All Blog Posts (114)

Bowed Psaltery Origins Continued: Flavius Josephus

  Flavius Josephus was one of the most amazingly successful personalities of his time period, (at least he thought so), His incredible life story, A.D. 37 to 100, is available on wikipedia etc. Among the many volumes of books he wrote to explain Jewish traditions, theology,and history to the Roman world, he states in Book #7 Chapter 12 paragraph 3 of  "Antiquities of the Jews": "And now David being free from wars and dangers and enjoying for the future a profound peace, composed of songs and…


Added by Gregg E. Schneeman & Jean Gaffey on July 15, 2014 at 11:30am — 8 Comments

It never leaves you

it s strange, ive not played my B s for some time, the other day I herd a track by my favourite west country group, the yetties, Lawn sunset. Played on the Bs. I just had to have a go and have a go at it. I sat on the end of the bed and lost myself in music for half hour. I'd forgotten how relaxing the B s could be. 

Added by bob pryor on June 13, 2014 at 2:19am — No Comments

Bowed Psaltery Origins Continued: Aeolian Harps

 I like to put my Bowed Psaltery on top of my shoulder point straight up with my ear against the back, rotate my body position so that I expose the strings to any breeze or wind blowing by, pick a location on the side of a hill with a nice view and let the wind play my psaltery! Different winds produce resonances that can build in intensity and then fade into soft wispy swirling. If the breeze allows bring your psaltery down to were you can bow along. A word of caution, prolonged exposure to…


Added by Gregg E. Schneeman & Jean Gaffey on April 2, 2014 at 10:27am — No Comments

care of psaltery

I am interested to know how to clean the strings and peg of my psaltery. I know to use a soft brush (either paint or makeup) for the instrument.

Added by Irene Gendron on March 21, 2014 at 5:37pm — 3 Comments

Nancy Barker's sister died

Some of us have attended Kentucky Music Week and enjoyed bowed psaltery lessons. So you might wish to know Nancy Barker's sister Gloria J. Lewis died a few days ago. "Miss Gloria" was a well known pianist in Louisville, KY and beyond.If you know Nancy you surely respect her including instruments beyond the dulcimer so that many of us have a gathering place to learn and jam and make new musical buddies.Those Johnson girls have helped a lot us grow.

Added by K.Keller on March 15, 2014 at 8:50pm — No Comments

Return to the psaltery

I'm so excited to return to my psaltery after a long absence. I have a beautiful Rick Long tenor that I am reacquainting myself with. I finally figured out how to start the DVD player and have reviewed the instructional DVD. Can't seem to get a clear sound out of my low G or A. I will keep working on it.

Added by Sue K on February 7, 2014 at 9:46am — No Comments

Bowed Psaltery Origins Continued The Trumscheit

 The much profaned Tromba Marina was originally a bowed single monochord used for both sacred and profane music. Classical paintings show a wide range of sizes being played with the bow on top with finger stopping the string from below,sometimes outfitted with a "floating bridge" meant to create special effects, one or two drone strings and later internal sympathetic strings were installed to increase resonance. In the late 1700's a version called the Trumscheit was developed by German folk…


Added by Gregg E. Schneeman & Jean Gaffey on January 29, 2014 at 3:00pm — No Comments

Merry Christmas

Wishing all a blessed Christmas and 2014. I have beem enjoying learning a few Christmas carols. Husband an friends are nice enough to listen an say well done. I still think psaltery, s make such sweet music. Blessing to all

Added by Sue Gillum on December 25, 2013 at 12:26pm — No Comments

Bowed Psaltery Origins Continued: The Violin-Zither

 The "Fischer's Fidola Mandolinette Zither" from the early 1900's is an interesting combination of individual strings available to be bowed or plucked that are also set up with push button springy hammers plus another set of strings arranged in chords to be strummed! One of these has recently shown up on E Bay with excellent close up pictures currently viewable on Google Images.The photos show "D.R.W.No.246857 D.R.Patent a.". Check it out on AntiquityMusic .com. "Zither Girl" has a  video on…


Added by Gregg E. Schneeman & Jean Gaffey on November 19, 2013 at 2:00pm — 4 Comments

A Rose by any other name.....

Up until now, if I was asked what my all-time favorite song was I would have said “Ode to Joy”.  Now I’m not sure that’s the right answer!

This past weekend at the East TN BP Gathering the comment was made that a piece of sheet music titled “Ode to Joy” was really called "Joyful, Joyful".  This raised my curiosity and I did a little research.  

