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It is said that the Balalaika embodies the Russian people’s character, with its ability to switch from happiness to sadness with ease. It is a warm, three stringed instrument with a beautiful sound and deep roots in the traditions of Russia. The Balalaika most likely evolved from the Oriental dombra, but in the later 19th century the instrument underwent a number of changes, including the adoption of the classic triangular shape. Roosebeck Balalaikas are authentic in design and crafted from quality woods by skilled artisans. It is our mission to design authentic instruments, accessible to enthusiasts who desire quality without a high price-tag.
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Mel Bay's Balalaika Book with Online Audio

The balalaika is most often associated with Russian folklore. In this comprehensive method book, concert and recording artist Bibs Ekkel shares his extensive knowledge of the balalaika as taught in Russia today. This 160-page book is divided into four sections: an extensive Foreword, the Tutor, A Brief History of the Balalaika, and a Repertoire Section. Unlike many Mel Bay books, the Complete Balalaika Book does not begin with the rudiments of music notation. Rather, the 20-page Foreword offer insights on the tunings of all the instruments in the balalaika family, hand positions, string sources and height adjustment, and chord shapes. A glossary of musical signs and Russian musical terns is included. A Brief History of the Balalaika is well written and nicely illustrated. Access to online audio with selections performed by the author completes this highly effective instructional book.

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Roosebeck Balalaika Prima, Nylon Gig Bag

This Roosebeck Balalaika Prima has the traditional 3 strings and measures approximately 27 inches in length. The scale length is 430 mm. The body has the classical triangular shape. The back is slightly bowed and made with alternating staves with two tones of sheesham and lacewood. The darker back contrasts with the light colored wood of the soundboard. Includes a nylon gig bag. The Balalaika strings are tuned above middle C to: A, E, E (1st-3rd). The 1st string is the thinnest, and lays over more frets than the 2nd and 3rd strings. Use a piano or electronic tuner as a reference for tuning. The tension on each tuning peg can be adjusted by tightening or loosing the screw on the top of the peg. To play, the left hand notes the strings while the index finger of the right hand strums high on the soundboard near the neck. The dark sheesham on the soundboard is decorative but also protects the soundboard from the strumming. Extra String Set & Padded Nylon Gig Bag Included. Free Shipping.

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List Price $309.00
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Roosebeck Deluxe Balalaika Prima, Rosewood Back, Nylon Gig Bag

This Roosebeck Deluxe Balalaika Prima measures approximately 27 inches in length Rosewood back. Deluxe models feature larger Position Markers on the Fret Board, additional handcrafted designs and flush inlays. Also in our Deluxe models, the Pancer (the large Rosewood guard just below the neck) is secured by screws along the edges. . The scale length is 430 mm. The body has the classical triangular shape. The back is slightly bowed and made with stave construction of beautiful Rosewood. The Balalaika strings are tuned above middle C to: A, E, E (1st-3rd). The 1st string is the thinnest, and lays over more frets than the 2nd 3rd strings. Use a piano or electronic tuner as a reference for tuning. The tension on each tuning peg can be adjusted by tightening or loosing the screw on the top of the peg. To play, the left hand notes the strings while the index finger of the right hand strums high on the soundboard near the neck. Extra String Set & Padded Nylon Gig Bag Included. Free Shipping.

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List Price $369.00
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15 in stock
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History of The Balalaika

The Balalaika most likely evolved from the Oriental dombra. The dombra, which is still played in present-day Kazakhstan, has an oval shaped soundboard and two strings. Knowledge and use of the dombra was most likely spread to Russia by Mongol trade and conquest. After the dombra’s introduction to Russia in the 14th century, it underwent structural changes.

With its new form, the Balalaika was embraced by Russians and took its place in Russian folklore. It is said that the Balalaika embodies the Russian people’s character, with its ability to switch from happiness to sadness with ease. It was common for the peasant ballads, composed for the Balalaika, to irreverently poke fun at the authority of the times. For this reason there were times when the Balalaika was banned by both the Orthodox Church and the State. The instrument enjoyed its greatest folk popularity in the early 18th century.

In the later 19th century the instrument underwent a number of changes, including the adoption of the classic triangular shape. Reportedly, in the late 19th century, the Russian nobleman Vassily Vassilievich Andreyev, was responsible for the transition of the Balalaika from a folk instrument to a concert performance instrument. Andreyev’s chamber ensemble’s first public concert in 1888 was a great success. It was this ensemble that was renamed The Great Russian Imperial Balalaika Orchestra. As this orchestra toured, the Balalaika was introduced beyond Russia’s borders, even to the US. The Instrument was also carried by the common people when they fled Russia at times
of war.


Playing the Balalaika

There are several methods of playing the balalaika, with the most common being the strum. Strumming is the playing method used with most music. Unlike playing the guitar, you do not strum the balalaika over the center of the soundboard. The soundboard of the balalaika is a relatively soft un-finished wood. Strumming over the center of the soundboard would disfigure the soundboard. The balalaika is strummed high on the soundboard near the neck.

With the balalaika correctly tuned, try playing some down strokes with the fleshy part of the right thumb. Be sure to stroke with your entire forearm, not just your wrist. The thumb may be laid along the index finger for stability. Rapid up and down strumming on long notes produces the singing tone peculiar to this instrument. The Tremolo consists of fast up-and down beats with the right hand index finger. It can be used both to play on all strings or just one single string. The beats must be of equal power, up and down. The tremolo can be interrupted after every note. The tremolo can also combine several notes. With the Pizzicato, you use your right hand thumb to produce downward beats and your right hand index finger to produce upward beats. Left hand Pizzicato - The Left Hand Pizzicato is when you pluck the strings with your left hand. The above methods are just brief descriptions of several balalaika playing methods. For more in depth information and instruction on the balalaika, we recommend you purchase one of the many instructional books and videos available.