Forum Activity for @ken-hulme

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/11/22 07:37:03AM
1,883 posts

Mystery Gerald Titus dulcimer 1967, odd fine-tuners


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

A number of builders use(d) bead type fine tuners, but I've never seen them so tall!  I would think they would get in the way of your strumming hand!

Sorry, I've never heard of builder Titus either.  Others to query would be Robert Force and Neal Hellman, both of The Pacific Rim Project days.  Bonnie Carol is another of that crew, and a builder herself, who may also shed some light.

Like Lisa, I wonder at that slot... thinking that the bridge has been moved forward whether due to a miscalculation of the correct location (and the mis-cut slot never filled in) or something else.  You might want to query Joanna about that...

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/09/22 07:41:40PM
1,883 posts

Bocote Wood - the 'eyes' have it.


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

 Nice work!  The bocote is gorgeous.  I try never to use a planer on figured wood -- a surface sander is much safer!

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/29/21 09:56:16PM
1,883 posts

Fretboard widths and wood chocies


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

The 1/8" difference in width means the melody course and the bass course are that much farther apart.  Most Chord-Melody players don't have an issue with fretboard width affecting chording ability, although those with "chubby" fingers find the wider board more useable.  C-M players do have issues with longer VSLs (28" to 30" making it harder to fret some  chords.  Smaller-handed Chord-Melody players seem to prefer shorter VSLs (25-26")

There are many, many factors of dulcimer construction which effect the tonal quality of an dulcimer.  Wood species is pretty far down the list.  My advice, as a player for many years is to ignore wood species except for the æsthetic effect.  A cherry carcass with a butternut top will make a visually striking instrument, especially as the cherry darkens and ages over time.  I think you would be very happy with that wood combination.   Several of my dulcimers have butternut tops/backs, and I love the grain structure and patterns which the wood gives..


updated by @ken-hulme: 12/30/21 06:54:51AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/23/21 04:50:50PM
1,883 posts

Tips on shipping dulcimers


FOR SALE:instruments/music items/CDs/Wanted to Buy...

Sorry to hear that Dave.   I use that super hard aterproof cardboard  "Sono Tube" you find at Home Despot and Lowest; which is used as a form to cast concrete piers and posts.  Comes in a variety of diameters.  I roll the dulcimer in bubble wrap until it's a snug fit in the tube, saw the tube off a couple inches long than the dulcimer, and make 1/2" plywood ends which I tape in place with LOTS of duct tape.  I also use it when travelling, as a check baggage dulcimer box, as you can see in the photo attached.


Sonotube case.JPG Sonotube case.JPG - 254KB
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/21/21 11:09:29AM
1,883 posts

Wooden Drums


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

I've been a table-thumper, thigh-slapper, doumbek player and Scottish Bass drummer.  But I was challenged by my friends of the local band Pine Island Sound to come up with something more suitable to play along with them.  So I created my first cajon from dulcimer and Anglo-Saxon lyre construction scrap.  I didn't want a "sit on" cajon, but something I could hold on my lap, or in my arms like an autoharp or a musical washboard.  I also didn't want a deep bass sound or high treble sound.    So here's what I came up with:

10" x 18" x 2-1/4".  Two tones from two different wood species and thicknesses on the two faces.  The one-piece side is a 3/16" slice of Oregon Myrtle leftover from a lyre project.  The divided side is 1/8" Sitka spruce salvaged from an acoustic piano soundboard by some guys I know who are doing that.  One of the pieces already had a hole in it.  As internal and external joint braces I added 1/8" x 2'' strips of Ash leftover from an archer's bow build I did a couple years back.  The sides are maple piano frame salvage.  


Cajon1.JPG Cajon1.JPG - 81KB

updated by @ken-hulme: 12/21/21 04:13:20PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/18/21 07:37:16PM
1,883 posts

Help with identifying a Schnaufer tune


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

There are phrases from at least four Irish tunes which I know that are in there!

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/16/21 09:51:12AM
1,883 posts

Tom Yocky Jr.


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

For the ultimate in pure acoustic volume, you might consider having someone build you a Tennessee Music Box with modern full-width frets rather than the traditional half-width frets.  My friend John Knopf just listed one of his fabulous TMBs here the other day, but it only has the traditional frets so you couldn't play Chord-Melody style.   I have seen Big Box dulcimers with rounded ends (and different soundholes), so a custom Box would not have to be rectangular...

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/15/21 06:39:51PM
1,883 posts

Tom Yocky Jr.


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Tom's unique designs have been around for many years.  I understand that he is only making a few dulcimers these days, and not taking any special orders.  He makes a few and if you like one you can buy it...

