1960s Lunacharsky Prima Balalaika

I needed to pick-up a balalaika for an event in the near-future and this Lunacharsky (made in Russia -- the USSR at the time) prima balalaika caught my eye on eBay. I fixed a very similar one up for my friend Gus last year (click to see that) and so I knew it would be a nice instrument after fixing.

Roman P. on Instagram writes in regards to the tuner plate: "Фабрика им. Луначарского Ленинград means Factory (of the name of) Lunacharsky, Leningrad (now St. Petersburg)" -- thanks for that!

I've come to really enjoy the sound of traditional, 3-string balalaikas. I like them best strung with all-nylon or fluorocarbon strings, too, and when I've owned them from time to time I've always kept them in tunings that suit me rather than trying to attempt the confusing (to Americans!) EEA standard tuning. In standard the two Es are the same pitch and nylon/gut while the high A is plain steel -- the EA being at the pitch range of mandolin or fiddle D&A strings. It works for the traditional music, of course, but not for me.

I keep them tuned to a modal open like this one is (GDG in mandolin's GDA pitch range) or in the "alternate standard tuning" for balalaika described on the net, GBD in the same pitch range as guitar's GBE strings or banjo's GBD strings.

Anyhow, these Lunacharsky instruments are simple in construction but quite good, regardless. I've never seen one with a moose (or elk? or reindeer?) inlaid in the scratchplate/pickguard and I thought to myself that for that alone it deserved a home up here in Vermont. Maybe I can serenade our local hooved companions some day with this fella?

Repairs included: headstock-joint reglue, fret level/dress, side dots install, mild seam repairs, cleaning, setup.

Top wood: solid spruce

Back & sides wood: solid maple or similar

Bracing type: one ladder (mostly unbraced)

Bridge: maple

Fretboard: stained maple or similar

Neck wood: unknown

Action height at 12th fret: 1/16" overall
String gauges: GE&A strings from a low-G ukulele set (D'Addario EJ99TLG)

String gauges note: use GC&E strings for GBD alternate tuning

Neck shape: slim-medium C

Board radius: flat

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: medium

Scale length: 17 3/4"

Nut width: 1 1/4"

Body width: 16 3/4"

Body depth: ~4"

Condition notes: it's relatively clean and all-original throughout save minor usewear and scratching here and there.