Forum Activity for @geoff-black

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
02/21/22 04:22:16AM
25 posts

Wormy Chestnut for dulcimers - Clifford Glenn


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

Unfortunately, Hicks dulcimers can also be Glenns!  This 1969 dulcimer is a case in point.  Doesn't look like a Glenn dulcimer shape - much more Kentucky style - though it has their headstock.  Look inside and there's a Leonard Glenn label with a Hicks one rather crudely stuck on top of it!  I understand that the Glenns used to 'help out' when the Hicks order book got too long....

Glenn_Hicks 1969 3.93  1.JPGGlenn_Hicks 1969 3.93  6.JPGGlenn_Hicks 1969 3.93  7.JPG

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
02/20/22 03:35:51PM
25 posts

Wormy Chestnut for dulcimers - Clifford Glenn


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

Hi All

Thanks for the reminder of good times past!

I have a few Glenns and I would want to use 1:5:5 tuning on all of them (DAA or CGG) - they really sing and intonate beautifully.  You won't get the same effect in DAD,

I endorse everything said about getting wooden friction pegs 'unstuck' and how to get them to work properly as they did when new.

As for the chestnut top, I think I have a few candidates.  The first is one of my earliest Glenns and still a firm favourite - a 1983 dulcimer which has an interesting letter from Clifford about choosing secondhand American chestnut!  The second is from Leonard and not wormy, but I think still chestnut.  Both are some of the best-sounding Glenns I have - a light but stiff tonewood.

Clifford Glenn 83  10 edit.JPG

Leonard Glenn 1981  17.JPG

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
08/10/21 10:15:37AM
25 posts

Help with possible identification of my Dulcimer


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

If no-one's referenced it yet, here's my website page on North Country Dulcimers .  There's an hourglass and a teardrop model pictured.  I've sold three, one of which needed quite a but of work to strengthen the neck.

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
06/29/21 04:19:16PM
25 posts

Death of John Shaw, UK mountain dulcimer giant


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I'm sad to report the sudden death of John Shaw, a fabulous MD player with many friends on both sides of the Atlantic.  He was a mentor to so many of us in the UK when we started playing, and his superb dulcimer arrangements of such a wide range of fascinating music will constitute a major legacy for the international dulcimer community.  John taught at many UK festivals and even a few years back toured venues on the US East Coast.  His smooth, melodic and unfussy style of playing, such a positive influence on so many new players, was another major legacy.  He was also an excellent singer and performer, and a longstanding member and one time Chair of the UK Nonsuch Dulcimer Society.  His wife Angela would like the FOTMD community in particular to know that he thought very highly of you all.  In turn, I'm sure you will miss him as we all do over here.  Geoff Black


John Shaw Bio Pic (Rdcd).jpg John Shaw Bio Pic (Rdcd).jpg - 208KB
Geoff Black
@geoff-black
03/23/17 12:54:17PM
25 posts

Does anyone know when my mountain dulcimer was built?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

If it helps, I've had some interesting and lengthy correspondence with Mr Shellnutt - and I've owned four of his instruments. Dulcimers were made in large quantities and at widely varying levels of quality.  Some were student instruments with a one piece flat headstock/fingerboard; many others were laminate and one even had a sort of formica laminate as an overlay on the fingerboard.  So they were certainly made to a price, but all the ones I've tried have played well and sounded good.  The high quality solid wood ones are particularly pretty and sweet-sounding. 

I've got photos of the 4135 but never owned one.  Looks like an intermediate model.  Can't see whether laminate or solid. Looks like mid to late 70s.  The 5 series models were just into the 80s I think.  Most I've seen have a date on the white/blue label which also has the model number....sometimes very small!

Hope this helps.

Geoff Black, Revels Music

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
06/20/15 11:07:40AM
25 posts

Interesting looking dulcimer setup


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Ahhh!  Not seen the pictures - just realised I've only got the 1st Edition!  Time to upgrade....