Yocky's are not something that appeal to me, but I have heard them being played, and they do have more "California" sound than "Kentucky".  If you can find one, I'm sure you would appreciate it.   Personally I'm partial to the 'high silvery' sound of the traditional "Kentucky" instruments.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/10/21 03:00:27PM
1,883 posts

Builder Mack Burton


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Aspen is 'waaay too soft for a dulcimer; nearly as soft as Balsa!   I made a blanket chest from aspen once -- worst wood choice I ever made!  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/10/21 07:04:25AM
1,883 posts

Builder Mack Burton


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Notyhing wrong with cottonwood as a dulcimer wood.  Poplar (particularly Yellow Poplar) in particular was very popular among the traditional dulcemore builders.  Light in weight, works easily, can have great grain structure or poor grain can be painted/stained over... 

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/09/21 07:09:08AM
1,883 posts

Builder Mack Burton


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

If the instrument seems very muted to you, you could -- with some careful and judicious work with a fine toothed jewelers saw -- open up those holes.

Now that you've really got DAd -- Dulcimer Acquisition disease -- when you're ready, we can talk you through making your own dulcimer similar to that teardrop -- from less than $100 worth of materials and simple hand tools.  I've attached a picture of a simple conversion one of my students made using the fretboard from the cardboard dulcimer he started with...


Body for CB Dulcimer.JPG Body for CB Dulcimer.JPG - 53KB

updated by @ken-hulme: 12/09/21 07:16:05AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/08/21 06:55:56AM
1,883 posts

Builder Mack Burton


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Nope.  Never heard of him.  Looks like a simple kit build.  Needs more sound hole area to get the best sound from it -- there are complex formulas to calculate the optimum area, but it's roughly 4-5 square inches for most dulcimers... 

Close up photos of construction details and scroll head would be nice.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/06/21 10:47:24AM
1,883 posts

Dulcimer String Anchor Pins


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Sounds like you're trying to tune UP to the "high" Gdd.  Optimum string for the G, based on 24" VSL would be a 16 or 18 plain, not wound as they can be hard to find. For the high ds you'll want an 11 or 12 gauge.


updated by @ken-hulme: 12/06/21 10:49:57AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/06/21 08:08:59AM
1,883 posts

Dulcimer String Anchor Pins


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

As Dusty says, the string gauges you are using for the tuning you want may be the issue. 

First the VSL -- What is the distance betwen the nut and bridge (Dusty calls it the "scale length).  This is one of two pieces of information you need to have in order to get the right strings for a given tuning.

Second, the Tuning...  which GDD are you trying to tune to?   There are two common tunings which can be called GDD -- one higher in pitch than the conventional DAA, and one lower in pitch.

Is your bass string G three notes higher in pitch than the bass string D of a 'regular' dulcimer tuned DAA?   
Are the Ds in your GDD tuning the same pitch as the bass string D of a 'regular' dulcimer tuned DAA;  or are they an octave higher like the d in DAd tuning?   

In either case you probably cannot achieve a GDD tuning using "regular" dulcimer strings without either breaking strings or having them be uselessly floppy...

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/01/21 06:57:48AM
1,883 posts

Fellenbaum dulcimers


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

The woods the instrument are made from won't make any discernable difference in the pitch of the sound.  The overall body dimensions (internal cubic inches) do.  How big is the body compared to your other "low tone" instruments?  

I haven't heard of Fellenbaum dulcimers ina quite some time.  My memory of them is that he builds a fairly deep/wide dulcimer for a 26-27" VSL.


updated by @ken-hulme: 12/01/21 07:01:45AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/16/21 06:56:28AM
1,883 posts

Painful thumb


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Glad to hear things are working out LancashireLass!

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/14/21 04:07:35PM
1,883 posts

Terry Hennessy


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Another one gone.... but not forgotten.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/04/21 07:23:58AM
1,883 posts

Painful thumb


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

To lower the action is simple.  You'll need a hard flat surface and a piece of approx. 100 grit sandpaper,  You will also need a 1p and 10p coin.  I checked the measurements of UK coins and those two will work best.  The 1£ coin is 2.8mm -- 'way too thick!  The 1p coin is 1.5mm thick and the10p coin is1.85mm.  Those are much closer to the thicknesses of a US dime and nickel.

Here's what you do:  
1.  Set the 1p coin next to the first fret.  See the gap between the strings and the coin.
2.  Loosen (but don't remove) the strings and slide the Nut out of it's slot.  It may be slightly stuck and need a sideways tap to get it moving.
3.  Put the sandpaper on your hard surface and sand the bottom of the Nut about 10-15 strokes.
4.  Put the nut back in place and tighten the strings (tight but not up to tune).  Check the gap between the coin and the strings.
5.  Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 until each string just touches the coin.

