VSL - a hair shorter than 27. I will probablyhave it tune to DAA most of the time but will go to DAd and also or DAg - so far
Thanks ken for all your help. Yes, the knobs worked out fine.
Glad the knobs worked out. Simple, cheap fix. What's the VSL? That will tell you what gauge strings you need for the range you want to tune (centered on D).
The knobs came today and they were an easy fix. I just put the same strings back on that came with it so, I will need to decide what will be the best ones for this dulcimer.
I want to thank all of you for all your help in getting this red stain dulcimer (Hondo, made in Korea for Sears - maybe late 70's/80's) up and running. I have it in DAA tuning and played a simple 'Amazing Grace' for you to hear the sound. I think it sounds like what I would think an old time dulcimers would sounded like.
Marg, keep us updated and let us know how it sounds when you get it fixed up. That red stain is kind of cool.
(replacent knobs (pearlescent plastic) from Stew Mac for 88cents each. )
Thinking all of the others on the site are nicer looking, I'm going with Ken on this. Thinking since he had a dulcimer like mine and had knobs that needed to be replace, I would go with his choice. I only wish one of the music stores I visited today would have had a draw full of old banjo knobs.
Lookig at the knobs on http://www.stewmac.com and they do look right. Ha, I like all but the cheapest one. There is amber ones on the dulcimer now, do I go with that or the ebony?
I see GROVER STA-TITE BANJO PEGS on Elderly site. They look like what I have. I'm going to a music/guitar store tomorrow with the info for both pegs and knobs and will see if they can rig up something if not will have them order one or both of these for the dulcimer. I will also see if they have right-angle guitar pegs and if that will work.
Can't wait for tomorrow now to try and take care of the dulcimer's pegs or knobs/buttons if I can find them.
Thanks everyone, I'll keep you posted
Try your local acoustic music shop. They just might have some on hand; you never know.
I find super cheap finds at both, if you can drill down and see the parts you need, a diamond in the rough, so to speak.
Sorry, I don't have any spares handy. You can also buy just the replacent knobs (pearlescent plastic) from Stew Mac for 88cents each. Here's the link:
Mhttp://www.stewmac.com/Hardware_and_Parts/Tuning_Machines/Banjo/ Marg, those look like mechanical banjo tuners. The bare one is missing it's knob and internal bushings and the cracks you mentioned are probably in the knobs themselves. Stewart-MacDonald Co. (Stew-Mac) has Grover Sta-Tite pegs that I think will work for you. Their cost is $27.65 and here is the URL for you to see:
When I went back - the shop wasn't ready to sell as is, they were going to order the pegs and finished out but a bit more of a price. Well I went back today and they are still going to order the pegs but had not done so yet and the dulcimer was just kinda taking up room, so I was able to get it for the $20. less.
I am pleased with it, the pegs are a problem for me but the rest of the instrument looks like it had never been used. I rub it with the oil I put on my other dulcimer and strings, strung it with just 3 strings till I can figure out the peg problem and tuned it to DAA. I wasn't ready to stretch the strings or other pegs any higher, most everything I play is DAD - occasions turning differently. I played 'Amazing Grace' and it sounded really nice, either the difference was my ear from my go to dulcimer or the different tunning but it sounded like what maybe a mt. dulcimer was ment to sound like. I usually like a more mellow sound but this was more bright with a nice substain. It's smaller than what I am use to so my fingers were over reaching but it will be easier to reach some finger postiions I have trouble with. It is 26.5 from bridge to nut.
OK, now I have it, now what do I do? (Do I try and glue them) or do I try and find just one knob or 1 tension peg or go for a whole new bango set. The ones left on it have hair line crack so they will break soon, probably from age. So, will all banjo pegs fit or would I need to worry about the hole? I am enclosing photos so you can help me with this next step.
Anyone have an extra laying around? Thanks for your help so far and if you don't mine taking me the rest of the way. By the by, I pd. $40 even. I like the idea it was made for Sears, a lifetime ago, I worked there.
Tuner replacement is a pretty easy process, usually. Especially this kind, where you're not dealing with a violin taper in the holes. New tuners are inexpensive and quite simple to install if you're handy with tools. You could go with straight banjo pegs or right-angle guitar tuning pegs.
Older tuner knobs like those were sometimes made from poor grades of bakelite and other early plastics, and often fall apart if stressed. That happened to the on I owned, as well, and I was actually going to mention this to you and suggest searching for replacement knobs. Rob is right. Offer them less than the asking price to take it of their hands. All they can say is no. You can often get replacement knobs from Luthiers Merchantile or Stew Mac or similar places for a couple bucks each.
Tell 'em you'll take it for $20 less than their asking price. Those tuners shouldn't be hard to come by!
Well I didn't get to play the dulcimer or have it follow me home. When I went to the shop, they told me as they were loosening the strings to work on the action, one of the tunners broke. It may take awhile to find one like the others (tension type). So now that I was ready to get it, can't.
No, my first dulcimer I purchased quickly. I was going to take a dulcimer class at the local college and didn't have one.
Asking price is ballpart $50, so no way is it much out of pocket.
I don't play noter but could bring one to try with it and if the action is high, could have it as one for noter playing.
Yes, you are right, over thinking it all
OK, will go play a tune or two and see if it follows me home.
Thank you so much, will keep you posted.
I surfed and saw recent prices from about $50 to about $150. Bottom line is that used dulcimers are worth what someone is willing to pay for them.
I play Noter & Drone and didn't really notice the action being overly high. This was 7 or 8 years ago, when I was out in the Pacific.
