Bowed Psalteries

IRENE
IRENE
@irene
2 weeks ago
111 posts

I've made 106 bowed psalteries.   I do put fancy letters on the right hand side....I iron these on before I put the finish on.  I have a decoration that I add as well, making the bowed psaltery more mellow.  All of my psalteries are altos.  It's too late at night to see if I can post photos....and yes, I'd love to make some little bowed psalteries to go with Dulcimers...that would be fun.  That's a great suggestion.  aloha, irene

Lorraine
Lorraine
@lorraine
2 weeks ago
16 posts

Colored string for the c and fs

Lorraine
Lorraine
@lorraine
2 weeks ago
16 posts

Use painters tape ..little bits andvwrite the notes..after you realize it is cdefgabc  over and over and then a strong colired diff for the g and c will give u the geography of the psaltery...also mark the c and f sharps and the b flats as those are the most used

Susie
Susie
@susie
2 weeks ago
288 posts
black-dog-bess, making my own note guides like the Unicorn Strings note guides is something I've considered. I will probably do that, making the letters with my P-touch label maker. I also thought of using a plastic sheet (clear report cover) as the base for the note letters. I have learned/played so many instruments in my 45 years of playing music. So learning the note placement on a Psaltery is definitely doable. However, at this point in my life, I see the note guides as a quick way to play songs and enjoy the instrument (which is what I was doing, until I sold it). By playing, the learning will happen. Thanks for your post, it is consistent with my thinking. Then, the suggestions of the others posters here can also be done.
Black Dog Bess
Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
2 weeks ago
19 posts

I have 3 bowed psalteries. The first is a used Unicorn Strings chromatic. I liked the idea of the plastic guide they use. It is just a piece of plastic with areas cut out at the top and bottom so the guide hooks around the top and bottom zither pin. Since I am dyslexic, I need all the help I can get to know where the notes are! For me color coding is just one more translation my brain has to make so give me the note names!

I also got 2 Rich Long diatonic in the key of D psalteries. He said that he had a friend who jammed with dulcimers and asked him to design a psaltery limited to the key of D that would be quicker to use with dulcimer jams. I also jam with dulcimers so not having to saw back and forth for the C# and F# really helps me. I made my own guide for the notes. I just found a report cover in the office supply section at Walmart (nothing but the best for my musical friends!) and cut it to shape. Probably sharpies would have worked to write the notes on the strip but I was wanted something looking more uniform. At Guitar Center they have strips called Guitar Buddies or something like that that have the names of the notes to help people learn the fretboard. Unfortunately, they are on a strip so you have to cut out the individual notes and stick them on the guide--I'm willing to do this for a more finished look. I sometimes use a small piece of gaffer's tape (supposed to be a tape with very little residue that is used to set up stuff for exhibitions) to stabilize my strip if it wants to wander around. I cannot say it will not mark your instrument. I only use them temporarily and have never had a problem. I store little strips of the tape on the handle of my tuning wrench.

Hope this helps, I think many more psalteries would be out of their cases making music if the notes were marked.

Lois Sprengnether Keel
Lois Sprengnether Keel
@lois-sprengnether-keel
2 weeks ago
124 posts

Mine does, too, it's just in and out in temperature changes and my own ear tends to be more "forgiving" ( a.k.a. lazy) than some with perfect pitch.

Lorraine
Lorraine
@lorraine
2 weeks ago
16 posts

Lois..it is worth tuning the strings..the sound is amazing and has a different ambiance ..mine stays in tune pretty well..

Lois Sprengnether Keel
Lois Sprengnether Keel
@lois-sprengnether-keel
2 weeks ago
124 posts

Years ago I bought a very nice 2 octave +1 psaltery made by Harbor Town Dulcimer Shoppe.  The tag says P.O. Box 48, Rockaway Beach, MO 65740 with a phone number of 417-561-2728.  It has the notes on one side with the  accidentals on the opposite side unnamed.

Without the notation I would never have tried it.  I have used it in my programs, but tuning 28 notes can be a pain.  It was before I fell in love with the dulcimer.  My husband tries to get me to return to it, but it's very low on my priorities.  Haven't tried to sell it, but admit it's possible.

Susie
Susie
@susie
2 weeks ago
288 posts

Thanks for the responses and ideas, I appreciate it. Love hearing about others' instruments too. There are many options out there for makers. I contacted Master Works and found out a little more about wood choices with theirs. Decisions!  wasntme

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 weeks ago
1,826 posts

As far as marking notes, I've used little short pieces of colored tubing that slip tightly over the tuning pins.

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
2 weeks ago
267 posts

Don't be afraid to try alternative tunings. I have one model tuned to C minor. Another in diatonic on right side matching my dulcimers. With two bows I use left side lower notes as drone notes. Upper strings tuned to flats. And another in classic chromatic. Enjoy your psaltery.... Robert

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 weeks ago
1,894 posts

Hmm.. I'm thinking if one doesn't want to risk marring the finish by using stickers to indicate certain notes on the psaltery, then you could maybe just tie (or even wind and then tie) a small piece of colored yarn around certain zither pins and cut the ends short.  Once you got familiar and didn't need them anymore, you could just cut the yarn off... or cut certain ones off one at a time as you learn more about where the notes are.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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updated by @strumelia: 11/26/18 12:40:33PM
Ariane
Ariane
@ariane
2 weeks ago
15 posts
Hi Susie
I have a unicorn alto BP which I would like to sell ( but I guess the transport costs from Germany will be too high for your consideration? 😊) and a Rick Long soprano. I would suggest to try to learn where the notes are with the help of the position of the half tones on the left side - as with piano keys - and would not put a paper sheet with note names underneath the strings.
The idea of the dots for the c and g (or f) would be a good help.
Lorraine
Lorraine
@lorraine
2 weeks ago
16 posts

Hi..i play bp..just got into it..i own a 2 octave spring creek ps made by terry kirby from ohio..it is lovely...i also have a 3 octave baritone that is like 3 feet long...it is amazing but big...terry kirby just puts a thin piece of paper down the two area where the zither pins are and has the name written next to the pin..you could also put a red dot where the c is and a blue dot where the f is as on a harp...use a sticky dot  to know the geography of the strings..pam

Susie
Susie
@susie
2 weeks ago
288 posts

I found an old discussion about bowed psalteries, but thought I'd start a new (current) one. I owned a psaltery a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I ended up selling it as I got into other instruments. Now I'm jonesing for another. I know there's a forum specific to psalteries, but I wanted to stick around here for this discussion. 

I'm leaning towards a Master Works 30 string psaltery. My sister had one and I liked everything about it. My previous one was a Unicorn Strings. It was real nice and sounded good. I liked their plastic note guides for learning. I wish I still had those, because they were handy. Has anyone ever made their own note guides to help learning the note placement?  I read music, so that really helps in learning. We travel a lot in our motor home, so the size of the instrument makes it handy for traveling. Plus, some dulcimer festivals also have psaltery workshops that can be fun. 

Any dulcimer players out there who also play a psaltery?

Any discussion on the topic you'd care to share?