Forum Activity for @natebuildstoys

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
05/12/21 04:34:54PM
62 posts

Making a dulcimer humidity resistant?


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

Hello all. My sister loves string instruments but has never been able to learn any and when I let her play my dulcimer she had a ton of fun, even pulling it out several times to show friends the couple of beginner songs I showed her. I'd really like to build her one, however she lives in northern California right next to the ocean, so I am very worried about two things:
1 Sending it to her and frets raising making it unplayable when it gets to her
2 It degrading and warping extra fast due to the salty ocean air where she lives.
I would love any and all advice that might help with either or both of these issues.
Thanks y'all for all the help over time
-Nate

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
05/12/21 04:08:08PM
62 posts

What examples do you use to explain what a dulcimer is?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I definitely do a very poor job at this when asked.  A big factor in explaining it is the level of knowledge the person you are talking to has about musical instruments. I've found that double melody strings are especially hard for non musical people to grasp even when you show them visually how the strings play the same note and are fretted together. I think at the end of the day if people are really interested and you don't have one to show them you should encourage them to look into it, because every time I've ever shown one to someone they are always very surprised when they hear it. The disarmingly simple design of so few strings and so few frets leaves people blown away by the ease at which you can produce beautiful melodies. It really defies most people's expectations and talking about it really doesn't do it justice.

By the way, if you were not aware, the word dulcimer is a portmanteau of the latin word 'dulce' for sweet and the greek word 'melos' for song

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
05/04/21 04:10:34AM
62 posts

How Many Dulcimers Do You Own?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Super cool how many of y'all have other instruments aside from dulcimers!

While 95% of what I play is a dulcimer I also pick up my other instruments on occasion:

-a few acoustic guitars
-2 electric guitars
-a mandolin
-an ukulele
-a dozen or so harmonicas
-a D tin whistle
-a 10 string lyre harp
-an ocarina
-an electric keyboard
-a few cigar box guitars
and some folksey stuff like a jaw harp, washboard, washtub bass, tambourine shoe, kazoos and a couple more I'm sure I'm forgetting

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
05/01/21 05:16:39PM
62 posts

Choosing Strings


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions


Hello all. I go through a lot of dulcimer strings, and because my apartment is very prone to package theives I cannot order them online, so I am limited to what is locally available.

For a while, I would always just buy packs of Mandolin strings, since they only cost a couple dollars more than a pack of dulcimer strings, and come with spares since there are two of each. They come with two 11s, 15s, and 26s. The only issue is due to the construction of some on my newer dulcimers they are not long enough.

Packs of dulcimer strings are very frustrating, and always seem to be insanely light gauge. A pack of martin dulcimer strings marketed for Dadd provide a 12 for the A string! Even if i tune the whole thing up to Ebee, the B string is still insanely wimpy, and tuned to Cgcc it's basically inaudible. My dulcimers are 26"-26.5" VSL, which i believe is fairly standard. I have looked at string calculators which suggest 12-20 pounds on each string of tension but this seems insanely low to me. THis is far lower than extra light guitar strings for example.

At this point, what I have been doing is buying guitar strings, and using only the D,B, and E strings, which leaves me with extra strings every time, but gives me far better tone than any dulcimer strings Ive found. Do others have this same issue and what do y'all do about it?

Quick side question, my dulcimers have floating bridges so its not a big deal to move them, is this necessary or valuable to adjust them for different string gauges?

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
04/30/21 09:25:33PM
62 posts

How Many Dulcimers Do You Own?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Depending on how taken apart or incomplete of a dulcimer i can count, I have between 3 and 10. Five of them are playable

A cardboard dulcimer
A rectangular dulcimer made from an old crate
A Baritone dulcimer
A bundt pan "resonator" dulcimer and
A dulcimer with a frying pan for a bridge

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
03/25/21 05:49:45PM
62 posts

Nylon strings on a steel string dulcimer


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

Hello all I have been wanting to try putting nylon strings on my dulcimer just to see how it sounds. What I am wondering is whether nylon strings need different intonation and bridge placement than steel strings. Can I simply leave the bridge in the same place, or will I need to adjust it? Will I need a different action height? Are there other complications that I should be wary of? Thanks for any input :)

-Nate

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
02/20/21 02:00:13PM
62 posts

Where have all the beginners gone, long time passing?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

sgarrity, i think a lot of the desire to encourage new players is due to how easy it is to teach someone the absolute basics. As a beginner mandolin player, my fingertips are always in pain and i struggle with anything past the most basic chord shapes. Practice is brutal and I've often been told it's considered to be a relatively difficult instrument, I'm only learning due to a strong desire to eventually have it in my repertoire.

