Tell me your "my first zither" story!

Interested in learning how to play the zither and wondering where to start? Use this section to post your questions.

Moderator: Dave

JeffJetton
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2015 6:05 pm
Location: Nashville, TN
Contact:

Tell me your "my first zither" story!

Post by JeffJetton » Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:10 am

As a prospective zither player, I'm faced with the initial hurdle of simply getting a hold of one in the first place. I'm sure I'll be posting specific questions about where/how to buy a decent beginner's zither, how much to budget, etc.

But in the meantime, I'd like to know how you obtained your first zither.

Was it a family heirloom? Garage sale find? eBay fixer-upper? Did you purchase it while visiting overseas? Or buy it "long distance" and have it shipped over?

Is there anything you would have done differently knowing what you know now? Anything you are glad you got right?

All stories welcome! Thanks!
Last edited by JeffJetton on Wed Mar 18, 2015 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jubal
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:03 pm

Re: Tell me your "my first zither" story!

Post by Jubal » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:47 pm

Does it have to be a concert zither? My experience relates.

As a musician I always enjoyed looking for antique instruments in antique stores. I already owned a Violin-Uke, a type of chorded bowed psaltery. I got it at the Nashville Flea Market at the Fairgrounds. It was cool, but what really got me excited about zithers was when I found a type of early autoharp at an antique store. (I can't remember the exact name of the instrument, similar to Marxophone type creations.) I did some further research and discovered the concert zither. Unfortunately I still haven't found one in person yet. I have family in Germany so maybe that will make the search easier, especially if I go this summer and check out the antique stores and flea markets there.

Rudy Mueller
Posts: 437
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:33 am

Re: Tell me your "my first zither" story!

Post by Rudy Mueller » Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:06 am

#1 is a Schwarzer purchased from an aunt who had lived in Missouri, for $75.
#2 is a 1937 Förg (Munich) inherited from my father
#3 is a Hornsteiner (Passau) inherited from a friend. This is now unused, and needs new strings.
#4 is an un-named gem with a six string griffbrett and open strings starting with a flat, then e flat etc. kept at our daughter's home in Germany, to use when visiting
#5 is a Seith, is also now in Germany, and will be brought to the U.S. this spring.

#4 and #5 were purchased on ebay.de for 22 and 24 eu each, delivered within Germany. #4 is solid with good tone. I have not seen #5 yet, but reportedly it is solid. We'll see it next week. Both #4 and #5 could use new strings; again, we'll see.

The griffbrett of the #2 Förg is showing signs of wear, with a "buzz" for some notes. It may be retired by the Seith.

Bidding on ebay.de is hazardous if substantial sums are involved, not unlike gambling. Having a reliable relative to arrange the finances and take delivery within the EU is an advantage. Getting it here may be problematic. Import duties/charges must be considered. Some local Wisconsin professionals have and/or know of instruments for sale here in the U.S.. The one in Plymouth WI listed here a few years back is apparently still in the store.

Learning progresses at a faster rate when a teacher or fellow players are available. Are you in the Chicago metroplex area?

Take care, GUT KLANG!

Rudi

User avatar
Dave
Posts: 337
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:55 pm
Location: Maryland
Contact:

Re: Tell me your "my first zither" story!

Post by Dave » Thu Mar 19, 2015 4:10 pm

My first zither was purchased from an antique dealer in Germany. It was a no-name student model, without a maker’s label or other identifying characteristics, and about as resonant as a two-by-four. It was likely over 100 years old. It had tuning pins instead of a tuning mechanism for the fretboard strings, and the tuning pins themselves were rectangular, which is a common feature on ancient zithers.

I made the best of it. I removed all of the old strings and tuning pins. The pins were a lot of work and it took some time to knock off all of the old rust and polish them. The strings were slipping too, as the tuning pin holes had enlarged over the years. Where the maker’s label would have been, I placed an image of my St. Bernard, “Monks.” A friend smiling back at me was certainly an encouragement. :-)
first_zither.jpg
first_zither.jpg (191.56 KiB) Viewed 901 times
It was an amateur job, but being new to the instrument there was a sense of accomplishment. I played it for about six months before upgrading to a new Wünsche, made in Markneukirchen, Germany, the same instrument I play today.

Hope this helps.

Dave
We do not take humor seriously enough. —Konrad Lorenz

kenbloom
Posts: 171
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:50 am

Re: Tell me your "my first zither" story!

