I bought a Sunhearth!

shanonmilan
@shanonmilan
one month ago
52 posts

Dwain Wilder:

Curt DeBaun:

Dwain, thanks for the offer, but it had the fine tuners with it.  I hope to buy one of your Bear Meadow concert dulcimers in the not too distant future.  BTW, here are better photos of the pegs installed.

Curt

 

Nice job! Watch out about the string winding on the bass peg: if it gets all the way to the pegbox wall it can interfere with tuning and setting the peg.

If you ever have to do another peg setting, ease up gradually on the final reaming, then turn the reamer backwards to burnish the wood. The object is to have about 1/32" of the little end sticking outside the pegbox, so that future peg wear will give you plenty of peg left in case you need to enlarge the hole a bit. And fhen finish the peg end to a nice domed button by rubbing its end in a 1-1/2" diameter circular motion on a soft sanding pads, from 100G down thourgh the grit range to 320G. Then finish off with red rouge on a polishing wheel. (Mineral spirits clean up the rouge very well). That results in a very attractive pegbox.

I'm sort of overwhelmed with commissions now and not accepting any until I get the backlog cleared. I can refer you to one of my students, though, if and when you like. (Or who knows, maybe I'll have the backlog well on the way to completion by the time you're ready!). But as I get older I work slower and more carefully, so each instrument takes longer than the previous one.

 

Your method for finishing the peg end sounds meticulous and will certainly contribute to an attractive pegbox. I appreciate the detailed instructions, and I'll follow the steps you've outlined for the sanding and polishing process.

Dwain Wilder
Dwain Wilder
@dwain-wilder
one month ago
49 posts

Curt DeBaun:

Dwain, thanks for the offer, but it had the fine tuners with it.  I hope to buy one of your Bear Meadow concert dulcimers in the not too distant future.  BTW, here are better photos of the pegs installed.

Curt

 

Nice job! Watch out about the string winding on the bass peg: if it gets all the way to the pegbox wall it can interfere with tuning and setting the peg.

If you ever have to do another peg setting, ease up gradually on the final reaming, then turn the reamer backwards to burnish the wood. The object is to have about 1/32" of the little end sticking outside the pegbox, so that future peg wear will give you plenty of peg left in case you need to enlarge the hole a bit. And fhen finish the peg end to a nice domed button by rubbing its end in a 1-1/2" diameter circular motion on a soft sanding pads, from 100G down thourgh the grit range to 320G. Then finish off with red rouge on a polishing wheel. (Mineral spirits clean up the rouge very well). That results in a very attractive pegbox.

I'm sort of overwhelmed with commissions now and not accepting any until I get the backlog cleared. I can refer you to one of my students, though, if and when you like. (Or who knows, maybe I'll have the backlog well on the way to completion by the time you're ready!). But as I get older I work slower and more carefully, so each instrument takes longer than the previous one.


updated by @dwain-wilder: 01/25/24 10:51:39PM
Curt DeBaun
Curt DeBaun
@curt-debaun
one month ago
5 posts

Dwain, thanks for the offer, but it had the fine tuners with it.  I hope to buy one of your Bear Meadow concert dulcimers in the not too distant future.  BTW, here are better photos of the pegs installed.

Curt

thumbnail_IMG_6759.jpg

thumbnail_IMG_6761.jpg

Dwain Wilder
Dwain Wilder
@dwain-wilder
one month ago
49 posts

Congratulations! So many dulcimer players do not want fricion pegs. That may be due to a number of circumstances that we could all bring to mind. A good story of well-fitted set of pegs is always a joy to read!

Do you have the fine tuners? They are the little ebony trapezoidal buttons on the string between the saddle and the nose of the tailpiece. Sliding them will control the tuning by about a semitone.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
one month ago
2,233 posts

Sounds like you did a wonderful job on those pegs!  🙌🏼




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
one month ago
382 posts

That's wonderful news, Curt!  These things don't always turn out so well.  That's a good job of peg-fitting.

Curt DeBaun
Curt DeBaun
@curt-debaun
one month ago
5 posts

Hello,

I have installed new rosewood pegs on my Sunhearth (photo attached), tuned it up and WOW!  Now I know why Sunhearth dulcimers have such a good reputation.  The sound is great!

While doing some research on the internet about Sunhearth dulcimers, I ran into some information, and a photo (attached) that has made me wonder about the originality of the tuners that I took off.  While I think that most of us would agree that the rosewood pegs look great, I have found some information, mostly on this forum, that has surprised me.

There was a story about Walter Martin and his dulcimers in DPN Vol 15, #3 (July/September 1989).  It was mentioned that he used either gold-plated Schaller or Grover machine pegs OR Rosewood friction pegs.  And there is a photo that was taken of some dulcimers hanging in his shop that was posted by Leo Kretzner on this forum previously.