Once that is accomplished, it's time to move down to the 7th fret.  Balance the 10p coin and see the gap between coin and strings.   Follow Steps 2, 3, 4 and 5 above, checking the gap each time between the balanced 10p coin and the strings. 

Finally bring the strings back up to tension and play!

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/03/21 07:01:46AM
1,883 posts

Painful thumb


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

At the 7th fret (not the 6+ fret if you have it) rest a pound coin on top of the frets under the strings.  The strings should not be any higher than the top of the coin.   Here in the States we use a nickel coin, and a dime setting next to the first fret as gauges for decent string height.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/02/21 07:01:05AM
1,883 posts

Painful thumb


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions


Thumbs are all very nice and natural soft sounding and all that.  But.  If you insist on rubbing it on those metal strings, it's going to hurt!sigh

Yes it will take some time to develop a callus.  You may find that a coating of New Skin or Liquid Bandage or a similar product will protect the area.  A dab of Rubber Cement or CA glue (superglue) will also work. 

The simplest solution, IMHO is to use a pick rather than bare thumb; or in addition to the bare thumb while your callus develops. 

If the clicking of a plastic or wooden pick bothers you, look in acoustic music shops or on line for the thick felt or leather pick often used by ukulele players,  A heavy felt pick sounds almost as good as a bare thumb, without the pain...  Leather picks can be easily made from thick belts found at charity shops.


updated by @ken-hulme: 11/02/21 07:07:19AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/01/21 07:30:44AM
1,883 posts

Sam Rizzetta Has Passed


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I just heard that Hammered Dulcimer guru Sam Rizzetta passed away on Tuesday, October 26.  No other details at this time...

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/30/21 10:24:21AM
1,883 posts

New poplar Tennessee music box


FOR SALE:instruments/music items/CDs/Wanted to Buy...

Beautiful work, John, as always.  Folks should notice that the tuners are on the rear end of the instrument, not the front end.  This is part of the definition of a TMB.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/27/21 06:21:00PM
1,883 posts

tiple


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

Very interesting Jim.  Seldom see a tiple, but I love the mandolin-uke sound they deliver.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/22/21 12:36:55PM
1,883 posts

Jaromin dulcimer kit from Annalisa's Crafts


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Nice.  A laser-cut Baltic Birch version of a cardboard dulcimer. It's about time!   I think your stained body and blond top look nice together, and I applaud your substitution of string pins for screws.   Screws have been known to cut/break strings.   Since the tuners are on "backward" you may experience some "not staying in tune" as the tuners loosen up from use.   The gear side of tuners should face the body, so string tension pulls the worm into the gear, not the way you have them...

My minor objection is calling the fretboard a "neck".    Necks extend significantly beyond the body, fretboards do not.  The dulcimer has a fretboard not a neck.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/18/21 08:35:53AM
1,883 posts

Song(s) for retirement


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

You didn't mention what it is you/he do for a living -- there are LOTS of "work songs" in the folk canon.    If nothing else, you could play him the old Austro-German cavalryman's lament Morgenrot which should be simple to learn.

Morgenrot, (Wilhelm Hauff, Friedrich Silcher) 1824 soldiers songs - YouTube

There is nothing wrong with Auld Lang Syne .  There are actually 3 similar-but-different tunes associated with the song.  I often play two of them together (noter & drone of course) to make a sort of "verse and chorus".  


updated by @ken-hulme: 10/18/21 08:48:58AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/07/21 10:29:33PM
1,883 posts

Has anyone Heard of the Andrew Instrument Company. USA


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

As a writer my manuscripts are often page numbered "X of Y" because the software does the updating of both numbers automatically as I type. 

However I've never seen or heard of a builder numbering instruments "X of Y".  That implies that he/she was only ever going to build Y number of instruments either in total or of a particular model.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/07/21 05:02:26PM
1,883 posts

Folkcraft kits


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

I agree with Dusty -- position dots are not necessary on the dulcimer because the wide and narrow fret intervals of the diatonic fret layout are their own indicators...

Each builder has his/her own finish preference -- some like rub-on or brush-on urethane, others have a spray booth for varnish, lacquer or urethane.  Many of us prefer the more satin look of an oil finish --  Tung oil, True Oil, and boiled Linseed Oil are favorites. 

Frankly a "machine made" fretboard is as accurate as it gets for fret placement. 

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/05/21 06:55:41AM
1,883 posts

Healthy Living- healthy eating, exercise, weight loss, veggie gardening, etc.


