Author Topic: Thoughts on the zither?  (Read 912 times)

Castleview

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Thoughts on the zither?
« on: November 26, 2013, 03:41:18 PM »
I wonder if any fellow musicians here own and use a zither. I think it might be the best acoustic instrument for ambient music. Laraaji and Klaus Wiese inspired me to play one. I actually have an antique fretless zither made by Oscar Schmidt, which still sounds pretty decent, as well as a toy one that I had bought for really cheap a while back, but that one doesn't sound good imo.

I wouldn't mind putting some new strings on the antique one but I'm kind of scared to do that on my own as I've never done it before. 

For anyone who does have one and record with it, how do you like to treat it with the effects? I like to apply a reasonable amount of chorus and reverb without it becoming unrecognizable. Flanger can be decent if you want to go for something more abstract. I applied flanger to my toy zither on my album Chamber Music, giving it an aquatic sound.

Every kind of zither is open for discussion BTW.
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ffcal

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Re: Thoughts on the zither?
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2013, 03:51:33 PM »
I use them.  I would be careful with the use of reverb on them, as the strings on the zither should sustain pretty well by themselves.  I don't have any special advice on effects (other than to be sparing), but I prefer for them to be close-miked and/or that a contact mic used.  If miked too far away, they tend to sound tinny without much midrange.

Forrest

Castleview

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Re: Thoughts on the zither?
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2013, 04:48:30 PM »
Yeah, the strings do sustain themselves well. It's like they have a little bit of a natural reverb. I like to go pretty light with the EQ as well. Stripping out all the midrange on a zither recording is not a good thing.

Do you have any other zithers besides the guzheng?
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ffcal

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Re: Thoughts on the zither?
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2013, 05:13:30 PM »
Yeah, the strings do sustain themselves well. It's like they have a little bit of a natural reverb. I like to go pretty light with the EQ as well. Stripping out all the midrange on a zither recording is not a good thing.

Do you have any other zithers besides the guzheng?

Yes, I have an ukelin, a pianolin and tremeloa.  Fun to play/improvise on them, but my takes using them don't always make it to the final cut.  I used an ukelin on the opening cut on :Animism" (Tailing Wind).

Forrest

Castleview

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Re: Thoughts on the zither?
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2013, 05:26:58 PM »
I saw a couple of tremoloas available on ebay recently. They weren't as expensive as I expected but then again, there's probably not a huge demand for them. Hadn't heard of the other two but I looked them up and they seem like cool instruments. I've never played a bowed instrument before though.
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mgriffin

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Re: Thoughts on the zither?
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2013, 05:28:03 PM »
A better title for this topic would have been "Whither the zither?"

[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

Castleview

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Re: Thoughts on the zither?
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2013, 05:29:32 PM »
A better title for this topic would have been "Whither the zither?"


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ffcal

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Re: Thoughts on the zither?
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2013, 05:33:32 PM »
I saw a couple of tremoloas available on ebay recently. They weren't as expensive as I expected but then again, there's probably not a huge demand for them. Hadn't heard of the other two but I looked them up and they seem like cool instruments. I've never played a bowed instrument before though.

They sound a bit like bowed psaltry, only a little fuller.  One thing to keep in mind is, at least with the older ones, they are very difficult to tune and to keep in tune.  Helps to have perfect or relative pitch, too.

Forrest

ffcal

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Re: Thoughts on the zither?
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2013, 05:34:35 PM »
A better title for this topic would have been "Whither the zither?"

Or how about, "dither on the zither?"

Forrest

Castleview

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Re: Thoughts on the zither?
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2013, 06:10:37 PM »
I saw a couple of tremoloas available on ebay recently. They weren't as expensive as I expected but then again, there's probably not a huge demand for them. Hadn't heard of the other two but I looked them up and they seem like cool instruments. I've never played a bowed instrument before though.

They sound a bit like bowed psaltry, only a little fuller.  One thing to keep in mind is, at least with the older ones, they are very difficult to tune and to keep in tune.  Helps to have perfect or relative pitch, too.

Forrest

That's good to know. Bowed psalteries seem like they would be fun to play. I think it would be really cool to add a pickup and play one through an amp.
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petekelly

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Re: Thoughts on the zither?
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2013, 02:45:09 PM »
I don't have any real instruments of this type, but I've got a number of harp, lyra, zither, kantele etc. libraries for Kontakt. I love these sounds, in fact they'll be featuring heavily on a new project.

Castleview

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Re: Thoughts on the zither?
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2013, 02:48:12 PM »
I don't have any real instruments of this type, but I've got a number of harp, lyra, zither, kantele etc. libraries for Kontakt. I love these sounds, in fact they'll be featuring heavily on a new project.

The kantele has a beautiful and distinct sound to it IMO. I wouldn't mind buying one someday.
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