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Help Me Identify This Instrument

Max 16 Feb 04 - 02:34 PM
Max 16 Feb 04 - 02:49 PM
katlaughing 16 Feb 04 - 03:07 PM
Allan C. 16 Feb 04 - 03:08 PM
JohnInKansas 16 Feb 04 - 03:14 PM
Max 16 Feb 04 - 03:15 PM
Mark Clark 16 Feb 04 - 03:15 PM
curmudgeon 16 Feb 04 - 03:34 PM
harpgirl 16 Feb 04 - 03:45 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 16 Feb 04 - 04:03 PM
Susan of DT 16 Feb 04 - 05:36 PM
RangerSteve 16 Feb 04 - 07:31 PM
harpgirl 16 Feb 04 - 10:49 PM
harpgirl 16 Feb 04 - 10:50 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 16 Feb 04 - 11:24 PM
mooman 17 Feb 04 - 04:06 AM
Coyote Breath 17 Feb 04 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,Crystal 17 Feb 04 - 11:41 AM
GUEST,harpgirl 19 Feb 04 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,harpgirl 19 Feb 04 - 11:04 AM
GUEST,harpgirl 19 Feb 04 - 11:06 AM
M.Ted 19 Feb 04 - 02:22 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 19 Feb 04 - 03:16 PM
Stilly River Sage 19 Feb 04 - 03:44 PM
GUEST,remo 22 Aug 04 - 07:01 PM
GUEST,newt 22 Nov 04 - 12:26 PM
GUEST,Andy 22 Nov 04 - 06:12 PM
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Subject: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: Max
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 02:34 PM

Hi Gang. I stopped by an antique store that got my accordion at, and I saw an instrument that I have never seen before. It looked like a zither, with nasty old strings, some red, like the identifiers on a harp. I suppose zithers have these too? It was a hollow body with a sound hole that was slightly oval.

Anyway, what confused me was that at what seemed to be the side closest to one's body was a fret board for 5 strings. The fret wire came up about a quarter of an inch. All the strings had tuners like you would expect on a zither, that require a special tool to tune, except the five strings above the fret board. These 5 had tuning pegs, and below them, attached to the body of the instrument was what I think is a sterling silver guard. It reminded me of a lap steel guitar kind of thing.

I'm going to try to take a picture of it this afternoon.

What struck me was the fact I've never seen anything like this and the $140 price take. I did not count the # of strings, and there was not a single identifying mark anywhere on it. No labels or words of any kind. It was in great shape, good wood, solid... It has to be worth more than $140.

Any ideas?


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: Max
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 02:49 PM

OK, I think I found something. It seems that it is a Concert Zither, and more specifically an Elegy Zither. I would think I should buy it. It must be worth more than $140???


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 03:07 PM

I always look for something similar on ebay, Max, to see what they are going for...with the info you've given, if it's anything like this that may be high, although there are still 5 hours left of bidding to go.

kat


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: Allan C.
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 03:08 PM

So I guess you're saying you saw the photo on this page


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 03:14 PM

minermusic shows some examples of Concer Zithers, one of which seems to resemble your description. No values shown that I could find quickly.

The same guy(s) show a "family tree" of Fretless Zithers, already linked by Allan C.

All the samples shown are dated as before 1920, but that may have just been the "high era" for things of the sort.

Very tough to tell how "valuable" such a thing might be. It's mostly a matter of finding the right person with loose cash. An ebay search, as suggested by kat sometimes helps.

John

John


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: Max
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 03:15 PM

Yeah, I saw both these things. It seems very much like the Elegy Zither - Franz Halbmeier, ca. 1900 from the Alan C. link. The one on Ebay has no tuning pegs and no silver appointments.

Wow, less than an hour and the ads on this page are already for harps. Google is amazing.


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: Mark Clark
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 03:15 PM

Max, is this what you found? Seems to match your description. I used to see these in Chicago antique shope fairly often, usually in unplayable condiditon. They used to be pretty cheap. For reference, here's something close to it on eBay. I'd say if really want to become a zither player and it's in near perfect, ready-to-go shape it might be all right but I doubt it would be a very profitable investment.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: curmudgeon
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 03:34 PM

Sadly, instruments like this have no value in and of themselves. They are bought ans sold in the antiques market as wall hagers or decorators; their market value is derived by how they look.

