Dave D
Dave D
@dave-d
6 days ago
11 posts
Hi Kevin,

I wish I still had one, I've had two, and sold both. I sold the second one earlier this year.

I did find a similar one recently, at last in terms of size and playability. I picked up one made by George Orthey that is similar sized, but a little lighter, I think. Has more sound, too.
Kevin63
Kevin63
@kevin63
one week ago
11 posts
Hi Dave,
By chance, do you happen to have an A.W. Jeffrey’s dulcimer you’d like to sell?
Thank you for your reply.
Kevin
Kevin63
Kevin63
@kevin63
one week ago
11 posts
David Bennett:

     Just by chance several weeks ago, before my friend sent me the link to this dulcimer sale, I had started gathering information on A.W. Jeffreys for my Today In Mountain Dulcimer History posts but never completed it.  This got me jump started. In fact today I traded several emails with Jeffreys' daughter, Jan. I'm still tweaking this but this is what I have so far:

     A.W. (Alois Waldo) Jeffreys, Jr. was born in 1923 in South Hill, Virginia to a tobacco farmer/auctioneer.  

     A.W. Jeffreys was a Naval pilot during WWII. In 1946 he was in the naval pilot's group that was the fore-runner to today's Blue Angels, then known as the Flight Exhibition Team.

     After his Naval career he was a clinical psychologist. He was Chief Psychologist at Western State Hospital at Staunton, Virginia for 33 years. 

     According to his daughter Jeffreys became interested in dulcimers after observing local folk playing them in the mountains of Virginia where he lived. He made his first dulcimer in 1956.

     About 1960 he started the Appalachian Dulcimer Company in Staunton, it was a family business. His wife ran the business side and she and the kids, Jay and Jan, helped A.W. with various aspects of the business and building dulcimers.

     Jeffreys built both 3 string and 4 string instruments, but preferred 3 strings, in walnut, cherry or butternut with either heart or diamond shaped sound holes. With each dulcimer came an instruction book, which he wrote, a cloth bag, a hand cut pick, and an optional LP record made by his friend, Paul Clayton.

     In the mid-1970s A.W. and his wife took over all the work when Jay and Jan left home. The business wound down sometime in the late 1980's. It is estimated that over 3000 dulcimers were made. Sometime in the 1980's Jeffreys donated much of his dulcimer collection to the Smithsonian Institute.

     Jan told me her dad played the dulcimer very little as he was more of a vocalist. But the song she remembers the most was "Go tell Aunt Rhody".

     A.W. Jeffreys died 29 January 1992.

David Bennett
David Bennett
@david-bennett
2 years ago
73 posts

     Just by chance several weeks ago, before my friend sent me the link to this dulcimer sale, I had started gathering information on A.W. Jeffreys for my Today In Mountain Dulcimer History posts but never completed it.  This got me jump started. In fact today I traded several emails with Jeffreys' daughter, Jan. I'm still tweaking this but this is what I have so far:

     A.W. (Alois Waldo) Jeffreys, Jr. was born in 1923 in South Hill, Virginia to a tobacco farmer/auctioneer.  

     A.W. Jeffreys was a Naval pilot during WWII. In 1946 he was in the naval pilot's group that was the fore-runner to today's Blue Angels, then known as the Flight Exhibition Team.

     After his Naval career he was a clinical psychologist. He was Chief Psychologist at Western State Hospital at Staunton, Virginia for 33 years. 

     According to his daughter Jeffreys became interested in dulcimers after observing local folk playing them in the mountains of Virginia where he lived. He made his first dulcimer in 1956.

     About 1960 he started the Appalachian Dulcimer Company in Staunton, it was a family business. His wife ran the business side and she and the kids, Jay and Jan, helped A.W. with various aspects of the business and building dulcimers.

     Jeffreys built both 3 string and 4 string instruments, but preferred 3 strings, in walnut, cherry or butternut with either heart or diamond shaped sound holes. With each dulcimer came an instruction book, which he wrote, a cloth bag, a hand cut pick, and an optional LP record made by his friend, Paul Clayton.

     In the mid-1970s A.W. and his wife took over all the work when Jay and Jan left home. The business wound down sometime in the late 1980's. It is estimated that over 3000 dulcimers were made. Sometime in the 1980's Jeffreys donated much of his dulcimer collection to the Smithsonian Institute.

     Jan told me her dad played the dulcimer very little as he was more of a vocalist. But the song she remembers the most was "Go tell Aunt Rhody".

     A.W. Jeffreys died 29 January 1992.


updated by @david-bennett: 10/15/18 05:24:56AM
Dave D
Dave D
@dave-d
2 years ago
11 posts

I'm the craigslist seller. Funny, but I didn't even think about posting it here.

I actually have two of these (including the one for sale), numbered #2517 and #2782. They're almost identical twins, except the fretboard on the earlier one is 3/4" thick and the latter is more like a 1/2" thick. And #2517 is initialed AWJ and #2782 is initialed JCJ.

The one I'm playing is tuned to CGC/CGG, and I like the sound of it there.


updated by @dave-d: 10/13/18 07:08:54PM
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 years ago
658 posts

That's a nice looking Jeffreys. At this point in my life I'm only collecting photographs of instruments. I like the dulcimers that Jeffreys made.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
2 years ago
1,062 posts

What a sweet-looking Jeffreys & box! 