So....  The tuners may of been original.  I kept them and can always put them back on, but I do like the rosewood pegs, and since the dulcimer does not have a 6.5 fret, I will probably just leave it in Ionian.

BTW, I bought a good peg shaver, and a set of Rosewood Viola pegs on eBay (Dwain, thanks for the information about the pegs).  They were easy to install myself.  I think Mr. Martin would be pleased with the result.

Curt DeBaun III

shanonmilan
@shanonmilan
2 months ago
52 posts

Ken Longfield:

I built my first three dulcimers under the tutelage of a violin maker, so I had good instruction on fitting pegs. While I can describe the process, watching it is probably better. There are some good videos on YouTube that deal with peg fitting. Anyone can check them out if they want to the job. For me the process was watch one, do one with my teacher watching over the process, and do another on my own.  Of course, like any task it gets easier with practice. You develop a feel for your tools and the process. It would have been easier for Curt if the original owner kept the original pegs. 

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

 

Peg fitting is indeed a delicate process, and your journey from watching to doing resonates with my own learning on the violin.

OverDrive
OverDrive
@overdrive
2 months ago
2 posts

My dulcimer hung on the wall for years and years because of how frustrated I would get with those "dreaded" friction banjo tuners.  I committed to replacing them with a set of 5-star planetary tuners as a present to myself last Christmas. They were spendy, and took some modification to install, but what a joy it is to be able to finally play and try different tunings. I don't miss the money at all!

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 months ago
1,063 posts

I built my first three dulcimers under the tutelage of a violin maker, so I had good instruction on fitting pegs. While I can describe the process, watching it is probably better. There are some good videos on YouTube that deal with peg fitting. Anyone can check them out if they want to the job. For me the process was watch one, do one with my teacher watching over the process, and do another on my own.  Of course, like any task it gets easier with practice. You develop a feel for your tools and the process. It would have been easier for Curt if the original owner kept the original pegs. 

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Dwain Wilder
Dwain Wilder
@dwain-wilder
2 months ago
49 posts

Ken Longfield:

Curt, you can buy the pegs and install them yourself. Bear in mind that the pegs are tapered and the hole into which they go must be tapered as well. A viola size hole reamer is the tool you will need to do this. Also, if the holes were enlarged for the banjo tuners, they will need to be plugged, drilled, and reamed. It depends upon how much time and money you want to spend. Pegs are inexpensive, reamers are not although since you are only doing this one job you can probably get away with an inexpensive one.

Ken

 

Ken, if you're certain on giving Curt this advice on setting his own wooden pegs without professional help, please also include how to fine-fit the taper, and how dress the pegs for the proper fit and proper amount of sticking friction to ensure easy and sseure tuning.

You're way beyond me if you can describe that without giving a hands-on lesson.

Curt DeBaun
Curt DeBaun
@curt-debaun
2 months ago
5 posts

Ken,

I am pretty sure that the existing holes have not been modified since they held the original pegs.  Would not some off-the-shelf pegs fit.  If so, what size?   

I am more than willing to take the dulcimer to a string shop, if that is needed.

Thanks,

Curt

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 months ago
1,063 posts

Curt, you can buy the pegs and install them yourself. Bear in mind that the pegs are tapered and the hole into which they go must be tapered as well. A viola size hole reamer is the tool you will need to do this. Also, if the holes were enlarged for the banjo tuners, they will need to be plugged, drilled, and reamed. It depends upon how much time and money you want to spend. Pegs are inexpensive, reamers are not although since you are only doing this one job you can probably get away with an inexpensive one.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 months ago
2,233 posts

Dwain Wilder:

The original pegs were rosewood viola pegs, by the way. If you prefer them, the pegs need to be hand-fitted to the peghead. A violin string shop could supply the pegs and fit them properly. If you do not have the fine tuners I can supply them.

 

That's great to know that the original pegs were rosewood viola pegs, Dwain. And you would have that first-hand knowledge, for sure!  

My own experience with Grover Stay-tite tuners is that they cannot hold a high tension very well, especially on a longer scale length dulcimer. My vote is for either wooden viola pegs (well fit by a violin repairperson), or the Wittner or Perfection pegs which are terrific though a bit expensive. Those two also have the benefit of 'looking' just like trad wood pegs, yet you can turn them smooth as butter and they fine-tune too.. 

Then again, you got that Sunhearth for a bargain price, so maybe you can justify investing in worthy pegs for it!




