Description of the Psaltery
The psaltery is in the family of chordophones. Vibrating strings by running a bow across them makes their sound. The psaltery’s strings run the entire length of the instrument and put it in the same classification as the zither. The psaltery was developed in the Middle East, and was a very important instrument during the Medieval Period.
Our psaltery is shaped like an isosceles triangle, or a tall letter "A." There is one rosette carved in the mahogany plywood soundboard. The sides are solid rosewood. It is 23 inches in length and has 32 strings running the length of the soundboard. Our psaltery has 2 ½ octaves. Each string is held in place by two pins. Upper pins are used for support and tension of the strings. These pins are mounted along the sides of the A-shaped soundboard. The lower pins are tuning pins. These are mounted in a triple row near the base of the soundboard. The strings run the length of the soundboard between these pins and over a bridge mounted just above the base of the instrument. Our psaltery is played with a rosined bow. The bow is pulled along the string in-between the tension pins. The strings are bowed along the outside edge of the instrument, not across the face of the soundboard, producing a sweet sound you will remember fondly. The bow and tuning tool are included.
We ship all of our chordophones before they are tuned. This releases the pressure on the instrument for safer shipping. You will need to tune the psaltery frequently in the first few days to bring it into its full "voice."
Tuning Instructions for the Psaltery
Always start with the shortest string and work to the longest string. This will ensure that you stay on the correct octave. You may replace the strings with #10 guitar strings. To tune, turn the pin in a clockwise direction while applying moderate pressure to maintain the friction holding the pin in place. The tuning pins are not threaded; rather they are tapered and held in place by friction. Pushing into the instrument as you tune the pins will seat them and make them hold firmly. You may need to re-tune frequently until your instrument is in condition. As you look at the soundboard the sharp and flat notes are to the left and the natural notes are to the right. The notes on the right side begin with C and end at the top with F. There are 2 ½ octaves on our psaltery.
Remember that the bow must be rosined to sound.