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 years ago
1,747 posts

At that price, David, I think you should start collecting!

David Bennett
David Bennett
@david-bennett
2 years ago
73 posts

A friend saw this AW Jeffreys dulcimer on Craigslist. Looks like the seller is about 3 minutes from my house. Too bad I'm not collecting, seems like a good price.

https://huntsville.craigslist.org/msg/d/vintage-w-jeffreys-dulcimer/6708546706.html

Jeffreys AW.jpg

Jeffreys AW.jpg

Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
6 years ago
239 posts

I'm a bit late coming in on this thread looking at how long it has been running!!!!

In my opinion, the Jeffrey's I have (standard 3 string 70s version)is a great little workhorse. It has a lovely articulated tone - and his scale is pretty sweet (and much nicer to play than the modern curse of equal temperament 107.gif )

There are just soooo many old dulcimers with a flattened 3rd and flattened 6th of the scale that we can no longer ignore that this fretting pattern is the sound of theearly instrument. It simply requiresus to re-learndifferent/earlier playing styles to get the best from these wonderful instruments. After all, these more natural fretting patternsproduced the sounds you would have heard ringing around those West Virginia Hills Grin.gif

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
6 years ago
237 posts
Last week whilst sleeping I was woken by a strange sound coming from the corner of my bedroom. It was the single walnut dowel string post on my old Jeffrey's popping out. Lasted 42 years. Installed a new dowel and I'm good to go for another 42... Bob.
John Shaw
John Shaw
@john-shaw
6 years ago
60 posts

After a long interval I've just caught up again with this discussion. I'm another happy (UK) owner of an AWJ dulcimer, which I bought very cheaply on British eBay 3 or 4 years ago.I would counsel against changing the fret pattern to equal temperament. pristine2 is someone I greatly respect, and whose opinions are always valuable. BUT I think the plaintive qualities he loves in AWJ's dulcimers derive partly from the distinctive non-equal temperament. My advice would be to leave fretting alone, enjoy its lovely melody/drone qualities, and accept that to play more chordal music you need to turn to another dulcimer!

To the list of tunings which AWJ's dulcimers really, REALLY like I would add DAC or similar (Aeolian tuning).

pristine2
@pristine2
6 years ago
33 posts

A major cause of premature decay & death among vintage dulcimers is dessication. Long periods of dryness is particularly damaging. It will cause cracks, warp the fretboard and ruin the finish. Vintage mountain dulcimers sourced in the south central and southwest US usually show signs of dessication, but I've seen this damage on instruments from just about everywhere.

In the UK, dry air isn't going to be much of a factor except in winter when you have the heat on. Then you should really keep tabs with a cheap hygrometer. A relative humidity (RH) of 40%-65% is quite safe. If you're getting readings of 35% or less, your instruments ARE at risk. If they are already dry, 55% is a good number to re-hydrate them gradually over a couple of weeks.

I keep my US instrument room, which is really quite large, at between 42% and 51% during the winter using a console humidifier (placed at one side of the room, so the other side stays a bit drier). During the winter I have to add water to the tanks pretty much every day. My instruments are happy. That goes for all my wooden instruments, including my piano, which stays in tune much longer properly humidified.

Damp air can also damage your instruments, but is really less of a concern in temperate climes (unlike Hong Kong, where 95% for weeks on end is common). Dehumidification is a lot more expensive than humidification, too.

John Henry
John Henry
@john-henry
6 years ago
257 posts

Totally agree with you Mike, with the rider that even when attending festivals, where accomodation was sometimes an oven of a tent, tho' more often one which was distinctly damp !!!, I have never felt the need to offer any special provision in the way of protecting instruments I had with me, and so far as I can see, this has in no way affected any of them adversly. (Well, perhaps sometimes just a suggestion of rust on the strings on my hammered dulcimer.............. lol)

John

John Henry
John Henry
@john-henry
7 years ago
257 posts

Glossy Polyurethene/two pack finishes !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

lol, tell me more?

JohnH

Geoff Black
Geoff Black
@geoff-black
7 years ago
23 posts

I'm sure Richard's right about the environment in which you keep the dulcimer being at least as important as what you put on it. Fortunately/unfortunately, I live in a humidity uncontrolled environment, simply because the house is so old and decrepit...most of the external environment seeps in regardless! Dulcimers seem to love it....

I seem to recall my own Jeffreys having very a very matt, dry-looking finish - which I suspect is pretty typical of the era before glossy polyurethane/two pack finishes. I'm not sure I'd necessarily put anything on it...with the exception of the fingerboard, where it really ought not to be dry. I use some mysterious oily preparation invented by the guitar maker Gurian in the 70s...and there won't be any more when it's gone after 40 years! But lemon oil also seems fine...

pristine2
@pristine2
7 years ago
33 posts

Before applying anything to the surface, I would place the instrument in a humidity controlled room for an extended period of time. Above 50%, but less than 60%.

R

pristine2
@pristine2
7 years ago
33 posts

If you want to play in DAG, I'd suggest a 013 in the melody course. It will hold its pitch much better, and will be a bit louder, too. Same gauge will do fine in DAA, but will be a bit too stiff for DAD.

