Forum Activity for @matt-berg

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
01/02/18 09:47:43PM
34 posts

Using boiled linseed oil (mahogany)


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

No, actually, I have done it with other features, but not comparing oil to lacquer.  The times I have used oil, I was just not happy with the results.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
01/02/18 09:12:52PM
34 posts

Using boiled linseed oil (mahogany)


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

When asking such a question, I always build sibling dulcimers.  Cut the sound board and sides out of the same piece of wood.  Then finish one with tung oil and the other with lacquer or shellac.  That should answer the question.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
01/02/18 06:01:35PM
34 posts

Using boiled linseed oil (mahogany)


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

I am not a fan of using oils on any part of an instrument.  I find they soak into the wood and deaden the sound.  As Bob Schuler said use wax.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
12/18/17 08:49:40AM
34 posts

Play with ukulele and guitar


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

Seriously?  This is why other musicians groan when you bring a dulcimer to a jam.  We expect everyone to change for us.  How nice? Not.  If you plan to play a dulcimer with other instruments, you should change for them, after all, there are more of them than there are of us.  Majority rules in a jam.

Yes, the dulcimer is a wonderful instrument,..., that can change and play nicely with other instruments.  (And when you get REALLY good, you can bring just one instrument, or a fully chromatic dulcimer,..., hmm, fully chromatic CGg with a capo, that could do most everything.)

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
12/18/17 05:51:28AM
34 posts

Play with ukulele and guitar


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

Bring two one DAd/DAa and one CGc/CGg and a Capo.  (DAd/DAa depends on your playing style.)

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
11/12/17 07:53:28AM
34 posts

Fretboard Crack!!


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

The builder did a wonderful job of putting together a unique instrument.  Eight strings on a thin scroll head is a lot of pressure.  The sides of the head are perhaps a tad thin for that many strings.

Every instrument has the danger of cracking.  An instrument as detailed as yours needs continuous care, especially to maintain constant humidity.  It cracked once and could crack again.  If you know a luthier nearby, ask them to look at the crack.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
11/10/17 08:50:20PM
34 posts

Fretboard Crack!!


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

It looks like a fracture from drying rather than stress. Place the instrument so the opening Dave's up.mask off the sides of the crack. Then SLOWLY, one or two drops at a time put in thin super glue and let dry. It will take a while, but eventually the crack will fill. Patience.
Matt Berg
@matt-berg
07/25/17 06:28:56AM
34 posts

bridge compensation


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

The short answer, yes.  The long answer, for most players it is one additional feature they need to worry about, will only modestly improve their play and generally makes them more frustrated.

If you plan to play many different styles of music, perhaps.  It really comes down to how much time you want to spend messing with your instrument for a modest improvement in sound.  Some people obsess over the tiniest improvement, some people say, close enough for rock and roll.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
07/24/17 06:30:56PM
34 posts

bridge compensation


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

Uh, yea, the article on frets.net is confusing.  Try going to Stewmac.com (a site everyone who builds instruments visits from time to time) and type in saddle.  A much more authoritative source.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
07/24/17 06:27:57PM
34 posts

Fret Markers


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

Maybe the play Flop-eared Mule and other songs that use the 9 & 11 fret?

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
07/24/17 07:19:28AM
34 posts

bridge compensation


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

Ken, just because YOU can't hear the difference doesn't mean the rest of us can't.   Your responses to too many questions are that no one will hear the difference.    The idea is to continue improving the dulcimer.  If you have given up on improving the instrument, I am sorry for you.

Before responding, try stringing a compensated instrument DAA with the same gauge strings.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
07/24/17 06:50:34AM
34 posts

Fret Markers


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

Fret markers go where they are of most use to the musician.  3-5-7-10 tend to be positions frequently used by many musicians.

When building chromatic dulcimers, I will sometimes use guitar marking, the same 3-5-7-10, but that would be a 2-3-4-6 on a diatonic dulcimer.

In other words, whatever works for you.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
07/24/17 06:46:04AM
34 posts

bridge compensation


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

Well, first, it shows that McSpadden does not understand the art of lutherie.  The bridge is not compensated, the saddle is compensated,..., and no, it doesn't change just because you are making a dulcimer.

