Putting a different angle on 3 strings.

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Latest Activity: Sep 27, 2015

Discussion Forum

Double bass balalaika, alto and strings

Started by Deedee Jun 8, 2014. 0 Replies

Hi.I found this site's the first time I ever found a…Continue

Domra construction sheet

Started by Deedee. Last reply by Deedee May 21, 2014. 2 Replies

HiApart from the balalaika I also like the domra.I would like to build one. Does anyone know where to get a construction sheet?Continue

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Comment by BUGGY (C) on June 15, 2015 at 3:43am
I know that feeling.
Comment by k0k0peli on June 15, 2015 at 1:15am

Deedee: Thanks for the tuners offer. As I mentioned, it'll be some time before I start building. That will happen after I do a lot more research, and also rebuild my workshop (which has degenerated into a storage closet, alas).

Comment by Deedee on June 12, 2015 at 4:05am

Really curious.

I won't kill you with my comments.

If you need tuners (the original Russian ones), let me know. I still have some.

Comment by k0k0peli on June 12, 2015 at 2:13am

Hi, all. I plan to build something balalaika-like in a few weeks. (I'm on a long road trip right now.) I built dulcimers long ago and my lutherie skills are rather rough now so my products may be more of like tin-can domras. Yes, plural; I have various stringings in mind: standard EEA; open GBD; and fifths GDA. I have a scheme for building hollow necks and the GBD might have sympathetic strings inside.

Will these be pretty? Nope. Will balalaika hardliners want to murder me and destroy them? Probably. I'll take that risk. ;)

Comment by Henry Strat-o-varius Lowman on May 21, 2014 at 7:05pm
I play alto balalaika with the WASHINGTON BALALAIKA SOCIETY. The instrument I use is on loan to me, though I have since purchased a prima balalaika that I have used at solo open mics, though not with the orchestra.

I am using standard guitar tuners, and am basing my instrument on the one I'm using, with my own modifications, many due to my rudimentary lutherie skills. :-)
Comment by Deedee on May 21, 2014 at 4:43pm

Hi Henry

That sounds real cool. That's the first time I hear about someone building an alto balalaika. Do you also use the Flynn book?

And did you already find the right machine heads? I haven't found any here in Europe.

I found alto machine heads in the shop where I usually order from.

My friend goes quite often to her family in Russia, and then she asks them to go to Emuzin in Moscow for me.

btw, do you have pictures? I have the building process of my balalaika and other instruments I have made on (also profile deedee) 

Comment by Henry Strat-o-varius Lowman on May 21, 2014 at 3:43pm
BEAUTIFUL work, Dee Dee! I'm finishing one myself, my second electric acoustic alto balalaika, this time with one of Elmar's flatpups and a tone control. We'll soon see how it turns out. :-)
Comment by Deedee on May 21, 2014 at 2:31pm


Just posted pics of my latest work, a bass balalaika. I used the Flynn book for the measurements and it sounds great. As usual the machine heads were the biggest problem, but I managed to get them with some help from my contacts in Russia.

Pictures of the building process I have put on

Comment by Rooster Reaves on March 10, 2014 at 10:20am

Thanks Rand, I'll give this a try.

Comment by Rand Moore on March 10, 2014 at 8:00am

Hi Rooster Reeves,

The calculations for fret spacing for balalaikas is basically the same as for any other 12TET instrument. You need to know the scale length and the number of frets you want, then go to your favorite fret calculator program like the Stewart MacDonald Fret Position Calculator. A prima balalaika usually has a scale length in the range of 17" to 17.75" (more likely 430mm to 450mm). Here's what I got:

These numbers agree with those given on page 42 of J.H. Flynn's book called "Building the Balalaika", which is a free download off the Internet. In Flynn's book, he calculates the fret positions using two different constants: 17.835 and 17.817. Apparently, the Stewart-MacDonald calculator uses the 17.817 factor.

Unfortunately, I can't recommend any particular cigar box for a balalaika as I have never made one. I'd say pick a box with a large internal volume (space) so you will get better resonance, and as thin a lid as possible (perhaps replacing the cigar box lid with a thinner piece of plywood veneer). I'd also recommend reading thru Flynn's book with the idea of adapting as many specs and features as you can in your CBG version of the instrument to better emulate the real thing. Things like a narrow neck, and string specs should also be important. But, I think the most important thing in making a cigar box balalaika sound like a real Russian balalaika is your playing style/skills. So, study those balalaika videos on Youtube, etc.



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Domra construction sheet

Started by Deedee. Last reply by Deedee May 21, 2014. 2 Replies

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