Post by kenbloom » Fri Mar 20, 2015 7:20 am

I had been working on some fairly challenging arrangments on guitar with lots of moving basses and such. This involved some pretty athletic left hand work and I kept thinking "there must be a better way!" I was in Westwood Music and spotted a book on how to play the zither by A. Darr. I'm sure you're all familiar with it. I bought the book and studied it and thought that this could be the answer I was looking for. Several months later, we moved from LA to San Francisco and I got a job teaching at a local music store, Marina Music. Lo and behold, they had four zithers sitting in glass cases. I was the first person to take an interest in them. There were two concert zithers and two harfenzithers. I started to attempt to play one one of those and eventually purchased it. It was a 38 string instrument with no lable but new and modern. It remained my main zither until I discovered the wonders of Zapf's Music and a whole world of zither opened for me.

Ken Bloom

DonO
Posts: 46
Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:46 pm

Re: Tell me your "my first zither" story!

Post by DonO » Sat Mar 21, 2015 8:37 am

I have two really nice Zithers:
#1 was inherited from distant relative, via my dad who was given this instrument by the widow of the player, who played this Alto Zither (Alt Zither) in a zither band in Astoria & Brooklyn during the early-mid 1900s. The instrument has no maker's label, but it is a beauty. It is pictured on this forum under Restorations. I had it refurbished by Sasha Radicic. It is a pleasure to play

#2 was picked from eBay.com very inexpensively being the only bidder. It is a Schwarzer, dating to about 1870 or thereabouts. It too is pictured on this forum under Restorations and was refurbished by Sasha Radicic. Despite its small size it produces a very big sound. It also is a pleasure to play, with spacing between frets a wee bit closer than the Alto's.

Jubal
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:03 pm

Re: Tell me your "my first zither" story!

Post by Jubal » Sat Mar 21, 2015 11:37 am

The frustrating thing about ebay is that on ebay.de you can often find zithers in decent condition for a great price, but run the risk of international shipping. In the US, sellers want 5x as much money for cracked, missing strings and feet, and no case.

Still looking for "the one..."

NutmegCT
Posts: 219
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:31 pm
Location: Connecticut!
Contact:

Re: Tell me your "my first zither" story!

Post by NutmegCT » Sat Mar 21, 2015 11:54 am

Jubal- I hear you on that!

I don't have friends or family in Europe, didn't inherit anything, no zither friends or family here, and the ebay sales were just like you described. So I spent six months reading various music forums, including zither.us, to get a general idea. One thing I decided on early: I'm a beginner, so don't spend a fortune to get the "perfect" instrument. Spend what you can afford, get experience, then move upward.

I found my "learner zither" on local Craigslist. (I use SearchTempest.com) It was part of an estate sale, and was one of a group of five which belonged to a performing zither musician out in Indiana. Wish I could remember his name.

Image

Nothing spectacular - but holds its tune, no buzzes or cracks, nice inlay all around, good fingerboard with low string height - and didn't cost a fortune.

Tom in Connecticut

JeffJetton
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2015 6:05 pm
Location: Nashville, TN
Contact:

Re: Tell me your "my first zither" story!

Post by JeffJetton » Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:41 pm

Thanks for the replies so far, everyone!

I think, for me, it's probably going to be like it was with my first accordion and first ukulele (or first computer, or first car, or...). You just bite the bullet and jump in, doing the best job you can at picking an instrument. What you learn from that first one will inform what you need and want when (and if) it's time to upgrade. That is, you almost need to own one before you know how to buy one.

The first pancake never turns out as well as the rest of 'em, but you still have to make it! :D

Rudy Mueller
Posts: 437
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:33 am

Re: Tell me your "my first zither" story!

Post by Rudy Mueller » Fri Mar 27, 2015 12:48 pm

my pfannkuchen experience exactly.....and I have them at least 3x per week. crepes in the u.s., my favorite is swiss or griuerre cheese with broccoli.

I did luck out with the 20+ eu f Seith our daughter bought on eby.de. sound is great, better than the forg at home, but looks like it was stored in a workshop somewhere. cleaned up with new strings i ll keep it, but get rid of #3, the hornsteiner when we get back. there may be a couple of wisconsin zithers for sale now. check with k eckroth.

ill see if there is a source for feet somewhere here.

rudi

Post Reply