Forum Activity for @Ken Longfield

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
03/20/17 09:29:21PM
491 posts

How does humidity affect a mahogany dulcimer?


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

Humidity swells wood. A well constructed dulcimer should not suffer from humidity. If you are going to play outside in high humidity for 14 or 15 hours a day, you might have a problem. If you play mostly inside in a humidity controlled environment, you should have few, if any, problems. My philosophy is that if you are comfortable, your instrument will be comfortable.

I wouldn't over matter much about this.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."


updated by @Ken Longfield: 03/21/17 04:49:14PM
Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
03/18/17 05:28:34PM
491 posts

Fret Material


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

Frets wear due to the pressure of the strings on them. Do you press really hard on the strings? If so, you might notices some grooves in the fret board as well. Another factor is the amount of playing time. Do you play 23 hours a day, seven days a week? I have not used stainless steel frets, but I understand that they hold up to even the toughest playing. I'm not familiar with the Evo fret material. I have no experience with it. If you can't adjust your playing pressure, you may need to try the harder frets.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
03/14/17 04:34:06PM
491 posts

Blizzard in Northeast/March 14th 2017


Off Topic discussions

Looks pretty, Lisa. When I got my snowblower out to do the driveway, the snow was over the top of the auger housing, I guess about 14 or 15 inches. Stopped snowing for a while, but it is snowing again.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."


updated by @Ken Longfield: 03/14/17 08:51:06PM
Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
03/14/17 11:41:43AM
491 posts

What are you reading right now?


Off Topic discussions

Currently reading Ghost Ship by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown. I finished both the Jefferson book and the latest issue of Fretboard Journal.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."


updated by @Ken Longfield: 03/14/17 04:35:50PM
Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
03/13/17 09:57:47PM
491 posts

Blizzard in Northeast/March 14th 2017


Off Topic discussions

Sounds like a good plan even if the electricity stays on.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
03/12/17 11:23:28PM
491 posts

Stand-Up Stands


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

That's a great idea, Ken. My son left a keyboard stand in the attic when he moved out, but my concern has been that it isn't that sturdy when strumming. I'll have to dig it out and give it a try. The tray table looks to be more stable. If mother nature has its way, I may have plenty of time to do that on Tuesday after shoveling snow.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
03/10/17 04:09:15PM
491 posts

A New "Old" Project


Building dulcimers

Yes, it does look like a Black Mountain kit. Those sound holes are bell shaped, sort of. It will take a lot of sanding to clean it up. I may end up painting it. Who knows? This will be a challenge.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
03/10/17 03:45:19PM
491 posts

A New "Old" Project


Building dulcimers

Back maybe 20 to 25 years ago, my sister was wandering through a yard sale in Silver Spring, MD. She came across a partially assembled mountain dulcimer in a plastic bag. I think she told me she paid $2 for it. Could have been less, I don't remember, but certainly no more than that. The back was glued to the sides, the top had the fretboard glued to it, but they were not glued together. The end block and peg head were glued to the  back and sides. There were problems with everything lining up correctly. I took it apart sometime in the past, but life became too busy for me to work on. It has been sitting on a shelf under one of my workbenches for all these years. It is a kit that someone started and then ran in to problems with the assembly. I decided to get it out from under the bench and put it back together. My first job is to clean all the pieces. The sides need to be bent back to shape. The top was broken apart and glued back together (before I received it). That repair does not look too bad, but I will put a few small cleats along the crack to make sure it does not separate again. Here are two photos. One is of the pieces and the other one is a close up of the repaired crack.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

 


IMG_1850.jpg IMG_1850.jpg - 1.9MB
Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
03/07/17 08:55:31PM
491 posts

PA German Zitter


Building dulcimers

Yes, those are home made strings. 0.022 for the Ds and 0.016 for the As. Lisa, I'm tweaking the instrument at the moment and hope to make a video soon. I was not happy with the first video; not enough volume.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
03/07/17 10:29:15AM
491 posts

