View Full Version : Balalakia??

06-09-2013, 05:02 PM
Hey everyone, i wanted to help out a buddy of mine, he just bought a 'balalakia' all i know about it is that it is a russian folk instrument that comes in a HUGE variety of sizes. Does anyone else play one? Seen one? Heard one in person? He made a bit of a impulse buy and there is a chance i may end up with it :) i dont know what size he purchased but any help? Or good sources of info on it? Thanks!

06-09-2013, 05:27 PM
Or good sources of info on it?
Google maybe? :p

They usually have only three strings, I think.

06-09-2013, 06:44 PM
Everything you've always wanted to know about Balalaika:

Everything you've never wanted to know about Balalaika:

06-09-2013, 06:59 PM
Here's a nice video. Some of the techniques used would sound very good on a ukulele.

06-10-2013, 09:13 AM
My Balalaika has six metal strings. It was bought at a junk stand in an Eastern European market for next to nothing. It came covered in a thick varnish and years of accumulated grime and cigarette / tobacco residue. I sanded it off to reveal the thick dark varnish had been hiding two different woods - the top quarter of the soundboard appears to be a sturdier wood than the rest (built in pickguard?). There was virtually no sustain on the original instrument, but once sanded down (and lightly varnished with just a protection coat) it came alive.

I still don't get traditional Balalaika tuning, so mine is tuned DAD and plays more like a three string Tsouras (Greek member of the Bouzouki family). Not used it that often, but I used it a lot last year on our Acoustic Beatles Tour on .... Back in the USSR, of course! ;)

06-10-2013, 01:43 PM
Thanks for the info! The one he bought has three strings but r these steel? Nylon? it seems like the few videos i find no ones using a pick but they appear to be steel :/

06-11-2013, 07:27 AM
Traditionally the two e-strings are nylon and the high a-string is steel.

06-11-2013, 08:10 AM
I play balalaika, though not a lot. 6 string balalaikas are generally rhythm instruments, and use all steel string sets (I get mine from www.juststrings.com). The tuning is EE-EE-AA. Think of it has the 2 high strings of a uke. Mel Bay has a good balalaika book

06-11-2013, 07:06 PM
Now I want to get one! Check this video out http://youtu.be/5JqeSU7lSLE sounds so cool

10-08-2013, 06:17 AM
If you change from the traditional steel strings, you need to make sure whatever strings you use have adequate "tension" to make it sound right. Regular uke strings may not do that. Proper string tension is based on the diameter of the string for a given scale length. Likely, it will need new strings. I'd check with folks like D'Addario for quality strings for it. If you want uke strings for it, check with Southcoast Ukes, Guadalupe, or other custom string makers to insure you get strings with the proper tension.