I just bought a 27 year old dulcimer and I have some questions

sleepingangel
@sleepingangel
2 years ago
109 posts

robert schuler:
Your tuners are the low end ukulele friction type. They work well enough on short scale nylon strung ukuleles but not suited for long scale steel string dulcimers. There should be two friction washers against both sides of the peg box. Perhaps they are missing. Did you tighten the screw's enough. There are very good inexpensive tuners you can replace them with. Contact a local music store for leads to a repair shop.... Robert. 

thanks so much Robert. I just checked and both washers are there. I did notice that in between the white turning part and the rest of the tuning peg there is an additional washer in between that. All of them are sort of crooked and don't lie flat in that space. I have no idea if that could be part of the problem. I do know that I keep a screw driver in my dulcimer bag because sometimes I have to retighten that screw you were talking about so that it doesn't keep slipping or not getting to the exact note...like it just keeps falling flat...when I do that it works ok for the song or whatever. 

thanks again!

Maria

robert schuler
@robert-schuler
2 years ago
242 posts

Your tuners are the low end ukulele friction type. They work well enough on short scale nylon strung ukuleles but not suited for long scale steel string dulcimers. There should be two friction washers against both sides of the peg box. Perhaps they are missing. Did you tighten the screw's enough. There are very good inexpensive tuners you can replace them with. Contact a local music store for leads to a repair shop.... Robert. 

sleepingangel
@sleepingangel
2 years ago
109 posts

Ken Hulme:
Most, but not all, festivals have one or more builders in attendance who can certainly look at the instrument and advise you.

oh cool. I will try and do that!!! Even if they can't quite "Fix" it they can tell me what I have to do etc.

I also need them to look at the tuning pegs...they really slip when tuning as they are the "Friction' ones I think...I can tune just just right where it should be and then it goes sharp...and sometimes if the screw has slipped it won't get any more tighter it will just bounce back..it's so weird as I've never had a guitar with these types of tuning pegs...I'm hoping I can fix them as it would be nice to 'keep' the original equipment on it BUT I will probably never sell it anyway so maybe I should just have them replace them if it's easier enough (with geared tuning pegs) 

Thanks again

Maria

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 years ago
1,460 posts

Most, but not all, festivals have one or more builders in attendance who can certainly look at the instrument and advise you.

sleepingangel
@sleepingangel
2 years ago
109 posts

Joe Robison:
Looks to me like part of the problem is in the design of the pegbox.  If you are a novice woodworker, you might want to get a luthier to do this.  The sides of the box where the strings rub and bend need to be thinned down so the strings run straight and do not rub the sides. This can be done with wood files or a Dremel tool but should be done by someone who is experienced at such things.  The end of the fretboard past the nut also needs to be beveled so the strings don't touch.  This can also be done with files or Dremel tools.

thanks so much. quick question. I've never attended a dulcimer festival but I'm planning to go to one in the Poconos in January. Do they have people like that who can look at it? thanks though for the suggestions though!!

thanks

Maria

Joe Robison
@joe-robison
2 years ago
38 posts

Looks to me like part of the problem is in the design of the pegbox.  If you are a novice woodworker, you might want to get a luthier to do this.  The sides of the box where the strings rub and bend need to be thinned down so the strings run straight and do not rub the sides. This can be done with wood files or a Dremel tool but should be done by someone who is experienced at such things.  The end of the fretboard past the nut also needs to be beveled so the strings don't touch.  This can also be done with files or Dremel tools.


updated by @joe-robison: 12/21/15 04:25:39PM
sleepingangel
@sleepingangel
2 years ago
109 posts

dronestyles:
If it ain't broke now, don't fix it.  However, if you find the outermost (closest to you) melody string breaking often, try reversing the peg attachment for the melody strings.  That way the outermost string will be attached to the farther peg, making it bend less.  

that's a true statement!! 
So far I think it's okay now....I'll have to see as I play it and tune it. 
Thanks for the tip too

Maria

dronestyles
@dronestyles
2 years ago
11 posts

If it ain't broke now, don't fix it.  However, if you find the outermost (closest to you) melody string breaking often, try reversing the peg attachment for the melody strings.  That way the outermost string will be attached to the farther peg, making it bend less.  

sleepingangel
@sleepingangel
2 years ago
109 posts

robert schuler:
You should try playing with one melody string using the tuner that works best. The dulcimer is really a three string instrument after all. Looks like you have the old friction ukulele type tuners. If they continue to slip you might lower your tuning to Cgc. Looks like a pretty dulcimer.,. Good luck... Robert  

well so far with changing the strings a bit and fooling with that screw I've gotten it tuned to dadd and it seems to be holding!! But thanks for the advice and compliments on it!

