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Trying to find Balalaika tuner

McGrath of Harlow 24 May 14 - 03:17 PM
Gurney 24 May 14 - 06:18 PM
McGrath of Harlow 24 May 14 - 06:37 PM
Jack Campin 24 May 14 - 06:53 PM
McGrath of Harlow 24 May 14 - 08:24 PM
McGrath of Harlow 24 May 14 - 08:24 PM
GUEST,oggie 25 May 14 - 02:32 AM
Dave the Gnome 25 May 14 - 04:01 AM
Newport Boy 25 May 14 - 05:16 AM
Dave the Gnome 25 May 14 - 05:52 AM
GUEST,Tony 25 May 14 - 11:19 AM
McGrath of Harlow 25 May 14 - 11:28 AM
McGrath of Harlow 25 May 14 - 11:49 AM
GUEST 25 May 14 - 12:02 PM
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Subject: Trying to find Balalaika tuner
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 May 14 - 03:17 PM

By which I don't mean someone who knows how to tune a balalaika, I mean a machine head that fits the balalaika in question.

I've had it in a shed for years, since I bought it in a Russian Shop in Oxford Street, which I always rather suspected was a front for espionage. A well made instrument basically, but the tuning machine head was really rotten, with gunmetal cogs that disintegrated.

I want to get it back playable, basically because I found this site The Balalaika School , which seems fun.

But replacing the machine heads is a pain. Because of the way the balalaika is built - Like this ordinary machine heads don,t fir, and it seems impossible to find the proper ones. Anyone here had any relevant experience?

Incidentally, in the course of my investigations I found some great stuff - here is a youtube version of a Cossack Lullaby which is really lovely to look at as well as listen to - see here


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Subject: RE: Trying to find Balalaika tuner
From: Gurney
Date: 24 May 14 - 06:18 PM

I can't help with a tuner, but I'll point out that until the 1930s, even automotive gearboxes were made by hand, with the gears being hand-filed.
They were finished from a sawn blank with a knife-edge file, which has a wedge-shaped section.

If you find it impossible to get new tuners, an engineering Toolmaker will be able to make you new gears, or even new machine-heads. These guys make things that are better than the normal manufactured items. Even ordinary engineering shops use them!

Hope you find new heads, though. Cheaper.


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Subject: RE: Trying to find Balalaika tuner
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 May 14 - 06:37 PM

I rather suspect that would be why friction pegs were generally used. it'd be hellish expensive making geared machine heads by hand.

I've cobbled up something that works, though it doesn't look too pretty. It will do for the time being. We've got some Russian friends, maybe we can ask them to have a go at finding one next time they go home. That's assuming there isn't a war with Russia raging by that time...

But it's a bit strange the things don't seem available. It's not that exotic an instrument.


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Subject: RE: Trying to find Balalaika tuner
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 May 14 - 06:53 PM

It looks like you could fit straight pegs through the back of the headstock and add micro-adjusters below the bridge. I do that with my Black Sea fiddle.


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Subject: RE: Trying to find Balalaika tuner
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 May 14 - 08:24 PM

I've never seen micro-adjusters except on fiddles. Interesting idea.


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Subject: RE: Trying to find Balalaika tuner
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 May 14 - 08:24 PM

I've never seen micro-adjusters except on fiddles. Interesting idea.


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Subject: RE: Trying to find Balalaika tuner
From: GUEST,oggie
Date: 25 May 14 - 02:32 AM

Any of these fit the bill? http://www.technobotsonline.com/gears.html

Steve


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Subject: RE: Trying to find Balalaika tuner
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 25 May 14 - 04:01 AM

Sorry - Can't help with the machine head but The Cossack Lullaby brought back some lovely memories. I don't remember my Dad singing it to me as I was too young! But he did sing a slightly different version to all our children and my wife picked it up even though she doesn't speak Russian!

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Trying to find Balalaika tuner
From: Newport Boy
Date: 25 May 14 - 05:16 AM

I have a cheap old balalaika (given to my ex-sister-in-law by a Russian sailor at Newport Docks - don't ask!) and the machine heads are exactly as you describe. Having had little use, they still function fairly well. If the assembly is any use to you, I can remove it. Let me know.

That's a lovely version of the Cossack Lullaby. The song is one of my favourites and I've been singing it for years to a slight variant of that tune. The words are a poem by Mikhail Lermontov, and the beautiful soft lullaby sound hides true Cossack attitudes. I think the mother's sadness comes through in the singing.

The best translation I have come across is:

COSSACK LULLABY (from M Lermantov)

Sleep, my lovely baby, lullaby.
Quietly the bright moon looks into your cradle.
I shall tell you stories and sing you a song;
So shut your little eyes and doze, lullaby.

The Terek is flowing over the stones, its turbid waves lapping;
The wicked Chechen creeps up the river bank, and sharpens his dagger;
But your father is a veteran warrior, tried in battle;
Sleep, my baby, have no fear, lullaby.

The time will come, you will get to know for yourself the soldier's way of life;
Boldly you will put your foot into the stirrup and take up your gun.
I shall embroider your war-saddle with silk...
Sleep, my darling child, lullaby.

