I’ve broken a string on my Bowed Psaltery, what do I do?

Removing the broken string

Remove the broken string from hitch pin and tuning pin.  The tuning pins are located at the base of the psaltery and the hitch pins are located along the sides of the psaltery.


Preparing to put the new string on

Begin by turning the tuning pin counterclockwise about 3 turns.  This will locate the top of the pin higher than the others.


Putting on the new string

Thread the new string through the hole at the bottom of the hitch pin (check string gauge chart for proper size string).  The string should be threaded away from the tuning pins and then brought back over the top of the hitch pin (the string should rest in the groove on top of the hitch pin).  Pull the string taught across the bridge  to the tuning pin.  Cut the new string about 1.5″ past the tuning pin.  Insert the string into the tuning pin and crimp the very tip of the string (about 1/8″ long) very sharply (90 degrees).  Pull the crimped end of the string back to the tuning pin and start turning the tuning pin slowly.  Be careful to wrap the string in a “candy cane” fashion.  DO NOT allow the string to lap over itself.  Pull the string tight and tune to the proper pitch.


What if one specific string keeps breaking?

If you notice that you are repeatedly breaking the same string, that is the sign of a small problem. First, make sure you are using the correct size string. If the gauge of the string is too large, it requires too much tension to raise it to pitch. If it is too small, it won’t break but sound mushy due to lack of tension.

But if that isn’t the case, it is probably a sharp edge at the top of the hitch pin. A groove was hand cut in each of these after being pinned at the workshop. Being all hand-worked and inconsistent, once in a while a slightly too crisp of an edge remains. How to fix it? Simple, with the use of a fingernail file. Careful not to cram the file into the soundboard, run the file back and forth a few times in the groove at the top of the pin. Rock it up and down like a see-saw while doing so to be sure and eliminate the sharp edge causing the problem. Restring and see if it isn’t a lot better!

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