I'm thinking of restringing a bowed psaltery, but I have no idea what size music wire is best. I also don't know what the psaltery maker intended as the range of the instrument. (Yes, I can determine the notes by the arrangement of the pins, but I don't know what octave was intended.) I do know that the vibrating length of my 3 C notes are about 17.875, 11.5, and 6.0 inches long.
I bought the bowed psaltery from Ebay. It came strung with wound strings. I bought a caliper, (which is now misplaced. Lol)It also arrived with some plain steel guitar strings, 0.43 mm if the packaging can be relied on.
The problems I have currently:
Two broken strings.
Fear that too much string tension will destroy the psaltery.
The tone on some strings is "scratchy" rather than ringing.
I have no experience with bowed instruments. Tish Westman at a Virtual Psaltery Gathering said I was bowing too hard and I might need more rosin. Her advice helped, but some strings still sound scratchier than others. Tish also said the wound strings will require more force to vibrate. (I thought I might switch to a darker rosin, but haven't)
I see rust on my zither pins and tuning pegs.The largest spots are perhaps 3 mm in size on many pins. I think I can assume corrosion has affected the strings.
I HATE tuning this instrument. It is much more difficult than a uke or guitar. (If I remove the strings I may as well replace them.)
I have other questions, but this post is already long.
The trick with a bowed psaltery is that like a harp, there isn't just one kind. If you look on Amazon and on other music stores, average number of strings is from 22 to 30.
Here is an Amazon listing for an entire set of strings for a 30-string instrument. Chances are good the strings you would need are within that set. You can count the number of strings on your psaltery, then look on the Internet for diagrams of string layout and notes.
|B0078TPALK <--- enter this in Amazon Search|
From the length of strings you mentioned above I would guess that your instrument is a soprano/alto range, so that string set should do the trick.
Regarding sound... the quality of your bow and the rosin type used will be very important. I build electric cellos. A trick I have learned for new bows is to wash the hairs with de-greaser soap, let it dry completely, then apply rosin like crazy. The brand of rosin is a coin toss. Jade is a pretty good brand. Check Amazon reviews. I'm not up to date on psaltery bow types.
I went ahead and ordered a stickier rosin. It was cheap, and since I already had the light version of the same brand, I ordered D'Addario Natural Rosin.
I think I will just need to experiment with various wire gauges to see what is most suitable. It seems I always do things the hard way...
At least I chose a relatively simple instrument. And I am not building from scratch.
Sorry, I don't know why the weird spacing is happening.
(Wierd spacing is okay. It's because you had right alignment checked instead of left. : )
D'Addario is a good brand of rosin. Can't go wrong with that. Beyond that, the quality of the hair on the bow is very important (if the bow uses hair instead of another material). But I've discovered that even poor hair can do better if washed with degreaser soap (like Dawn dish soap) to remove all oils. It's not necessarily the expense of the bow either. One of the best bows I've ever bought was a $9 cheapie off Amazon. I also have two carbon fiber Ebay bows that were around $20 to $25 each that do a great job. But a psaltery bow is a bit different than a violin or cello bow and can be made of hair, nylon or other materials. As with many instruments, experimenting can pay off.
As for your strings: the package or instructions should indicate which string is for which note. So look on your Psaltery, start with the lowest string, and use appropriate strings from that point up. Most psalterys I've seen are chromatic instruments, but like CBGs... no set rules. Guides on the Internet should show you how to tune a 22 or 30 string psaltery, so it shouldn't be difficult to choose which strings to use. From what I understand your psaltery is probably tuned in the 4th+ octave. The psaltery Amazon sells is tuned from G4 to F6 (22 strings) and it sounds like it's similar size to your psaltery, so that should give you a good place to start.