Hanging some dulcimers as a wall display

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 weeks ago
2,278 posts

One thought occurs to me in all this that you may want to consider.

Hanging these dulcimers so high up on the wall (8 feet?) would present some risk both to the dulcimers and to the person trying to get them down to examine or play. People fall from ladders (especially older people), or instruments could be accidentally dropped from high up, resulting in permanent and/or fatal damage. I think of these things when i store or display items myself.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
razyn
@razyn
2 weeks ago
47 posts

Wally Venable:

OK, now I understand the requirements. Just have a blacksmith or welder construct five separate cradles, each customized to fit an individual instrument and at your chosen angle. A single hanging point for each is all that is needed.

That's far beyond what I'd want to have showing, but you make a statement about the "single hanging point" that I think I'd agree with -- if it's actually hanging (as I had originally asked).

If it's more or less bolted to the wall, as Ken Hulme seems to suggest, the center of gravity of each displayed object wouldn't much matter.  But I'm still wrestling with the invisibility question; something like fishing leader (or a clear nylon guitar string) was suggested, I think, in the Sam Rizzetta article I cited.  I'm hesitant because stretchy materials tend to lose their tension gradually, over time.  It would be nice to have a "cradle" material that was thin and/or clear -- but would stay as tight as one had pulled it, before hanging the contraption seven or eight feet up.

Spiders seem to manage this sort of task pretty well.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 weeks ago
2,278 posts

I understand now, Razyn. Indeed I remember the delight of examining your beautiful old dulcimers at that Antietam gathering in the wonderful old barn.  :)




--
Site Owner

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

updated by @strumelia: 07/11/24 10:55:07AM
Wally Venable
Wally Venable
@wally-venable
2 weeks ago
75 posts

OK, now I understand the requirements. Just have a blacksmith or welder construct five separate cradles, each customized to fit an individual instrument and at your chosen angle. A single hanging point for each is all that is needed. Make them from heavy steel wire (8 gauge ?), paint them black, and cover the contact points with black rubber tube (1/8 in. ?).

This approach requires good craftsmanship which won't come cheap. You could by another good dulcimer for the same price.

razyn
@razyn
2 weeks ago
47 posts

Strumelia:

I like Wally's thought of angled bookshelves.

 

I must dissent, not that Wally (and Dusty before him) don't have good ideas on the broad topic of dulcimer displays.  But I'm specifically asking how I might best arrange five dulcimers to tell "The Story of the Dulcimer" visually, as Ralph Lee Smith did with three instruments in the cover illustration of the first edition of his excellent little book on that subject.  I own a couple of "missing links" in the sequence he has documented, there and in the revised 2nd edition, as well as his long-running series in Dulcimer Players News.  And I've specifically proposed a fan shape, over a wide doorway, in a large room with an unusually high ceiling.

Nearly alone in Dulcimerica, you (Strumelia) have actually seen my collection -- six or eight of them -- some years ago at an Antietam Early Banjo Gathering.  Other dulcimer fans who have seen most of them include Roddy Moore; the late Ralph Lee Smith himself; and most recently John Hallberg and Ken Longfield (together), alongside John's large and growing museum collection.  For this proposed, historically informative wall display, none of the five is newer than 1963.  Three of them date from the early to mid-19th century, including a fine German-American zitter (regrettably called a "scheitholt" by most of our community).  All are now in playable, gently restored and unmodified condition; so I might, very occasionally, want to take one or two down to play, or to show someone.  They are in my residence, not a museum.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 weeks ago
2,278 posts

I like Wally's thought of angled bookshelves. Like say at a 20 degree angle. That way, it would also slightly reduce dust from settling on the instruments. The shelves could be attached without a backboard, and perhaps staggered on the wall, to give a more floating effect.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty
2 weeks ago
1,745 posts

@razyn, I appreciate your visions here and think of all the suggestions so far, @ken-hulme's is probably the best, though it will entail some work.

Have you thought about using a slatwall kit instead?  Pegboard would work as well, though it doesn't look as nice.  You could easily get hardware to fit the slatwall to hold your dulcimers at different angles.  And none of it would be permanent, so you could change the display if you added new pieces to the collection or to highlight different kinds of comparisons among the instruments. Some slatwall looks downright elegant.

You can see my lazy approach to hanging dulcimers here:

.  No fancy angles for me. Just a picture hanger and leather shoelace. No interior design ambition at all!




--
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
razyn
@razyn
2 weeks ago
47 posts

Ken Hulme:

Make a fan of lengths of 1x2 with cross pieces to hold the wide ends apart.  Mount that to the wall with standard hardware, then attach the dulcimers to the angled arms...

This is a useful idea, though I remain very reluctant to make the mount itself a prominent element of the display.  Preferably it would be invisible.  But for purposes of discussion, there is not a problem with mounting a fan of five 1x2 planks (each shorter overall than the dulcimer or zitter it will support) directly to the drywall, e.g. with molly bolts.  Individual harnesses, each of which will hold (but can release) one instrument to its custom-sized plank, might differ in the means and location of their unobtrusive attachment mechanisms.  I might seek inspiration at REI or someplace where I can look at nylon web belts, etc. made with quick-release clamps, for things like water bottles attached to bicycles, flare guns to kayaks, or whatever.

