested in that myself.

I have wondered about painted and decorated psalteries though. If there is a lot of paint I think it might deaden the sound (depending on the type of paint as well) and also, if a decorative item is glued onto the sound board does that alter the sound?  I doubt small decorations make much difference to sound but there probably is a point where it would. Just like the type of finish on a psaltery can change the sound....

The sound hole is probably one of the best ways to have some fun with your psaltery! I recently asked a builder to to a custom one for me, but as with anything else, customization and pretty decorations cost extra : ) 

I've thought about doing some wood burning, painting or stenciling on my bow however. I think you could get pretty outrageous there!!


Mine is the most simplistic looking psaltery I've ever seen, but I love that about it. It does have curved sides as well which is a feature I've not seen in other psalteries.

sometimes the wood and the curves themselves are gorgeous....less can definately be more!



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