If one were to purchase such a piece, fix it up, and learn to play it, a different value could be determined based on the pleasure it brings to the player and the listeners.

Bear in mind that new strings, which are always necessary, will average $1.00 each.

I wouldn't advise anyone to pay more than $25.00 for someting like this -- Tom


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: harpgirl
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 03:45 PM

I've got one. I'll sell it to you for $100. I wouldn't pay $140.00 for it...oh I just read Tom's reply. He's right. Just thought I could unload another instrument!


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 04:03 PM

A hundred bucks? Send it on over! I would love to try one out... Is there actually a traditional technique for playing it?

PM me... ttr


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: Susan of DT
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 05:36 PM

Rita Ferrara plays zither. She might have tips for you, Max.


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: RangerSteve
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 07:31 PM

I watched someone play one once. He used his left thumb and first two fingers to fret it, plucking the fretted strings with the thumb and first two fingers of his right hand. At the same time, he used the ring fingers and pinkies of both hands to pluck the bass (non-fretted) strings. It looked like hard work. If you want to hear what a concert zither sounds like played well, rent "The Third Man", The entire soundtrack is played with only a concert zither.


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: harpgirl
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 10:49 PM

Well, Thomas. My guitar/zither (I don't know what else to call it) has five strings on a fretboard like a guitar with two dots at the fifth fret, two dots at the ninth fret, two dots at the twelfth fret, one dot at the fifteenth fret, and two at the seventeenth fret. The first three strings are unwound. The next two are sound. It then has twenty seven strings. Thefirst six are unwound, the rest are wound in various gages.

It has a round soundole and a flowery pattern around it with Concurrenz Concert-Ziher on the sound board. It needs new strings but is otherwise in excellent shape. PM me if you are serious.

Perhap Rita Ferrara can tell us something about how to play it. I am getting interested myself,with this discussion.

love, harpgirl


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: harpgirl
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 10:50 PM

I see I'll have to rent "The Third Man" Ranger Steve. Is it cold in Maryland in the park?


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 11:24 PM

Hi harpgirl! Hey uh... what might the lowest notes on that zither be? I'm curious what it's overall range is... Thanks, ttr


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: mooman
Date: 17 Feb 04 - 04:06 AM

I used to have a German friend who had a regular Sunday night spot in a London pub playing one of these, very similar to one of the instruments in Mark Clark's link. He was a wonderful and very versatile player and could play a great variety of types of music on the zither. Needless to say, The Third Man tunes were very popular with the regulars.

Regarding value, these instruments don't really command the prices they deserve as instruments because they are somwhat out of fashion (except in Germany, Bavaria and Austria!). Price would depend on the appointments and quality of build but I would say you definitely have room for negotiation with the antique shop Max. If you do buy it, I think you would find it both challenging and rewarding.

I've restored a few of these and restringing is almost always necessary. The gauges used are within the guitar string range and I would match up by taking a micrometer comparison with what's already on. You'll most likely have to "de-ball" the stings unless you have a handy supplier of loop-ended singles.

Peace,

moo


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 17 Feb 04 - 10:21 AM

Zithers!!!
Here in Franklin county (specifically Washington and New Haven, Missouri) the zither reigned supreme for more than a century. There was a zither maker of some note in Washington (sorry, I haven't any idea as to his name) There are numerous concert zithers in various personal and public collections, locally. In my town, New Haven, we had a gentleman who was well known and beloved for his zither playing. Erwinn Otto Mann was a local educator (teacher, school superintendant) who delighted thousands with his playing. He also repaired and restored zithers (and autoharps and hammered dulcimers and other stringed instruments) in his shop which he called "Shady Nook". He was a delight to spend time with, insterspersing his stories of the early years of education in our area (his first classes were taught in German and English), with bouts of intense zither plucking.