That aside, because of the difference in gauge of strings, thicker strings tend to become sharp as you play higher and higher frets.  To adjust for this, the saddle is angled so that the distance from nut to saddle (bridge) is greater for the thicker strings.  Longer distances tend to produce lower notes.  This keeps the thicker strings from becoming sharp as you play up the scale.

In the guitar world, a compensated saddle will not only be angled, but frequently has recesses carved into the saddle itself.

A compensated saddle does not prevent a musician from playing DAA.  Simply string the instrument with a thinner melody string, maybe a nine, and a thicker middle string, maybe a 12 or 14.  Works just fine.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
06/01/17 06:10:43AM
34 posts

Action/ nickel under the 7th


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

the action (distance from fret to string) at the seventh fret is just one place on the string.  It is determined by the height of the nut (what the string rests on near the tuners) and the saddle (what the string rests on near your strumming hand).  For example, I have a twelve string guitar where the height of the nut is actually lower than the first fret.  This makes the action at the first fret very low, even though the action at the 12th fret (equivalent to the seven fret on a dulcimer) is about the height of a nickel.

Many dulcimers use what is called a -0- fret instead of a nut.  Doing so will lower the action at the first fret to less than that of a dime.  The action at the seven fret is determined by the height of the saddle for these instruments.

The ease of pressing the strings depends on the string action along the entire length of the fret board.  Most players spend 80% of their time below the seventh fret.  If you are truly looking for an instrument with easy action, look at the nut height and action at the first fret.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
04/25/17 06:49:35PM
34 posts

6 String guages and tuning


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

You didn't mention what part you are planning to play.  If you are going to play a true bass line, as implied by the CCGGCc tuning, then the CCGGcc tuning will sound funny when you play the melody strings.

 

If you are trying to play melody with a deeper drone then the CCGGcc tuning would make more sense.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
03/20/17 06:25:25AM
34 posts

Fret Material


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

Ken, majajog, so here is the challenge to you.  Build two instruments from the exact same wood, take alternating strips to build the two instruments.  Then put different nuts and frets on the two final builds, say one with ebony and brass frets, the other with bone and stainless.  Then tell me you can't hear the difference.  I have, I can.  Think I am wrong, build the instruments and post the results.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
03/19/17 01:02:22PM
34 posts

Fret Material


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

Ebony makes very good nuts and frets.  Personally, I prefer bone as I believe it produces a cleaner tone.  Whenever you use ebony, consider the following link:http://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/ebony-dark-outlook-dark-woods/ .

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
03/19/17 06:49:23AM
34 posts

Fret Material


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

Frets are one part of the whole system that makes the sound you hear when you play.  A general rule is that that stiffer the material used, the brighter the tone.  A maple soundboard will produce a brighter tone than spruce.  The same holds true for your frets, but to a lesser degree.    Brass is softer than stainless and will (modestly) soften your sound.  Whatever frets you choose, you will eventually need to replace them.  Once you find a good luthier who can talk to you about fret material, choose the fret material for the sound you wish to produce rather than how long the fret will last.  (While you are at it, talk to the luthier about the saddle and nut material you are using.  These will also have an impact on the sound your instrument produces.)

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
02/12/17 04:31:33PM
34 posts

Gold Tone Dulciborn - thoughts, reviews?


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

Gale,

Please keep in mind that, just because an instrument has a diatonic fretboard, it does not automatically become a dulcimer.  The dulciborn is really an instrument called a Weissenborn to which a diatonic fretboard has been added and two strings removed.  The Weissenborn and dulciborn are very solidly in the guitar family.  The main difference is that, being in the zither family, the dulcimer has its strings all the way across the soundbox.  A Weissenborn/Dulciborn, being in the guitar family, has the string attached to the soundboard and does not stretch across the entire soundbox.

Musicians who can play the dulcimer will find the transition to a dulciborn easier.  However, as with those who play the Gallier "dulcimer" (actually a three course lap guitar), you will find that your instrument sounds like a guitar, even when playing dulcimer songs.

As most of our ear are very used to hearing a guitar, this instrument may sound more familiar to your ears.  Instrument sound is a choice a musician makes.  If you like the sound, play it.

