How and if to add a 1 1/2 fret

john warren
@john-warren
5 months ago
22 posts

for a fret saw, i find the little xacto saw with a red handle,,sometimes called a razor saw, cut a perfect curf, and they are fairly cheap.

use a small piece of wire and a tuner to locate the exact spot for your fret to have it in proper tune, saw your slot and tap in a piece of fret wire, quite easy.

 

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11 months ago
859 posts

Thanks for posting that Molineaux piece, Rob.  That's superb playing.    I can't count high enough to play anything in 9/8 time!  But those partial frets are surely interesting.

One possibility if you want the option of extra frets but don't always want them on your dulcimer is the flexi-frets that Dwain Wilder at Bear Meadow has developed.  I have a friend here in Cali who has all the extra frets installed as flexi-frets, so he can go from a purely diatonic to a fully chromatic dulcimer or anything in between.  I was skeptical that they would work at all, but they actually do.




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Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

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Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
11 months ago
434 posts

A Miles and Davis?  No, I wouldn't add any frets to them.  I would not change anything on them.  But that's just me.  Here's an interesting take on some 1/2 frets:

John's a great player.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11 months ago
859 posts

George, I write from the perspective of someone who uses a 1+ fret regularly in my own playing. I have dulcimers without it, but I use them mainly for teaching, since beginners get confused when my fretboard does not look like theirs.

If you have vintage dulcimers of any monetary or historic value, I would not add the extra fret.  But feel free to add it to modern dulcimers or those whose values you don't er . . . uh . . . value.

You ask what notes you get. Obviously the answer to that question depends on the tuning. In a DAd tuning, you get the lowered (or minor) third (meaning an F natural) on the bass and melody string and you get the 7th (meaning a C natural) on the middle string.  Just being able to play a 7th chord down low without jumping up to the 6th fret is really nice. And the lowered third of the D chord is also the 7th of the G chord, so you get D7 and G7 very easily.  With that C natural, you can also play a C chord, which is found not only in modern music but also traditional tunes such as Old Joe Clark, Red-Haired Boy, Salt Creek, and more. I often use the 1+ fret on the melody and bass string just to add a little bluesy sumpin in the middle of a short solo, but it also allows you to play the minor pentatonic scale, so you really can play the blues in D without a capo and without retuning. And of course, you get the entire D minor scale as well.

We should really create a discussion in the Extra Frets group about why people like the 1+ fret.




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Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

"A good song makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you think."
-- Pete Seeger
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
11 months ago
146 posts

That's the $100,000 question, George.  Fine dulcimers made by known builders have recognized value in the marketplace, but sometimes they're not set-up the way we would prefer them to be set-up.  So the question becomes "Do I change things and ruin the recognized value (but be able to play them as I wish), or do I leave them as-is, and not want to play them?"  You indeed may want to (or need to) sell them at some future date.

Years ago I found a Warren A. May poplar dulcimer on eBay, selling for an attractive price.  I won the auction, and when the dulcimer arrived, I found that it sounded odd to me at the low end.  The first fret sounded way off, so I considered changing its position. Then I ran into the same quandary that you find yourself in now.  Incidentally, I inadvertently ruined that dulcimer's fine lacquer finish by taking the very cold dulcimer out of the box in a warm room.  The finish crazed instantly!  The good news is that I resold it on eBay (for a higher price!) to a person who didn't mind the crazed finish.

Estes George
@george-desjardins
11 months ago
96 posts

Just a follow up to my 1 1/2 fret question, thanks to all of you for the input.

 I am meeting Miss Bonnie Carol next Wednesday for her to put the fret on , (of course), my Bonnie Carol, may have to see about any other upgrades when I'm there.

 But still need to find someone to add it to a couple others, but therein lies the next question, On dulcimers such as my Bill Davis and Bob Mize, should I not add the extra fret for the historic, and possible future value, even if I have no intention of selling?

robert schuler
@robert-schuler
last year
231 posts

Also. To match your fretwire you can exchange a little used fret like the 13.5 for the 1.5. With care you can make a fret slot with a box knife. Just an idea... Robert...

robert schuler
@robert-schuler
last year
231 posts

Simple way is to CA glue a piece of wire in the location. Find the location by ear or measure it using Stewart Macdonald fret calculator. Doing the job yourself even buying tools will be cheaper than a luthier... Robert.

 

joe sanguinette
@joe-sanguinette
last year
87 posts

'you can contact bonnie who would at least be able to reccomend someone if she don't care to do it

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
last year
1,396 posts

I'm not sure Bonnie's shop is set up for that sort of thing.  Give them a call, though. It can't hurt.  There are other dulcimer builders in the area.

Skip
@skip
last year
198 posts

I agree with John with a follow-on point, it may cost as much to get needed tools and fret wire, if you don't have them, as it would cost to have it done. The notes gained depends on the tuning, they are increased a 1/2 step from the 1 fret (eg.: E>F; B>C).

Strumelia
@strumelia
last year
1,700 posts

Estes George:

So, pay someone to do it!! :)

Yes, definitely!   winky     lol




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Estes George
@george-desjardins
last year
96 posts

So, pay someone to do it!! :)

John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
last year
146 posts

George,

The issues involved are: Can you get the correct size of fret wire?

Do you know the exact position to place the new fret?

Can you accurately cut a new slot there, of the proper width?

Can you hammer it in, trim the ends, and level it to the other frets?

If you can answer "yes" to all of the above, go for it!

Estes George
@george-desjardins
last year
96 posts

Owning a number of dulcimers, I have only one, a June Apple "Cello-Mer", that came with the 1 1/2 fret, and I really like it! So I was curious on opinion of how hard or can a 1 1/2 fret be added to one or two of my others. I do some minor repair and restoration to older vintage dulcimers I find around, but mostly fixing small cracks, broken head stocks etc. but am far from being a luthier. Would adding one be something I can do, how difficult would it be? Or, does anyone know anybody in the Denver, Boulder Colorado area able to do this?

 I am only an hours drive  away from Bonnie Carol and her shop and was considering asking if they could do it?

 Also what is the "note" that the 1 1/2 fret creates, I just love that extra, somewhat haunting, minor tone it gives.

 Thanks all!

 


updated by @george-desjardins: 06/08/16 09:24:05PM