For what it is worth, Jeffreys probably shipped his completed instruments in CGC or CGG. I have one 1991 Jeffreys that came in the original still-sealed box 18 years later. It was in CGC, and very nearly in tune!

To replace the fret pattern, luthiers usually plane down the board and use an overlay thinned to match the original height. You can decide to keep the original fret remnants underneath visible on the sides, or not. You can also plane down the nut and bridge in proportion to the new board surface, and skip the overlay.

R

pristine2
@pristine2
7 years ago
33 posts

Thanks for posting those snaps of your AWJ. It's a very early specimen, I'd say, probably from the early 1960s, before he adopted the scroll he seems to have used always thereafter. I assume there is no date written to the left of the instrument number?

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
7 years ago
237 posts
I looked inside my 1972 model it says JR. coincidentally I just started building a replica of my Jefferies. Here's the lumber pile that in a month will become another dulcimer.. Bob
Geoff Black
Geoff Black
@geoff-black
7 years ago
23 posts

Mike

Good to hear that you have secured an instrument you love - with all its quirks! If you open my catalogue of dulcimers on the Nonsuch site and go to p14 ( http://dulcimer.org.uk/for_sale.html ), you will see a Jeffreys, together with some text which fills out a little of the detail given by Richard above.

'Fraid it's not for sale, having gone to N Wales back in August. there are others I know in the UK. I'd echo what Richard said about the tone and about the odd intonation. Sounded lovely in DAA or DAG however.

Do get in touch if you need anything, from new tuning pegs to capos...or just a chat!

All the best.

Geoff

pristine2
@pristine2
7 years ago
33 posts

Hi

I still have four AWJs (maybe even five, if I can find one that I've lost track of). I've handled maybe 10 in total. The earliest I've seen (and happen to own) is from the late 1950s, with half-width frets. It is the only half-width fret Jeffreys I know of. The rest range from 1962 to 1991, all with full-width frets. I'll be selling one or two, so I'll be writing detailed descriptions over the next few weeks. I'd be tickled pink to see them move at $400, but I'll probably set the reserve in the mid-200s.

Since you have already swapped out the tuners (with something very nice, I might add), and if you're still ready to invest in the instrument, I suggest you completely replace the existing fret pattern. You might even consider adding extra frets. From what I've learnt about the builder, I think he would applaud you (though I also think it important to preserve at least a few examples of unmodified originals, too).

Your impulse to preserve the integrity of the instrument is the correct and ethical one. Invasive surgery on a vintage instrument is a drastic course of action, to be sure. But occasionally, it is the right course, provided there are very good reasons, you are conscious of what you are doing, and you are willing to write about it. Documenting a change usually legitimises it, from history's point of view. Moreover, Jeffreys built in sufficient quantities (I can only guess about 2000 pieces in total) to warrant some experimentation. They are fine musical instruments, after all, and should be used as expressively as possible. That sometimes requires a radical change.

There are three or four people in the country capable of doing this for you, and the cost would be between $100 and $200, depending on which one you use. I hope to be one of those people soon, but I don't yet have the skills developed. I had Ben Seymour re-fret a late model Jeffreys for me last year, and I am very pleased with the results. Ben was careful to match the existing fret wire, and maintain the feel of the action. There are others capable of good work, too -- PM me for some suggestions.

Best,

Richard

pristine2
@pristine2
7 years ago
33 posts

Just one fellow, AW Jeffreys Jr of Stauton Virginia, whose name is often misspelt.

I spoke to his son a couple of years back. He could not enlighten me about the numbering system, but Jeffreys clearly used more than one. On the AWJ instruments I own, the numbers are not in sequence with the dates on the labels.

Jeffreys started building sometime around 1958, and his last instruments are dated 1991. Very few changes during the entire period, though he added a zero fret at some point in the late 1970s.

They are wonderful, very sweet-sounding dulcimers. They are not, however, in equal temperament. He instead used a much older fret pattern, probably left over from half-width-fret dulcimers, that yields a beautifully intoned scale on the melody course but doesn't accommodate chording very well.

AWJs don't sell for a fortune, though I remember one moving on eBay for $400. Depending on age and condition (the really early ones do sell at a premium), you can still pick one up for $125.

Richard

Shawn McCurdy
Shawn McCurdy
@shawn-mccurdy
7 years ago
13 posts
Try contacting an ebay seller called "melodymovers". He was acquainted with AW Jeffreys (not sure Sr. or Jr.) and may be able to shed some light.
Geoff Black
Geoff Black
@geoff-black
8 years ago
23 posts

Hi Richard

Eager to see it close up!

Thanks for giving a very thorough run down on what you see and hear. Warm and balanced is a pretty good start - and good intonation (as you say) a bonus. The fret arrangement sounds intriguing - any indication of date (presume no label, but provenance of any kind?).

The few Bonds I've seen all seem to be different designs - did he have "standard" types as such, or were they all custom made? And as for modelling them on US makers I wonder how many would have made their way over here in any quantity by the mid/late 60s?

We wait with baited breath!

Thanks again, Richard.

pristine2
@pristine2
8 years ago
33 posts

Well the aesthetics are not nearly as refined & elaborate as Geoff's, but my Frank Bond is a *wonderful* instrument, already up there with among the most valued vintage dulcimers I own.