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
06/20/15 06:30:40AM
25 posts

Interesting looking dulcimer setup


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Saw this also...and urged them to go through a specialilst site like this or Everything Dulcimer, because they will limit their market severely by the limitations they've placed on collection.

Either way, it's an interesting item.  Surely not an appalachian dulcimer in any real sense though - it's strung like an epinette/scheitholt/hommel and even seems to have the chromatic frets interleaving the diatonic, as some fretted zithers do.  It's not clear whether the bars operate on the drones, the second melody course or both...

Fascinating any way....

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
12/11/13 01:25:29PM
25 posts



Patty

Everyone so far has made sensible suggestions but I guess you want ideally to take one definite course of action and see how it goes.

* I suggest you ignore for the moment the possibility that your maker simply got his fret spacing wrong and try to improve the intonation, not perfect it;

* Given the materials used, you need to replace the bridge (certainly) and nut (possibly, though it's a more delicate operation), and preferably in a hard material like bone or corian;

* The bass D string seems pretty much OK with your current set up, so use that as your marker (don't worry about the intonation of the bass string beyond the 12th or so fret - it's usually pretty unplayable up there anyway);

* The middle string is mainly sharp, which suggests you need that part of the bridge to be further from the nut (you make the bridge using three different facets);

* The melody string(s) - the pair won't/can't really be different - is mainly flat, which suggests the bridge facet needs to be nearer the nut. NB we are talking small differences in distance from the nut of maybe no more than 1mm between each facet.

* So far, so standard with a tuning of DAD and a 12/15/22 - 28 set of strings. But your bridge is floating I think you said - it doesn't have a fixed slot? This means you can fine tune the position of the bridge - and SLANT it slightly if necessary - to get the intonation across and up the fingerboard acceptable, if not perfect.

...It will of course be easier if you ask a luthier to do all this for you, but it's perfectly possible to do it yourself with a little care.

Good luck!

Geoff

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
12/06/13 12:41:17PM
25 posts



Patty

Ken asks some very sensible questions - and knowing something about your dulcimer, as Strumelia asks, would also be helpful.

Sorry, but there are also other variables. If you are tuning the dulcimer to something other than it was designed for, or using strings of different gauges than the original, it may well play out of tune - the bridge is usually "compensated" by the maker for both.

But tell us a bit more about the problem and the instrument before we start worrying you too much!

All the best. Geoff

P.S. Welcome to the UK and European group!

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
05/20/14 03:16:17AM
25 posts

Clifford Glenn Dulcimer photos


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Hi David

No-one should suffer slipping pegs, particularly on a Glenn where they are normally well fitted and effective.

A few tips with apologies if they are self-evident.

  1. I imagine this is the bass string. If so check your gauge first. It needs to be no more than 0.024w, but this should hold easily at D.
  2. Always wind the strings on carefully. Strings naturally try to pull the pegs out, unless they are the middle string which pulls straight. Ensure the last two coils are tight against their respective sides of the headstock, so that the pull is as straight as possible.
  3. You can put too much dope on. Peg treatments try to do two opposite things - make the peg turn smoothly and ensure it holds firm. Too much or too little drives it to do one or the other exclusively! Either take some dope off using very fine steel wool or simply dust lightly with some chalk to help grip - yes, I know it sounds crude but it works!

Best of luck with it. Should be fine and, with the Glenn sound, should give great enjoyment.

Geoff

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
05/19/14 10:58:53AM
25 posts

Clifford Glenn Dulcimer photos


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Hi David

Only just spotted this on an internet search, although I'm on FOTMD often. You may now have answers to your questions, if not the following may help.

Lovely instrument from a middle phase of the Glenn's dulcimer making. It has no flare on the headstock for the strings to run outwards over the nut; shallow sides (1 3/8" or so); and a single nickel screw to act as the string anchor - yes it's original!. Earlier ones had a thinner tailpiece through which the strings pass at the bridge end. Later ones are deeper with flared headstock and brass screw. I have a 1974 which is very similar to this - and a few other earlier and later models.

