Possum board question: pros and cons

Kevin Keating
@kevin-keating
3 months ago
13 posts

I added strap buttons to the possum board.  Not for a strap but to use rubber bands to hold the instrument onto the board as it was rocking and sliding a little bit.

Kevin Keating
@kevin-keating
3 months ago
13 posts

Thank you Ken.  The cradles that hold the dulcimer aren't exactly perfect so the instrument wobbles just a little when I play making a clunking noise.  The cork kinda helped that I think.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 months ago
1,473 posts

Looks good!  You don't really need the cork gasket though. 

Kevin Keating
@kevin-keating
3 months ago
13 posts

I made a possum board using the lid of an old wooden violin case.  I cut and attached a couple pieces of wood to the ends to support the dulcimer and used pieces of cork gasket to pad them.  It works pretty well.  

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Susie
@susie
5 months ago
259 posts

Paula Brawdy:


Susie:

 

I got an adjustable possum board from Jim VanderWoude at Evart. It fits all my dulcimers. I added rubber tubing to the posts and some additional felt in a couple spots to make sure the dulcimers don't get scratched. Very well made and thought out. It folds up too, for storage/travel.

 

 

Hi,  how do they feel on your lap?  Pro and cons?  Jim lives close to me so would be convenient to buy from

Oh my, I just saw your question....sorry.

His possum boards are comfy on the lap. He also puts strap pins on it. The only thing is that the dulcimer sits a bit higher on your lap, but you can get used to that.

 

 

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john warren
@john-warren
9 months ago
22 posts

one thing i learned is to get an amp designed for accustic instruments. the sound on other amps just doesn't cut the

mustard

 

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
last year
898 posts

Cindy and others, its clear there are lots of opinions on this.  The original question was whether to get a "possom board built on" the dulcimer.  That is usually called a Galax back or false back. I have one on my Modern Mountain Dulcimer.  The only "con" is that it makes the dulcimer a little bigger.  But it allows the back to vibrate and definitely provides greater volume. Mine is similar to the dulcimer Don Pedi is playing here.

But you don't necessarily need a possom board; you can just lay your dulcimer on any piece of wood.  Peter Tommerup just uses a piece of wooden shelving and places his dulcimer on it.  Check it out here.

There are basically two principles here. One is that when you place your dulcimer on your lap, the back cannot vibrate; lift it off your lap and it can, thus producing more volume.  The other principle is that the board the dulcimer sits on can vibrate as well (if it is not on your lap), which will increase sound. That is why putting the dulcimer on a table will increase volume so much.

I would also like to voice my vote against that tiny HoneyTone mini amp. Yes, it is inexpensive. Yes it runs on batteries and travels very well.  But it barely amplifies your sound at all and it is mainly intended for people who want to mimic electric guitar sounds, not those who want to amplify an acoustic sound. I bought one of them, played around with it, and sold it for the price of shipping to someone here at FOTMD. I was so disappointed with it that I would have felt guilty charging the next buyer for it, even at a discounted rate.




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Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

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I've had all the freedom I can stand.
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updated by @dusty-turtle: 06/13/16 02:02:48PM
marg
@marg
last year
498 posts

Paula,

Haven't used a possum board for long but have made two, last one much better - lighter and can fit most any dulcimer but if I made another one and raised the part to hold the dulcimer and made it only pencil wide, I'm sure it would make the dulcimer sound different. Other members will have a better answer but below is what I have found out so far as I am learning about the possum board and what it brings to the dulcimer.

1.  What I have found, using only mine is it does raise the dulcimer up a bit on your lap so you will need to readjust your playing style some.

2.  Where the board would fit any dulcimer, not all dulcimers sound good on it. My McSpadden maybe doesn't need one, since I fell it bounces the sound around more than boosts the sound.

3.  If you add felt so the dulcimers doesn't get scratch or if any loose clothing overlaps the board and makes contact you will damper the sound.

I would bring the dulcimer you most want to put on a board or several dulcimers to Jm's and try it or them out. Good luck, let us know how it goes.

Paula Brawdy
@paula-brawdy
last year
61 posts

Susie:

I got an adjustable possum board from Jim VanderWoude at Evart. It fits all my dulcimers. I added rubber tubing to the posts and some additional felt in a couple spots to make sure the dulcimers don't get scratched. Very well made and thought out. It folds up too, for storage/travel.

Hi,  how do they feel on your lap?  Pro and cons?  Jim lives close to me so would be convenient to buy from

 

 

 

 

 

 

marg
@marg
last year
498 posts

     Well,  Lowe's only sells fan blades in a package of 4 but the lumber section had some nice wood about the size of a fan blade and less expensive. I followed the 1/4" measurements but I ended up not putting the inserted wood at the ends, I thought it sounded better placing it in more. Anyway very simple to make, very light and cost about $5. for the materials.