PA German Zitter


Building dulcimers

The walnut stain is easy to make. Take walnuts in the hulls and put them in a bucket. Heat water bringing it to a boil and then pour the water over the walnuts. Cover the walnuts with water. Let this stand for six to eight weeks. Pour the walnut/water mix into another bucket covered with cheese cloth to strain out the hulls, nuts, etc. If you notice a great amount of solids still in the mix you can strain it again. I used some applesauce jars to store the stain pouring it from the bucket into the jars. This is a water-based stain, so it will raise the grain. Sanding will be needed between each coat of stain. You control the color by the number of coats of stain you apply. I did not use a sanding sealer given the water-based stain. I am fortunate to have a large supply of walnuts from the tree behind our house.

The tuning head is glued to the back which spans the entire length of the instrument from head to end block. The top also covers the top of the head and end block. The sides are fit between the head and tail block.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
03/06/17 07:00:43PM
491 posts

PA German Zitter


Building dulcimers

Well, I'm nearing completion, so it is time to share the latest photos. I'll be tweaking this for a few more days. I made some compromises. I did not like the nail nut and bridge, so I made them out of oak. The dimensions are correct as are the sound holes. I changed to zither tuning pins rather than harpsichord pin and screws. I have it strung with three 0.016 strings (tuned to A) and two 0.20 strings (solid, tuned to D). As you would expect it is not very loud. I tried making a video, but I am not happy with. I'll try again to see if I can get some better sound. You will notice that the poplar is considerable darker from my homemade walnut stain. Here a few photos (not very good as the lighting was not very good0. Hope to take better ones if I get some sun in the next few days.


IMG_1844.jpg IMG_1844.jpg - 639KB
Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
03/06/17 05:30:06PM
491 posts

Recommendations for new strings and new a bridge?


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

I agree with Dusty. Check the string calculator. It tends to give a "lighter" gauge string setting so you can always go up, e.g., if it says 0.010 you can use an 0.011 or 0.012. For a 27 VSL I like .011, .013, and .024. As for the bridge material, what is the nut made of? Most builders use the same material for the nut and the bridge. Just match it.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/26/17 03:48:06PM
491 posts

Which is middle C for Dulcimer tuning - C3 or C4


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

On a standard 88 key piano, middle C is C4. Middle C has a frequency of 261.63 Hz. Yamaha uses C3 because that corresponds to MIDI note 60.When the note is pressed, you are actually playing a frequency of 261.63 Hz. If you set your tuner to A=440 Hz. As Dusty says, the D is below middle C, A below middle C, and d above middle C if you tune DAd.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/25/17 12:08:04PM
491 posts

PA German Zitter


Building dulcimers

Yesterday I tried grinding down the heads of some small nails to see if I could come close to recreating the nails in the original instrument. It's not exact but close. I think I will try them as string anchors. If they don't hold well, I'll revert to the screws. Also, after making 15 staple style frets, I found that they did not fit very well. Just a little short of the half inch I was trying for. Monday or Tuesday I'll be making more frets. Project is on hold for this weekend as two grandsons are here visiting along with their parents.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/24/17 08:28:45AM
491 posts

PA German Zitter


Building dulcimers

Bob, I think the original was made of poplar. You are correct that the one I am making is poplar. You will not recognize it when I post new photos. It is a deep, rich brown now that I have stained it with homemade walnut stain. It has a shellac finish. I hope to get the staple frets in soon. I have decided to use blued zither pins rather than wood screws for tuning pins. I looked for harpsichord pins but found them to be too expensive. Another change will be small screws as pin anchors rather than the type of nails on the original.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/21/17 08:26:38PM
491 posts

Single or Double Melody Strings?


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

Unless I'm doing a reproduction of an older dulcimer, I make them four string. My personal preference for playing is 3 string. It's easier to do hammer ons and pull offs on a single string.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/20/17 07:29:29PM
491 posts

PA German Zitter


Building dulcimers

LOL, Bert. Me, too!

