What Are You Working On?
General mountain dulcimer or music discussions
I'm constructing a mean-tone walnut hourglass Thomas replica for a guy in Yorkshire. The body's assembled, but needs trimming and pegs, nut, bridge, frets, strings, etc.
Is it coming or going? Never seen the like of it. Sorry I can't help you!
Welcome to the forum, Steve!
I vote for the McSpadden "Sweet Song" hourglass dulcimer kits, as I have assembled several with great results.
Hi, Magictime! This is John Knopf. You asked if the bouts on my Thomas dulcimores are the same width, and they are NOT. My cheap camera distorts images, sometimes badly. I've noticed that myself. The upper bouts are narrower by nearly an inch. I think Kevin used a different Thomas dulcimore for measurements in making his reproduction. As you may know, Uncle Ed didn't make any two of his dulcimores alike, but there are many similarities. So - - Kevin makes a great replica of Thomas dulcimore "A", and I make great replicas of Thomas dulcimore "B". The sound is very similar. I hope this clears things up for you.
My belief is that strum hollows are not necessary. I think many new builders (in the 60's and 70's) followed the Kentucky tradition of Ed Thomas. They saw many photos of these dulcimers, to the exclusion of older Virginia dulcimers, and just thought that was "the way they were supposed to be built". I certainly didn't see any examples back then of dulcimers without strum hollows.
All this discussion reminds me of a dear sweet older gentleman who attended my church for many years. He did not have a singing voice at all, but he sang right out with every hymn we sang. It's called making a joyful NOISE unto the Lord! I so admired his efforts and his heart. His wife sang very sweetly.
There's a a song sung by the Dixie Melody Boys called "Antioch Church Choir". About Uncle Jesse who "couldn't sing a lick, don'tcha know". The song pretty much says it all.
To answer the question, I really don't know if this will be at Berea. If I sell it soon, it won't be, and if Berea doesn't happen, it might not be. I plan to go to Berea one way or another, and if it's unsold then, I 'll bring it along. Thanks for the interest!
Folks, here's something to get your mind off the ( ) today. This is "Generations", it's name was taken from Psalm 90:1. A poplar replica with ebony pegs. Will Singleton, Jean Ritchie's uncle, made some 90 years ago.
You could check these out if you like. I've used them with great success:
You could easily hammer in 3 or 4 metal brads or brass-plated escutcheon pins between the slot and the present wooden peg. You could just leave the wooden peg where it is. Put masking tape on that area of the wood, draw a straight line and measure for the pin locations. Then tap dents in at those 3 or 4 points, pull off the tape and carefully hammer them down to about 1/16" of the surface. If you have a tiny drill bit, you can pre-drill the holes to keep the wood from possible splits.
Thanks for your post, DoC! Sorry things are gloomy across The Pond. Things are somewhat gloomy here as well, what with the pesky COVID virus preparation shutting things down and generally making a nuisance of itself. We need to rise above it, and dulcimers sure help re-focus us on nicer things! I'm confident that you'll make the McSpadden modifications with no trouble at all. Best wishes for a successful outcome.
That is definitely from Folkcraft Instruments, however I'm not sure if it was assembled at the factory, or if somebody just assembled a kit. It would seem likely that if it was a factory-made dulcimer, it would have labeling in or on it.
Angelina, there have been different ideas posted online regarding the same issue with guitars and their cases. You might like to look some of them up? Some like to set it in the sun and wind (maybe not this time of year), wiping down with first a rag soaked in tomato juice, then a rag soaked in baking soda and water, then a dry rag. When our funeral home caught fire eight years ago, the remediation company subjected all of its belongings to an ozone treatment. I haven't smelled any smoke since.
Richard Stolze was an employee at McSpadden/The Dulcimer Shoppe for many years. It should be a high-quality dulcimer.
That's right! You know, table saws are bad for damaging your fingers or hands. The tips of my thumb and forefinger on my right hand went through "an aggressive change" over a year ago due to my table saw. Things healed very nicely, thank God, but the sensitivity is gone somewhat. It's harder to pick up small objects now, but I'm thankful that the injuries weren't much worse.
You'll be fine after a while, I'm sure.
I've met many WONDERFUL folks from FOTMD in Berea, KY or in Hindman, KY the past few years. (I can't remember any of them as being awful or unfriendly!) I think particularly of those special friends in Hindman who started and ran the dulcimer project there, as well as my fellow luthiers who are attempting to raise high the banner of traditional dulcimore building and playing.
Thank you so much, friends! I had a wonderful day. Even squeezed in a great prime rib lunch in Ann Arbor!
Here is what's happening in the shop on my birthday. Found the time to make some sawdust today!
I think some of these dulcimers were branded Oscar Schmidt, weren't they?
Do you have any photos to help us?
See something a little different here? I've noticed that when I play the scale, I get "od-it-al-los-af-im-er-od..." Oh-- everything's BACKWARDS. This is a left-handed poplar Thomas dulcimore that was requested by a customer of mine.
Ken's right-- I'll sometimes use a Harbor Freight Tools heat gun to soften some Titebond glue enough to reposition something. It works quite well.
UPDATE: He just received it a couple hours ago, and he loves it! Sentiments to brighten a poor luthier's heart!
Molly, I can't see what you're dealing with, but in most cases you should be able to surface the topside of the fretboard level, then either refinish it and install frets, or glue a 1/8" thick fingerboard over the fretboard and cut your fret slots in that.
The trick is getting the fretboard flat. You could use a belt sander with a coarse grit belt, or a hand plane, or if you feel really lucky, run it through a power planer, a little cut at a time.
Thank you all for the comments. The new owner should have it in a couple of days now.
Just completed, another walnut Thomas dulcimore with a matching possum board.
That looks like a mandolin tailpiece to me. If so, the pointed decorative end should lift up to reveal the string ends. In other words, there should be a hinge on the other end of the tailpiece. If it's tight, maybe dab a little WD-40 on it from a Q-tip.
Howie Mitchell's "floating bridge" design has been largely discredited. This design tends to allow the bridge end of the fretboard to bow up. Some folks just glue a filler piece of wood in the gap to solidify things. The sound doesn't suffer much from the modification.
I would guess that it's an assembled church dulcimer kit from Hughes Dulcimer Company out of Denver. These were made of luan plywood ("Philippine mahogany"), and were of simple design. If you remade the nut and bridge, you could get the 3 courses of two strings that we're talking about.
That seems unusual for a dulcimer. Usually if a dulcimer has six strings, they are arranged in 3 pairs on the fretboard. Each string pair (or "course") have a distance of about 1/8" between them, so they can be played as one string.
Tuning is generally in the DAA or CGG range (Ionian or Major mode) if it's a conventional length dulcimer. Each pair is tuned alike. Do you have any photos of it?
Welcome, Steve! This is THE PLACE to ask questions about dulcimer history, and design and building of the same.
I'll try to help you, along with many others here who have a lot of experience in the field. If you look through some of the previous posts, you should find answers to questions. Have fun!