It arrived in fine cosmetic condition, but it is clear that the last owner must have been frustrated. It was strung with the bass string in the middle.The ebony heal is very soft, so the strings just dig into it when you increase string tension -- the last owner probably never got it into tune.I just put a piece of felt there under the strings, which solved the problem ... eventually I will replace the ebony itself. The nut is destroyed, but there's a zero fret so it is still perfectly playable.

The sound is warm, loaded with complexity, and balanced. The intonation, totally against expectations, is just fine.

Bond must have used something like a Jess Patterson as model. It's nearly identical in shape to an Amburgey, though the top bout is a bit more slender and, like a later Patterson I own, the frets are almost full width. They aren't stapled, but fret wire cut to leave few hairs of space on either side, so they do not quite reach the edges of the fretboard.

This leaves the three courses of strings quite close together, making chording a little difficult -- my only real gripe.

I suck at photographs, but I will try to get some shots.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
8 years ago
1,787 posts

John Henry said:

....but these days, by the time it's draped over my stomach I have no need to use the 'tummy hitch' to lift the hem!

JH- too funny!

Richard- i was watching that Ebay Bond and wondering if you had bought it. It's lovely.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
john p
john p
@john-p
8 years ago
173 posts

Had a chance to play the Bond that Geoff has and it was certainly not what I was expecting.

The only other Frank Bond I've ever seen was more than 30 years ago, so my memory of it is very sketchy. As I remember it was a typical slim hourglass style, spruce top, mahogany? body, fiddle edges, fiddle pegs, rusty strings. Far more silvery sound than to the one I had at the time(still have).

john p

pristine2
@pristine2
8 years ago
33 posts

Hi:

Sorry to have frustrated you! I was instantly punished with a higher price.

You've obviously got the nicer of the two Bonds, built with someone special in mind. I must have one of Frank's more pedestrian models, perhaps intended for general sale. I think it is rather less Sunhearth, and more a copy a 50s-era Jethro Amburgey -- albeit with full-width stapled frets & a North Carolina fiddle scroll.

Geoff Black
Geoff Black
@geoff-black
8 years ago
23 posts

Ah Richard

So you are the man who frustrated me, I should have guessed. We must try to co-ordinate next time!

I was wanting a companion for the Bond attached, which looks entirely different. This one dates from 1968 and came from the Fairport Convention household. Two of them went round the corner to Bond's workshop, by all accounts, and bought it for their first singer, Judy Dyble.

Very different design. Yours I thought had a touch of Sunhearth about it. Mine looks very Venetian gondola.

Plays well - light, transparent, sweet - though not entirely accurately by modern standards. Sounds better when noter-driven in DAA, as so often with earlier instruments. Interestingly, has rosewood sides and softwood back.

Do tell us more about yours when you get it please - Bond is a disappearing bit of UK dulcimer history.

Geoff


updated by @geoff-black: 06/16/15 06:44:08AM
pristine2
@pristine2
8 years ago
33 posts

Hi:

I could not resist acquiring this dulcimer, which I assume to be made by Frank Bond, from an Australian seller:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/261011188867

Pretty pricey, but it is a piece of history after all.

I assume the intonation is poor, but those look like stapled frets, which are quite easily tweaked a few cents in either direction without having to re-work the board.

Richard

Arlene Mikelsons
Arlene Mikelsons
@arlene-mikelsons
8 years ago
2 posts

I agree with your comments about having it restored. I have two modern dulcimers, both of which are beautiful and produce a lot of sound. I also have one non-commercially-made dulcimer which sounds fairly "old-timey" and I love that one too, for the twangy sound. I did have a 6-1/2 fret added to that, but it was not very old and not of historical significance.

Right now I have put the dulcimer away in the music cabinet and am trying to control my excitement and think about it rationally. : )

I have made new nuts and even bridges for other instruments. We have scraps of rosewood, walnut and other nice woods available and also bone. It is possible that we could even glue it but the prospect frightens me. I will give it a lot of thought and read more about both the builder and general building. I also know of at least two luthiers within easy driving distance. I am not sure I can afford the one who is probably better but that is at least an option I can find out about.

Thank you for the advice and I will certainly ask in the Making Dulcimers forum if I have questions.

a.m.

Ken Hulme said:

....Please, please, whatever you do, have it restored , not just 'fixed'. That's a real piece of dulcimer history you have there; please don't add frets or change out the tuners or any of that sort of thing. It will have the 'high silvery' sound that those of us who love traditional dulcimers appreciate, not the mellow sound of a modern deep-bodied dulcimer.

Please don't have it re-fretted either. The fretboard may not sound accurate to more modern ears because of the way he usually fretted his instruments. They're what's called "mean intonation" rather than "just intonation". Accurate within themselves but not necessarily accurate to an electronic tuner. Not really intended to be played with other instruments.

A new nut can easily be made from hard wood or bone or horn, whatever the bridge is made from. The loose glue on one side is easily fixed using Titebond brand glue (not Elmers) and a small weight to hold the gap closed while it dries, just be careful to wet wipe up any dribbles.