Strings MAY be original - difficult to say. I've had 0.010, 0.010, 0.018w and 0.011, 0.011, 0.021w on mine when I got them - they seem a little lighter than my expectation. I would normally use 0.012 and 0.022w or even 0.024w for DAA with this scale length. What size were yours (if you can remember)?

Woods: you're right with sides and back, but I can't identify the top either. In fact, I struggle with many of the six I own. Most are hardwood, as this appears to be (one cedar), but all different and none obvious!

Are you playing it? If so, what kind of music? Any issues with it to date? - looks very original and in excellent condition. Feel free to ask any questions. Anyway, congratulations on a good purchase. Hope you enjoy.

Geoff Black

Revels Music

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
06/01/12 04:33:54AM
25 posts



John

You wanted to play a particular piece of music in dulcimer tab form. It's for DAD tuning.

Try the attached. It's set out complete, twice through. First time is single note melody only. Second time is arranged for playing right the way across the fretboard, some simple, some more complex arrangements - play around with it depending on your stage of dulcimer development!

If you're not familiar with Tab or are confused by any of it, drop me a line.

Enjoy!

Geoff

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
05/30/12 06:33:40PM
25 posts



It's one of the Groups on this site, John. You can join it simply by looking it up here ( http://mountaindulcimer.ning.com/group/mountaindulcimersintheuk ).

And Sally, as I explained, is part of the Nonsuch Dulcimer Club ( www.dulcimer.org.uk ). You can find her contact details there.

Best wishes

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
05/30/12 04:31:19PM
25 posts



Hi John

Only just spotted this - why don't you join the UK chapter of FOMD? There's lot of us there, including not a few great teachers...

As Ken says, don't "transpose" DAA to DAD if it's just a melody line piece. If the piece uses chords, tell me what it is and the chances are I or one of my colleagues has it in DAD tab anyway. Just let us know!

All the best.

..and by the way you're not very far from one of the most active dulcimer groups, based in Redditch. Look up Sally Whytehead and the Nonsuch Dulcimer Club.

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
05/30/12 04:21:02PM
25 posts



Joe

Looks as though you've got a standard McSpadden "kit" dulcimer from the early 70s - small body, laminated walnut-faced back and sides, walnut top and sta-tite tuners. Certainly not a baritone.

I've had two to work on. Both has similar problems and neither played in tune when I got them. The fretting proved to be spot on (and presumably done in the shop before shipping), but:

(1) No-one seemed to have told the poor end users that the zero fret was the start of the VSL and the wooden "nut" behind it was just a guide which needed deep, deep slots to allow the strings to bear down firmly on the zero fret;

(2) The bridges/saddles were too high.

Effect of (1) is that the intonation was out all the way up because the dulcimers thought they had a longer VSL than they were designed for; of (2), that the strings were sharpened by having to press the strings down too far.

With yours, I'd start by taking down the action drastically (as other have said) and checking that all the strings are not loosely touching the zero fret or vibrating completely freely above it. As I say, I thought the fretboards were very accurate when I got them sorted. Nice sound as well - trebly, not loud, but quite sweet. Just sold the last one a week ago to a very happy customer!

Best of luck

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
03/26/12 06:18:55PM
25 posts

Wormy Chestnut for dulcimers - Clifford Glenn


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

Phil

It's actually a very light instrument and, although I can't measure the thickness of the sides, I would imagine they are similar to the thickness of top and back - which are only 1/8th. I think you are looking at the incised marks on top and back (think Homer Ledford-type simple incised decoration).

Patrick

Yes, I was sceptical before it arrived, but I agree it does sing out really well. Think it needs a little work still before it's possible to play in modern fashion...or I may decide to leave it as it, a supreme example of traditional craftsmanship.

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
03/23/12 12:12:20PM
25 posts

Wormy Chestnut for dulcimers - Clifford Glenn


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

Hi All

Just received a 1983 Clifford Glenn 4 string which is made entirely from wormy chestnut (save nut, bridges and pegs which are walnut). It's delightful - a lovely natural golden yellow colour and it delivers a full sound akin to all-walnut dulcimers I've owned.