Beethoven wrote his 9th and final complete symphony over a 7 year period, 1818-1824. By that time he was considered totally deaf (some…


Added by Donna Malus on November 7, 2013 at 5:32pm — 2 Comments

Bowed Psaltery Origens Continued: The Scheitholt Connection

    In Germany and most of Europe the rich town people,the powerful in their castles, cathedrals,and universities had their own diverse entertainments only sparingly experienced by the sometimes prosperous farmers living far from all that on the side of a mountain. These folks played their own music on their home made instruments for their own enjoyment. The Scheitholt (which means long log),Hummel (Bumble Bee!) and other musical instruments  are brought to America by the Pennsylvania Dutch…


Added by Gregg E. Schneeman & Jean Gaffey on October 9, 2013 at 9:30am — 2 Comments

What's So Great About The Bowed Psaltery?!!

  I was at our dulcimer fest here in L.A. last weekend. Besides playing and visiting old friends I had 4 people give me a chance to play a little game I like to play- I ask them to look at their watches before I start showing them how to play. I have a way of turning the psaltery around and holding their right hand with my left hand guiding them up and down,pull push pull push,slide,sharps and flats Twinkle Twinkle, Doe a Deer,Ode to Joy,Yankee Doodle and we're done.OK how long did that…


Added by Gregg E. Schneeman & Jean Gaffey on October 7, 2013 at 9:02am — No Comments

A Fun Summer Project

If I was still in school and the teacher asked me what I did on my summer vacation, I'd have to tell her about Violet.

Violet is a doll I made. She is all crochet and has her own bowed psaltery. As time allows I'm planning on making her some friends. Some of her friends will play bowed psaltery and some will play other folk instruments.

I hope you like her. She was very fun to create.…


Added by Donna Malus on October 6, 2013 at 3:53pm — 9 Comments

Double Bowing Techniques



I'm currently working on being able to play with two bows at once.  It fairly obvious that my left hand should be playing the "sharps" but I was wondering how other players handle the cross-overs between the bows so they don't get in the way of eachother when moving up and down the instrument. 


Any comments or recommendations???

Added by Charlie Marshall on September 21, 2013 at 3:48pm — 3 Comments

Bowed Psaltery Origens Continued

  Lithuanians call their version of the Kantele a Kankle and claim an ancient history of playing them with one bowed lyre type. Gusle are the bowed group Jeremy mentions with Byzantine connections. However another group of plucked psalteries called Gusli are wide spread. Please Wikipedia and You Tube all these instruments.

Added by Gregg E. Schneeman & Jean Gaffey on September 7, 2013 at 2:30pm — No Comments

Off to the Fair

Howdy Folks,

    I have been enjoying the summer months in the cool of AZ's high country. I have been playing music  at various shows and events in Heber, Show low, Pinetop/lakeside and Snowflake. This next week takes me to the Navajo County Fair in Holbrook. Hope everyone has had a great summer!


Added by David Forsman on September 5, 2013 at 2:08pm — No Comments

Off to the Fair

Howdy Folks,

    I have been enjoying the summer months in the cool of AZ's high country. I have been playing music  at various shows and events in Heber, Show low, Pinetop/lakeside and Snowflake. This next week takes me to the Navajo County Fair in Holbrook. Hope everyone has had a great summer!


Added by David Forsman on September 5, 2013 at 2:08pm — No Comments

D tenor

I am as happy as a hog in swill -- guess that doesn't sound too inviting but my pleasure is really high! I got a new D tenor from Rick to use with local dulcimer group. Have worked with some familiar tunes using the D as a drone and found that was fun. But put on some cds this morning and used both baritone and D to play along in a very newbie fashion. Used root chords and IV and V.

It probably isn't moral for a great grandmother to have this degree of enjoyment …


Added by K.Keller on August 24, 2013 at 5:32pm — No Comments

Problems with bow skipping

 If you look down your horse hair like an arrow the strands should be perfectly straight with no twisting,one hair might be doing this-clip it.Find the bad spot on the horse hair and over rosin just there.Some bows you can loosen up and carefully turn the horse hair around.A brand new string has an anti rust coating that can be causing this problem.Try rubbing the string  with 000 steel wool lightly and or a piece of expendable rosin.Check the notch on the zither pin where the string goes…


Added by Gregg E. Schneeman & Jean Gaffey on August 23, 2013 at 10:53am — No Comments

Problem with bow sticking

Does anyone else have problems with the bow sticking on certain strings even tho the bow is rosined and the string is clean? Both bow and strings are new.

Added by Jane Darien on August 23, 2013 at 7:13am — No Comments

Monthly Archives













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
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.

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.

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