The psaltery is an ancient musical instrument. The earliest versions were made up of a simple wooden board with strings attached to pegs. This developed into a hollow box with metal strings and a sound hole. The strings were either plucked, struck or bowed. Handmade psalteries are sought after today by those who love the sound they produce.
Making these traditional instruments is a unique craft. It combines various skills such as science, art and working with wood. It requires woodworking skills such as good joinery and understanding different woods and glues. It also requires an interest in music and a knowledge of how different sounds are created.
The bowed psaltery was introduced in the 20th century. There are numerous craftsmen now selling these instruments. It has a triangular shape and the notes are produced by running the bow down the strings on both sides. These ringing notes have been described as ethereal in quality.
The type of wood used in construction affects the tonal quality, beauty and durability of the instrument. The top is usually made of a lighter wood like spruce or cedar as the vibration of the strings has to be transferred through the top to the body of the instrument. The sides are made of a strong, stable wood like birch.
The strings are also important to the quality of sound produced. They have to have exactly the right pitch, length and mass to vibrate correctly. The spacing of the hitch pins needs to be done with care. If this is done incorrectly, the sounds produced may be scratchy or metallic. Strings can also break easily if the tension is not right. Tuning pins situated at the base are used to adjust the tension.
There is a sound hole on the top of each instrument. There are many different ways of decorating these holes, from hand carving them to fitting them with rosettes. The pattern in which the sound hole is cut and the way in which it is decorated will often be customized for a buyer.
An instrument should not only sound good but it should also be comfortable to play without any strain. This means that the length and the weight have to be carefully considered. The most common way to hold the psaltery is to nestle the base on the inside of the elbow or against the abdomen with the tip away from the body. The left hand holds it while the right hand is used to hold the bow and play.
Most handmade psalteries are sold together with instructions on care and a set of song sheets. One does not need musical training to enjoy this instrument. It can give pleasure to anyone who can play by ear and pick out a simple melody.
You can visit the website www.davespsaltery.com for more helpful information about The Haunting Tones Of Handmade Psalteries