Sheryl St. Clare
Sheryl St. Clare
@sheryl-st-clare
8 years ago
260 posts

Robert, you are chock-a-block full of creative homemade, money saving ideas. Made any instruments out of reclaimed wood yet? thumbsup

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
8 years ago
255 posts

 50 pound test nylon fishing line makes a very good high D string. I use this size on my banjos. The high E B G D off a nylon guitar set will work. You will need loop end string posts to tie them onto. I think when all is done, you will be disappointed with the sound. I found nylon to be dull and un impressive on a dulcimer... Robert...

joe sanguinette
joe sanguinette
@joe-sanguinette
8 years ago
73 posts

not sure what "standard dulcimer sizes" would be.  you will have to experiment i suppose if you are determined to try nylon or "gut" strings

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
8 years ago
2,028 posts

The use of gut strings comes up at least a couple times a year.  As John Knopf says, I wouldn't use them on a modern built dulcimer.  Gut strings are ony marginally useful on a dulcimer.  They are generally too quiet, as most modern made dulcimers are built too heavy to poduce good sound.  You pretty much need a new nut and bridge as the gut strings are much larger in diameter. 

Paul Certo
Paul Certo
@paul-certo
8 years ago
242 posts

I doubt if nylon or gut strings are readily available for dulcimers, but tenor or baritone ukulele strings might work. This would be a trial and error excersize, because mass is so much different than with steel. As mass of string goes up, the note at the same tension goes lower. Given the limited top movement on a dulcimer, I'm not sure they would produce much volume. Volume with steel strings can often be limited on a dulcimer. That's the nature of a fretboard glued tightly to the full length of the instruments top. Nylon & gut strings do have a softer, more mellow sound. They also have less tension, making it easier to play with tender fingers. I may experiment with a set of ukulele strings and see how it works out. Limited sizes may be a problem, though, making it hard to get the tunings we want.. Violin & guitar family instruments used gut for a long time before steel became available, and friction tuners were fine with them. Because of the gear ratio of geared pegs, they work particularly well with steel strings. Violins with steel strings almost always have some type of fine tuner to allow the small adjustments needed for steel strings. It isn't really the slippage that causes issues, it's the fact that nylon/ gut stretch so much when tuning. The tuner has to move more length of string to adjust the note up or down. Geared tuners for nylon string guitars usually have  very large diameter shafts or fast gear ratios to deal with the stretch factor of non metalic strings. Smaller diameter friction pegs would work better than larger ones when used with steel strings. But then you are back to dealing with the hole sizes the instrument was built with. 

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
8 years ago
342 posts

I wouldn't use nylon or gut strings on a modern dulcimer.  They were made to use steel strings.

If a friction peg slips, the screw on the end needs to be tightened, that's all.

marg
@marg
8 years ago
592 posts

Paul,

(friction pegs work best with nylon or gut strings)

Are these strings easy to find at any guitar music store in standard dulcimer sizes? Would the nylon or gut strings have a more mellow sound?

Thank you for all you info  on the fiction pegs. I too am minimizing the tunings and keeping it tuned to DAA less tension than DAdd. The pegs seem to be holding the tune so far, good since the only work I want to be doing now on this dulcimer is to play it.

 


updated by @marg: 08/13/15 12:15:13PM
Paul Certo
Paul Certo
@paul-certo
8 years ago
242 posts

Are you replacing tuners? The holes that were drilled for the original pegs may not fit all replacement tuners, as shaft size may vary. If possible, measure the original so you can buy some of the same size. If you are changing from tapered violin pegs to another style of tuner or friction pegs, you may have to plug and redrill the holes. Banjo and ukulele friction pegs require straight holes, while violin pegs, Pegheds, and Perfection pegs require tapered holes. Geared tuners use straight holes, but not all shafts are the same size, so you may need to widen, or plug and re drill the holes. You will also need pilot holes for the screws that hold geared pegs in place. Filling tapered holes, or tapering straight holes would be the trickiest jobs of these. Particularly if the holes have worn over time and are no longer round. Some players like the esthetic of traditional violin pegs, some don't care what is there as long as it works. All friction pegs work best with nylon or gut strings, the high tension of steel strings tries to loosen the strings, and makes them tricky to tune. I got very tired of the constant messing with the friction 5th string peg on my first banjo and had it replaced with a geared peg. I have one ukulele with friction pegs, but the nylon strings work a lot better than the steel did on the banjo. I do have to keep a small screwdriver in the case to tighten the pegs, over time banjo & ukulele friction pegs work loose and won't hold tune. At least every 2-4 weeks one or more need to be tightened.  My prefference is geared tuners, I only want to play it, not do surgery. Particularly at a gig.  I don't use multiple tunings on my ukulele, so I minimize the tuning there. My other instruments are all subject to multiple tunings, but they all have steel strings. 

 

marg
@marg
8 years ago
592 posts

 ( my spare parts box.)

Thanks Ken, the trouble with being new to dulcimer besides not knowing much and stumbling with the notes or strums is we don't have any spare parts. I'm not sure I will get 30 years + as some of you but I will build as many years as I can, learn from all of you and begin to collect spare parts. I'm not sure yet I will need any washers, just that I noticed them in the photos of the Grover pegs on line. I hope to find out soon.

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
8 years ago
947 posts

Marg, I was only trying to clarify something. The washers that John talks about go between the wood and the metal parts of the tuner. What I think you are referring to is a small washer that goes between the head of the screw and the top of the button. I think you might have a difficult time finding a washer that small. If you can't find any let me know. I might have some in my spare parts box.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

marg
@marg
8 years ago
592 posts

Ken, I am only going by the photos I see on line, the pegs I have don't seem to have any tiny washers.