BUT, first of all why chestnut...and then why "wormy" chestnut? Is it for its appearance? Because it's by definition seasoned? Cheapness??! In a letter which accompanied the original sale of this dulcimer, Clifford said: "The reason I made it from Chestnut is that not long ago I made another one just like it except that it was a three stringer, and it was one of the best singing ones I ever made."

And second, is Clifford right when he says later in the letter: "I have made but very few like this (all chestnut wood) and it has probably been 20 years since I made the last one....this wood is becoming increasingly rare, as it is not growing anymore, for the blight killed the native american chestnut these many years ago.


updated by @geoff-black: 03/02/22 09:03:59AM
Geoff Black
@geoff-black
12/18/10 10:41:26AM
25 posts

John Henry..thought I'd share


OFF TOPIC discussions

John

Good to see you're back with MOT secured for yet another year. For the Americans among you it's a kind of licence to practice - in this case Mountaindulcimer Occupational Therapy.

Glad to hearyou're feeling better after the Op - it's been quiet in the UK without you!

Geoff

John Henry said:

To all at FOTMD

I am home, after an exciting early morning ambulance ride nearly three weeks ago to the ccu in our local hospital, where, after due deliberation, and much prodding and poking, it was decided that my old ticker needed a couple of modifications and a bit of a tune-up. Not the best way to avoid doing the Christmas Shopping, but I am assured that I shall be as good as new now, I hope that someone has told my wife, LOL.

My grand daughter has tried to keep me informed of happenings on this site, and I was surprised and gratified to hear of the comments made by my friends, thank you, I will be in touch as some as I get back in the swing, just feel a bit drained as of now.

Its good to be back tho'

JohnHenry

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
12/13/10 03:40:13PM
25 posts

John Henry..thought I'd share


OFF TOPIC discussions

We, like all John's friends and admirers, wish him well and trust he will be up and out of hospital before Christmas.

If not, there's an ever-present risk of a mass dulcimer-relatedvisit - which could put back recovery by months...

Let's all play for him as well, Rod.

Geoff and Anne Black

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
12/31/13 04:10:33PM
25 posts

A W Jeffreys Jr.


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

I'm sure Richard's right about the environment in which you keep the dulcimer being at least as important as what you put on it. Fortunately/unfortunately, I live in a humidity uncontrolled environment, simply because the house is so old and decrepit...most of the external environment seeps in regardless! Dulcimers seem to love it....

I seem to recall my own Jeffreys having very a very matt, dry-looking finish - which I suspect is pretty typical of the era before glossy polyurethane/two pack finishes. I'm not sure I'd necessarily put anything on it...with the exception of the fingerboard, where it really ought not to be dry. I use some mysterious oily preparation invented by the guitar maker Gurian in the 70s...and there won't be any more when it's gone after 40 years! But lemon oil also seems fine...

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
12/31/13 10:03:10AM
25 posts

A W Jeffreys Jr.


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

Mike

Good to hear that you have secured an instrument you love - with all its quirks! If you open my catalogue of dulcimers on the Nonsuch site and go to p14 ( http://dulcimer.org.uk/for_sale.html ), you will see a Jeffreys, together with some text which fills out a little of the detail given by Richard above.

'Fraid it's not for sale, having gone to N Wales back in August. there are others I know in the UK. I'd echo what Richard said about the tone and about the odd intonation. Sounded lovely in DAA or DAG however.

Do get in touch if you need anything, from new tuning pegs to capos...or just a chat!

All the best.

Geoff

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
05/20/12 10:56:19AM
25 posts

A W Jeffreys Jr.


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

Hi Richard

Eager to see it close up!

Thanks for giving a very thorough run down on what you see and hear. Warm and balanced is a pretty good start - and good intonation (as you say) a bonus. The fret arrangement sounds intriguing - any indication of date (presume no label, but provenance of any kind?).