It is a great feeling to speak to someone who is sure they just don't have the skill or talent to make music and just by sliding one finger around get them having fun making beautiful music on the dulcimer. So many times I've shown it to a friend or family member, got them messing around with it, and next thing I know every time I see them they are wanting to mess with it, until I eventually just give them one.

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
02/11/21 09:19:05AM
62 posts

Non-Metal Fret Material


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

Robin Thompson:

Nate, I believe Randy has built, at least, an instrument or two with wooden frets.  


Very interesting! I will try to find some vidoes of those. Thank you!
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
02/11/21 09:17:21AM
62 posts

Non-Metal Fret Material


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

A closely related concept I am also curious about is the idea of using a different nut and bridge material for the drone strings than the melody string for an instrument intended to be played drone style so as to make the sound of the melody string more distinctive from the drones. For example, softwood for the drones and bone/metal for the melody, or vice versa.

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
02/11/21 09:11:17AM
62 posts

Non-Metal Fret Material


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


Hello all, I am wondering if there is information on differences in tone between metal frets vs alternative materials and if there is any precedent for trading off the durability of metal frets for different tonal characteristics? I built 2 dulcimers using 80 lb test fishing line tied on as frets and both had a very soft tone. I am not sure if this is due to the very soft woods I used for them or if the fretwire played a major role.

I've noticed in fretless dulcimer videos by Randy Adams the tone seems to be softer than fretted ones, but this also may be due to other factors of construction.

I have also seen cigar box ukuleles with wooden toothpicks for frets but, again, I do not know if the soft tone was instead due to other aspects of the construction or the nylon strings.

I am aware that very hard woods or bone are the preferred material for nut and bridge, and have read that metal frets offer better projection than the gut frets of historical instruments.

The reason this came to mind is I built a dulcimer with a 0 fret but without noticing used a lower fretwire than the rest of the frets. I was about to pull it and replace it, but out of curiosity I folded up a piece of paper and placed it on top of the 0 fret under the strings and to my ear it sounded much more pleasant.

The difference between the folded paper and the first fret was that the 0 fret was noticeably softer, like a more subtle version of the difference between using a fingertip vs a pick. Since the strings dont bend or rub very much on the 0 fret I am planning to just leave it this way and see how long it lasts, however if i tried the same on any other frets it would most likely wear through very quickly.

This all makes me very curious about the idea of wooden frets, tied on gut or mono-filament frets, maybe even paper topped frets where some type of stiff paper is frequently replaced. It seems like the important thing would be making sure that the fret material can be easily replaced when it wears through.

Would love to hear some thoughts on this! Hope everyone is well

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
11/17/20 04:47:51AM
62 posts

Bridge and Nut fix question


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

I am no professional luthier so take this with a grain of salt, but I find it to be very important that the two melody strings played together have the same action as one another. In my experience the quality of intonation and the comfort of playing can be messed up quite a bit by the action at the nut or the bridge being too high.  It is hard to get a sense of just how big the difference is but I know that if it is great enough this can cause the strings to have slightly different VSLs and therefore if the open strings are tuned exactly the same, *fretted* notes will not have the same intonation. In my experience having a string too high up will cause fretted notes to be a bit sharp, which can be compensated for with the bridge placement, but that becomes much trickier when the two strings are not equally high, as you would have to place the bridge in a way that compensates for the height of either one string or the other. I agree that the easiest solution would be to take a triangular file and simply bring the new slot to the same depth as the outer melody string, or to ask a luthier to do it if you are not comfortable doing it. 
Moreover as others have said, the difference may be too small to matter, again, it is hard to get a sense of scale from the photo.


updated by @natebuildstoys: 11/17/20 04:49:11AM
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
10/04/20 10:39:25AM
62 posts

Double fretboard & 6 guitar strings


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

I do wonder how the middle strings  tuned to open D guitar tuning or DADF#AD would sound as a backing drone. (added benefit of replacing strings with no hassle or fuss since you can buy em all in a single pack from any music shop, just make sure the guitar strings are light gauge with that long of a VSL)  I would imagine very nice but I really have no clue. Thanks for sharing!


updated by @natebuildstoys: 10/04/20 11:14:23AM
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
10/04/20 10:30:14AM
62 posts

How do I know what key I'm in?


Playing and jamming difficulties...HELP ME!

