Jaromin dulcimer kit from Annalisa's Crafts
Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions
Would love a picture or three for my files, Wally. Thanx in advance.
Would love a picture or three for my files, Wally. Thanx in advance.
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.
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".
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.
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.
I walked 2 miles yesterday in a local park, with "some discomfort", as I'm experiencing a heel spur.
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!
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.
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...
Like Dusty, I'm pretty sure that's a "real" FolkRoots Capritaurus, not a re-born Folkcraft. Howard is easy to chat with...
Folks use bits of Avery labels for temporary fret markers. There is no standard for marker positions, but as 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.
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. .
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.
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.
It's a Possum Board for your dulcimer only if it is a separate piece upon which the dulcimer sits upon.
Resonators on musical instruments are on or part of the top... the round metal disk on the face of a resonator guitar for example.
What you have is called a double back. The double back is just one element of a complete Galax dulcimer design. Galax (pronounced gay-lax) is the name of the town in Virginia where the design originated.
The function of a double back is to allow the inner back to vibrate freely, which produces significantly more sound volume -- a sort of non-electronic speaker as it were...
Welcome to FOTMD, slssls. Sorry to say I've not heard of Bill Todd as a builder, either. Nice looking modern dulcimer though. You may want to check out the booklet I wrote for beginners a few years back, called I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What? It's an illustrated glossary of dulcimer terms, so we all speak the same jargon, plus answers to many beginner questions about tuning, playing, care and feeding of your new/old acquisition. You can find it here for download:
I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What? (Article) - Forums | fotmd.com
If anyone has ever considered getting a traditional dulcemore for Noter&Drone or Fingerdance style playing, this instrument is the deal of a lifetime! It doesn't get much more traditional than this.
Bobby is one of the finest traditional builders today and his instruments are outstanding in sound and wood quality (I already own two of Bobby's other models of dulcemore),
Ah -- you're right, John.... dang these Senior Moments anyway!
The Dulcimer-cello is a product of the other Dulcimer Ken -- Ken Bloom. Beautiful instruments they are too...
Tod -- your Flat Creek link led me to a McAfee Security Alert Page!! Best to remove it before someone gets infected...
The Flat Creek Dulcimer shop is all over a bunch of business pages but I can't find a website for the company... I've not heard of Flat Creek, but then I'm not any where near the Ozarks.
Lisa Strumelia has a Noter & Drone Blog, and I wrote a booklet years ago called Get Noterized, both of which are accessible from here at FOTMD. Many of us who primarily play N&D do play by ear, but we also simply use just the melody line from other dulcimer tabs. There are other sources for hard-core N&D players as well. It all depends on the kind of music you're interested in.
BTW the more correct designation for your tuning is DdAdd. The D and the A are in the same octave, but the d's are an octave higher than D. The octave setup Dd for a 5 string dulcimer is intended to give an added richness to the sound compared to the older DD couplet.
Why do they have a hole in the tuning head? Why only 3 strings? Because that is New Harmony owner Rick Goodin's design.
He does not build custom dulcimers to your specifications -- he builds dulcimers to his specifications, and you can choose to buy one or not. He seems to have plenty of buyers waiting for his next creation.
I just now went to New Harmony's website, and every dulcimer there has the VSL listed.
He actually only has 3 instruments available at this time -- all the other instruments shown are sold. He posts sold dulcimers to give you some idea of what to expect from the combination of design and wood choices he chooses to make.
"Dulce melos" is French with Greek/Latin roots, meaning "sweet song". There was an old key-hammered zither called a dulce-melos or douchmelle in the 15th century.
IIRC, "dulcimer" came to prominence in the King James Bible translation where it was incorrectly used as a term for a wind instrument. Also found (again mis-used) in the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem Kubla Khan -- "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree...
Dan Cox has been the leader in assigning the term dulcimore (I spell it dulcemore just to be contrary) to those Appalachian fretted zithers built originally prior to the Dulcimer Revival -- in particular those instruments detailed in L. Allen Smith's landmark thesis and book A Catalogue of Pre-Revival Appalachian Dulcimers
IMHO Makeshift instruments are one thing, and Traditional instruments, particularly dulcimers/mores another thing entirely.
Nothing wrong with makeshift -- "necessity is the mother of invention", after all. That's how instruments were invented -- plucking rhythms on an archer's bow string is the ancestor of all stringed instruments, hollow logs the ancestor of drums, rocks or sticks clicked together the ancestor of all rhythm instruments. Makeshift or improvisational music making is a multi-thousand year old tradition in it's own right.