Matt

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
09/29/16 07:04:42PM
34 posts

raising the nut!


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

No, sorry, I won't be in the state on Saturday.  When do we meet in November?  Are you going to any nearby festivals?

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
09/25/16 07:14:38PM
34 posts

I hear a whine when taking finger off strings


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

Do you know if your dulcimer has a zero fret or a nut?  If it has a nut, I would check to see if the nut is properly adjusted.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
09/18/16 11:50:28AM
34 posts

raising the nut!


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

Paula, happy to look at it during the next jam,..., when is that exactly?  It almost sounds like your fretboard is warped.  If you have a good straight edge, usually a metal ruler 18" or longer will do, place it on the frets between the strings without touching the nut or saddle.  The straight edge should touch all of the frets.  See if the straightedge rocks on the center frets.  It so, the fret board may have bowed out and is causing your problem.  It doesn't sound like your fretboard bowed inward as you said the action is too high by the upper frets, not the middle.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
09/17/16 07:38:25AM
34 posts

raising the nut!


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

Paula,  a few questions first.  Are all the strings hitting the frets?  All the frets or just one or two?  Can you post a picture of the nut and the saddle?  If you are lucky, you just have a loose fret that needs to be reset.  I have had more luck replacing the saddle than replacing the nut.  If the nut is does not appear to be worn or broken, it is likely the problem is with the frets rather than the nut.  Matt

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
09/03/16 08:22:49AM
34 posts

Loose back brace solutions


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

John,  yea, most braces on mountain dulcimers are like bicycles for fish.  If you can safely take them out through the sound holes it is probably a good idea.  If the brace needs to stay, I usually drill a small hole in the back and glue in a dowel plug when done.  The guys at Folkcraft have done some cool work with laser cutting figures to glue in the holes after fixing, but that requires a good laser cutter.

 

If you are working on a baritone or bass dulcimer, carefully consider before removing the brace.  The larger sound board may need them.  Also consider the choice carefully if the soundboard is spruce, cedar or other softwood.  Those board may need the extra support.

 

PS. I am not your standard dulcimer maker and will probably put some people's backs up with my comment on bracing.  Conversely, I brace all of my instruments as I do not attach the fretboard to the soundboard.  To each their own. 


18062.jpeg 18062.jpeg - 510KB
Matt Berg
@matt-berg
08/31/16 06:32:02AM
34 posts

Determining string gauge


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

Why bother worrying about the string gauge?  If the string is too thick for your preferences, the actual gauge doesn't matter.  Just go to your local music store with your instrument and have the clerk pull out strings and compare them.  You won't know what gauge you prefer until you have tried a few.  My local Guitar Center sells individuals strings for $1.  Just buy a couple different thinner strings and try them all until you find one you like!

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
10/12/13 07:51:47AM
34 posts

Anyone used the Helmholtz equation to determine sound hole size?


Building dulcimers

The Helmholtz formula is one possible starting point for building an instrument. It requires that the builder think about how the completed instrument should sound. Too many builder simply purchase plans or build what they see others building. The resulting instruments are good imitations of great instruments with mediocre sound. The real conversation is about why two instruments built from the same wood species using the same plans sound different. If the Helmholtz formula starts that conversation, great.

Building an instrument is not simply applying great woodworking skills, but understanding that two soundboards cut from different parts of the same board can result in dramatically different instruments,..., and WHY.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
10/11/13 01:06:52PM
34 posts

Anyone used the Helmholtz equation to determine sound hole size?


Building dulcimers

Before calculating the Helmholtz formula, you need to decide to what note you will tune your box. In guitars, I think the standard is folk guitars are tuned to G and classical guitars are tuned to A.

Helmholtz has been discussed before, but I cannot remember if anyone has ever decided to what tone a dulcimer should be tuned. My guess would be D, but I am sure the DAA folks would argue A.

Whenever I have a question about how a change will impact sound, I build sibling instruments. Using the material, cut from the same stock when possible, and build two instruments to the same specifications, varying only the one factor I wish to investigate, but that does take time and money.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
10/07/13 10:26:55AM
34 posts

Dulcimer playing stand


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I do not think 3/4 pvc is a good idea. The biggest problem with pvc is that it bends, thicker pipe less, thinner pipe more. If you want to stay with 3/4, I strongly suggest building a "walker" type stand. The type I built relies on a single upright which would be wobbly if 3/4".