    Photo attached, remember it's a very simple P. board but works and doesn't change the tone. Not having sides I can slide the dulcimer up or back or use for all of the ones I have.

thanks everyone, again

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Strumelia
@strumelia
last year
1,775 posts

I too like the feeling of sitting and playing a dulcimer on a little narrow wooden table positioned in front of me.  There's an old fashioned formal feel to it that is very appealing to me, plus it boosts the sound.  flower




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
marg
@marg
last year
498 posts

Thanks Ken, I like the idea if a hollowed box as too a fan blade. Will see what I end up with my next possum board. Maybe the difference is the height I have now on mine, after I rejusted it for a larger dulcimer - To me the tone changed and sounds terrible. 

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
last year
1,473 posts

IMHO the material (hardwood, softwood, plywood, heavy plastic) of the possum board makes little or no discernable difference in sound. 

I have one board made of balsawood, and I use a poplar dulcimer box case  that I made as another.  I've also played on wood, metal, glass and fiberglass/plastic boards and tabletops.  A hollowed box, like my upside down poplar case, is much louder than even an ordinary possum board.

I don't believe distance or height above the board makes much difference (unless it's more than an inch above), but any distance is better than a dulcimer set flat on a board or table.  A back-to-board gap of 1/4" to 3/8" is just about perfect. 

Do not pad (with felt or whatever) the places where the dulcimer touches the possum board or the bits that raise the instrument up.  You want a hard connection, not a fuzzy, soft meeting of the two pieces.  Fuzzy/soft absorbs sound. 

marg
@marg
last year
498 posts

Is there a difference of tone depending on what wood the possum board is make from, or the height from the board to the dulcimer?

    I needed to make an adjustment on a possum board I had made, that raised the dulcimer up and I found the tone was much more brighter than when I just play the dulcimer.

Is there a best distance to try for or any height or space between the possum board and the dulcimer is ok? Do certain woods bounce back the sound better than others? real woods vs plywood - Hard vs soft woods -  distance to dulcimer  - does each of these cause the dulcimer to vibrate differently or sound different?

thanks  

IRENE
@irene
last year
51 posts

Personally, I really enjoy just playing the dulcimer ON THE LITTLE T.V. TABLE with my little 4 feet on the bottom of the dulcimer.  In the early books on dulcimers, Jean Ritchie has many photos of folks playing them on tables....but mostly she played her on her lap. Makes more sound on the little table...looks ready to play all the time sitting on my little table.  yeah, and I play it often.  While I'm in the shop working as I am today, I'm thinking what songs I'm going to play on my dulcimer when I get back in the house.  ha.  (How can I keep from singing) in the tune that's going on in my head today. 

Susie
@susie
last year
259 posts

IRENE:

this is very interesting.  do you put this on your lap or on the table to play?  thanks for the pictures, they say 1,000 words. 

When I use my Jim VanderWoude possum board, it goes on my lap, just like a dulcimer w/o a possum board. The possum board also has strap pins on it, if you want to attach your strap right to the possum board.

IRENE
@irene
last year
51 posts

yep, I've got two "rescued" dulcimers that I've found and fixing the seconed one up now. Loved the little feet on them, GREAT SOUND....I've made 18 dulcimers and so this last one I put little knobs on the back....great sound again. If I knew how to put photos on here, I'd post 'em.  I'll learn.  ha. as I've got photos I want to put up.  I've learned so much from this site.  I mostly make harps and bowed psalteries...but play these with my husband that plays autoharp and guitar.  Pictures coming when I can figure it out.  Thanks so much for responding.  I like the folding table you have.  aloha, irene

Lexie R Oakley
@lexie-r-oakley
last year
353 posts

Irene possum boards help with the sound of dulcimers some of the older style dulcimers have feet on the back so when you play placing the dulcimer on top a table this helps with increasing the sound.

Kusani
@kusani
last year
162 posts

I have a folding table, size of a tv tray. 

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updated by @kusani: 05/20/16 01:12:33PM
IRENE
@irene
last year
51 posts

this is very interesting.  do you put this on your lap or on the table to play?  thanks for the pictures, they say 1,000 words. 

Susie
@susie
last year
259 posts

I got an adjustable possum board from Jim VanderWoude at Evart. It fits all my dulcimers. I added rubber tubing to the posts and some additional felt in a couple spots to make sure the dulcimers don't get scratched. Very well made and thought out. It folds up too, for storage/travel.