Hey guys I have been trying to practice writing my own tab and I wrote out tab by ear for an old folk song called sally wheatley. Because I did it by ear, and I'm still just beginning to learn music theory, I didnt really know what key I was in. because I didnt use any half frets my first thought was that I was in the key of D, but I noticed the key of D has a C sharp, and my arrangement has a C natural, so I think this means it is in the key of G? This seems weird to me because I assumed that since the dulcimer is diatonic, that the non half frets would be the diatonic scale, but if C# is in the scale of D, why is it the 6 1/2 fret? whereas C natural is the 6 fret. Would love some help this stuff is not very intuitive to me !

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
09/17/20 06:08:17AM
62 posts

Embarrassed: just picking out tunes


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Don Grundy:

Does anyone else hear a tune in their head and have to pick it out on the melody and middle string?



Pick it out and if you mess up you might just accidentally make a song :)
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
09/04/20 03:18:25AM
62 posts

Choice of Wood: Pertinent or Purism?


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

Skip:

A random thought occurred to me, how's your hearing? Hearing aids or not? Audio preferences? I quit messing with penny whistles and harmonicas because their sound is unpleasant to my wife's ears, too shrills. I have poor hearing so almost all MD's sound very similar to me, no nuances. And there's always the 'ego' factor.whistle




This is a pretty good point honestly. I am hard at hearing and was told over 10 years ago I should get hearing aids but have not yet.I  hadnt really thought about how much this might  alter my tone perception. Mostly I just have a hard time discerning noise thats on the quiet side, so I guess maybe some subtle overtones are lost on my ear.
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
09/02/20 04:58:55PM
62 posts

Choice of Wood: Pertinent or Purism?


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

CJ:

Given the same craftmanship, what do you hear is the difference in particular woods. Of the three I'm considering one has a poplar body with a paulownia top. The 2nd ones has a figured walnut body with a spruce top. The 3rd has a cherry body with a California redwood top. 

 

I am assuming you mean multiple dulcimers from the same plans that are the same size and shape by the same builder. This would imply that if the same builder made two identical dulcimers from the same plans and same wood they would sound identical, yet most luthiers seem to agree that is not the case.

Even then, the sound could be  affected by thickness of wood, how long the wood has settled for, presence of knots, etc.
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
09/02/20 05:05:18AM
62 posts

Are there fretless dulcimers?


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

WOW. That is seriously cool. That slide dulcimer has mountain banjo vibes as well as lap steel! Thanks for sharing I have a new rabbit hole to fall down!

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
09/02/20 04:54:16AM
62 posts

What's the deal with Aquavinas?


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

Strumelia:

This is super cool.
I think it would be additionally fun to make a little folded paper origami boat to float in the 'canal' while playing it.

I totally overlooked this message but it's brilliant. I have just added a rubber ducky to the 'moat'
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
09/01/20 11:14:21PM
62 posts

Glass Bottle Resonator Dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
08/29/20 08:42:57PM
62 posts

Choice of Wood: Pertinent or Purism?


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

Skip:

Keep in mind being a 'luthier' can be a hobby or a business.  If a hobby, the luthier can do what (s)he wants and can afford, In business, money and customer satisfaction is king.




That's a great summary dulcimer




NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
08/28/20 04:34:03AM
62 posts

Magnetic pickup vs Piezo vs Mic pointed at dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Hello all! With lockdown finally dialing back I have been offered a gig at an antique mall, a barber shop, and a juice bar. Given that I build my own dulcimers I have been faced with the decision of how to amplify my sound so that it can span these venues.

It would be ideal to be able to street perform and make a living off dulcimer in the future, so I'd like to build one that has a beautiful tone that translates well when amplified with a speaker.

For starters a pickup seems to not be affected very much by the tone of the dulcimer itself, as electric dulcimers have much less dynamic tonality than acoustic dulcimers I have heard.
I have been told that the only difference among magnetic pickup dulcimers comes from the pickup chosen (I would appreciate input on which pickups are good for dulcimers) and how much the 'soundboard that the pickup is anchored to' is vibrating matters very little.

I have been told that piezos limit the fidelity of the audio and will leave the instrument sounding duller than if it were an acoustic performance

I have noticed that the vast majority of stage performances with a dulcimer rely on electric pickups to convey the sound, whereas coffee shop performances with a physical microphone pointed at the dulcimer seem to provide much more expression of the instrument itself.

How does it all fit together? For gigging at small venues what is ideal?