The few Bonds I've seen all seem to be different designs - did he have "standard" types as such, or were they all custom made? And as for modelling them on US makers I wonder how many would have made their way over here in any quantity by the mid/late 60s?

We wait with baited breath!

Thanks again, Richard.

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
05/08/12 06:21:36AM
25 posts

A W Jeffreys Jr.


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

Ah Richard

So you are the man who frustrated me, I should have guessed. We must try to co-ordinate next time!

I was wanting a companion for the Bond attached, which looks entirely different. This one dates from 1968 and came from the Fairport Convention household. Two of them went round the corner to Bond's workshop, by all accounts, and bought it for their first singer, Judy Dyble.

Very different design. Yours I thought had a touch of Sunhearth about it. Mine looks very Venetian gondola.

Plays well - light, transparent, sweet - though not entirely accurately by modern standards. Sounds better when noter-driven in DAA, as so often with earlier instruments. Interestingly, has rosewood sides and softwood back.

Do tell us more about yours when you get it please - Bond is a disappearing bit of UK dulcimer history.

Geoff


updated by @geoff-black: 06/16/15 06:44:08AM
Geoff Black
@geoff-black
03/23/12 08:00:44AM
25 posts

A W Jeffreys Jr.


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

Hi Richard/Ken

Yes of course, I should have thought about the Kantele as a source for those two tail anchors - from two very different makers on different continents.

As for Frank Bond, he was as you say very fashionable in the UK about the turn of the 70s. I do indeed own this instrument, having bought it last year from Judy Dyble, who was the very first singer in Fairport (pre-'69). The description in my catalogue is as follows:

"Elegant headstock like the prow of a boat, with a heart cutout on the underside. Slim, elegant outline with softwood (spruce) top AND back, (brazilian?) rosewood sides. Heart-shaped soundholes (pointing to tail). Mahogany neck with rosewood (?) overlay and nickel frets. Originally strung with larger than usual gap between doubled melody string and two lower courses. Nut and bridge replaced to provide more conventional spacing and improve intonation. Scale length looks as though it was reduced while dulcimer was being constructed nut is placed well down the fretboard (by nearly 2). As a result, string break angle to nut is shallower than ideal. String location at bottom end a removable pin is ingenious and (as far as I know) unique. Woodworking is very good but fretting seems to be arbitrary, with questionable intonation on 1st and 8th frets in particular.Overall length 38, lower bout 6", upper bout 4, VSL 27" (medium scale). Standard violin hardwood (ebony/ized) pegs. Unusually for 60s instrument, has 6 fret.

Light construction and softwood back give this a light, transparent and sweet sound. An attractive and historic instrument."

A few further pics may be of interest.

All the best

Geoff

P.S. Notice Richard that you also did a piece on Peter Abnett - did a long article on him for our UK Nonsuch magazine, based on an interview when I picked up my newly commissioned dulcimer from him in 2010. Still writing a piece on Stefan Sobell, who is a bigger name luthier over here and who also started with dulcimers. Talked to him at length last year. Very interesting man.

Geoff Black
@geoff-black
03/22/12 04:36:23PM
25 posts

A W Jeffreys Jr.


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

Just checking this thread, having bought a mid-70s plywood Jeffreys No. 2883. Lovely condition, great soft dulcimer sound, appalling intonation....!

But I'm really posting to comment on the tailpiece. See the attached (Fairport 10) from a 1968 Frank Bond (English maker from North London). An interesting dulcimer, having been bought for the Fairport Convention commune (either by Tyger Hutchings or Richard Thompson) just before they became famous with "Liege and Lief".

In this case the tailpiece bar is made of some form of composite material. Works OK but the string break angle seems a little sharper than necessary.

A case of great minds thinking alike, or copying from a third party??

P.S. The Bond also has a really elegant and unusual headstock (see Fairport 8)...oh yes, and poor intonation just like the Jeffreys!!