PA German Zitter

Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
9 months ago
531 posts

Yes, those are home made strings. 0.022 for the Ds and 0.016 for the As. Lisa, I'm tweaking the instrument at the moment and hope to make a video soon. I was not happy with the first video; not enough volume.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
9 months ago
164 posts

Ken, ol' buddy, ol' pal!!  You did GREAT!  That's a real beauty.  

Methinks I see homemade strings on it.  Am I right?

Strumelia
@strumelia
9 months ago
1,866 posts

Ken that is just delightful! 

Will we be treated to a video clip any time soon?  clapper




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Bob Reinsel
@bob-reinsel
9 months ago
102 posts

Ken that's a really nice piece of work, and research.




--
Bob
Site Moderator

The greatest music is made for love, not for money -- Greg Lake
Bob
@bob
9 months ago
137 posts

That's great information thanks Ken. I may just try making my own wood stain now :-)

Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
9 months ago
531 posts

The walnut stain is easy to make. Take walnuts in the hulls and put them in a bucket. Heat water bringing it to a boil and then pour the water over the walnuts. Cover the walnuts with water. Let this stand for six to eight weeks. Pour the walnut/water mix into another bucket covered with cheese cloth to strain out the hulls, nuts, etc. If you notice a great amount of solids still in the mix you can strain it again. I used some applesauce jars to store the stain pouring it from the bucket into the jars. This is a water-based stain, so it will raise the grain. Sanding will be needed between each coat of stain. You control the color by the number of coats of stain you apply. I did not use a sanding sealer given the water-based stain. I am fortunate to have a large supply of walnuts from the tree behind our house.

The tuning head is glued to the back which spans the entire length of the instrument from head to end block. The top also covers the top of the head and end block. The sides are fit between the head and tail block.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Bob
@bob
9 months ago
137 posts

Very cool! It looks old! I am interested how you attached the tuning head to the body. Cant see any seam. You're a very good woodworker! Also, how did you make the stain? Poplar usually needs as sanding sealer as it has very distinct grain.

Looking forward to hearing it!

By the way, will you display it at the center/museum where you found and copied the original?

Steven Berger
@steven-berger
9 months ago
88 posts

Good looking zitter,  Ken! How did you make the stain? It looks great. And I thought walnuts were only good for eating! confusey

 

Steven

Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
9 months ago
531 posts

Well, I'm nearing completion, so it is time to share the latest photos. I'll be tweaking this for a few more days. I made some compromises. I did not like the nail nut and bridge, so I made them out of oak. The dimensions are correct as are the sound holes. I changed to zither tuning pins rather than harpsichord pin and screws. I have it strung with three 0.016 strings (tuned to A) and two 0.20 strings (solid, tuned to D). As you would expect it is not very loud. I tried making a video, but I am not happy with. I'll try again to see if I can get some better sound. You will notice that the poplar is considerable darker from my homemade walnut stain. Here a few photos (not very good as the lighting was not very good0. Hope to take better ones if I get some sun in the next few days.

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Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
9 months ago
531 posts

Yesterday I tried grinding down the heads of some small nails to see if I could come close to recreating the nails in the original instrument. It's not exact but close. I think I will try them as string anchors. If they don't hold well, I'll revert to the screws. Also, after making 15 staple style frets, I found that they did not fit very well. Just a little short of the half inch I was trying for. Monday or Tuesday I'll be making more frets. Project is on hold for this weekend as two grandsons are here visiting along with their parents.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Bob
@bob
9 months ago
137 posts

Hi Ken,

I am really looking forward to seeing your new Zitter project! As a "living Historian" (Re-enactor) these things excite me!

I haven't been able to see very clearly the tuning keys on the original you are recreating, but they appear to resemble violin pegs. I was looking at various épinette des Vosges and noticed they have that type of tuners.

Actually, seeing what  you are doing sparked my imagination and I am planning on building one after my current 5 string walnut/spruce dulcimer is completed!

Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
9 months ago
531 posts

Bob, I think the original was made of poplar. You are correct that the one I am making is poplar. You will not recognize it when I post new photos. It is a deep, rich brown now that I have stained it with homemade walnut stain. It has a shellac finish. I hope to get the staple frets in soon. I have decided to use blued zither pins rather than wood screws for tuning pins. I looked for harpsichord pins but found them to be too expensive. Another change will be small screws as pin anchors rather than the type of nails on the original.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Sheryl St. Clare
@sheryl-st-clare
9 months ago
338 posts

This is fascinating. Great questions Bob.

John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
9 months ago
164 posts

Ken, this is a great project.  To me, it's fascinating to try to reproduce a historical instrument.  You have to try to think how the builder made it, the circumstances of its creation, the methods and materials used, etc.  What a great way to spend some time away from the 21st century!  

Best wishes for a successful build.  You're well on your way already.

Bob
@bob
9 months ago
137 posts

Pretty cool and great story! I like how you have brought these into the public and keep their history alive.

Do you know what the original woods were that were used? It appears you have selected Poplar for your recreation. Do you think that wood was used? It is plentiful in the Northeast US/Colonies and used commonly as a secondary wood in cabinetry.

As Bert said, it will be interesting to hear it's voice!

Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
9 months ago
531 posts

LOL, Bert. Me, too!

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Bert Bennett
@bert-bennett
9 months ago
43 posts

Looks like a fun projects.  Looking forward to hearing how it sounds.

Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
9 months ago
531 posts

Here are some photos of PA German zitter reproduction I'm making. There is one photo of the original zitter which is in the collection of the Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum. When L. Allen Smith compiled his A Catalogue of Pre-Revival Appalachian Dulcimers he examined three zitters (which he called scheithots) at the museum. In the summer of 2015 I asked the curator if I could see these instruments as they are not on display. She told me I could not only see them, but I could photograph them, measure them, trace them, and reproduce them. Upon arriving at the museum she informed me that they had a fourth instrument in collection which is the one I am copying. The zitter will be stained with homemade walnut stain. It will have wire frets under two strings, just intonation.

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updated by @ken-longfield: 02/20/17 08:39:01PM