The fan of dulcimers will be roughly five and a half feet wide, three and a half feet high, and the lowest point (on the two outside examples) will be seven feet or so above the floor.  The room has about a 16 foot ceiling, not a problem for looking at dulcimers, but a long way to drop one.

razyn
@razyn
2 weeks ago
47 posts

Salt Springs:

I think I would experiment with [a lot of things that never would have occurred to me, so, thanks...]

[snip]

That way, if the head is secure you could angle them any way you wanted depending on where and how you placed the plastic piece.

Just a thought or two..........

I appreciate all the ideas; every instrument deserves its own approach, and some of them may differ, on the wall.  I'll address the fundamental topic as it was more tersely stated by Ken Hulme.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 weeks ago
2,137 posts

Make a fan of lengths of 1x2 with cross pieces to hold the wide ends apart.  Mount that to the wall with standard hardware, then attach the dulcimers to the angled arms...

Salt Springs
Salt Springs
@salt-springs
2 weeks ago
208 posts

Good question......I think I would experiment with eye screws painted to match the color of the wall and plastic clear zip ties or stainless steel zips painted or stained.  Another thought is use some loop end strings, run them through the bottom hitch pins and put the one your going to attach to the wall under one of the strings running through to the bridge, pull it tight and twist it to secure making another loop or wind it around the eye screw or whatever your using. You might be able to make a sort of L bracket out of plastic or vinyl to run your wire through. If your are placing them on dry wall use some plastic or metal anchors with the eye screws..........there is a way but it might be trial and error until you find on that works for the bottom attachment.

 Or If you used a flat rectangular piece of plastic, attached to the wall, behind the instrument you could run that wire from  the hitch pins under the body and tighten it up enough so that the instrument will lay fairly firm against the wall.......wrap your wire under that plastic, through a hole in it and/or around a screw holding the plastic.  If your worried about the screws that you attach the plastic with stick some felt over them.  That way, if the head is secure you could angle them any way you wanted depending on where and how you placed the plastic piece.

Just a thought or two..........

razyn
@razyn
2 weeks ago
47 posts

Ken Longfield:

The "unobtrusive" support is puzzling me. Most of what I've thought of would require making some sort of cradle to hold the lower end.

Thanks, Ken, it's the cradle details that bother me.  Some sort of attachment to the back that would hold the negligible weight of an instrument, be almost entirely out of sight, and could be suspended at any angle I wish.  I was thinking of some light harness (twine?) assembled as a loose fit, with maybe a miniature turnbuckle, or similar device to make its grip gentle but firm.  Padded hooks or tabs at the edges where it has to be gripped.

IDK, the dulcimers are all differently shaped but have fronts, backs, and sides.  And of course are old, rare, irreplaceable...  Maybe I should lay them out on the floor, take a photo of the view I want, blow that up, and mount that over the doorway.  But it would have a fraction of the impact, or educational value.  And be two-dimensional.  As you and I well know, John Hallberg has a similar problem, multiplied by some large number.  The Story of the Dulcimer is still worth telling visually.

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 weeks ago
1,125 posts

I went back through all my photos of dulcimer displays but could not find any displayed as you want to do it. They were either hung vertically or laid out horizontally. Those at an angle were resting against something. The "unobtrusive" support fis puzzling me. Most of what I've thought of would require making some sort of cradle to hold the lower end.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

razyn
@razyn
2 weeks ago
47 posts

The late Sam Rizzetta had a column about the issue in DPN, Fall 1995, p. 9.  But he didn't address techniques for hanging them at angles.

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@nate
2 weeks ago
278 posts

Very interested to hear what others with actual knowledge do for this. Personally, I have mounted dulcimers on the wall by securing them with picture frame mounting hooks, and hanging them by a piece of twine that is tied to the scroll and tailpiece. Because the twine puts a lot of friction on the hook, it will stay at whatever angle you position it. I am sure there are more simple and elegant solutions so I'm looking forward to hearing from others.


updated by @nate: 07/08/24 05:31:37PM
razyn
@razyn
2 weeks ago
47 posts

Not that they aren't playable; the ones I intend to hang are just historically interesting.  I want to fan five of them side by side in a sort of homage to Ralph Lee Smith's cover photo (that showed three) for the original edition of "The Story of the Dulcimer."  Thanks to Ralph himself and other collectors/researchers, we have more details of the story than he had forty years ago.  I own a couple of the "missing links" that help tell the story visually.  And I think they'd look better as a fan display than as soldiers standing at attention (all hanging parallel, because gravity works that way).

So the question I'd like to address is, how have others here dealt with the lower end or edge of a dulcimer so it can hang at an angle, about 30 degrees left or right of vertical?  The top end isn't the problem, but I wouldn't want any of these antiques falling off the wall for lack of attention to that detail.  I'd prefer some sort of unobtrusive hardware solution, not nails or glue, or double-sticky tape on the instrument backs.  None of them are heavily built, like e.g. the "TMB" form.