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
08/28/20 03:20:52AM
62 posts

Choice of Wood: Pertinent or Purism?


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

In guitar communities, cigar box guitar forums I participate in, as well as dulcimer forums there seems to be a lot of status attached to some types of wood, for example koa or basswood, in California it's redwood, or in Arkansas, pignut hickory.

I started off using craftboard for my dulcimers when i was first beginning to learn. Due to the reliable access I switched to red oak, and noticed right away the sound was consistently much brighter and twangier. Eventually I built the one in my profile picture which has a soundboard made from softwood teaboxes coated in poly for some extra durability. I got a couple of huge pieces of 1/8th inch plywood which i have built several dulcimers out of. They all sounded great.

This begs the question, how much does any of it really matter? Since joining a local dulcimer group several people have asked me after hearing my instrument what type of wood it is, only to be totally shocked when I say plywood with veneer. It seems that they have an expectation that plywood should not be able to sound good, but where does this idea come from? Is it just the knowledge that plywood is dirtcheap that makes them assume it should "sound cheap?"

Is it a matter of the best luthiers choosing the woods that make the subtly best differences, thereby choice of wood could imply a level of craftsmanship?

Maybe my ears are too unrefined to be able to tell the difference but others can?

I'm sure there will be opinions all over the place, given that some woods seem to be EXTREMELY common, whereas National champ Grant Olson played for so long (maybe still does) on a styrofoam dulcimer, so I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts.

Cheers!
-Nate

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
08/28/20 01:56:05AM
62 posts

Assessing Tone


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

Is it accurate to say that you can make generalizations about an instruments tone based on materials, depth, and bridge placement?

For example it has always been my experience that a harder wood without any large knots will sound brighter than a softer wood of the same thickness which also does not have any large knots.
Also, dulcimers with taller sides seem to give more bass response than shallower ones.
Finally a bridge placed near the very edge of the soundbox to me sounds twangier than a bridge that is more centered over the box.

These generalizations have seemed consistently accurate to me. What do you guys think?

I have noticed that every dulcimer has a different tone and you never really know for sure what it will sound like til you hear it, but maybe at the very least one can identify characteristics that will ensure their dulcimer's tone is not too terribly far from what one desires.

I'd love input from others as I am still very much a beginner!

-Nate

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
08/28/20 01:45:45AM
62 posts

Are there fretless dulcimers?


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

A topic I have heard several times among both players and builders is the pros and cons of various temperaments, with no consensus ever being reached. It does occur to me that a fretless instrument such as a violin avoids this problem entirely since the fretting hand determines how flat or sharp the note is by it's placement. Are there dulcimers made fretless, in order to achieve any microtonality the player might desire? Obviously it would be MUCH harder to play and also take a lot of knowledge to use correctly, but if it gives a sweeter sound, why not?

Stay well!

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
08/28/20 01:33:30AM
62 posts

Blair fret compare - original Jumbos! installed on a dare?


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

I like very low and narrow mandolin frets because i think they make less noise when i slide across them. My dulcimer is chromatic so the 'thumping' of the frets is something I try to mitigate. I have heard it said that pressing too hard on strings makes them bend and stretch inconsistently and can affect tone, so I would imagine taller frets do this even more? Definitely gonna try them on my next dulcimer to see how they feel.

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
08/16/20 11:56:03AM
62 posts

Glass Bottle Resonator Dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions


IRENE:

Hey Nate, there are LOTS of dulcimer players in Oregon.  but then again, I don't know where you live.   yep, a didly bow is a very cool thing for sure.   I like your creativity and I hope you do keep experimenting.  This song was played very nicely.   thank you.   aloha, irene


Hello Irene! yes there are players across Oregon but where I currently live in southern oregon, they are sadly not culturally relevant like they were in Arkansas or Tennessee when I visited.. While some people here recognize mine right away, many younger folks here have never heard of them. Thank you for your kind words.
updated by @natebuildstoys: 08/16/20 12:02:24PM
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
08/15/20 11:06:51PM
62 posts

Glass Bottle Resonator Dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Bob Stephens:

I applaud your creativity.  I would never have thought of a concept like this.  Keep up the good work.  