Traditional, in the dulcimer sense, is a specific definable set of characteristics which separate pre-1960 instruments from later ones -- in particular how the dulcimer has changed in the past 50+ years.
The Ozarks have at least one Traditional dulcimore -- the so-called Indian or Ozark Walking Stick or Cane -- which can be more or less described as a narrow teardrop shape with sharp corners at the widest part of the bout rather than curves. Some describe it as a Coffin shape. That instrument was invented as a specific design by John Mowhee (or Mawhee) back during the Civil War. Like other instruments of the era it has the same characteristics as other Traditional dulcimores.
Trouble is this dulcimer is "too common" -- hourglass, scroll head with up-right tuners, f-holes, string pins on the tail block are all VERY common attributes. Label? That white bit isn't a label -- it's a stick-on piezo pickup for plugging into an amp.
Since it includes a bunch of songbooks, the pickup, and a case, if the price is in your range, just buy it. If it doesn't sound as nice as you want, you can always re-sell it on Craigslist and get your money back.
I know people who play finger style on 12-string guitars. A particular style, if you don't know it already, is only as hard as you make it. That said, the simple solution is as Strumelia suggests -- remove one of the doubled melody strings.
BTW there's rarely anything wrong with picking up a gently used dulcimer. I suspect most people are 'thinning the herd' so they can finance another purchase...
Here's the link to an article/pamphlet I wrote years ago called I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What? It's an illustrated glossary of dulcimer terms (so we all speak the same jargon (often different from guitar), plus answers to many beginner questions about tuning, playing, care and feeding of your new instrument.
Ken Hulme's "I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What?" Article - Strumelia | fotmd.com
What Banjimer said! Just tune it and play. If you need encouragement or help, just give us a hollar and we can help. A number of us here have been playing Noter & Drone style for decades...
I love Jeff Menzies instruments! If I were going to play banjo it would be one of his...
I believe, but could be wrong, that the material a banjo pot is made of makes little measurable difference in the sound produced.
Granted, a Leggo(tm) rim or PVC pot will probably sound different than a wooden or gourd pot. But I doubt you'd get any measurable difference between say Walnut, Birch, laminated exotic woods, or bamboo. After all, the primary sound producer is the vibrating head. I can understand big differences in sound between a skin head of various origins and a "plastic" skin.
Is it "wise" to replace the McSpad friction tuners with Whittner pegs? Probably. There are other "planetary tuners which look more traditional -- Perfection and Knilling. Geared pegs will not affect how the instrument sounds.
One thing to know is that the McSpadden tuning shaft holes are parallel, not tapered, and the Whittner pegs are tapered. For proper fit and function you should reame the holes with a standard 1:30 tapered instrument reamer.
The Whittner website WITTNER® - Finetune-Pegs, Made in Germany (wittner-gmbh.de) gives you the necessary tech specs for each of their models. At a glance it appears that their models for 4/4 and 3/4 violins are the size you'll want. Similar information is available for Perfection and Knilling planetary tuners of course.
I did see that photo of a Geoffrey Johnson at Hughes Dulcimer Co, circa 1974. I'd need to do some more digging to see if it's the same person though.
Sorry -- never heard of Geoffrey R Johnson as a builder. BUT. I did some surfing... and it appears that Mr Johnson is (or was) from the Fort Worth, TX area. There's a YouTube vid of him at a Fort Worth Main Street Arts Fair in 2009. I also discovered several other of his dulcimers for sale...
Same here, John. It looks like it can't decide whether it's an hourglass or what. I've seen a lot of those elements -- the extended tail block (although never one that extended) , same with the fretboard extending a little beyond the body and the through-body string holders. The tuners appear to be brass, and have come from some other instrument.
That's not a terribly long "overall" length, which is something we mostly don't worry about. What is the VSL? That's the important number.
I don't think those tuning shafts are extra long, but the sidewalls of the tuning head are very thick, and the slot between the sides seems very narrow -- so the ends of the shafts extend into the opposite side walls.
Definitely not a kit, IMHO, this appears to be someone's personal interpretation of what a dulcimer should be.
A dose of rosin should certainly last more than 8 measures, even on a Mountain Dulcimer! Could be you're not dosing with enough rosin; or pressing down too hard are wearing it off too quick.
Hammered Dulcimers are going to be nearly impossible to bow.
Bows used on Bowed Psalteries certainly last for more than one song!