The Bowed Psaltery

Be prepared to be captivated by the haunting sound of the Bowed Psaltery. This easy-to-play instrument produces a sound that is all out of proportion to its size. The closely placed strings pick up sympathetic vibrations from the played string to produce an ethereal sound that has to be heard to be believed.
While the exact origin and development of the Bowed Psaltery is a matter of some debate, it seems to have developed from a medieval instrument called the Bowed Harp. Ease of playing, in addition to the sound, is a real attraction to this instrument. It is tuned like a piano with a string for each note. The whole notes (like the white keys on the piano) are on the right side, while the half notes (piano black keys) are on the left. Playing the psaltery, therefore, is like playing a piano with one finger, EXCEPT that, instead of a finger, you use a bow and draw the bow across the string. There are a total of 24 strings that provide a range of two octaves. The strings are steel and are all the same diameter (.010). A large variety of woods (from Ash to Zebrawood, Bubinga and Cocobolo to Rosewood and Sapele) are used to make the tops and backs.
The frames are made of hardwoods, generally Walnut or Cherry and the tops and backs are made from a variety of woods – both domestic and exotic – chosen not only for the tonal quality but also for the beauty and quality of the grain pattern. No two psalteries are exactly alike in either the way they look or the way they sound. Each standard bowed psaltery has a unique bookmatched top and back and is signed, dated and numbered inside. After meticulous sanding and preparation, it is given 6 coats of Classical Instrument lacquer with wet sanding with progressive grits of sandpaper culminating with compound buffing. The pin holes are then drilled, it is pegged and finally strung. THEN she gets to SING for the first time.
Each psaltery comes with a horse-hair bow, tuning tool, rosin, extra string, locator strips for playing and tuning, instruction/song booklet, DVD, a display hanger and a carrying case. All of the psalteries are made with the same quality. Difference in price among the various psalteries reflects the rarity and expense of the woods as well as time and materials involved with the hand-crafting process.
This website is not large enough for me to show you all of the psalteries that I handcraft, but I put pictures of some of the standard and Signature Series in the New Work section of this website. If you have questions or concerns, please contact me. If you are interested in a psaltery with a specific wood, I can send you photos of specific instruments.

Bird's Eye Maple Bowed Psaltery STD
Status: Sold

BIRD’S EYE MAPLE STANDARD BOWED PSALTERY NO. 2722 Bookmatched Bird’s Eye Maple […]

Thuya Burl Standard Bowed Psaltery
Price: $Was $550. Now $300 SERIOUS OFFERS CONSIDERED
Status: Sold

Thuya Burl Standard Bowed Psaltery Bowed Psaltery No. 2691 TOP – Book […]