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 Norm on December 3, 2013 at 3:25pm

Don't know if this is the right place to toot one's own horn, but who cares:

Comment by Rooster Reaves on September 15, 2013 at 10:37pm

Is there a fret spacing scale for balalaikas any where? Also what kind of cig boxes are good for making one?

Comment by Henry Strat-o-varius Lowman on August 31, 2012 at 8:53am
I took my prima balalaika up to the Catskills last week for a music camp being given by members of King Crimson. Tony Levin asked to join me in a quiet jam one evening! We played a piece I played at a Luthern church in Bethesda, MD about three weeks earlier. Talk about a moving experience!
Comment by Rand Moore on August 31, 2012 at 4:47am

While I was in the States this summer I was watching some fantastic balalaika videos on Youtube and I was notice how they play using their thumb to fret the third string from the "high side of the neck", while strumming with an out stretched index finger. This style of playing is just like the Kazakh dombra players, so just from the playing style there seems to be a link between the balalaika and other central Asian stringed instruments, probably thru the Russian domra (a 3-stringer with a round body shape) linage, especially considering how similar the two instruments are named (domra vs dombra). But, the dombra is a 2-stringer. There was some nice domra and dombra playing videos on Youtube as well. Check it out. They have a lot of techniques us non-balalaika players could use to improve our playing skills.


Comment by Rand Moore on August 31, 2012 at 4:37am

Yesterday I tried to buy a $20 balalaika via e-Bay. It was probably one of those once-in-a-life-time chances where the seller didn't know what he had and identified it on eBay as some kind of Japanese stringed instrument. So, I thought I'd have a pretty good chance at winning the auction as most people looking for a balalaika on eBay would not have gotten the info as it was not identified as such. But, unfortunately, I am back in China, and in the last 5 minutes I went to post a counter bid and my browser kept coming back with "Your server connection was reset" (or something similar). So, frantically, I kept retrying, and finally got another bid in at $32, but then I kept getting that server connection reset message again and ended up loosing out to another person who got it for $33. You can bet I was pissed off for the rest of the day. But I feel better about it today. Seems that yesterday, and today, all the major websites (Google, Yahoo, eBay)  are having this kind of intermittent denial of service (what I call it). So, doing eBay auctions from China is really not worth getting your hopes up over. I'm not sure who is limiting the service, probably either the Internet service provider or the Chinese gov't. If you don't here from me again on CBN, you'll have your answer.


Comment by Rand Moore on July 27, 2012 at 11:12pm

Which are better balalaikas and why?  3-string or 6-string? I've read where a first-rate Russian balalaika player says 6-stings balalaikas are usually junk. A lot of the balalaikas available for cheap on the Internet are junk, good only for souvenir hunters to take home and hang up on their walls. I guess if you are a professional level player what he says is probably true, but I think a beginner like myself probably wouldn't sound noticably better even if the Balalaika was made by the Russian equivalent of Stradivarius. So, I've noticed balalaikas from various sources including factory build ones from Moscow, Leningrad, Ukraine, Romania and Pakistan, plus many built by independent luthiers (more expensive). I'm wondering which ones are good, fair, and poor (since I'll never have the money to afford a really good one).

I guess my other option is to build my own quasi-balalaika hybrid instrument, which actually may be the better route for me. I'll have to give it more thought.

As always, your input is welcome.


Comment by Rand Moore on July 27, 2012 at 10:54pm

Hi Juha K

There are two books in ENglish on the topic of learning to play the balalaika. They are:

 1.) Mel Bay Complete Balalaika Book w/CD  ($22.79 at

 2.) Elementary Methods for the Balalaika ($10.00 at

In addition, there is a German website called "The Balalaika School" with a pretty good starters course (in English) that covers around a dozen Russian folk songs. My notes also show a song book called "A Russian Songbook (Dover Song Collection)" which is also available thru for like $10.

If you are building or restoring a balalaika, then the following free online book, "Building the Balalaika" by J.H. Flynn, Jr. will be of interest. It's hosted by the Guild of American Luthiers.

If you really like hunting for material, you can try the Google Translator and translated your Google search criteria into Russian, and use that to search the Internet. You'll find a fair amount of material from Russia and neighboring countries about the balalaika, as well as music, tablature and the like. Of course you'll have to translate the material back into English, but that's part of the fun. You can do the same for Youtube, which have a number of video in English and more in Russian. Happy hunting...





Comment by Juha K on May 5, 2012 at 12:47pm

Thanks Henry for the invite. I've just got my first balalaika. . I still need to learn how to play it. I keep bending the strings and it goes out of tune. Got to teach myself not to do that.

Here's a blog about the re-finish I did on it. Hope I didn't ruin it.

Comment by Fiddler on April 16, 2012 at 6:28am

People are not strange or foreign, they are just music and the instruments (balalaika) is the voice of this language.

Jean Pierre from France

Comment by Bob Lumpkin on April 15, 2012 at 6:12pm

Other than the rounded back (I think made out of 8 wood slats) not much more than a triangle CBG. Some of them have some really nice art work on the front. I love strange insturments (people too)


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Domra construction sheet

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