zither repair

Is your zither in need of repair? Do you have questions on how to best maintain your zither, or have advice? Post your questions and advice here.

Moderator: Dave

henrylrjr
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:25 pm

zither repair

Post by henrylrjr » Fri Nov 21, 2014 1:44 pm

HI all,

I just joined the group. I’m a professional flute player and also play and repair other instruments. I recently bought a concert zither in very good condition. I don’t know the proper names of the parts so until I learn them I’m calling the piece of wood, were the strings go over the end pins, the bridge and the wires the saddles. Since the 5 strings at the tuning end go over a first fret and the rest go over a wire I’m referring to them as the first frets. This is similar to some guitars which do not have a nut. I’m hoping someone can tell me the correct names of the various parts…maybe even steer me to a sketch or drawing.

The only part needing repair is what I have called the bridge. I have epoxied the broken pieces back into place and plan to machine a groove for the longer straight wire. I’m also considering making a new bridge out of ebony. I've done repairs to a number of guitars and violins and don't feel challenged by this work. However also don't want to reinvent the wheel and would appreciate any input. I also am hoping someone can steer me to a source for strings. I hope to learn much about the zither from this forum.

Thanks,
henrylrjr

Rudy Mueller
Posts: 393
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:33 am

Re: zither repair

Post by Rudy Mueller » Fri Nov 21, 2014 7:01 pm

Greetings,

Those old zithers are really interesting. Is there a builder's label in the instrument? Sounds kind of like the Förg from my father....left had bridge came out in about 10 pieces and a lot of sawdust...

This was replaced with brazillian cherry, cut to match, and epoxied in place. The instrument has never sounded better, although there are some "buzzes" on F and Bb in its guts, if you really hit the strings.

Still to be done.....blow out all of the dust kitties. One would not believe what accumulates inside of a case in the temperate zone....and keep the humidifier running, to your needs.

If you are in the Chicago Metroplex, we're trying to schedule a Zither Sunday here in SE WI before Christmas.

Rudi

henrylrjr
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:25 pm

Re: zither repair

Post by henrylrjr » Fri Nov 21, 2014 8:44 pm

Hi Rudi,

Thanks for the reply. There is no label or remnant of label glue. I looked inside with a mirror and did not find any markings. The inside is perfectly clean and the top, bottom and sides look very good. Only the top needs a little polishing. The three balls on the bottom, with the sharp spikes, and the five tuning keys look like old ivory..... like the keys on my 100+ year old piano. Only the bridge had cracks right under the wire saddle. The case is stamped GSB which stands for George S Bond. His American company made wooden instrument cases from, I think, 1880 to 1926. There was old german and american sheet music and a handwritten note, in english saying "given this in 1904 at age twelve", in the case. I'll post some pics when the bridge and polishing are done. If anyone knows how to tell age or maker that would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
henrylrjr

Rudy Mueller
Posts: 393
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:33 am

Re: zither repair

Post by Rudy Mueller » Sat Nov 22, 2014 8:38 am

concerning strings: Anne Prinz is a great source of strings and zither related materials. Dave Kyger can probably give you her e-address.

Rudi

henrylrjr
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:25 pm

Re: zither repair

Post by henrylrjr » Sun Nov 23, 2014 6:39 pm

As I mentioned I'm planning to make a new bridge from ebony. I've noticed a difference between guitar and violin saddles compared to zither saddles. The guitar and violin saddles have string tension both downward and towards the nut. On the guitars it is called the break angle that is critical in directing tension and on violins it is the angle from saddle to tailpiece then bridge and then to the nut. So i was thinking that I would make the zither bridge such that it would also apply tension in two directions, downward and towards the nut fret, meaning the wire saddle at the tuning end of the zither. I would accomplish this by having an L shaped cutout on the bottom of the bridge. this L shaped cutout would apply pressure on the back face of the zither, just above the string pins as well as tension towards the tuning end of the zither. While the zither bridge does have angular holes through which the strings pass thus applying some downward force as well as tension to the tuning end saddle, I thought having an actual surface of the bridge that contacted the back of the zither may be an improvement in force and tension distribution. Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
henrylrjr

Rudy Mueller
Posts: 393
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:33 am

Re: zither repair

Post by Rudy Mueller » Mon Nov 24, 2014 9:01 am

Förg Left-hand Bridge Replacement:

When replacing the left-hand bridge on the Forg, I followed the cross-sectional profile of the original, flat on top and bottom, parallel, with sides slightly beveled near the top. Wire under the strings was replaced with nickel plated brass craft wire of similar diameter from Michael's.

The original pins were salvaged, and the drill press set up to match the angle of the pins in the original.

Brazilian cherry was selected because of its density and availability, and was purchased and finished off to thickness at Kettle Moraine Hardwoods Hartford WI. The sigmoid shape of the original was closely followed, cut from a slab of wood, not steam-bent from a stick.

The epoxy glue used has held well for 5+ years now; hopefully it will outlast me. The instrument top surface directly under the bridge was carefully sanded down to bare wood before re-assembly/gluing, removing previous adhesive and avoiding the visible finished surface.

Have you talked to Sasha R. about this project? Repairs done such as this bring immense personal satisfaction, but he may have some valuable suggestions. Again, Dave may have the e-address.

Best wishes, und Gut Klang!

Rudi

henrylrjr
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:25 pm

Re: zither repair

Post by henrylrjr » Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:15 am

Hi Rudi,

Thanks for the reply. I'm referring to the right hand bridge, the straight one, with holes that the strings go through.

best,
henrylrjr

henrylrjr
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:25 pm

zither repair

Post by henrylrjr » Tue Nov 25, 2014 10:23 am

Hi Rudi and all,

I went to the makers page on this site and looked at all the pictures on both pages and also went to sites listed. Almost all the zithers, in the Rudolph Glier catalog, had the carved shell decoration abutting the fret board and right hand bridge. Have you seen any other maker's zithers with the carved shell. I'm hoping this decoration may lead me to the maker of my zither. Also the picture of one of his models, that looks most like mine, did not have a label that I could see and the sound hole and purfling look similar. This is meant for all members and any help will be greatly appreciated. Also what is a Forg zither?

Thanks,
henrylrjr

Rudy Mueller
Posts: 393
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:33 am

Re: zither repair

Post by Rudy Mueller » Tue Nov 25, 2014 11:30 am

Förg was a Munich zither builder. Mine dates from 1937.

Rudi

NutmegCT
Posts: 197
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:31 pm
Contact:

Re: zither repair

Post by NutmegCT » Tue Nov 25, 2014 6:50 pm

Henry - could you post a photo of your zither? Or a link to a webpage with photos?

A fellow newcomer.
Tom in CT

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