Instrument Kits

Following the great success of my "Make a psaltery in a day" course at Hartlebury, I've adapted the design to produce a kit. I'll be producing more kits in future - please drop in periodically and see if anything takes your fancy.

The Cantigas Psaltery Kit

Medieval Psaltery The medieval psaltery is a delightful instrument. For centuries, it was a favourite of both the clergy and the nobility. It sounds rather like a small harp, and its gentle, metallic tone is ideal for accompanying the voice. It's also highly addictive. Sit one on your coffee table, and everyone will want to pick it up and play it.

Psalteries from the Cantigas de Santa Maria The design for this kit psaltery is closely based on an illustration in the 13th century "Cantigas de Santa Maria", a huge collection of poems, written in Galician-Portuguese and set to music during the reign of Alfonso X “El Sabio” (1221-1284), King of Galicia, Castile and León. Many of the manuscripts are illuminated, and show instruments of the period. One of them (right) shows two gentlemen playing apparently identical psalteries, although closer examination reveals that one has eleven strings, the other ten.

Closeup of Cantigas psaltery This may or may not be artistic licence, but in any case, I have expanded the set to thirteen strings, which gives a more useful range. Most medieval tunes fit nicely, and most folk tunes can be played, too. Thirteen strings is also a small enough number not to be daunting. I suspect that many three-octave psalteries stay on the shelf, because of the effort of getting all the strings in tune.

Contents of psaltery kit No advanced woodworking skills are required. You'll need some simple DIY tools, glue, sandpaper, and your choice of paint or varnish. Apart from that, everything's in the kit, including full instructions, a tuning key, and a pair of goose quills in case you want to play it totally authentically. If you decide to use fast-setting epoxy and an acrylic finish, it's possible to make the whole thing in a day - but unless you have an expert on hand to warn you not to glue that bit there, it's much more pleasurable to allocate a few evenings, take it slowly, and allow regular tea breaks.

Price : £80 plus carriage

If you wanted to buy one instantly online - apologies. I've removed the "Buy Now" buttons because I'm out of stock. As of April 2013, the workshop schedule is still full, and I'm trying to find a slot to make more. They should be available again by about August 2013.

Including delivery to the UK £90
Including delivery to mainland Europe £95
Including delivery to the USA £105
Other countries - please enquire