    No worries, I'm just waiting for the replacement knobs to come and trying to learn as much as I can while I wait. All the info I have been getting on pins and knobs and the history of the red stain dulcimer is wonderful. My brain is being stretched with this as my fingers are in practice. I feel each discussion in the forums is a chapter in dulcimer history I am learning.

    Thanks so much

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
8 years ago
947 posts

Marg, are you talking about a small washer between the hole in the tuner's button and the screw? It would fit in the small indentation just under the head of the screw?

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
8 years ago
342 posts

There are two flat fiber washers with each peg, which fit between the pegbox and the tuner halves.  These are the friction parts, which will eventually wear out.  No other material will work properly, as far as I know.  The pegs work by squeezing the wood between the parts of the pegs.

marg
@marg
8 years ago
592 posts

(Hondo, made in Korea maybe from the late 70's) 

 Both (Grover Champion Ukelele pegs & Grover  Sta-Tite pegs ) look like they have a little washer in it's parts. Photo of my pegs, I don't seem to have a washer, if it looks like I should have one when my knobs arrive, should I just go to a hardware store and get a rubber one that would fit? Not touching the two remaining pegs, when I went to tune the 3rd peg, that knob cracked. Age has played a number on the plastic buttons. 

You guys have been great solving my puzzle. Just waiting now for the knobs to come to see if that will do it.

 

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updated by @marg: 08/05/15 10:28:21PM
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
8 years ago
947 posts

Those look like Grover Champion Ukelele pegs.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

marg
@marg
8 years ago
592 posts

I have I think the mechanical friction pegs. I am hoping the knobs I have ordered will fit and that is all I need, the pegs seems to be good. If the knobs for some reason don't fit, I will be asking for help again. Fingers cross, still.

Mark Runge
Mark Runge
@mark-runge
8 years ago
7 posts

John covered it all! 



But I will put a plug in for the Wittner geared pegs. They are pricey but well worth it I've found.

For me the look of a traditional friction peg with an 8.5:1 fine tuning gear ratio is wonderful! These are the only pegs I use--besides friction pegs.

The hole does have to be tapered, but once the pegs are in place they are good to go! A plus with these pegs is that they don't actually spin--the shaft inside the tubular housing does, so they can be used in softer wood with no wobbling out of the hole.

I use the violo pegs because the size is right for my dulcimers.

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
8 years ago
947 posts

John covered it well. Often when going from violin pegs to planetary pegs the holes need to be enlarged. That's happens going to Sta-Tites or Grover Champions, both of which are mechanical friction pegs.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
8 years ago
230 posts

I had the Sta Tite metal friction tuners on my McSpadden replaced with the planetary geared tuners. Those are the ones on the currednt McSpadden scroll head type dulcimers. Ken Longfield and Kevin Messinger did an excellent job of installing them. They had to ream the holes a bit at a time. If you are interested in changing tuners and the holes need to be bigger I suggest you contact a luthier to install them unless you have wood working experience. Jim Woods responded to an email I sent him in reference to changing out the tuners. He said it's real easy to split the wood and recommended NOT using a drill. I contacted Kevin and Ken. I'm glad I made that decision.   

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
8 years ago
1,344 posts

John, you covered the topic nicely!  I'd like to add a brief mention about how using a false nut (small piece of wood or other hard material) under the drone strings makes re-tuning a lap dulcimer with zither pins fairly easy. 

marg
@marg
8 years ago
592 posts

Thank You John,  what a great history lesson on all the pegs.

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
8 years ago
342 posts

Hello!  Yes, there are several types of tuners out there, all of which serve to tighten a string to pitch.  Some do it more effectively than others.  The difference is in their price, style, materials used, and appearance.  

You could use screw eyes as they used to put on Tennessee music boxes, or use so-called zither pins which have a fine thread that goes down into solid wood.  These are more difficult to use than the others, and are not suited to constant re-tuning.  Getting them to the exact spot you want is not easy! And zither pins require a separate key or wrench to adjust.

Violin pegs could be used, or Perfection pegs which are actually geared mechanical pegs made to look like wooden pegs.  Both of these require fitting their tapers to reamed holes by a qualified luthier.

Planetary pegs, such as the ones made by Waverly, are large and expensive, but very smooth in operation.  

Guitar machines range from the very cheap, open-geared type to smooth-working, sealed Grover or Gotoh types with beautiful finishes.  

Friction pegs are made for banjos, but work well with dulcimers.  They don't like the heavier-gauge strings, however, and have a hard time holding them up to pitch.  The strength of grip is adjusted by means of a screw in the end of the knob.

You can usually replace one type of tuner with another, depending on how the holes in the pegbox are done. Holes that are too large can be plugged and redrilled, but it's a lot of work.

As far as my Number 1 choice goes, it depends on what dulcimer I'm working on.  Historic reproductions get tuners that are appropriate to their style (usually handcarved wooden pegs). Modern dulcimers can be fitted with just about any of the types. If price (and space) were no object, I'd use the planetary tuners.

marg
@marg
8 years ago
592 posts

Gear tuners, pegs, friction tuners with the screw at the end of the knob - are there other types of tuners?

Is it hard to replace a tuner or can one type be replace with another type?

Do they all hold the tune or is one better than the other? Why is one chosen over an other - style, history, looks, work ability?

Are there pros and cons for each? What would your number 1 choice be?


updated by @marg: 06/08/16 09:24:05PM