The psaltery differs from its close relative the dulcimer mainly in the method of playing, as the strings are plucked with the fingernails or a plectrum (goose quills were used in mediaeval times) instead of being struck with hammers.
It is more lightly built than the dulcimer, as the string tension is much lower, and all the strings are in a single plane, like a harp, instead of being raised alternately on bridges.

It was hugely popular in Britain and most parts of Europe throughout the Middle Ages, and its eastern ancestor, the Qanun, is still widely played, to great effect, in countries such as Turkey and Egypt. Straightforward yet very satisfying to play, the psaltery deserves far more attention from both early and folk musicians than it receives at present.

With two strings per course, a deep sound-box and highly resonant soundboard, our classic ‘pig snout’ type psaltery, with its strong, rich tone, is ideal either for song accompaniment or for playing mediaeval, renaissance
or traditional music.

Our standard instrument has 24 double courses, including three low drones, a solid sycamore frame and back, and tone-wood soundboard of western
red cedar.



Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust
Silver Spear Instruments
Jonathan Letcher
Ridge Farm
Bishop’s Castle
+44 (0)1588 650 416