Thank you bob! Id be lying if i said it was my own original idea. I have always had a fascination with the 'diddley bow' an american roots instrument which stretches one string over a medicine bottle played with a slide. Basically a 1 string lap steel, and given that here in oregon most folks have never seen a dulcimer they often assume it is a lap steel, so its been on my mind for a while. This model however still has some major flaws, for ny next one, the bottle will be suspended within the box not touching the bottom, which i believe will allow it to contribute more to the overall tone.
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
08/15/20 09:04:46PM
62 posts

Glass Bottle Resonator Dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions


updated by @natebuildstoys: 08/16/20 12:02:08PM
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
08/10/20 08:42:33PM
62 posts

Truss Rods?


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

Bob Stephens:

I have also seen many dulcimers that have survived many decades with no issues.  Design and material selection are probably the keys to success.

Getting back to your original question, if the neck runs the full length of the instrument, a truss rod isn't a bad idea.  They are relatively inexpensive (about $15) and work well to correct any bowing that might start to develop.  The only down side I can see is that they do add some weight to the instrument. 



 I am noticing a theme in this thread and a few others on here that the quality of the cut of wood and the structure of the design seem to enable some to last much longer than others! Unfortunately I lack quality wood AND knowledge of construction so I might throw a truss rod in my next one bring it out to the coast a couple times and see if it stays straight, probably an adjustable one in case it  doesn't. Thanks for the feedback!

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
08/10/20 08:29:35PM
62 posts

Truss Rods?


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


Ken Longfield:

On most dulcimers the strings are not anchored to the neck but to the peg head and the tail piece With a fret board spanning the length of the sound box, it acts as a truss rod preventing the dulcimer from warping by pulling up at either end.




This is a very good point I had not considered. A dulcimer with a peghead and tailpiece would probably fare MUCH longer than the sort I have been building, with just a 1"x2"x 32" piece of wood from the hardware store that i glue onto the soundbox, like this one, but I am trying to make more long lasting durable ones going forward. Thanks for the input!Duclpaintbox .jpg
updated by @natebuildstoys: 08/10/20 08:32:38PM
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
08/10/20 04:33:12PM
62 posts

Truss Rods?


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

Dan:

I've played several traditional pieces well over one hundred years old and no warping issues! The zither is a very different animal than the lute, requiring very different approaches to design.The truss use came about with the introduction of steel strings cir. 1830's ish for the guitars? I don't know of any one using truss rods for dulcimer traditional or contemporary. I'm sure some one has tried about every thing......



That makes sense. I am fascinated that there are well preserved dulcimers that old! Do you know where I could find visuals, recordings, or anything like that of dulcimers of that era?

Also, I know that @bob-stephens uses a carbon fiber beam that reinforces the neck, but that might not be for the same reasons as a truss rod.

Finally I have heard many people say they had to adjust their truss rod on their guitar after travelling and changing elevation or humidity. Is warping an issue for dulcimers that travel a lot?
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
08/10/20 02:08:41PM
62 posts

Truss Rods?


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

How common are truss rods in dulcimers? From what I understand they were historically built out of what was available, so it probably wouldnt be very traditional, but would it be practical? Is warping an issue for dulcimer fingerboards over time as much as it is for guitars, or does the rigid structure of the entire neck being glued to the soundboard prevent this issue mostly? 

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
08/10/20 05:58:48AM
62 posts

Dulcimer sales in 2020


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Something I've been wondering a lot about! For those who lost their jobs or got hours cut, on one hand lots of people are cooped up and student dulcimers are pretty affordable so I could see how it could help sales for student models, but on the other hand many folks are justifiably being more careful with their money.  Some people's careers have not been affected at all by this, but have been seriously limited socially, so that probably amounts to some people with stable income sitting around bored all day looking for new hobbies. I would assume for this reason that the very high end ones may be taking the smallest hit. Also, quarantine has led a lot of people to explore 'DIY projects' so I wonder if companies like Folkcraft or similar kit brands have seen a positive change. Me, I tend to build very low quality dulcimers and just sell them to locals for ~50 bucks to clear up space in my living room! Needless to say I don't have any grasp of the real dulcimer market. Would love to hear more perspectives of people actually selling them. Covid lowering sales would indicate that people are being more cautious with money or simply don't have it, so if that is the consensus, now might be a good time to finish up the video I have been working on geared toward people with minimal woodworking experience for building dirt cheap dulcimers! The video, which is currently dozens of clips I have to learn to edit together, details how to build a craftboard dulcimer for under 15 $ in materials and some simple hand tools nearly everyone should have access to. If people can't afford them now is a great time to learn to make them!

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
07/31/20 06:09:16PM
62 posts

Sound holes and air flow - interesting article


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Fascinating! I have always wondered how much the shape of the sound hole matters since i tend to build very simple dulcimers that usually just have round holes. They're pretty loud so I didnt think it would matter but now i have one more angle to come at my next build from!