E.O. Mann died a couple of years ago, he was 91. His daughter Carol plays his zithers now and showed me something really interesting that her father had devised (I don't know if it was his invention or not) and that was a zither shaped poster board insert which was placed under the strings and had the pattern of plucking indicated on it which would allow the player to follow precisely what strings to pluck and when in order to play a reasonable rendition of the tune. She had dozens of these pieces of poster board with all the traditional Christmas and other "churchly" music we use in Franklin county services on them (lots of German Evangelical Reform tradition here, now either Lutheran or United Church of Christ). She said her dad developed these inserts to help his students learn to play the zither. I suspect he followed an existing practice and adapted it to the music of our region.

I prefer the auto harp (also known as the "idiot zither") but since zithers are still found in local resale and antique shops here I might try my hand at playing one using the posterboard insert method.

CB


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: GUEST,Crystal
Date: 17 Feb 04 - 11:41 AM

Looking at that picture I'm sure my old junior school had one of them. it sat in the music room for years and was never touched. It had been laqured black and had pale pink roses around the sound hole. I never knew what it was because no-one knew how to play it.
I wonder what happened to it!


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: GUEST,harpgirl
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 11:03 AM

Hi Thomas...I see my last reply was censored (just kidding!) so I'll reply again...I have a concert zither called Concurrenz Concert Zither. It says that in a flowery pattern around the round sound hole. It has five guitar strings and twenty seven drones.

The strings need to be replaced but are intact for gauging. The guitar part of the sound board has dots at the fifth, ninth, twelfth, fifteenth , and ninteenth frets. The high notes come first on the guitar sound board and the fifth string is probably D or E when properly tuned. The drone strings are the opposite of the autoharp as well with the high notes first going from left to right. I don't know anything about playing a concert zither. I think Rita Ferrarra is our resident expert.

I was given this instrument and I guess I am it's steward. If you want to buy let me know but I am content to keep it around as a friend.

love, harpgirl


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: GUEST,harpgirl
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 11:04 AM

The flowers appear to be wild roses!


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: GUEST,harpgirl
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 11:06 AM

Sorry, I guess my reply was recorded...


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: M.Ted
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 02:22 PM

Max,

Old Mr. Zapf, founder of Zapf's Music, was an amazing zither player, and, though he passed on a while back, I believe that there are still a couple people in his family who play and, at least til a few years ago, teach, at the original store, which, I think, is off of Old York Road, in Philadelphia--

Anyway, they were always happy to talk about the instruments, and to haul out a one and play a bit, at least back when I lived there--


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 03:16 PM

Hello Harpgirl... Sorry for the delay... I went and rented 'The Third Man', and listened to the soundtrack. I didn't have all that favorable response... too nervous a sound score and movie, really, to tell if the instrument would be applicable for me... I'm still unsure about it's melodic possibilities... you know... I need simpathetic vibration...

The movie is fantastic... quite a downer... good enough to be a child ballad though...
ttr


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 03:44 PM

Max, regardless of the price and if you ever buy it or learn to play it, this has been a good discussion. And the links posted are very interesting. These zithers are works of art in addition to being musical instruments. I wouldn't mind having one on my wall and/or in my music room. I poked around a little at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in their musical instrument collection, but their only zither is from Korea.

The Ebay results did show a mix of values--one that went for higher than the price you found, one for much lower. It's a judgement call--contrary to Thomas's reaction, I've always loved the score to The Third Man.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: GUEST,remo
Date: 22 Aug 04 - 07:01 PM

My father purchased a zither at a garage sale. We have been trying to figure it's name/stlye & approx. age and value. It resembles the elegy and concert zithers, but it has one large opening in the center and two smaller openings off to the side. The large center hole has a picture of George Washington, a house with indians surrounding it and a picture of an angel. It's seems to be in fair condition and is only mission one string. Thanks for help.

Remo


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: GUEST,newt
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 12:26 PM

coyote breath. i have one of these zithers that you describe and would like to know the value before i offer it for sale.inside the inst. on paper lable is SWARZER washington, mo . maybe this helps w/ name you couldnt recall. inst. is in very ggod shape w/ cigar box of new strings.john hilton cincinnati, ohio 1 513 769 3049. paid 150.00 for it at auction in well worn wood case.


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Subject: RE: Help Me Identify This Instrument
From: GUEST,Andy
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 06:12 PM

How the bloody hell do you hold the sodding thing. Do you have to nail it to something?


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