If you have any other repair questions, ask over in the Making Dulcimers Forum, and we'll help anyway we can.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
8 years ago
1,747 posts

AW Jeffreys was one of the most notable builders of the Revival period. He made over 3000 dulcimers, so yours is fairly early.

Please, please, whatever you do, have it restored, not just 'fixed'. That's a real piece of dulcimer history you have there; please don't add frets or change out the tuners or any of that sort of thing. It will have the 'high silvery' sound that those of us who love traditional dulcimers appreciate, not the mellow sound of a modern deep-bodied dulcimer.

Please don't have it re-fretted either. The fretboard may not sound accurate to more modern ears because of the way he usually fretted his instruments. They're what's called "mean intonation" rather than "just intonation". Accurate within themselves but not necessarily accurate to an electronic tuner. Not really intended to be played with other instruments.

A new nut can easily be made from hard wood or bone or horn, whatever the bridge is made from. The loose glue on one side is easily fixed using Titebond brand glue (not Elmers) and a small weight to hold the gap closed while it dries, just be careful to wet wipe up any dribbles.

If you have any other repair questions, ask over in the Making Dulcimers Forum, and we'll help anyway we can.

Arlene Mikelsons
Arlene Mikelsons
@arlene-mikelsons
8 years ago
2 posts

I just got back from a trip to a neighboring town with my latest "folly." I bought a Jeffreys dulcimer - #728. I didn't know that the maker was so well known until I saw this thread.

It is not in great condition, having a bit of loosening of the top from the side on one side. And it is missing its nut. It is a three string with diamond shaped sound holes and the head is a nice scroll. Don't know what the tuning pegs are. I thought maybe walnut. The fingerboard might also need some work. But it is such a pretty, skinny little thing! I hope that I can have it repaired. Now I am excited to hear how it sounds.

Arlene M.

John Henry
John Henry
@john-henry
8 years ago
257 posts

Still wear mine when in the workshop, I also went for the 'shortie look' aeon's ago, but these days, by the time it's draped over my stomach I have no need to use the 'tummy hitch' to lift the hem! 17.gif

JohnH

john p
john p
@john-p
8 years ago
173 posts

Hi Geoff, there's a wonderful photo of Frank Bond in 'The Dulcimer Book' (John Pearse), using his boot as a 'third hand', fag in his mouth ... typical British workman.

He's wearing a tradesman's apron as well, something rarely seen these days. I used to wear one when I was frame making, but went for the more sporting look with the tummy hitch to raise the hem above the knee Grin.gif

john p

Geoff Black
Geoff Black
@geoff-black
8 years ago
23 posts

Hi Richard/Ken

Yes of course, I should have thought about the Kantele as a source for those two tail anchors - from two very different makers on different continents.

As for Frank Bond, he was as you say very fashionable in the UK about the turn of the 70s. I do indeed own this instrument, having bought it last year from Judy Dyble, who was the very first singer in Fairport (pre-'69). The description in my catalogue is as follows:

"Elegant headstock like the prow of a boat, with a heart cutout on the underside. Slim, elegant outline with softwood (spruce) top AND back, (brazilian?) rosewood sides. Heart-shaped soundholes (pointing to tail). Mahogany neck with rosewood (?) overlay and nickel frets. Originally strung with larger than usual gap between doubled melody string and two lower courses. Nut and bridge replaced to provide more conventional spacing and improve intonation. Scale length looks as though it was reduced while dulcimer was being constructed nut is placed well down the fretboard (by nearly 2). As a result, string break angle to nut is shallower than ideal. String location at bottom end a removable pin is ingenious and (as far as I know) unique. Woodworking is very good but fretting seems to be arbitrary, with questionable intonation on 1st and 8th frets in particular.Overall length 38, lower bout 6", upper bout 4, VSL 27" (medium scale). Standard violin hardwood (ebony/ized) pegs. Unusually for 60s instrument, has 6 fret.

Light construction and softwood back give this a light, transparent and sweet sound. An attractive and historic instrument."

A few further pics may be of interest.

All the best

Geoff

P.S. Notice Richard that you also did a piece on Peter Abnett - did a long article on him for our UK Nonsuch magazine, based on an interview when I picked up my newly commissioned dulcimer from him in 2010. Still writing a piece on Stefan Sobell, who is a bigger name luthier over here and who also started with dulcimers. Talked to him at length last year. Very interesting man.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
8 years ago
1,747 posts

I've not seen that type of string rod on a dulcimer before. But that is/was a very common way of attaching strings on the Finnish Kantele, Estonian Kannel and other Baltic "winged" psalteries.

pristine2
@pristine2
8 years ago
33 posts

Thanks for posting these pics of the Frank Bond dulcimer. Are there more of them (fairport7.jpg, fairport22.jpg, etc)? Do you own this instrument?

I did some rough & ready research on Frank Bond for the vintage builders list on ED a couple of years back. Interesting fellow!

(In retrospect, though, I have often kicked myself for finding and talking to both Roger Nicholson and Tim Hart about Frank Bond -- who very few people remember -- while asking virtually nothing about either musician, both of whom died shortly afterwards. A very memorable display of stupidity.)

Best,

Richard

Geoff Black
Geoff Black
@geoff-black
8 years ago
23 posts

Just checking this thread, having bought a mid-70s plywood Jeffreys No. 2883. Lovely condition, great soft dulcimer sound, appalling intonation....!