IMG_20150830_145323.jpg

IMG_20150830_145259.jpg

Kusani
@kusani
last year
162 posts

Here is my alternative to a possum board, I call them 'skunk boards':  They are made them from misc. lumber in my shop.  They each have 4 stick-on non=skid plastic feet on the bottom and 2 feet on the tops. The top two feet on each are the only contact with the dulcimer. These skunk boards provide minimum dampening of the sound; they are small and easy to transport and fit under any style of dulcimer. They are not visible when placed under the dulcimer. :) 256


updated by @kusani: 05/19/16 08:45:21PM
IRENE
@irene
last year
51 posts

I have found for years just using a cheap $8.00 or so T.V. tray.....then I got a black (good grief plastic) bigger adjustable one that is larger to accomadate a "found dulcimer" at an antique store....that had 4 little wood pegs on it.  wayyyyyyyyyyy more sound and easy.  I think I got that for $13.00 at Walmart.  I keep these at various kids houses as i take my dulcimer and play for the families that I visit.  Truely, the old style had 4 little pegs or something to set these on tables.  you can get a cute little table and cut the legs off and be comfortable playing your dulcimer at home and with others.  playing them on the lap really does dull the sound.  That's why you see soooooooo many various ways of making them louder....love looking at all the photos on this site. THIS IS A FANTASTIC SITE....glad to learn one more thing about "possum boards". 

Ken Backer
@ken-backer
2 years ago
32 posts

Hi Everyone,  I always use a possum board, and there are pictures of mine in my photos section.  As I have mentioned in another forum, the most important thing is to only support the dulcimer on the head and tail stock.  Any part touching the back will not allow the back to vibrate freely.  Other uses for a possum board are as a lap tray table if they are serving food where you are playing, and as a shield if they start throwing things while you are playing.winker

Elaine Schumacher
@ozark-nana
2 years ago
3 posts
I also have the Honey tone amp and find it very helpful. The battery lasts a good long time, and the power chord works well at home where an outlet is readily available. I put the amp near a mic if more volume is needed. Pick-up is via a suction cup on my 6 string Cedar Creek dulcimer so no holes drilled and no marks on my dulci.
Cindy Brown
@cindy-brown
2 years ago
2 posts

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I've been out of state and am back home checking my email. Thanks everyone for your input!

Helen Seiler
@helen-seiler
2 years ago
157 posts
Yep, it has two ajustment bars but the board itself is a rectangle about the length and width of a standard dulcimer.
Gail Webber
@gail-webber
2 years ago
89 posts

Helen, does it fit various dulcimers?

Helen Seiler
@helen-seiler
2 years ago
157 posts

I have a possum board made by Dave Lynch of Sweetwoods dulcimers. It increases my volume by about a third. Not flashy to look at but cleverly made and very effective....inexpensive too.

Gail Webber
@gail-webber
2 years ago
89 posts

Do you have a picture of one you have made?

Joseph Besse
@joseph-besse
2 years ago
58 posts

They used to be $65.00. Everything keeps going up. Try a wooden fan blade with 2 dowels spaced out and a couple pieces of the rubber stuff you put in the bottom of kitchen cabinets. The stuff sells for about a $1.00/roll at your dollar store.

Gail Webber
@gail-webber
2 years ago
89 posts

Hey, that fan blade idea sounds good. I keep thinking about buying a McSpadden possum board, but look at the price ($70) and can't convince myself to pay that much for one.

Joseph Besse
@joseph-besse
2 years ago
58 posts

Personally, I don't think a possum board adds that much volume to a standard dulcimer. I have McSpadden possum boards on my standard dulcimer and my Ginger, but I don't think adding an extra $100 or more to a dulcimer to have a built in possum board is worth it. I have a couple of amps that I use occasionally, but my favorite is the little Honeytone amp, which sells for about $25 or $30 on the web or Amazon. It connects easily to a flat head dulcimer. Do not use with a scroll head. I use this small amp for small groups. Hope this info helps. BTW, you can also buid yourself a cheap possum board with a wooden fan blade from one of the big box hardware stores and a couple of dowels to hold the dulcimer up.

Cindy Brown
@cindy-brown
2 years ago
2 posts

I bought a possum board for my standard McSpadden dulcimer. I have a small PA system that I can use for greater amplification, but I like going acoustic as much as possible and the possum board helps to amplify my instrument. My question: I'm going to purchase another dulcimer and am considering buying one with a possum board built on. What are the pros and cons to this? Thanks in advance for the feedback and advice.

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updated by @cindy-brown: 06/08/16 09:24:05PM