Ringing Strings Bowed Psalteries  

handcrafted by Rick Long
Clinton, Tennessee
(865) 660-4026
psalteryman@gmail.com

5-20-16  All currently out of stock. 

What started the process of building this new psaltery is thanks to a dulcimer playing friend, Sonja.  We were playing at a jam with the Knoxville Dulcimer Club.  I was playing my key of D chromatic psalteries, a soprano and tenor, that I had built especially to play along with the dulcimer folks.  These two psalteries have a slightly shortened scale and are tuned to a chromatic D tuning.  This allows me to play in the key of D and play every song as though I was playing every song in the key of C.  This would essentially be like putting a capo on a psaltery as you would a fretted instrument to play in a different key using the same chord patterns.  This seems to be hard for most folks to grasp, but it really makes it easy for me to play in D.  If I used a standard chromatically tuned bowed psaltery I would be worn out from constantly reaching across for the C# and F# notes I needed.




Sonja understood what I was doing and commented that she would like a bowed psaltery in D, to play along with dulcimer groups at jams.  She asked if it could be simplified a little more and also be smaller in size. Sonja understood what I was doing and commented that she would like a bowed psaltery in D, to play along with dulcimer groups at jams.  She asked if it could be simplified a little more and also be smaller in size. That started brewing in my mind and began the process of how I develop a new design.  Mostly through trial and error, I always add it seems to be mostly error at times.  I realized this could be a psaltery that a dulcimer player would enjoy having with them at a jam as a second instrument.   My goals were to make it small enough to easily transport, keep down the price, and to still have a great sounding psaltery.

Here's the description of the tuning, size, and what is included for the price of the D Psaltery.  They are 16" long, 4" wide, and 2" thick including the height of the strings, so it is a pretty small psaltery and will comfortably fit in most folks hands.  There are sixteen strings on each one and they can be made either right or left hand.  The bow is the same 14" bow that is used to play my soprano psalteries.  These bows are very light in weight and are haired with a synthetic bow hair.  The bow will be made of the same wood as the body of the psaltery, unless a custom wood is requested.

The psaltery is tuned to the D scale starting with A at the tip, A B C# D E F# G A B C# D E F# G A B.  This way you end up with one extra note above two octave.  I know from playing my soprano psalteries for 30 years that having that one extra note there allows me to play lots of tunes in that upper octave that wouldn't be possible without it, or I would need to search out that note in a lower octave.  The two D's are marked with a black dot for reference points to help find your way around. 


If you are an Appalachian dulcimer player you might recognize a few things about the tuning layout.  First if you were playing from a tab written in DAD, the lowest A would be like playing your open A.  The the B and C# would be the same as first and second frets on that same string.  Then look to your melody D string, the lowest D on the psaltery would be like your D string played open, then E is your first fret, F# is second,  G is the third fret, and on up the scale.

If you are playing from tab written in DAA, the lowest A would match your melody A string played open.  Then B is the first fret, C# is second fret, and D is your third fret.  This is why I started with the lowest note an A, in either DAD or DAA you need to get at least down to that note.   Bear in mind that with the psaltery tuned to go up to that B you can play a lot of the tunes in that higher octave, to mix up the sound a bit.  If your tab leads you to start on that low A, try starting in on the A an octave higher.  This can really change the quality of the overall sound at a jam.  Remember to please check you're tuning before any jam, right Sonja. 

Does this make sense?  I know there would be limitations if you were to have some of the 1/2 fret notes that are added to some dulcimers.  Just to keep it simple this psaltery is just tuned to the notes of that D diatonic scale.  There may be a few tunes that you need a certain note you don't have on the psaltery.  When I encounter this I look for a note that would harmonize with that note and try that.  That wouldn't work very well if you were playing your big solo, but playing in a jam nobody will know but you.  My feeling is that these psalteries would be great played with other instruments and use it to fill in the background of the tune.  It can be quite uninteresting if everyone in a jam plays the melody of the tune.  This psaltery is great for adding harmonies or just very simple drone notes that can be held for a very long time with your bowing technique, I give you the secret to achieve this on the included DVD.
These can also tuned to different keys by tuning certain strings up or down a half step.  If you do this you will need to remark your notes and probably do something to keep the octave marking at the D's from distracting you.  I cover how to do this on the DVD and a special written page I include with the psaltery. 

If you want one of these dedicated to a certain key other than D, I can do that, or you can order one without the octave markings at the D's to tune to the key you desire.  Just remember I don't recommend tuning any of the string up or down more than a half step.  Call or email to discuss this.
The included DVD and written instructions show everything on how to care for and play the D Psaltery.  Everything from how to hold the psaltery, tuning, replacing a broken string, cleaning, to the most important, bowing technique.  I give you lots of examples of what you should practice to make your playing sound the very best.
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Price includes:
Bow
Tuning wrench
Rosin
Extra Strings
Instruction DVD
Tuning Instruction
Padded Case
====================================================================================================
Price includes:
Bow
Tuning wrench
Rosin
Extra Strings
Instruction DVD
Tuning Instruction
Padded Case
Price includes:
Bow
Tuning wrench
Rosin
Extra Strings
Instruction DVD
Tuning Instruction
Padded Case
Click picture to enlarge
Click picture to enlarge
Click picture to enlarge
The D Psaltery is designed to be played along with the dulcimer.  It is tuned to the D scale and wouldn't be the best choice for you if you don't  play mostly in that key.  A chromatic model, like the soprano, is a better choice for all around playing and having the ability to play in different keys.  The D Psaltery is more of a specialized instrument with a specific purpose in mind.
To Order -

Email me at -
psalteryman@gmail.com

or Call -
865-660-4026
To Order -

Email me at -
psalteryman@gmail.com

or Call -
865-660-4026
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  • Top: Figured Maple
  • Back:  Walnut
  • Price: $230 SOLD
  • Item No. CMWAD002







I found the board used for this sound board in my lumber shed.  It was rough sawn, but I could see the curly figure in it.  Just wide enough for D Psalteries and maybe a few D Tenors.  It was a great discovery to find all the great color when I cut it into soundboards and sanded it.  Click on the pictures to enlarge them and see the color variations I am taking about.

  • Top: Figured Maple
  • Back:  Walnut
  • Price: $230
  • Item No. CMWAD003 SOLD







I found the board used for this sound board in my lumber shed.  It was rough sawn, but I could see the curly figure in it.  Just wide enough for D Psalteries and maybe a few D Tenors.  It was a great discovery to find all the great color when I cut it into soundboards and sanded it.  Click on the pictures to enlarge them and see the color variations I am taking about.

  • Top: Figured Maple
  • Back:  Walnut
  • Price: $230 SOLD
  • Item No. CMWAD004








I found the board used for this sound board in my lumber shed.  It was rough sawn, but I could see the curly figure in it.  Just wide enough for D Psalteries and maybe a few D Tenors.  It was a great discovery to find all the great color when I cut it into soundboards and sanded it.  Click on the pictures to enlarge them and see the color variations I am taking about.
To Order -

Email me at -
psalteryman@gmail.com

or Call -
865-660-4026
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