But I'm really posting to comment on the tailpiece. See the attached (Fairport 10) from a 1968 Frank Bond (English maker from North London). An interesting dulcimer, having been bought for the Fairport Convention commune (either by Tyger Hutchings or Richard Thompson) just before they became famous with "Liege and Lief".

In this case the tailpiece bar is made of some form of composite material. Works OK but the string break angle seems a little sharper than necessary.

A case of great minds thinking alike, or copying from a third party??

P.S. The Bond also has a really elegant and unusual headstock (see Fairport 8)...oh yes, and poor intonation just like the Jeffreys!!

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
8 years ago
1,062 posts

That is some tailpiece. Though I've not seen a lot of dulcimers, that tailpiece looks most unusual.

You've got a beauty, Kevin!




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
pristine2
@pristine2
8 years ago
33 posts

Interesting instrument ... and early.

The headstock and tail are entirely different than the design he employed faithfully for at least 30 years.

There's no zero fret, placing it in the early 1970s and any time earlier. The low serial number may or may not imply something from his initial work in the late 1950s. I know he had more than one number series.

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
8 years ago
1,062 posts

Wow, Kevin, how cool!




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
pristine2
@pristine2
8 years ago
33 posts

Fortunately, the frets with pitch errors all lean flat! I do the same on my Jeffreys player, built in 1991, which I treasure. I keep another here in Hong Kong that he built in 1962, but I rarely play it.

Ben Seymour recently installed an entirely new fretboard pattern on a Jeffreys for me. It is still in the US so I have not played it yet. You can hear it (barely) here:

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
8 years ago
237 posts

I learned to compensate for the intonation problem. Without thinking about it I just bend the strings where needed. I don't know or care much about its resale value. But the aged spruce top is priceless to me... Bob.

pristine2
@pristine2
8 years ago
33 posts

At the height of the market a few years back, I saw a Jeffreys sell for $400 on eBay. It wasn't in particularly good shape. But even very nice ones typically only fetch $100 -$150, as most buyers assume that the intonation is not in equal temperament (and that's true at least for the six or seven that I have played).

I find that the intonation on the older instruments -- those without a zero fret -- is a bit better. Many of these are entirely solid wood, too, where most of the later ones are all ply except for the top and the fretboard. Yours may be one of these.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
9 years ago
1,787 posts

The Jeffreys I test drove a few months ago was a lovely thing- normal scale length but quite shallow, lightweight, and smallish box compared to what we usually see being made today (so many boomy 'dreadnought dulcimers' these days...lol!). The main reason I didn't buy it was that the fretboard was only 1/2" high and that made it very awkward to play with a noter. There was not sufficient room for my hand or knuckles while sliding up and down, didn't seem to matter how I held the noter. This was an odd feature for a diatonic dulcimer which naturally favors traditional playing styles. It wouldn't be an issue if someone only played by fretting with the fingers on the melody string (fingerdancing). At the time I wondered if all his fretboards were low like that, and it also made me wonder if he himself had any experience in playing with a noter.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
pristine2
@pristine2
9 years ago
33 posts

He was really a tireless campaigner for the dulcimer, and apparently a guy with a lot of dignity and charm. I only wish he had recognised the errors in his fret pattern. Had he done so, his instruments would be worth many times what they are.

The same is true for a number of seminal builders of the period, though.

Ben Seymour just refretted a four-string Jefffreys for me. It sounds lovely. Even with the original fretwork, though, the sweet, plaintive sound of his dulcimers is absolutely authentic and very difficult to find now.

Richard

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
9 years ago
237 posts

Richard. I have a letter from Mr Jeffreys from 12/72 that said that his 4 string dulcimers at $70 were all walnut and his 3 string dulcimers $65 were all cherry. He said that he was out of cherry lunber at the time so only 4 string walnut models were avaliable. He said in his letter that he builds reproductions of ancient musical instruments as a hobby. and I quote.... "The dulcimer I make on order, partly because I believe such a beautiful and useful instrument should be better known".... He enclosed a photo of his dulcimer and requested I mail it back so he could pass it on... Them were the days... Bob.

CD
CD
@cd
9 years ago
61 posts

Is the book copywritten?

pristine2
@pristine2
9 years ago
33 posts

Interesting ... I was wondering when he had started using a zero fret. This narrows it down.

Four-string Jeffreys are pretty uncommon. Nice instrument!

Best,

Richard


updated by @pristine2: 06/16/15 06:37:20AM
robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
9 years ago
237 posts

Here are some pics of my AW Jeffrey dulcimer I bought back in 1972. Included is the supplied carry bag and a very useful instruction manual written by Mr Jeffery's... Bob.

