The bowed psaltery is a 20th century re-imagining of the psaltery, a plucked zither dating as far back as ancient times. The instrument produces a high, almost glassy tone similar to other fretless zithers, and does an excellent job of standing out in any mix. With a sound reminiscent of its medieval roots, it’s a sure match for any fantasy or historical track.

We have painstakingly chromatically sampled the entire range of a two-octave example with 14 total articulations ranging from the original bowed to plucked, picked, and even struck with a hammered dulcimer mallet, all with up to 8 round robins.


Developer: Versilian Studios LLC.
Software: Kontakt FULL 5.6.8+ Required
Format: .nki (Kontakt instrument)
Samples: 912 Samples; 1,824 Files (?)Samples are individual performances, not including duplicates from multiple mixes or mic positions. The File count is the total number of sample audio files in a product.
Filesize: 800 MB of HDD space (+800 MB for installation files)
Other: HDD of 7200+ RPM or SSD recommended

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Ancient Looks

The instrument we sampled was built by Jerry Read Smith (Song of the Wood Ltd.) of North Carolina and is his two-octave Maple model, from G to G. This is a “standard” size, compared to the more full 2.5 octave full size, but is nonetheless a solid instrument functionally and musically.

Despite its Gothic looks, the instrument is actually a development of the early to mid 20th century during the “zither craze” (it is in essence a cousin of the American fretless zither). With a brilliantly clear high register, it can punch through just about any mix or be subdued carefully to gentle plucking in the background.

Modern Sounds

After numerous tests with various patterns and setups, we decided on a pair of Rode NT5’s in a NOS array approximately 18” above the instrument.

For a close mic, we used an Aston Spirit large diaphragm condenser in cardioid mode about 8” above the instrument.

Recordings were done through the Antelope Orion Studio Rev. 2017, featuring Class-A preamps and excellent AD conversion, at 48kHz/24-bit resolution.

Detail & Repetitions

Approximately two hours went into recording all of the articulations of the instrument, which include the typical bowed (in three lengths plus tremolo and ricochet), as well as picked, finger-plucked, hammered, and a slew of effects.

Great care was taken to sample the full decays of each note and provide as many round robins as possible, with articulations such as spiccato receiving an impressive 8 round robins.

Beyond Bowed

The range of textures possible from the instrument is remarkably broad for its general simplicity both in form and function.

The hammered sound reminds one almost of a clavichord, while the picked can make a fantastic substitute for upper-octave harpsichord parts with a little extra punch (the sampled releases stand in perfectly for plectra coming back down on the strings).

The muted plucks sound close to high pizzicato on violin, while the long sustains can substitute for harmonics on the same.



  • Bowed – Spic/Short/Long Combo
  • Bowed – Long
  • Bowed – Crescendo
  • Bowed – Short
  • Bowed – Spiccato
  • Bowed – Tremolo
  • Bowed – Bounce/Ricochet


  • Effects – Various Effects


  • Picked – Sustained
  • Picked – Stopped


  • Snapshots – Open
  • Snapshots – Muted

Mallet (Hammered Dulcimer)

  • Snapshots – Hit
  • Snapshots – Flam