Milford Blevins Bass dulcimer. How do I tune this thing

Estes George
@george-desjardins
2 months ago
112 posts

The VSL on this is 28 1/2 inches, 2 inch wide fretboard, 3 inch deep body, 12 1/2 wide lower bout, 44 inches overall length.

 I have attached a couple pictures of it next to my Edd Presnell 3 string for perspective.

 One of my larger ones, but I have several Carl Gotzmer/June Apple dulcimers that are also bigger, The "Cellomer" being 46 inches overall, VSL of 29 inches. 

IMG_2280.jpg
IMG_2280.jpg  •  80KB

IMG_2281.jpg
IMG_2281.jpg  •  79KB

Strumelia
@strumelia
2 months ago
1,838 posts

George, can you tell us the scale length of this dulcimer?




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Estes George
@george-desjardins
2 months ago
112 posts

Yes, I like the "functional" art aspect too. I am now up to 32, all very playable, a lot with history behind them, all kept in tune, humidified, and played on a rotating basis.

 I like different, but need to be playable.

 Thanks!!

Linda2
@linda2
2 months ago
25 posts

Well, WOW! I think it sounds great, and I loved listening to you play! I especially liked the last part, but I enjoyed all of it--

 

I did not think he meant the Blevins. I have 3 (vintage) dulcimers where the fret board goes out past the end and two of them produce cringe-inducing sounds, so I concur with him! Both made by makers with the history of making many instruments, so a person would think they would know better. In all three cases the dulcimers had something else unusual that attracted me--a carved head stock, for instance. Hence I gave myself that mental note about not getting distracted in the future unless I strictly want wall art (which I don't!  I like functional art!)!

Estes George
@george-desjardins
2 months ago
112 posts

I agree with Ken about Dulcimers where the fret board extends past the body, I have only one and pretty much never play it.

 I don't think he was referring to this Blevin as the Fret board does not extend past.

 I have posted a short sound clip so you can hear it, the play is sloppy but not meant to impress. Just wanted whom ever to be able to hear what it sounds like. I may make a more serious attempt later.

 By the way, I have it tuned right now to C-G-C

m4a
Blevin.m4a  •  3.8MB

Linda2
@linda2
2 months ago
25 posts

nod Now I just have to remember that and not get distracted by other pretty details!

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 months ago
1,530 posts

FWIW, in 40 years of dulcimers I've seldom seen a good dulcimer where the fretboard extended beyond the body, regardless of how many instruments the builder has made

Linda2
@linda2
2 months ago
25 posts

Thank you so much for your prompt reply, George! Just what I wanted to hear!  

And, Ken, I'm just twice shy now because I used that "Well, this is number 217, so the builder must have known by then what he was doing!" logic on a fairly recent purchase online, only to discover that the instrument was well put together but is completely unplayable. But as I write this I am realizing that the instrument I'm talking about does have a fret board that extends off the end, so perhaps warping has robbed it of any good intonation. . . .

 

Back to the Blevins --I could only find an obituary with a fleeting mention of being a dulcimer maker and one comment on Everything Dulcimer (aside from Dan's comment below). I'd love it if you could post a link if you've found more info. Thanks to you both!

Estes George
@george-desjardins
2 months ago
112 posts

It seems to tune up just fine, I have played it up and down the frets and all sound fine, don't seem to be out of placement to me. I am no expert however, But I know a couple others I have that I can tell as I work up the fret board that start sounding "off".

 If you aren't familiar with this Blevin model, It is a very large dulcimer compared to most, which I have always liked.

 Bottom line I have no complaints.

 I'll see if I open up some time and try to make a sound clip so you can hear it.

 

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 months ago
1,530 posts

linda2 -- a little research shows that Milford Blevins was quite a prolific regional instrument maker from Tennessee who passed away in early 2016.  Given the number of instruments he built over the years, I would assume that his instruments were fretted correctly.   Mr Blevins was certainly no "one-off" builder who had little Idea of what he was doing!


updated by @ken-hulme: 08/20/17 09:40:08AM
Linda2
@linda2
2 months ago
25 posts
Were you able to tune this? Before I buy a similar instrument, I d like to know if the frets are correctly placed. Thanks!
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
11 months ago
904 posts

The instrument sure has a cool vibe-- I like it! 




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Dan
@dan
11 months ago
78 posts

I've seen plenty, but haven't heard one. I guess you need to let us hear a sound clip? We have several pieces at the Museum of Appalachia displayed and it is said he was a war hero and his people settled here during the Daniel Boone era?

IRENE
@irene
11 months ago
56 posts

this is SUCH a beautiful well made dulcimer.  I love the carvings, the shape and the lovely top.  I wish I could hear it played.  You have a jewel of an instrument there.  aloha, irene

Estes George
@george-desjardins
11 months ago
112 posts

The photos really don't do justice to the size of this thing! 44 inches long, 12 inches at it's widest, 3 inch deep body, 6 string. It is touted as a bass dulcimer, to what should I be tuning this too??

 Going to try and do a sound clip after I figure it out a little more, but have to bring someone in to help me do that, technologically challenged here!!

 Thanks all!!

1.jpg
1.jpg  •  40KB

2.jpg
2.jpg  •  45KB

3.jpg
3.jpg  •  46KB

4.jpg
4.jpg  •  40KB


updated by @george-desjardins: 12/09/16 04:22:17PM