OFF TOPIC discussions

I walked 2 miles yesterday in a local park, with "some discomfort",  as I'm experiencing a heel spur.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/01/21 07:22:41AM
1,883 posts

Death of John Shaw, UK mountain dulcimer giant


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

John Rawlinson -- your link to John's obit does not work...  But this one does:
John Shaw obituary | Folk music | The Guardian


updated by @ken-hulme: 10/01/21 07:24:56AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
09/29/21 07:36:39AM
1,883 posts

String Sources, gauges, types


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

johnpat -- here's another mental note for you -- never tune a string that isn't 'singing'.   Grab the tuner knob, strongly pluck the string you want to tune -- a quarter turn only.  LISTEN  If the sound doesn't change, Stop!  You've got the wrong tuner.  Try again.  Lots of people break strings because they just keep turning the knob even though the sound doesn't change, and Snap!

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
09/28/21 07:41:23AM
1,883 posts

Warren May Mahogany Dulcimer need home


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

You're right that Warren probably built that to be played in DAA or other 1-5-5 tunings.  But not because it's a "Kentucky" dulcimer.  Built in 1990, with a true diatonic fretboard (no 6+ fret), Warren probably set it up to be played in traditional Noter & Drone or Fingerdance style, not the modern Chord-Melody style. The label inside may given you some insight -- it may have been custom built for someone.  

Can't help with the value though... others who know Warren better will help I'm sure.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
09/28/21 07:32:21AM
1,883 posts

String Sources, gauges, types


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

JohnPat -- Strings are strings are strings.  The only things that matter are the gauge and the end type(ball or loop). 

I agree with John Knopf -- go to www.juststrings.com  They have single dulcimer string for about $1, string sets for $3-4, or you can buy a dozen strings of a given gauge in the gauges you need (which is what I do).  Their JustStrings Bulk Loop End strings are $4 a dozen.  That way you'll have strings to last for quite awhile.

What's the VSL and the tuning on your 5-string?  That .009 string you list for the light side of the doubled bass course seems extremely light to me.  If you're tuned Dd A dd then you don't need a .009 for the d on the bass course, just another .011 like the melody course ds...

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
09/23/21 07:02:44AM
1,883 posts

FolkRoots Information


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Like Dusty, I'm pretty sure that's a "real" FolkRoots Capritaurus, not a re-born Folkcraft.  Howard is easy to chat with...

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
09/13/21 10:38:07PM
1,883 posts

Fret Markers?


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Folks use bits of Avery labels for temporary fret markers.  There is no standard for marker positions, but as @tukanu says, markers at frets 3, 7 and 10 are common.  Why?  Fret 3 is the start of the Ionian modal scale,  Fret 7 is the end of the Mixolydian modal scale (which starts on the open fret).  Fret 10 is the end of the Ionian modal scale.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
09/02/21 04:34:40PM
1,883 posts

Varying VSL


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Lots of different VLS, Don -- from 18" to 28".  Play one, put it down, pick up another.  Only takes a minute or so to adjust.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
09/01/21 07:08:07AM
1,883 posts

Healthy Living- healthy eating, exercise, weight loss, veggie gardening, etc.


OFF TOPIC discussions

LOVE Green Salsa and Enchilada Sauces.  Nice to grow your own! 

We've finished Mango season on our tree. 

Have been "foraging" at a large local park/arboreteum this spring and summer when I go with a friend to do t'ai-chi, also around the neighborhood.  Malay Apples and Rose Apples from the park, also now the Chocolate Sapote trees are coming into fruit, and I picked enough wild coffee that is drying that I'll be able to grind a few cups worth after roasting.  Plenty of Starfruit around the neighborhood, plus wild lemon and grapefruit.  .  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
08/23/21 07:03:57AM
1,883 posts

Wanted: Vintage McSpadden Dulcimer


FOR SALE:instruments/music items/CDs/Wanted to Buy...

Christoffer, I'll look around for you.  Cheryl has a good point -- be sure to regularly check your Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for possible Euro-local dulcimers.  Now that Robin Clark in Wales has closed his business, I only know of two dulcimer builders in Europe -- one in Germany, the other in Italy.  As you say, any dulcimer coming from the States is going to have a heavy tax toll.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
08/22/21 10:10:47PM
1,883 posts

Locating a Bridge on a new dulcimer


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

If you know what the VSL is supposed to be (to the nearest 1/10" or .5mm) set the bridge there to start.  If you don't know what the VSL is supposed to be, then yes, set the bridge at 2x the nut to 7th fret (not 6+ fret) distance to start.   

Use your electronic tuner to test the accuracy of the notes on the melody string side as Skip suggests.  Leaving the melody string side exactly where it's supposed to be (make a tiny mark on the fretboard) then check the accuracy of the bass string side of things.

1