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/20/17 06:14:44PM
491 posts

PA German Zitter


Building dulcimers

Here are some photos of PA German zitter reproduction I'm making. There is one photo of the original zitter which is in the collection of the Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum. When L. Allen Smith compiled his A Catalogue of Pre-Revival Appalachian Dulcimers he examined three zitters (which he called scheithots) at the museum. In the summer of 2015 I asked the curator if I could see these instruments as they are not on display. She told me I could not only see them, but I could photograph them, measure them, trace them, and reproduce them. Upon arriving at the museum she informed me that they had a fourth instrument in collection which is the one I am copying. The zitter will be stained with homemade walnut stain. It will have wire frets under two strings, just intonation.


DSCN1919.jpg DSCN1919.jpg - 454KB

updated by @Ken Longfield: 02/20/17 08:39:01PM
Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/20/17 04:32:38PM
491 posts

What Are You Working On?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Ken, I sent you an email at mindspring. I hope that is still your email address. If not, send me a private message.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."


updated by @Ken Longfield: 02/20/17 04:33:36PM
Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/20/17 04:27:06PM
491 posts

Starting a new dulcimer


Building dulcimers

Looks good, Bob. I have cuts all over my hands from work I did this weekend. I'll try to take a few photos tonight and post them - of the work, not the cuts.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a new song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/19/17 06:15:12PM
491 posts

What Are You Working On?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Thanks, Ken! I'll look at some of those and listen to them. After asking the question I found Pennsylvania Songs and Legends in a used bookstore. It has a whole section of Pennsylvania German tunes/songs.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/19/17 06:11:46PM
491 posts

Martin-era Sigma DM3-Y Guitar. $225 plus shipping


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

Nice guitar and a good price James. I don't need anymore guitars though, since I'll have four when I finish the two on the workbench.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/18/17 07:36:34PM
491 posts

What Are You Working On?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Well, I spent a good part of today working on my latest PA German zitter. The box is together and once I take the clamps off, I'll post a picture. Next step is touching up the sound holes and then sanding in preparation for staining and sanding. Does anyone have a good resource for Pennsylvania German songs and hymns?

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

 

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/18/17 07:32:07PM
491 posts

What are you reading right now?


Off Topic discussions

I'm still reading Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power. I just received the latest issue of The Fretboard Journal, so I'm reading that as well.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/12/17 01:39:09PM
491 posts

Recording and Amplifying your mountain dulcimer ?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

That's a good point, Lisa, and something we all need to be reminded of from time-to-time.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/11/17 11:52:20PM
491 posts

Recording and Amplifying your mountain dulcimer ?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Here's Noah's link for anyone having trouble connecting to Sweetwater from his post: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/UMC22

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/11/17 12:42:05PM
491 posts

Lessons


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

Check out Dulcimer School. https://dulcimerschool.com I have not used it, but I have heard good things about it. Also, folks like Bing Futch give lessons over Skype or FaceTime.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."


updated by @Ken Longfield: 02/11/17 12:44:08PM
Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/10/17 10:32:17PM
491 posts

New Tax Return Project!


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

Very nice looking dulcimer. You don't see many with staple frets under all the strings. It's hard to tell from the photos, but the wood may be mahogany. There's no label inside? Do you know what kind of tuners it had on it originally?

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/10/17 08:16:23PM
491 posts

Recording and Amplifying your mountain dulcimer ?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I haven't recorded any videos for sharing, but I have used my MacBook to record some for my own use. When I do that I use in the built in microphone on the computer. Two of my MDs have built in pickups and need no external microphone. With our dulcimer group we use Blue Microphones enCore 100s. We run those through a portable Custom PA system. My personal system is a Fishman Loudbox Mini. Most of the time I run dulcimers direct through the instrument channel. I have a Sennheiser 835e microphone for vocals and/or miking another instrument.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
@Ken Longfield
02/02/17 05:24:12PM
491 posts

What are you reading right now?


Off Topic discussions

I'm now reading Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power by John Meacham. Also reading the latest issue of Martin - The Journal of Acoustic Guitars.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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