As far as other things to check. Unless you've got perfect pitch I would just play the DAd and DAA scales and see how they sound to your ear. The fretboard should be good in that respect, Hondo were good 'true' instruments, not like some of the First Act and other eastern European trash dulcimers that showed up here a decade ago. Play a couple tunes. Do they sound right? No it does not sound like your dulcimer. No two instruments do sound alike. But do the notes in a tune sound 'right'. Do the scales sound true, not sour.
If the price is under $150, I think you're over-thinking the whole 'get a new dulcimer' process. If there are no obvious cracks or major dings, and the scale sounds true, just buy it. Frets can be leveled, actions adjusted, other tweaks made once you've got it home.
Personally I wouldn't worry at this point about fret level, but yes, you use a steel straight edge/rule about 6" long and stand the edge along the frets and see if the straight edge rocks or not. If you sight down the fretboard, dulcimer fretboards are often in a very gently curve with the middle around teh 7th fret being slightly shallower than the ends, but that's OK as long as the notes sound true.
Lots of dulcimers (even expensive ones) get bought on a whim, and shoved in a closet for a decade or more; unfortunately. I've seen it with $50 cardboard dulcimers and several hundred dollar Warren May and Homer Ledford instruments. Many players baby their instruments and so there aren't any 'honorable scars'.
I suspect your unsureness is simply lack of experience. Did you agonize like this over your first dulcimer?
If we are thinking this dulcimer is from the 70s-80s, it couldn't have been played very much. That's 35 + years and there is no unusual wear, hardly any wear at all and no damage that I can see. Hard to believe it coud be that old. Question than, why wasn't it played?
The action does seem high but that can be address. I still need to make sure the frets are level, how? By placing something on top and see if they rock or not? I didn't hear any buzz, so frets should be ok. I didn't fall in love with the sound. Could it be from new strings and they need time to set some or the wrong strings for this instrument or I am just use to my dulcimer?
The price is lower than a few groceries, not sure why I haven't just gotten it and started making it mine. I wasn't looking for a dulcimer and if I would be, it would be something creatative. What I find interesting with this dulcimer is the age and the red stain but not sure of the dulcimer, since I didn't love the sound.
I don't like feeling so unsure, is it because I am still very new and don't know enough? It's great all of you are so helpful, I just wish there was someone here I could take with me to check it out.
I do not know the VSL but could go back to the shop and measure. Mostly I play DAD
Since I will go back to check the VSL, what else should I check. I have an app on my phone, should I check the tunning up the fret board, or just make sure there isn't a buzz?
I'm not sure if I am interested for my self as a loaner or to recomment it to someone looking for one.
The think what I find interesting is the age and possibility from Sears. Hard to beleive but I did work for Sears for a period in the late 60s to early 70s.
To check the sound is it best to play a song or just strum, pluck or slide the strings?
Stain has nothing to do with ply versus 'good quality wood'. Stains were used on the finest Stadivarius violins and the cheapest cigarbox instruments. It's a way to color wood that allows the grain to show through, unlike paint. Stain does not imply "lower end" or less quality. Neither does ply versus 'good quality wood' wood. Frankly, ordinary ply from 30-50 years ago is better quality than most of the high end ply we see today. And ply is not necessarily lower quality. McSpadden uses ply. So does Folkcraft. So do many of the custom builders you read about here.
We can't tell you what string gauges are appropriate until you tell us two things: The VSL and the tuning(s) you intend to use.
Thanks to all, one more question - since it has a stain it's probably ply and not good quility wood. So, it would most likly be the lower end of the Korean Hondos - would this mean it's one of the ones that maybe is not be as good as some others? Is there a string size that would be better than others - 12's vs 10's?
Yep. Another Korean Hondo comes to light. Not a bad dulcimer at all. I had one as a loaner dulcimer fo a couple years, then sold it. Not top of the line, but not bad. The tension on those tuners is adjusted by the little screw in the end of the knob. I think Rob's right about the hole shapes. That's definately NOT the case for it!
I agree with Rob.
"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."
Looks like a Hondo, made in Korea maybe from the late 70's, 80's. Some of them sounded really good; some didn't. I won't say 100% (it's early and I haven't done enough research to be positive) but I believe the "clover" soundholes were made for Sears and heart soundholes for everyone else.
I went back to get some photos. I think the dulcimer maybe a factory build from japan or china. The shop had put on new strings and it had tension gears for tunners, first time I tried tuning with those. I didn't think it played well, but did get a photo to post. The case holds the dulcimer but is not the case for it. It is older and fits very tight.
Thanks, still a guess but just curious.
You might have a gem. Does it play well, does it sound good enough to you. Red stain is standard violin varnish in most cases. Not a bad thing. Light weight better than heavy, because light instruments resonate better. . Robert.
Haven't a clue. Red stain, or paint? I would assume that if the case matched the shapes (especially if it closely matches the shape) that it was handmade. Therer are thousnads of builder out there who made one or two or a dozen dulcimers but no more. We really need a picture or six here -- too many questions that pictures will answer. waste of time to type Qs that pix will answer.
Want to guess on what type of dulcimer could be an old red stain dulcimer, has a hard case that matches the shape of the dulcimer. Looks cheap since it has the red stain and felt light. I didn't see any paper on the inside. Sorry no image at this point. More curious than anything but since the case match the shape, didn't think it was hand made. Seem thiner/smaller than most dulcimers. Anyone know of what type of dulcimers were made and stained red with hard case that matched the shape.