I leave an instrument on my stand as the stand is very steady. Besides, neither of my cats is big enough to knock it over.

Joseph Besse said:

Thanks for the PDF list Matt. I decided to use all 3/4" tubing and stick to a sit-down stand. Hope this works OK. BTW, I assume you do not leave the stand un-attended for fear of someone knocking it down when not playing.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
10/06/13 07:55:43PM
34 posts

Dulcimer playing stand


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Joseph,

1" PVC tubing fits snugly inside 1 1/4" tubing. I used those sizes. My parts list is attached. s you can see, I started with a slightly taller stand, but needed to cut it down just a bit.

Good Luck,

Matt

PS. I haven't unloaded a pdf to this site yet. If it doesn't display properly, I will upload a jpg.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
10/04/13 07:58:09PM
34 posts

Dulcimer playing stand


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Joseph,

I used a pipe clamp. First I used a band saw to cut four slits down the pipe from one end. This gives just enough room that the pipe clamp can tightened and hold up the top. I was concerned that the band saw would not cut wide enough slits, but it worked just fine.

Don't really like that I need to use a screwdriver to tighten the clamps. If I do this again I will replace the screws with a thumb screws or something similar.

Matt

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
09/30/13 04:06:36PM
34 posts

Dulcimer playing stand


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Gail,

I was laid up this summer with a very broken ankle and spent most of my time in a wheelchair. I just posted in the for sale forum the stand that came out of that situation. It works very well while sitting and reasonably well while standing (though you might not use that for a little bit.) I have attached a picture.

If you know someone reasonably handy, they could probably make you one based on my pictures. If you want to purchase mine, great! Please, measure the width of the wheelchair or other chair you will use. This stand accommodates up to 27 1/2 inches. If you will need something wider, let me know and I will make a new one.

If someone chooses to make one for you and that person has questions, feel free to have the contact me.

Matt Berg

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
09/18/12 07:16:15AM
34 posts

dulcimer types - VSL question


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

Rich,

The longer the VSL, the more space between frets. Unfortunately, that also means more difficulty reaching chords. If you are looking for a rich mellow sound, you might want to try a spruce or cedar sound board. Hardwood sound boards tend to emphasize the higher notes and sound more "twangy." Softwoods have more of the lower undertones.

McSpadden and Folkcraft have two different approaches to the "rich" sound. McSpadden makes what they call a possum board and Folkcraft uses a false bottom. Both are designed to lift the bottom of the instrument off of the players legs so that if can vibrate and produce a more resonant sound. Some like the sound, others feel it is moving away from the traditional dulcimer sound.

As with any instrument, let your own ears be your guide. If you go to their websites, you can find videos of musicians playing different instruments.

Good luck,

Matt

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
09/06/12 06:33:03AM
34 posts

Do dulcimers actually sound better if they are played a lot?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

http://mid.auctivacommerce.com/ from Shanghia, China sells extremely low priced musical accessories, including strings. In particular, they sell 12 tuners (6R-6L) for $6.00 (see 12 string guitar tuners.) Also, 10 packs of 10 gauge strings for $1.00. However, unless you plan to buy in bulk and can wait 4-6 weeks for delivery, I can't recommend them. As with any internet order, watch the shipping costs. I haven't been thrilled with their nylon strings (not a problem unless you play ukulele), but the steel strings are good. I always carry extras at festivals. If you bump into me, I am happy to share.

Matt Berg
@matt-berg
09/05/12 06:43:42AM
34 posts

Do dulcimers actually sound better if they are played a lot?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

One warning, if you purchase an instrument made with plywood, it will not change in tone. Only real (non-engineered wood) will adjust to the music.

Real wood instruments adjust to the sounds they "hear". The boom box method is fine, but keep in mind it picks up the sound you play. Some people favor "Marleying" their instrument, placing the instrument on a speaker and blasting the bass. This is fine, but your instrument will adjust to the bass.

My instruments are stored in the same room where I practice. That way, the instruments adjust to the type of music that I play.

As always, my thoughts are worth what you paid to get them.