Maria

robert schuler
@robert-schuler
2 years ago
242 posts

You should try playing with one melody string using the tuner that works best. The dulcimer is really a three string instrument after all. Looks like you have the old friction ukulele type tuners. If they continue to slip you might lower your tuning to Cgc. Looks like a pretty dulcimer.,. Good luck... Robert

 

sleepingangel
@sleepingangel
2 years ago
109 posts

Colleen Hailey:
 I was watching that one on Ebay.  So glad that it went to a good home.

Oh wow.....thanks so much!! it's prettier than the pics on ebay show and for that I'm glad!!

Maria

sleepingangel
@sleepingangel
2 years ago
109 posts

Ken Hulme:
The strings should go over the top of the peg as you tighten them, not underneath, otherwise the won't stay tight.  The picture from the tuning head end seems to show them winding around correctly.  With that sort of tuning head it's quite common for the melody strings to cross each other, at it does not usually cause a problem. The inner melody string rightfully goes to the tuner at the far end, and the outer melody string goes to the closest tuner. 

Okay that's good news!! 
Thanks so much
Maria

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 years ago
1,460 posts

The strings should go over the top of the peg as you tighten them, not underneath, otherwise the won't stay tight.  The picture from the tuning head end seems to show them winding around correctly.  With that sort of tuning head it's quite common for the melody strings to cross each other, at it does not usually cause a problem. The inner melody string rightfully goes to the tuner at the far end, and the outer melody string goes to the closest tuner. 

Colleen Hailey
@colleen-hailey
2 years ago
63 posts

 I was watching that one on Ebay.  So glad that it went to a good home.

sleepingangel
@sleepingangel
2 years ago
109 posts

I don't know why the above repsonse is on the side but if you could read it and look at picture that would be great

thanks

Maria

sleepingangel
@sleepingangel
2 years ago
109 posts

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sleepingangel:
Robin Clark:It is difficult to tell from the photos but you may have the melody strings a little twisted where they pass over each other.  Getting as straight a line as possible from the white string spacer to the tuners may smooth up things a little.  Also, those tuners are not that easy to use.  They work on friction and the little screw on the ends of them sets how stiff they are to turn.  You need to set them so they turn easy but will still hold the strings at the pitch you want.  It takes a little trial and error to get that screw tension correct. The first fret is actually a 'zero fret' - this is quite a common set-up on dulcimers.  The white 'nut' just spaces the strings correctly as they cross the zero fret.  All in all, the instrument looks lovely and should play just fine once you have the tuners sorted to the correct tension.  If you continue to struggle with the tuners then a guitar luthier should be able to swap them for either guitar or banjo tuners with gears.
Thanks so much for getting back to me and the info you provided. I will try and "unloosen" the screw a bit as I thought they were supposed to be tight...now I know...also I agree with the way they lay...maybe I will "attempt" to straiten if I can...worse case scenerio I will try to see a "professional"  and thanks so much I really like it so far Maria

 

Okay so I unloosened both of the melody and then somehow popped the one that was closer to the middle which mean the peg was the further away from the fretboard so I had to reverse the strings and I was able to get them both back on. BUT I may have screwed up the direction and does it matter?

Right now the bottom bass d and the middle string a get tighter as I twist the peg UP, and the ones I just put back the two top melody strings get tighter when I twist the pegs down. IS that wrong? or maybe I'm right now and had it wrong before......also here's a new pic and no matter how I try the strings do cross each other but it seems like it's a bit better. what do you think?

Maria

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updated by @sleepingangel: 11/30/15 01:56:53PM
sleepingangel
@sleepingangel
2 years ago
109 posts

john p:
I'm nervous because when I tune it now it feels like if I tune it differently (like I want to change it to daa for a music book my son gave me ) then it will pop those two double strings.   I'm guessing you are currently tuned to DAd, in which case you need to tune the melody strings down to A, not up.

AHHHH the lightbulb goes on lol...Thanks then I don't risk popping the strings too...thank you thank you thank you!!

Maria

john p
@john-p
2 years ago
212 posts

I'm nervous because when I tune it now it feels like if I tune it differently (like I want to change it to daa for a music book my son gave me ) then it will pop those two double strings.

 

I'm guessing you are currently tuned to DAd, in which case you need to tune the melody strings down to A, not up.

sleepingangel
@sleepingangel
2 years ago
109 posts

Robin Clark:
It is difficult to tell from the photos but you may have the melody strings a little twisted where they pass over each other.  Getting as straight a line as possible from the white string spacer to the tuners may smooth up things a little.  Also, those tuners are not that easy to use.  They work on friction and the little screw on the ends of them sets how stiff they are to turn.  You need to set them so they turn easy but will still hold the strings at the pitch you want.  It takes a little trial and error to get that screw tension correct. The first fret is actually a 'zero fret' - this is quite a common set-up on dulcimers.  The white 'nut' just spaces the strings correctly as they cross the zero fret.  All in all, the instrument looks lovely and should play just fine once you have the tuners sorted to the correct tension.  If you continue to struggle with the tuners then a guitar luthier should be able to swap them for either guitar or banjo tuners with gears.