Benjamin W Barr Jr
Benjamin W Barr Jr
@benjamin-w-barr-jr
9 years ago
62 posts

The years that I've owned this particular dulcimer (about 20 years now), I have been asked if it was homemade and if I had made it. So, I suspect that it could have been one that someone did make in their wood shop or garage. Isupposethat I will never know that. But, regardless, it is the search for the identity of the maker of the instrument based on the booklet which led me to this wonderful site of mountain dulcimeraficionados.Smile.gifSmile.gif

Benjamin W Barr Jr
Benjamin W Barr Jr
@benjamin-w-barr-jr
9 years ago
62 posts

Pristine2, Thanks for you comments. I suspect that you are probably right. As I had stated earlier, there is nothing to indicate who the maker of the instrument was. All that I did have was the booklet by Jeffreys, which is still in my possession. All I know of the history was that the man I bought it from at the flea market in Houlton had paid $20 and was looking for $30, to which I turned away only because I knew nothing of the dulcimer (hadn't heard or seen one at that point in time) and I didn't have a musical background, so $30 really didn't have much appeal to me. However, as I turned to go away, he asked if I had $25 for it and (coincidentally that was what I had in my pocket) I thought for a minute that what would I be risking...if I didn't like it I could probably get my investment back, so I paid the man and thus far have purchased 7 more paying a few dollars more than my original investment.

So, anyway, I learned to play and enjoy the instrument and the rest is my story...which I am sticking to....Grin.gif

pristine2
@pristine2
9 years ago
33 posts

Hi and thanks for the photo!

It's a lovely instrument - I especially like that whimsical, narrow strum hollow. Very little to remind me of Jeffreys, though. The instrument appears almost certainly to be the work of another builder.

The shape, the soundholes, the wide fretboard and the geared tuners (assuming they are original) have nothing in common with Jeffrey's typical work, which barely changed from 1960 until his last instruments in 1991.

Earlier Jeffreys instruments would not have thin gauge fretwire like this one. And without info to the contrary, I'd guess that this instrument was made in the 1970s or later.

Jeffrey's book was available independently of his instruments and its presence with the dulcimer is not indicative of the builder. It's always possible that he was experimenting, but unless you have some other reason to suspect it was made by Jeffreys, it almost certainly was not.

Sure looks like a fun instrument, though! Would love to hear it played.

Benjamin W Barr Jr
Benjamin W Barr Jr
@benjamin-w-barr-jr
9 years ago
62 posts

This is the dulcimer that may be a Jeffrey's model.

29_forums.jpg?width=600

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
9 years ago
237 posts

I have number 1865. It was my first dulcimer. I bought it back in 1972. I still play it and its still in mint condition. I would never think of selling it. What a wonderful tone it has. The top is spruce, sides and back are walnut plywood. Fretboard is 3/4" high and easily played with noter. I still have the original noter that came with the instrument, a skimpy 1/4" walnut dowel stick. It came with a really nice pick made out of something resembling a thin strip of electronic circuit board material that made Galax style tunes sound real good. 27" scale and rosewood pegs, intonation is a bit off for finger style but I learned to compensate for that. Bob.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
9 years ago
1,787 posts
There is an A.W. Jeffreys dulcimer for sale right near me, for $175 (without shipping). It's in pretty nice condition- original pegs, diatonic. All walnut with I think a poplar top. I went to look at it. It's nice, but the fretboard is 1/2" high- not high enough for me to play comfortably with my noter. It's a light and graceful thing, I think made in the early 70's. Within 45 min driving distance of Albany NY.


--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Benjamin W Barr Jr
Benjamin W Barr Jr
@benjamin-w-barr-jr
9 years ago
62 posts

Thanks for the reply. As I said, there is nothing to indicate the maker of the instrument. I will get my camera out in a couple of days and post a few pictures of this particular dulcimer. That may help to identify it. I also had a case made specifically for this one. I will post more later.

Ben

pristine2
@pristine2
9 years ago
33 posts

I've seen a couple Jeffreys dulcimers without labels, and one (from 1961) where he signed the instrument in pencil on the inside back panel. It's possible that the adhesive on the label in your instrument simply failed and it fell out, but you might take a good look inside with a flashlight.

If it is shaped like a Jeffreys, I doubt it is a copy. I have wondered, though, whether Jeffreys may have also sold kits, like many makers did -- I know he advertised in craft magazines, but I've never seen one of the ads and don't know whether kits were an option.

Not long after my initial post to this thread my computer died, rendering a lot of data unavailable (it was backed up, but the encryption key doesn't work). Unfortunately the address and telephone of Jeffrey's son in Virginia is in that data.It seems to be irretrievable, but the man's name is Jeffreys and I remember he is still living near Staunton. Your post inspires me to track him down.

By the way, Ben Seymour is doing a complete re-fret of a Jeffreys for me. Imagine those sweet plaintive tones of the Jeffreys intoning in equal temperament! Yum.

Richard

Benjamin W Barr Jr said:

I believe that I may have an early model of an A W Jeffreys, Jr. dulcimer. When I purchased it in Houlton, Maine a number of years ago, it came with the booklet that has been mentioned earlier. It is the revised version (1964) that I have. However, the dulcimer is not signed, so it is possible that someone could have made a copy of one of Jeffrey's dulcimers. The description is similar. The action was high, but I had it lowered.

Anyway, I wanted to comment on this thread...after all, it was a search for information on Jeffreys that has led me to this site and I think it is going to be a good place to hang out.