An excerpt from the MIT study the article is discussing:

"By determining the acoustic conductance of arbitrarily shaped sound holes, it is found that air flow at the perimeter rather than the broader sound-hole area dominates acoustic conductance"

and a quick summary I thought was poignant:

"the circle is the shape with the lowest conductance"


Basically from my understanding of the study, any long narrow shape is ideal, not necessarily an f hole, although they are aesthetically pleasing. The is very fascinating since pretty much 99% of guitars use round soundholes! It also makes me think about placement more. Since the edges of a soundboard are the least resonant parts, maybe having a long narrow soundhole that runs at the same curvature as the edge of the soundboard just an inch or two in from the edge would allow you to get the most efficient shape with the most efficient location? Definitely a bit above my comprehension level for now, but I will be elongating my soundholes on my next build.
Thanks for sharing!

MIT Study: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspa.2014.0905#RSPA20140905C3

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
07/07/20 04:31:13PM
62 posts

Size of Soundbox and Loudness


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


John C. Knopf:

Nate, look at a mariachi guitarra quintet.  They have all sizes of guitar soundboards.  The largest is pretty BIG.

But then, a dulcimer is not a guitar.  "Uncle Eddie", the world's largest (and longest) dulcimer is not particularly loud for its size and soundbox volume.  Usually taller sides equal more bass response, and maybe more loudness too.  I think overall loudness is derived from several factors working together, such as wood thickness, bracing, design, string gauges and tension, etc.



Hello John. 'Uncle Eddie' is quite a sight to behold. Very cool! I am curious to know if in hindsight you feel some alterations could have produced more loudness for its size, since you say it is not particularly loud for it's size.

Also, I have been reducing my bracings more and more in favor of loudness and I think I have reached a point where I am sacrificing the longevity of my builds by making the bracing so minimal. Ditto for wood thickness. 
This leaves me to wonder which matters more for volume of sound; having a sturdy build with heavy gauge strings, or a very lightweight build with lighter strings so as to not stress it?

Would love some input 

Thanks,
Nate
updated by @natebuildstoys: 07/07/20 04:32:09PM
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
07/07/20 04:23:14PM
62 posts

Size of Soundbox and Loudness


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

Dan:

I'm going to suggest a large Galax with heavy strings drawn up tighter than a banjo.......like a Mahhee in steroids?



Hello Dan. Does 'galax' mean a dulcimer with a 'false bottom' or 'possum board?' Or is it the wide oblong shape that denotes a galax? I do not have access to any means to curve wood into the shape of traditional dulcimers such as a lozenge dulcimer, however if you are referring to the false bottom, I have been adding these with noticeable benefit!
Thanks, 
Nate
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
07/07/20 01:42:58PM
62 posts

Grant Olson Website


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

It's working great for me as well now!

NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
07/07/20 01:15:33AM
62 posts

Grant Olson Website


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs


was not able to access the site. Screen looked like image attached. Hope I can check it out soon!

<Edit: Nate, I doubled-checked the link in Grant's post- it's working fine and so is Dusty's link- strumelia>


updated by @natebuildstoys: 07/07/20 09:54:03AM
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
06/30/20 03:30:37PM
62 posts

Size of Soundbox and Loudness


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


Hello all, I was wondering how much loudness is affected by the size of the soundbox. I am trying to make an extremely loud dulcimer that doesn't rely on any metal cones, pickups, or microphones, and have been testing lots of concepts to try to get the most efficiency I can, but my understanding of the physics of acoustics is very limited. I assumed bigger means louder, but i would also imagine that the more wood which has to vibrate, the more energy is needed to get the whole box vibrating before it can project any sound. So it would make sense to me if a small box lets the energy be more concentrated and therefore agitate the air more, but it would also make sense to me that a bigger box is more wood moving more air and therefore more loudness. I really am out of my depth so I'd love some input. 
1: Is taller louder?
2: Is a larger soundboard louder?
3: Is there a size that is accepted to be loudest?

Also, I have reduced as much extra mass as I can off my last build with the most minimal bracing necessary to not warp or flex, a false bottom, an almost entirely hollow fingerboard, and a saddle that sits directly on the soundboard. Pretty dang loud but I want to leave no stone unturned so I am very open to more ideas for loudness.

Thanks!


updated by @natebuildstoys: 06/30/20 03:32:07PM
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