Bowed Psalteries - Current Stock
From Left to Right: Baritone, Alto and Soprano
This hand-held triangular shaped melody instrument is played with a bow. Extremely easy to play, the psaltery's haunting, ethereal tone is used effectively with chordal instruments or in solo playing. The standard psaltery is fully chromatic, set up like a piano with the white notes to the right and the sharps and flats to the left.

In the video, I play one of my Alto's. In this clip I'm playing a Soprano so you can compare.

Here is another link to a customer who plays one of my Alto's in the double bow style.

The instrument is tuned with zither pins and a tuning wrench. Included with your psaltery are a 17" long maple horsehair bow, a T-style tuning wrench, rosin, extra strings, and an Owner's Manual. There are markers embedded in the instrument for the Cs and for the Gs to help you find your way. Left hand instruments are available at no extra charge but must be ordered as I don't have them on hand. In a left handed instrument the white keys of the psaltery are on the left side of the instrument, black keys on the right.

My instruments are constructed entirely of solid wood; no plywood. The soundboards of choice are thin quarter-sawn tone woods such as Spruce, Redwood or Cedar. These woods give the instrument a warmer more mellow sound. The backs are equally thin making my instruments quite responsive. Hardwoods can be used for soundboards but it will make the instrument much brighter. The pin blocks are of hard Maple and joinery between frame and pin block is such that it will never come apart.

Three Different Sizes:

The Soprano is chromatic and has a range of 2 octaves (25 strings). The Soprano has a slightly brighter sound than the Alto. The size of the Soprano is 22" x 81/2" x 2 1/2" with pins and weighs 2 1/2 lbs
. If you are purchasing the instrument for a young child, I recommend the Soprano because of its smaller size and lightness.

The Alto has the same range as the Soprano plus an additional 1/2 octave so you have 2 1/2 octaves going down to middle C (32 strings). The Alto's larger body size is approximately 26" x 9 1/2" x 2 3/4" with pins and is 3 to 3/12 lbs depending on the wood. This size psaltery is still quite comfortable to play given your average arm length. Because of its fuller sound and greater range, this is my most popular model.

The Baritone is my largest Bowed Psaltery with a range of 3 octaves (37 strings) going from C6-C3. The dimensions are 11" X 31" X 3 1/4" with the weight being 5 lbs. This instrument is more of a challenge to play given its size and weight but if you want those low notes, this is the one to get. You can see a tuning chart and get more information on this psaltery here.

 




This is how the instrument is played. You draw the bow along the right side of the instrument for the 'white keys of the piano' bowing between the posts. The sharps and flats are on the left side of the instrument. You would tilt the bow to play those accidentals; 'the black keys'. As you look at the instrument from the right side it has the same layout as a piano keyboard. Bowing is done in an up and down motion playing only one tone at a time. It is a primarily a melody instrument although there
are players who play with two bows allowing some chords. The instrument must be self supported to accomplish this feat.



Prices:

Soprano (2 octaves G down to G).............................$200 Shipping costs?( I can ship internationally)
Alto (2/12 octaves G down to middle C)...................$300
Fancy Alto...................................................................$340
Baritone (3 octaves C3-C6)..................................... $540 (This size I generally build to order)

Custom Bowed Psalteries................ Price to be determined

For Standard Sopranos, you have a choice of Walnut or Cherry back and sides with either Redwood, Spruce or Cedar soundboard. For the Standard Alto Bowed Psalteries you will get either Walnut or Cherry back and sides and either Redwood or Cedar soundboards. I don't usuallly have Spruce available for the Altos or Baritones. I can use hardwoods for the soundboards but that will brighten an already bright sounding instrument.
My Fancy Altos are described below.


Soprano, Alto, and Baritone Current Stock

Included with your psaltery are a horsehair bow, T wrench for tuning, rosin, extra strings, and an Owner's Manual.


Accessories (click to visit page):

Soft Case...........................................$45 + $12 shipping (please specify alto or soprano)
Stand..................................................$15 + $12
Extra Wire #1, #2 ,or #3....................$1 for individual size, $3 for all sizes + $2 shipping (specify gauge)
Custom Sound hole design........... $75
17" Horsehair Bow ..........................$20 + $5
Rosin .................................................$3 + $3
The Bowed Psaltery Handbook.......$21 + $5
Electronic Tuners ..............................$ 20 + $5 shipping
Bowed Psaltery Internal Pickup........$75
Bowed Psaltery Tripod Platform ......$40 + $12 shipping

Printable Order Form for ordering by check and regular mail


Fancy Psalteries

I sometimes have Alto Psalteries with different woods like Curly or Birdseye Maple or exotic woods on the sides (see photos below). That is the only difference between the fancy and the standard bowed psalteries. The tonal quality remains the same. These instruments would have Cherry, Mahogany or Walnut backs and usually Redwood soundboards. Check current stock to see what I have in this category that is immediately available. You are also welcome to order a Custom Bowed Psaltery. You'll just have to wait a little longer.


Cherry back, Redwood Soundboard with Birdseye Maple sides Cherry back, Redwood Soundboard with Curly Maple sides
The shot on the left shows how the maple pin block is visible from the side when the sides are of a darker wood. It is faced with a decorative wood.