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Thread: Balalaika curiosity

  1. #1
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    Smile Balalaika curiosity

    Does anybody hereplay the balalaika? how hard is it to play? I heard one for the first time while I was watching Doctor zhivago a few weeks ago. I really like the sound. I like the ukulele as well as the balalaika

  2. #2
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    Hello, Cassie, the only person on here that I know of that has some experience with one, is CeeJay, below is a copy of a posting he made in November 2013 about it, hope this helps.

    As a balalaika player I would offer just this, the balalaika shape does present problems in holding.It is traditionally played sitting because the neck is not "held" as the thumb frets the two EE strings and the four fingers fret the melody A string. This means that the balalaika is held in a strange way , with the base resting in the inside of the right hand thigh ,the neck is supported by the web of the thumb and palm but loosely and not gripped.

    This would not be a huge problem for the uker because the fretting arrangement is different...but then as a ukulele player I feel that then you would need to strap it and would only really be able to play it stood up a la flying vee....You can't rest them on your knee as the point will dig in.

    To hold it in the traditional Balalaika way you are advised to put some sort of grippy material ,like felt or a velcro on the base which will hold to your trouser material.....
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  3. #3
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    My brother owns one. Being a mandolin player, he tunes it DAE.
    Bob's balalaika.jpg

  4. #4
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    I don’t own one as of yet. I am just wondering how hard it is to play so that if I do decide to get one, I will know what to expect

  5. #5
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    Jim posted a picture in his comment, it looks like it is a 3 stringed instrument with a triangular body, about 13 inches long, and maybe 14 to 15 inches wide at the base.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  6. #6
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Cassie View Post
    Does anybody hereplay the balalaika? how hard is it to play? I heard one for the first time while I was watching Doctor zhivago a few weeks ago. I really like the sound. I like the ukulele as well as the balalaika
    I play one that has been converted to four string gCea .
    I added a peg tuner re-slotted the nut and floating bridge.
    Then I put Worth strings on. Play it as a tenor ukulele.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by I Ukulista View Post
    I play one that has been converted to four string gCea .
    I added a peg tuner re-slotted the nut and floating bridge.
    Then I put Worth strings on. Play it as a tenor ukulele.
    My brother Bob plays his as a mandolin with no low G string.

  8. #8
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    Feb 2018
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    Registered in because I've been searching for more resources for the balalaika and figured I'd chime in as a beginner. Playing a Prima traditional tuning is E-E-A, and as mentioned the thumb gets a work out like no other stringed instrument. I played electric bass for 30 years and starting in on the balalaika has been relearning a lot. All my calluses were in the wrong places and that thumb across the E strings is so different.
    That said, after a month of diligent practice I can play Moonshine as well as Korobushka (the Tetris song as most people call it) with a little proficiency. It's not so much that it's a hard instrument to play as counter intuitive to how I've played a string instrument for the past three decades. I'm unlearning a lot of things basically. The goal is to learn Kalinka but I have a long way to go for that. Tremolo, pizzicato, double pizzicato... I'm nut quite sure I'm even using the right technique for strumming honestly. Part of me thinks I should make youtube videos of these formative moments to maybe help beginners see another starter and the struggles involved. Things is, I also would hate to put completely incorrect information out there regarding posture holding the instrument or strumming techniques.

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