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 01/10/24 09:51:10AM
Curt DeBaun
Curt DeBaun
@curt-debaun
2 months ago
5 posts

Thanks to everyone who responded.  It appears that the tuners were replacements.  I removed them and happily there was no damage done in their installation.  So, I will put the dulcimer back to the way it was originally.  It was mentioned that the original pegs were viola rosewood pegs, and from all of the illustrations that I have seen, they seem to have been mass produced pegs, although hand-carved pegs were offered as an upgrade.

Any chance that I could fit these myself?  It was mentioned that I should take the dulcimer to a string shop and have them fitted there.

Thanks to all,

Curt DeBaun III

Dwain Wilder
Dwain Wilder
@dwain-wilder
2 months ago
49 posts

Ken Longfield:

Hi Dwain, I didn't say that the tuners were mechanical. They are, as you noted, Grover Stay-Tites which are friction tuners. I think they came in banjo and ukulele sizes. Those on Curt's dulcimer appear to be banjo size.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

 

Sorry, I didn't read the whole thread before responding. Somehow I got a private message and just responded to that. I didn't know Stay-Tites came in two sizes! Yes, they do appear to be the banjo size I see on dulcimers from time to time.

Dwain Wilder
Dwain Wilder
@dwain-wilder
2 months ago
49 posts

The original pegs were rosewood viola pegs, by the way. If you prefer them, the pegs need to be hand-fitted to the peghead. A violin string shop could supply the pegs and fit them properly. If you do not have the fine tuners I can supply them.

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 months ago
1,063 posts

Hi Dwain, I didn't say that the tuners were mechanical. They are, as you noted, Grover Stay-Tites which are friction tuners. I think they came in banjo and ukulele sizes. Those on Curt's dulcimer appear to be banjo size.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Dwain Wilder
Dwain Wilder
@dwain-wilder
2 months ago
49 posts

Those are not banjo mechanical tuners at all. They are the dreaded Grover Stay-Tites. They weren't fitted them with the grace of  fitted small end peg hole plugs properly made cross-grain to make a good finish for such a fine instrument.

I would recommend having them replaced at a string shop (not a guitar repair shop!) with Pegheds or Witmer mechanical pegs. I prefer Pegheds for their adjustable holding friction.

Walt Martin occasionally-fitted Schaller banjo pegs. But they were customized, cut down to match the pegbox wall thickness. He also re-sculpted and crpss-drilled the stem's string-hole to match, so the strings weren't pulling on the pegs unsupported and destructive to the planetary gears.


updated by @dwain-wilder: 01/09/24 10:50:48AM
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 months ago
1,063 posts

I'll need to check my files on Sunhearth later today to be certain, but I don't think Walt Martin was offering those Grover banjo pegs as an upgrade in 1975.  If you send me a private message with your email address I will send you pdfs of the 1974 Sunhearth flyer. I also have two magazine articles on Walt Martin and Sunhearth that I can send as well if you are interested.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
2 months ago
1,404 posts

You've got a beauty!  Regardless of what you do about the tuners, I hope you enjoy it.  dulcimer  

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
2 months ago
382 posts

If you will excuse me for saying so, I think those pegs look like cheap banjo friction pegs, not worthy of such a fine instrument.  The previous owner probably had tuning problems with the original wooden pegs, and had somebody replace them with these.  There are nicer alternatives, including nice-fitting wooden replacements or quality mechanical tuners, such as Wittners or Perfection pegs.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty
2 months ago
1,712 posts

That's a beautiful dulcimer and you got it for a very fair price.  If your buyer's remorse is strong enough, just send the dulcimer to me and ease your discomfort. grin

I can understand wanting the original tuners, if indeed it originally had tuning pegs.  But the problem is that you don't have those tuning pegs, so replacing the mechanical tuners would represent another modification. And mechanical tuners are indeed much easier to use.

Perhaps @Dwain-Wilder of Bear Meadow would know what kind of tuners the 1975 Sunhearth originally had.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Curt DeBaun
Curt DeBaun
@curt-debaun
2 months ago
5 posts

Hello,

I'm glad to be a new member of the group.  Last week I saw a very nice Sunhearth dulcimer pop up on ebay, and I was able to grab it for $495.  I great deal!  It was #240, built 12/9/75.  I've had a bit of buyers remorse, as I was really wanting an unmodified one, but right after I paid for it, the reality set in that it had mechanical tuners on it.  I have since received it, and it is a beautiful instrument, but I have to wonder if it originally had wooden tuning pegs.  I would like to hear from someone who knows Sunhearth dulcimers as to the originality of it, and if they were pegs, should I try to replace them.  I must admit I would rather have the mechanical tuners, but I am a bit of a nut about keeping things original.

Thanks,

Curt DeBaun III

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