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starsailor

Something new for me a Balalaika

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Hi Just got this, a Roumanian Hora Alto Balalaika, I was going to get a Ukelele but took a shine to this, they're quite well made, here are the specs.

* Top: Spruce

* Back: Maple

* Sides: Maple

* Neck: Maple/beech

* Fingerboard: Acacia or mahogany

* Scale: 510 mm

Now I need some tunes and some more info on tuning, has anyone got one of these or have any info.

6870.attach

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Very cool! I don't know anything about balalaikas, but a quick Google search found this article in Wikipedia which lists some tunings, discusses playing techniques and also gives a history of the instrument. Enjoy!

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Congratulations starsailor on your find. It looks quite interesting. I've never seen one before. So, I guess I'm no help to you at all. There seems to be lots of information out there though when I googled it. Post us a tune when you get it worked out!

Nutty

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Thanks for having a look allthumbs and Nutty, I don't know much about these, the top string controls the rhythm, sort of an impulse buy, but I was looking for something different, as far as I know from stratrat's info and a brief surf they only have two tunings E E A or G-B-D but the G B D is frowned on by purists but quite straight forward for guitar players, it should be interesting getting a tune, so I'm going to have to look for some, I might check out some Roumanian ones as it's from there, be interesting to see how much contemporary music fits it, they're really a Folk instrument so they'll be plenty to play :smilinguitar:

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I haven't done any research but is it similar in sound to a Bazoukie (Greek)? If so that could be another source of tunes. I really love the Bulgarian vocal harmonies - don't know if Romanian and Bulgarian music is similar, but I suspect Romanian is more a Gypsy style music?

One question Chris.......left or right? :winner::D

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I haven't done any research but is it similar in sound to a Bazoukie (Greek)? If so that could be another source of tunes. I really love the Bulgarian vocal harmonies - don't know if Romanian and Bulgarian music is similar, but I suspect Romanian is more a Gypsy style music?

One question Chris.......left or right? :winner::D

Hi Carol, I think it's similar, so that's an option, they have them in Bulgaria and I think it is similar, I'm going to check out the Roumanian music but I would say it's Gypsy style, yeah it's a right handed:crying2: , the stringing's different, you put a steel on the top and two nylons on the next two and you can just use a 10 or 11 steel.

One of my Daughters friends Mums came round the other day and said she'd like to play guitar but she tried right handed and couldn't get on with it her son plays guitar and he said she was a lefty, they were going to restring a right handed but I said it wasn't a good idea and lent them mine, she was quite pleased when she saw it, seemed better to help someone out rather than sitting in the corner waiting for me to play it and I can have it back as she'll buy her own if she gets the hang of it so it's all worked out well, well apart from me being crap at playing left handed:surrender

I like a Balalaika though:winkthumb:

Best Wishes

Chris

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Thanks for having a look Knight and Kenny, it's fun getting something new, I'm optimistic I think I should be able to get a tune out of this, I might take up Cossack Dancing next:winkthumb:

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....it's fun getting something new, I'm optimistic I think I should be able to get a tune out of this...

I know the feeling - my GAS for guitars and amps is pretty well sated at the moment, but I just ordered a mandolin - going to try my hand at it and see if I can get something that sounds at least remotely musical out of it! I've always liked the sound of a mando, it should be fun to play with.

BTW, the Cossack dancing looks like it would be a lot harder on the body than playing a balalaika! :yes:

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I know the feeling - my GAS for guitars and amps is pretty well sated at the moment, but I just ordered a mandolin - going to try my hand at it and see if I can get something that sounds at least remotely musical out of it! I've always liked the sound of a mando, it should be fun to play with.

BTW, the Cossack dancing looks like it would be a lot harder on the body than playing a balalaika! :yes:

Congrats. on the Mandolin, I like the sound of them, I'm not the greatest guitar player by any means but I'm interested to see how the skills learned on guitar translate to other instruments, I've been learning scales for the last month, I'm slowly picking up speed and I thought the Balalaika would be a bit of fun. Enjoy your Mandolin Stratrat, you have quite a collection now.

I think you're probably right about the Cossack dancing I might be getting a bit old for that, I might just get a furry hat and try and look cool:winkthumb:

Best Wishes

Chris

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....I might just get a furry hat and try and look cool:winkthumb:

I'm thinking that the furry hat might go great with the balalaika, Cossack dancing or not! :yes:

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+1 to the furry hat, maybe add one of those puffy sleeve shirts. :yes:

I'm a bit on the thin side Knight so that will fill me out a bit, might as well get the boots and a fancy waistcoat as well, I think I might sound better if have a few Vodkas as well, I'm willing to make the sacrifice for the sake of music:winkthumb:

Hey a guitar you can set down without it falling over. That's novel.

