I know it not a cbg (and a bit communist) but I found a balalaika (Russian guitar)in a local charity shop that need a little TLC. Being curious with the look, 3 strings, new tuning and the refurbishment it needs I bought it.

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It is meant to be tuned as E3 , E3 and A4, but this one the tuners are stuck and someone has use steel instead of nylon/cat gut.

Great find!  What's that tuning, tho.  I don't understand. EEa?

Great! Now you can move to the Washington, DC area and join this group!

Apparently there are 2 strings that are tuned to the same tone, typically strings 1 and 2 tuned to E in the 3 octave and the 3rd string is tuned to A in the 4 octave (5 semitones up) between middle C and high C,or as Keni Lee would explain and 1, 1 and 4 on the major scale . if that helps explain it.

Diane in Chicago said:

Great find!  What's that tuning, tho.  I don't understand. EEa?

Used to be the club we hung out at featured The Gravois Gypsies, which consisted primarily of the club owner (Frank Moskus, now departed) and Tommy Kellum, a balilaika player of considerable renown here in the Midwest.  Tommy led a Tamburitza orchestra for the local Serbo-Croatian society and was pretty well known.

He could play, too!

There is a whole family of such instruments common to middle Europe and Russia, much like the related mandolin they came in all sizes from tiny tenor instruments to big bass-type jobs


My one is a Prima Balalaika and is the common tenor one there is a higher one but this is quite rare. I have seen the larger bass Balalaikas  and they are hugh.

After looking at my one it need quite a bit of work. The body lacquer needs attention which I expected but it looks like the string tuners need replacing. I am not sure where I am going to get one of them from at the moment. 

The third photo attachment shows the wire strings cutting into the transom & soundboard. A small piece of metal around this corner should prevent the wires from cutting into the wood. Nice buy, never the less.


Oh, absolutely cool find. What did it cost you, If I may ask?

It looks like some tuner repair/salvage, (The long stems on the knob side are unusual.) and fresh strings, and the previously mentioned "saddle" modification to the tail, and you have a nice playable instrument!

BTW, I dont think I would laquer it or anything like that, maybe just clean it up. Common acoustic guitar type maint. products. Maybe a little lemon oil rub on the fingerboard before stringing it up. Keep it natural.

good find

i got one i need to string it


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