Benjamin W Barr Jr
Benjamin W Barr Jr
@benjamin-w-barr-jr
9 years ago
62 posts

I believe that I may have an early model of an A W Jeffreys, Jr. dulcimer. When I purchased it in Houlton, Maine a number of years ago, it came with the booklet that has been mentioned earlier. It is the revised version (1964) that I have. However, the dulcimer is not signed, so it is possible that someone could have made a copy of one of Jeffrey's dulcimers. The description is similar. The action was high, but I had it lowered.

Anyway, I wanted to comment on this thread...after all, it was a search for information on Jeffreys that has led me to this site and I think it is going to be a good place to hang out.

CD
CD
@cd
11 years ago
61 posts
Thanks!! How do ya reckon a guy can find Jan's address? Mine is no. 2063 and has his initials in it but no date that I can find. I would like to see if she can tell me more. Pristine2 maybe you know more.......CD
pristine2
@pristine2
11 years ago
33 posts
The way my AW Jeffreys sings is the benchmark I use for what a traditional dulcimer should sound like. There's something about that sweet, plaintive cry that I find incredibly seductive.The instrument doesn't intonate well, but it doesn't matter much when I stick to the melody string.I've been researching AW Jeffreys. He was a very significant person in the history of our instrument. I've spoken to his son and hope to arrange a longer interview soon. One of these days I'll wriote a proper article about him.Richard
Stephanie Stuckwisch
Stephanie Stuckwisch
@stephanie-stuckwisch
11 years ago
45 posts
Those old builders knew what they were doing. My old dulcimer looks awfully slender next to my new ones, kinda like Twiggy vs Reubens, but her voice is sweet.Hope you enjoy you "new" one.Stephanie
CD
CD
@cd
11 years ago
61 posts
Back in Wichita now. Leave for Great Bend and Branson on Monday. I too thought walnut but it is such a light color. Anyway it sounds pretty good but the durn thing is so small compared to today's dulcimers. Small but with a big voice.CD Rod Westerfield said:
looks good CD... your getting a connection in KC worked out ok...look forward to hearing and seeing it sometime.. I was also going to say that it looked like walnut... enjoy... a very traditional dulcimer...
Rod Westerfield
Rod Westerfield
@rod-westerfield
11 years ago
109 posts
looks good CD... your getting a connection in KC worked out ok...look forward to hearing and seeing it sometime.. I was also going to say that it looked like walnut... enjoy... a very traditional dulcimer...
CD
CD
@cd
11 years ago
61 posts
Figured lemon oil would do the trick. The string action is a little high to what I am used to but haven't played it much yet to see if that is a problem or not.CD Patrick O'Brien said:
Hey CD
Very nice indeed,could be a twin sister to mine.Hows the string action look?
The back is walnut btw.A little lemon oil will do wonders for the finish.May need some peg dope for the tuners.
CD
CD
@cd
11 years ago
61 posts
Yes that is a dowel out the rear! Strings go on it. Andy Huffman said:
It's nice looking. I will say that. Is that a dowel stick out of the bottom? Like an old banjo? I think Homer Ledford's early dulcimers were also like that. Thought I read that in his book.
Patrick O'Brien
Patrick O'Brien
@patrick-obrien
11 years ago
4 posts
Hey CDVery nice indeed,could be a twin sister to mine.Hows the string action look?The back is walnut btw.A little lemon oil will do wonders for the finish.May need some peg dope for the tuners.
CD
CD
@cd
11 years ago
61 posts
Here is my Ebay purchase. Tape mark on back came off very easy. Seems to have really good sound for such a narrow and thin body. Needs new strings badly but has a nice full sound to it even with the dull sounding old strings. Red Cedar top and not sure what sides and back are. Looks like the grain of Walnut but is reddish and light toned in color. Needs cleaned up, new strings, and a little loving attention. I know it is hard to tell much from a picture but would be interested in any thoughts or input before I do anything to it.CD

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
11 years ago
1,062 posts
You're right, CD, it wasn't long ago that a Jeffreys fetched a pretty penny on eBay. I look forward to learning how the story turns out!


--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
CD
CD
@cd
11 years ago
61 posts
Well it happened one night in downtown KC, MO. I was sittin' in the bus and noticed there were wireless connections available. I got online and was lookin' around. Ya see that ole dulcimer just popped out at me. I was curious so I decided to put in a bid on it. I Bid $105 maximum and it went for $103. Not in pristine condition and I knew that going in but I sure didn't expect to get it for what I got it for. I'll probably refinish it, but, can only decide that when I see it. May have just thrown a $103 away but I just don't seem to think so. It looks like it suffers from sittin' in a closet way to long. I figured it would probably go about $150 but some have sold for $400 To $500 recently as well in not much better condition. Let ya know more when i get it.CD
Rod Westerfield
Rod Westerfield
@rod-westerfield
11 years ago
109 posts
ok... hmmm picked one up accidentally... what it jump on your bus.... :) :) :) or maybe was laying in the road.. tell us the story CD..
CD
CD
@cd
11 years ago
61 posts
I just pick one up accidentally.CD
Patrick O'Brien
Patrick O'Brien
@patrick-obrien
11 years ago
4 posts
Hello, and do you have one? I'm not sure what you could get for one on the open market( E-Bay )A collector my pay a bunch ,I got one on ebay several years ago for 90.00 S/N 1475 great for noterplaying but not for finger dance, high action.But I would not part with it .
 
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