Thanks so much for getting back to me and the info you provided. I will try and "unloosen" the screw a bit as I thought they were supposed to be tight...now I know...also I agree with the way they lay...maybe I will "attempt" to straiten if I can...worse case scenerio I will try to see a "professional" 

and thanks so much I really like it so far

Maria

Robin Clark
@robin-clark
2 years ago
352 posts

It is difficult to tell from the photos but you may have the melody strings a little twisted where they pass over each other.  Getting as straight a line as possible from the white string spacer to the tuners may smooth up things a little.  Also, those tuners are not that easy to use.  They work on friction and the little screw on the ends of them sets how stiff they are to turn.  You need to set them so they turn easy but will still hold the strings at the pitch you want.  It takes a little trial and error to get that screw tension correct.

The first fret is actually a 'zero fret' - this is quite a common set-up on dulcimers.  The white 'nut' just spaces the strings correctly as they cross the zero fret.  All in all, the instrument looks lovely and should play just fine once you have the tuners sorted to the correct tension.  If you continue to struggle with the tuners then a guitar luthier should be able to swap them for either guitar or banjo tuners with gears.

sleepingangel
@sleepingangel
2 years ago
109 posts

dronestyles:
You might have tightened the screw a little too much.  Try loosening it just a bit.  A little WD 40 on the outside of the peg assemble can't hurt.  But don't get it on the strings!  A guitar luthier could defintely help.  It looks like the outside strings bend too much when going into the peg box.  Attaching them nearer to the center of the peg box would help.  

Hi thanks so much for your response. I will try the suggestions. What do you mean "attaching them nearer to the center of the peg box?" is that something I can do or is that what the luthier has to do?

thanks

Maria

dronestyles
@dronestyles
2 years ago
11 posts

You might have tightened the screw a little too much.  Try loosening it just a bit.  A little WD 40 on the outside of the peg assemble can't hurt.  But don't get it on the strings!  A guitar luthier could defintely help.  It looks like the outside strings bend too much when going into the peg box.  Attaching them nearer to the center of the peg box would help.  

sleepingangel
@sleepingangel
2 years ago
109 posts

here's another pic

IMG_8277.JPG.jpg
IMG_8277.JPG.jpg  •  2.2MB

sleepingangel
@sleepingangel
2 years ago
109 posts

On Friday I re'cd my ebay purchase of a 27 year old Walnut Valley Smoky River Dulcimer.

The seller is the son of the original owner who bought it new. The condition looks to be outstanding and I think it sure has a "sweet" tone. I am in the process of trying to "return" the Roosebeck (meeting with some issues as they want to charge me a 30 percent restocking fee and return shipping) The Roosebeck's fretboard was made incorrectly. The middle string was not in the middle which created an unusually large space between it and the double d strings which also were spaced too far apart to hit both comfortably. Adding to that is that I couldn't use the new Ewing Capo which I bought. The instructions said if the strings buzz it's the dulcimer not the capo. SO with that I found this little beauty.  It was packed in two boxes. The inside box is the original that it came in and the dulcimer had the original manufacturer's warrranty with the serial number. It was made in 1989 and it was the 86th instrument made that year. I did research after but heard mixed things about it. but I took a chance because I felt the price was right and it looked really good from the pictures. The truth is it looks BETTER than the pictures as the pictures did NOT show the correct color of this dulcimer. It's a deep walnut. Anyway my biggest and only concern is this: The tuning pegs are really tight. I did use a screw driver to tighten the outside part of it (it's the old fashioned kind with the gear I guess inside the white head of it) 

It does slip a bit when tuning although since I changed the strings (as soon as I got it) and have played it for the last 4 days it seems to be holding the tune. 

I'm nervous because when I tune it now it feels like if I tune it differently (like I want to change it to daa for a music book my son gave me ) then it will pop those two double strings. Those seem to be the "tightest"  it's kind of got a weird thing going on at the nut. There is a space after the 1st fret and then the nut and the a space and then the strings go into an indent into the wood and up into the scroll. But the two d's seem to almost cross each other to get where they need to be (another concern like the rubbing might make them snap)

 

Also is there some kind of thing like wd40 that I can use? 

Lastly would a guitar luthier help? I don't have any dulcimer people here in my town that I know.  

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updated by @sleepingangel: 06/08/16 09:24:05PM