Putting bass strings on a standard dulcimer?

Susie
Susie
@susie
6 years ago
435 posts

I wanted to convert my 28" scale length FolkRoots to a baritone. I spoke with Richard (the owner of Folkcraft) at Evart and he gave me the nut and bridge material to redo those and told me how to do it (so the slot spacings would accomodate the baritione strings and the intonation would be proper). I ended up not doing it myself, but rather took it to Folkcraft (we've wanted to visit them anyway). Richard did it for me and it sounds/plays great. The intonation is spot on. We didn't discuss a bass dulcimer though. I'd suggest you talk to Richard before you do anything like that. He's the maker of those dulcimers and only he would have the best information for you. Richard is a super guy to talk to and if you ever have the time, visit their shop. It's pretty cool. Real nice folks.

Gale A Barr
Gale A Barr
@gale-a-barr
6 years ago
55 posts

Hi all -

  Thank you all for your thoughts on this. I spoke with Richard (I think that was his name) at Folkcraft a couple of weeks ago about setting one of their make-your-own dulcimer kits as a baritone. His only suggestion was to perhaps order a longer fretboard and seemed to think that setting up as a baritone would be fine. The kits come standard with the 27". I did not ask about setting up as a bass at that time. I could call them back and see what they say about changing a shop-made dulcimer.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
6 years ago
1,455 posts

Gale, I would check with the folks at Folkcraft before doing this.  The box might indeed need greater reinforcement to handle the heavier strings.

 

About a year ago I asked Janita Baker at Blue Lion about buying a baritone to use as either a baritone or a bass dulcimer and she suggested that stringing it for bass would throw the intonation off. So other kinds of adjustments might be necessary.




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Dusty T., Northern California
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Skip
Skip
@skip
6 years ago
286 posts

There should be no problem using bass strings as long as you accept the nut and bridge need bigger slots. the fretboard can be considered a big brace and, if the anchor points are in the tailblock, the body acts like a big, hollow, square tube which is also very strong. If the anchor points are on the fret board the system, fretboard/body, is somewhat weaker, but probably not enough to matter. I would suggest you check with a string calculator for the sizes to use for your [its] VSL. The ones you propose may not be good [apply too much tension]. I also suggest you not use a double melody as it will be pretty stiff to use. As an aside, I've installed bass strings on my regular dulcimer [home built] with no problem. Dan-goad has a valid point on the effect changing to a bass may have on potential value in the future, although you could replace the modified nut/bridge with new replacements if necessary.

Dan Goad
Dan Goad
@dan-goad
6 years ago
156 posts

The nut and bridge notches will have to be altered.  Most Baritone dulcimers do require additional structural bracing.  If it were me, I would NOT alter this Folkroots/Folkcraft dulcimer as doing so would reduce the future potetial value of the instrument.

Gale A Barr
Gale A Barr
@gale-a-barr
6 years ago
55 posts

Hi - I posted this also on the Everything Dulcimer forum....
  I just purchased a Folkroots/Folkcraft Model: D550s-520, Dated: 2-10-2004, from a member of Everything Dulcimer. I have ordered some appropriate strings to put on this instrument to enable me to play it as a baritone. This dulcimer has a deeper (3") body and has a nice throaty sound. Would it harm the instrument in anyway if I put larger gauge strings (.022, .022, .036 and .052.) on this instrument to try playing as a bass also? The owners of the music store I spoke with asked this question and I do not know the answer. Is the structure of a purpose-made bass dulcimer more reinforced than a standard mountain dulcimer? The string notchs in the nut and bridge might have to be altered?