Concert Zither String Diagram
Munich Tuning

There are two zither stringing formats in use today: Munich and Vienna. Munich is the most commonly used because it incorporates every note in the chromatic scale encompassed by the scope of the instrument. The stringing pattern on the fretboard is like the violin family, a fifth apart. The open strings are in the circle of fifths, broken between Eb and Ab and laid flat on the zither, similar to a accordion layout.

 In addition to the basic 29 fretboard, accompaniment and bass strings, zithers may have 2, 3, 5, 7, 9 or 13 contra bass strings - the full harp zither has 42 strings (5 fretboard and 37 open strings). In some early versions, and on perfecta zithers, the contra basses were arranged in the same circle of fifths as the accompaniment and bass strings. Munich tuning was often expressed in treble clef (violin key, or similar to guitar clef) but today is mostly written in bass clef.

 Concert Zither String Diagram
Viennese Tuning

Viennese Tuning was/is prevalent in Austro-Hungarian Empire regions (i.e., Bohemia, Vienna) and stems from the teachings of Carl J. Umlauf in the middle 19th Centry, while Munich Tuning generally speaking, stems from the teachings of Adam Darr and others in Bavaria. Viennese tuning was always written in bass clef.

 Zithers tuned in the Viennese mode have 38 strings - the addition of the first accompaniment string of ab-0 and 8 contra bass strings comprise the total strings. Other differences are the fretboard has a high "g" instead of two "a’s", strings g-5 and f#-10 are an octave higher, and 5 contra basses are inserted in the bass strings: Eb-13, F-15, D-18, E-20 and C#-23. Zitherists working in entertainment settings often utilized the 5 contra basses, but not other features of the Viennese tuning.

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