You will be a fine fellow to look at and a Cossack at heart.
I shall come out to see you off, and you will wave goodbye.
How many bitter tears I shall shed that night in secret!
Sleep my angel, quietly, sweetly, lullaby.

I shall pine and wait for you disconsolately;
I shall pray the whole day long, and try to foretell the future at night;
I shall think that you are fretting in a foreign land...
So sleep, whille you know no care, lullaby.

I shall give you a little holy icon for your journey;
Put it before you when you pray to God;
And, when you prepare for a dangerous battle, remember your mother...
Sleep, my lovely baby, lullaby.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Trying to find Balalaika tuner
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 25 May 14 - 05:52 AM

I wonder if the version my Dad sang was the variation you know, Phil? Although Dad was born in Byelistok, Poland, his Dad was a Cossack from the Kuban, born in what is now Kropotkin.

Cheers

DtG

(Sorry for the thread drift McG)


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Subject: RE: Trying to find Balalaika tuner
From: GUEST,Tony
Date: 25 May 14 - 11:19 AM

Imperskaya sells tuners like that.
http://www.imperskaya.com/tuning_pegs.htm


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Subject: RE: Trying to find Balalaika tuner
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 May 14 - 11:28 AM

Well if you're sure you aren't going to decide to get the balalaika into shape and play it, that would be fantastic, Phil. But if you sing Russian songs maybe you should think better of the offer and get it back into shape to accompany them. That Balalaika School site I linked to might make you decide to do that.

It's a great site - below I paste the translation of it given in it I linked to, together with the Russian words in Latin script, which is convenient. Lovely song. And aren't the pictures great too? (I found a site somewhere that called Kai Kracht who wrote Balalaika School, the German equivalent of Abbie Hoffman. That wasn't meant as a compliment by the writer, but I would see it very much as one.)

Sleep, good boy, my beautiful,
bayushki bayu,
quietly the moon is looking
into your cradle.
        
Stanu skazývat' ya skazki,
pyesenki spayu,
tý-zh dremli, zakrývshi glazki,
bayushki bayu.

I will tell you fairy tales
and sing you little songs,
but you must slumber, with your little eyes closed,
bayushki bayu.
        
Sim uznayesh, budit vremya,
branoye zhityo,
smyelo vdyenish nogu f stremya
i vazmyosh ruzhyo.

The time will come, then you will learn
the pugnacious life,
boldly you'll stem your foot into the stirrup
and take the gun.

Ya sedeltse boyevoye
sholkom razoshyu.
Spi, ditya mayo radnoye,
bayushki bayu.

The saddle-cloth for your battle horse
I will sew you from silk.
Sleep now, my dear little child,
bayushki bayu.
        
Bogatýr tý budish s vidu
i kazak dushoi.
Pravazhat' tibya ya výdu,
tý makhnyosh rukoi.

You will look like a hero
and be a cossack deep in your heart.
I will hurry to accompany you,
you will just wave your hand.
        
Skolko gorkikh slyoz ukradkoi
ya f tu notsh pralyu!
Spi, moi angel, tikho, sladko,
bayushki bayu.

How many secrete bitter tears
will I shed that night!
Sleep, my angel, calmly, sweetly,
bayushki bayu.

Stanu ya toskoi tomit'sya,
byesutyeshno zhdat',
stanu tselý dyen' molit'sya,
po notsham gadat'.

I will die from longing,
I will wait inconsolably,
I will pray the whole day long,
and at night I'll tell fortunes.

Stanu dumat', shto skutshayesh
tý f tshuzhom krayu.
Spi-zh, paka zabot nye znayesh,
bayushki bayu.

I will think that you are in trouble
far away in a foreign land.
Sleep now, as long as you don't know sorrows,
bayushki bayu.
        
Dam tibye ya na darogu
obrazok svyatoi,
tý yevo, molyasya bogu,
stav pyered saboi.

I will give you on your way
a small holy icon,
and when you pray to God, you'll
put it right in front of you.
        
Da, gotovyas v boi apasný, ,
pomni mat' svayu.
Spi, mladyenets, moi prekrasný,
bayushki bayu.

When preparing yourself for the dangerous fight
please remember your mother.
Sleep, good boy, my beautiful,
bayushki bayu.


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Subject: RE: Trying to find Balalaika tuner
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 May 14 - 11:49 AM

I've sent you a PM, Phil, with my address. But if you change your mind and bring your sister's sailor's balalaika back to life, I'd not blame you for a second.

Here's a picture of the kind of tuner involved. Though it looks better quality than the ones most Russian balalaika seem to have, especially the Soviet era ones like mine.


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Subject: RE: Trying to find Balalaika tuner
From: GUEST
Date: 25 May 14 - 12:02 PM

McGrath - This is the only Russian song I still sing. My interest arose from a 6-week camping trip in the USSR in 1978, following which I gathered a reasonable repertoire, purely for my own enjoyment.

I'm not likely to play the balalaika - it was an ornament on the wall for nearly 20 years and when we moved to our barn conversion I had to retire it to my office. It has stood in a corner, together with a damaged mandolin, for the last 10 years. If the machine head can be of some use, you're welcome. PM me an address and I'll send it.

The version you post is missing the first stanza in Russian, and the whole of Lermontov's second verse, which would be stanzas 3 & 4 of your version.

Phil


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