Thanks for having a look Fly, that is one of it's advantages, my family came round the other day and one of the girls nearly knocked my guitar over, I looked a bit stressed to say the least:winkthumb:

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How's the Balalaika coming along, Starsailor? Making any progress with it?

Hi Stratrat,

I tried playing it with the strings that were on it when I got it but they were guitar strings that had been altered to fit the Balalaika and a bit worn out so I've got some proper La Bella Balalaika strings, quite a lot of guys in the US. sell these but they were a bit hard to find over here and cost more than my guitar strings, I've found some lessons on line and some simple songs to play and it's coming along ok, it's a bit different to playing guitar but I think the two will compliment each other, how's the Mandolin coming along, I don't know if you like REM but here's the Mandolin tab for losing my Religion.

http://www.mandolincafe.com/tab/religion.txt

And a link to a good Mandolin site called Mandolin Cafe

Mandolin Tablature

I'm struggling to find a really helpful Balalaika site, so if you know of any please pass them on, hope the links are useful to you:winkthumb:

Best Wishes

Chris

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Starsailor,

Look pretty cool, and only 3 strings. Congrats!

Thanks for having a look Eddie, it's a nice instrument with an oyster shell back, takes a bit of time to get used to the playing position it's a bit awkward like sitting down playing a flying V guitar, it's a different way of playing in some ways to the guitar, you have to move up the neck a bit and not play over the soundhole but it's good fun trying a different instrument:winkthumb:

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Thanks, Chris - I already found Mandolin Cafe (as well as a few other links) and have been messing around with it. Already getting MAS!!! (the mandolin equivalent of GAS). I've (sorta) learned "The Battle of Evermore" by Led Zeppelin, which is a coooool mandolin song to play.....it's fun to try to jam along with the actual song! I'm leaning more toward bluegrass stuff, and have been picking up little bits and pieces.

One thing about playing a mandolin - you certainly learn to appreciate the fretboard of a guitar! :yes: The frets on a mando' are tiny, and there's not a lot of room to jam your fingers in there. Some of the fret stretches on chords are even tougher than the 'jazz chords' on guitar. After playing the mandolin, I go back to my guitars and the neck and fretboard feel absolutely huge. The strings of the mandolin work your callouses in different spots, too (2 strings per course).

I don't know if you've found the balalaika to be the same, but on the mandolin I've found that some guitar stuff transfers over and some doesn't. Reading tab is easy, the right hand (picking) skills definitely help, and just understanding the concepts of fretting notes and chords works the same - but the tuning is completely different (GDAE on a mandolin), so fretboard knowledge, scales and chord shapes are all out the window. It's not *quite* like starting all over, but there is definitely a learning curve!

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How's the Balalaika coming along, Starsailor? Making any progress with it?

Hi Stratrat, had a bit of a false start after this thread but I've got going now, I've also found more good lessons for it, and I'm enjoying playing it now, the narrow fretboard is different and chording is different with the EEA tuning which I went for you can nip between notes fairly fast though so I think it could help to improve my speed in general, how's the Mandolin going:winkthumb:

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...how's the Mandolin going:winkthumb:

I've been busy with work, so all of my practice time (what little I have) is spent on guitar....haven't had more than an occasional strum on the mando and haven't touched the bass in a while. Hopefully I'll be able to free up more time soon and be able to divide my practice time out a bit more!

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I've been busy with work, so all of my practice time (what little I have) is spent on guitar....haven't had more than an occasional strum on the mando and haven't touched the bass in a while. Hopefully I'll be able to free up more time soon and be able to divide my practice time out a bit more!

I had the same problem Stratrat, played around with the old strings on but then put it to one side, had a bit of time last week so I looked at it and thought I'll give it a clean up and change the strings then I started messing around and was surprised at the tone, I have a little play with it but not every day as I like playing my guitar, don't think it will get regular playing but it's fun having something different to play, hope you can free up some time, I've been doing more hours at work to get more money, had a few days off this week but everything going up knocked me for six a bit and I don't have anything left for myself, trying to save up to get a better electric and a decent amp, I had a go on my Daughter's Bass the other day enjoyed playing it I wasn't very good but I enjoyed having a go:winkthumb:

All The Best

Chris

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