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Thanks Lisa for all you do to improve the experience for us.
It's mostly aesthetics, Lisa. Some like the look of a wasp-waisted dulcimer more than other body styles. Uncle Ed Thomas of Bath, Kentucky and C. N. Prichard of Huntington, West Virginia popularized the shape over a hundred years ago.
I don't know what to say to this news.
To me, Mike was the embodiment of the old-time Kentucky dulcimer spirit. A quiet and knowledgeable man who wanted to help others understand dulcimer history and mountain music. He did his part to perpetuate the best of tradition.
Rest in peace, friend, and may God bless your family left behind. Too sad...
Just bear in mind that if you alter McSpadden's design and you want to sell the dulcimer later, the modification may affect the value of the dulcimer.
It may be that the biblical translators were just thinking of this term generically. The two words of which the word "dulcimer" is composed are dulce (sweet) and melos (melody), thus indicating some kind of a musical instrument that makes a sweet sound or melody. Just a suggestion.
What a beautiful piece of craftsmanship!
Some were pretty strange looking. He seemed to enjoy monkeying with fretting patterns on dulcimers. I had to ignore the fretting pattern on a Nathan Hicks dulcimer he glommed onto in order to reproduce a Hicks dulcimer for our "Banjimer". I'm not sure what the original Hicks pegs looked like either, since J.J.Niles threw some violin-family pegs in the mix.
The Wilsons are somewhat legendary in Michigan, having built dulcimers and exhibited them at festivals. As I understand it, Richard built the dulcimers and Denise provided the inlay work, and maybe the soundholes. They do (did?) excellent work.
There is also a McSpadden "Sweet Song" dulcimer kit listed on the site.
I just found this listed on shopgoodwill.com! A very pretty, high-quality dulcimer with beautiful heart and flying geese soundholes. Flying geese inlay on the back. Item #58634975.
How can I close the new Chatroom sidebar that started showing up on my display? Can it be minimized or turned off?
John, that would be Bill Davis of Davis Dulcimers, who was actively building in the 1960s and 1970s. That is his trademark "violin" design, which was also used by Chet Hines of Ohio (he wrote a book about it) and has been perpetuated by Mike Clemmer in Townsend, TN. The late Jean Schilling of Cosby, TN was married to Bill Davis at one point, and their photo appeared in a National Geographic magazine years ago.
Maybe try a heat gun/hair dryer to warm up the glue on the ends? Sometimes that will soften the glue.
Ray, the scale starts at the third fret and goes up.
That's great that you could pick up that dulcimer "for a song". McSpadden/Dulcimer Shoppe makes a nice kit, and I've assembled several of them. Mine came out well each time. The plans are clear and the materials are good, unlike some other kits that I won't mention. Congratulations, and enjoy the newest addition to your family!
Dan, the existing holes were carefully tapered with a violin reamer, and the new pegs shaved to fit with a violin peg shaver. Ken, I think they are old banjo planetary tuners, as you said. Jim, the planetary tuners were installed slightly cockeyed, with large external-tooth lockwashers. I'm quite sure that John Tignor originally equipped his dulcimers with the walnut pegs I reproduced here. And whoever restrung this dulcimer put 3 wound steel strings on it. When the correct strings were mounted, the action was very high throughout. The string spacing is consistent with the old J. E. Thomas and Amburgey noter/drone dulcimers. They put the drones close together, at the far side of the fretboard, so it would be easier to play the melody string alone.
Here are before and after photos of the Tignor pegs:
Volha, that's a very beautiful dulcimer! And a very big crack, too!
If the wood is still all there, it can be glued with Franklin Titebond wood glue (or a similar woodworking glue) and clamped well. It shouldn't be a difficult repair to accomplish, even though it looks very bad right now.
Hope it goes well with you and you once again have a wonderful instrument! Happy Easter.
Great story, Jim. There are several ongoing mysteries about dulcimers and their builders.
I called the owner of the Tignor, and he said it would be OK for me to deepen the existing string slots, so I did, and it was a big improvement. That dulcimer sings sweetly now with a normal playing touch. He has yet to pick it up from me, but I'm sure he'll love it now. I'm sure the late John Tignor would approve as well.
Well, Ken, at least it'll SMELL good, even if it doesn't loosen the glue!
That sounds like the same sage advice I gave somebody here a few days ago!
Unfortunately the nut has been re-glued with what looks like Gorilla Glue... might be a job to remove. Thanks, Dan!
A young couple came to my home yesterday with a beautiful old Tignor dulcimer that had some problems. The fist thing I noticed is that it bore a striking resemblance to an Uncle Ed Thomas dulcimer. I think John was a protege of Jethro Amburgey, wasn't he? Anyway, I brought my latest Thomas upstairs and laid it next to their dulcimer. Apart from the Tignor being a couple inches longer and slightly wider, they looked like twins.
The 3 tuners on it were shabby-looking planetary models, inexpertly mounted by somebody, and all 3 strings were the wound steel ones we use just for bass drones. I found reference photos of what Tignor pegs should look like, and set about to reproduce them in old-growth black walnut. They came out very well. I then went to string the dulcimer with the proper gauge strings, when I noticed the "mile-high" action. The tone is nice, but pushing the melody string all the way down to the staple fret really stretches it out of tune! I'm not sure if I should lower it or leave it as-is. Any thoughts, my fellow historical luthiers?
It really is a beautiful dulcimer, but it strikes me as a non-Stanley Hicks instrument. It seems to me to be a dulcimer built in the Stanley Hicks style by somebody else (David Love). The Stanley Hicks label inside the soundhole seems to be out of place somehow. Maybe Stanley acquired it from Mr. Love, and put his label of ownership in it? There is plenty of room inside the heart cutout to affix a label after the dulcimer was completed. Just my musings...