Label reading help/late revival dulcimer

Dave D
Dave D
@dave-d
4 months ago
10 posts

I picked up a 1977 three string McSpadden M8-W the other day.  I had questions about the bridge and about the model number and contacted Jim Woods at The Dulcimer Shoppe for more information.  The bridge was cut away under the bass string, and I had not seen very many M8's when I searched on the internet - mostly M12's. Here's what Jim provided regarding the bridge and the model numbers:

"The cut in the bridge was for compensation.  The original string set is the same one we sell now as our Ionian set.  The strings are all loop end type with the bass string being a wound .022 diameter and the others all .012 plain steel.  The tuning would have been either key of C or key of D.  For the key of C the bas string would have been tuned to C an octave lower than middle C and the other strings would have been tuned to G five steps higher than the bass.  For the key of D they would have been one step higher than that (D bass and As for the others).

The first couple of years there was no real standardization of McSpadden models as they were sort of experimenting and developing their designs and models.  When they did standardize, they offered the M8 and M9 hourglass models and T8 and T9 teardrops.  The M8 and T8 were a little shallower and narrower than the M9 and T9.  All of those were offered both as finished dulcimers and as kits for the customer to build.  The design development didn’t stop and the deeper and wider M12 and T34 soon followed.  (I don’t know why they chose to not call the teardrop version T12).  Most customers preferred the larger models so they eventually phased out the 8s and 9s.  I don’t have a date on that but it was late 70s.  The current hourglass and teardrop models we make are basically the same size and shape as the M12 and T34.  In 2005 we stopped using those designations and started simply calling them hourglass and teardrop."

My M8 is roughly 36" long, lower bout is 5 3/4", upper is 4 1/2", body is 1 3/8" tall, fretboard is 1" tall x 1 1/4" wide. 

Picture of the bridge is attached for reference (not sure how to link to my gallery).

 

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
1,615 posts

I have the exact same dulcimer- given to me by a woman now in her 70s, whose father made it for her from a kit in 1983.  She said she'd never played it much and wasn't going to be playing it ever.  It has her father's name inside, but also has the kit sellers' green label inside, saying "The Dulcimer Shoppe, Folk Crafts Books", ...on highway 9 north in Mountainview, Arkansas.  It's identical in every way.

I used it in almost all of my dulcimer noter instructional videos, because my two main playing dulcimers both have 1.5 frets which would be confusing in a beginner video.  I don't normally play it, because it has a real hard time holding the strings to tension.  The original pegs were completely shot when I got it, and I replaced them with some similar looking ones which fit the holes and were in better shape- but unfortunately those tuners don't want to hold well either.  It's a real struggle to tune it to key of D.  Planet tuners would likely do the trick, but the dulcimer just isn't valuable enough for me to justify buying another set of high priced pegs (and I don't have bunches of tuners lying around), so I only use the dulcimer for testing out tunes on next to my desk, or for instruction purposes. It has a very narrow waist and the wood is quite thin.  I could post photos- it is truly identical in every detail to the dulcimer in your slideshow, Richard.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
joe sanguinette
joe sanguinette
@joe-sanguinette
3 years ago
74 posts

i have an identical dulcimer except its 3 strings.....all walnut hourglass with walnut plywood back.  this has a mc spadden shop lable stating

l made by george looney.... no. 3835.  its dated 9/76.  model no. m8-w.  it may be a kit model but this one was made in shop.

pristine2
@pristine2
3 years ago
33 posts

Yep .. I'm convinced now too. The VSL is 28 1/2", another nearly uniquely McSpadden thing.


updated by @pristine2: 01/12/16 10:06:31PM
John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
3 years ago
175 posts

I'm convinced that it's a McSpadden kit. The scroll and tuners as well as the walnut plywood are giveaways.  My first kit looked like that exactly!

Sheryl St. Clare
Sheryl St. Clare
@sheryl-st-clare
3 years ago
272 posts

Not a great photos, but here you can see what I am looking at. 
Again, it's a TK-4, teardrop, but looks very similar to what you show in your photos. Tail cap, nut, and bridge look the same too. 

pristine2
@pristine2
3 years ago
33 posts

Thanks! When I talked to Jim it was pretty early on after he bought the place. I will ask him again.

Sheryl St. Clare
Sheryl St. Clare
@sheryl-st-clare
3 years ago
272 posts

The reason I am thinking TK-9, is I have a TK-4 sitting here with the exact same scroll head, and tuners. I have an email form Jim Woods from a month ago that reads "The TK4 was an early kit offering from McSpadden.  It makes a very nice dulcimer but with a small voice.  It was superceded in the late 70s by the TK9 which was slightly larger.  Then in the mid 80s McSpadden changed to only offering one kit model, the Sweet Song, with an hourglass shaped body and a flat peghead."

Keep us posted, please. Interesting!

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
3 years ago
573 posts

Jim, might be able to put you in contact with Larry or someone else who worked there in the 1970s.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Sheryl St. Clare
Sheryl St. Clare
@sheryl-st-clare
3 years ago
272 posts

Ah, well good luck pristine2. 

pristine2
@pristine2
3 years ago
33 posts

I once asked about them on everythigndulcimer.com (maybe 2009?), and someone volunteered the name of a kit builder .. but I wasn;t convinced then, and I can no longer find the thread.


Lynn McSpadden has passed on ... I suppose I could track down Larry to see if he recognizes it ...


updated by @pristine2: 01/12/16 09:04:03AM
pristine2
@pristine2
3 years ago
33 posts

Alas, Jim Woods at McSpadden didn't recognize these when I asked him a few years back.

Sheryl St. Clare
Sheryl St. Clare
@sheryl-st-clare
3 years ago
272 posts

pristine2:
TK-9? Do you know of some way I might substantiate this?

Yes, email info@mcspaddendulcimers.com I am sure they will be happy to confirm or deny. sun

pristine2
@pristine2
3 years ago
33 posts

Yes, it's a late 1970s  kit -- I've seen many of these instruments, for which even identical stick-on "builder's label" was apparently provided. In fact there are three of them, identical in virtually every respect, in my shop.

They are very good instruments. Many (like this one) intone very accurately, which is a surprise. That precisely why I wanted to see if the assembler might still be with us.

I've never connected them to McSpadden before, though. TK-9? Do you know of some way I might substantiate this?

Here's another one, same era, pretty much identical:

http://s302.photobucket.com/user/pristine2/slideshow/78%20kit%20Keuhle


updated by @pristine2: 01/12/16 08:52:10AM
Sheryl St. Clare
Sheryl St. Clare
@sheryl-st-clare
3 years ago
272 posts

I'm with Ken. It looks like it's maybe a McSpadden TK-9 kit.  

marg
@marg
3 years ago
536 posts

Maybe you could contact a dulcimer group in Memphis and see if they know anything.

good luck

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
3 years ago
573 posts

That certainly is difficult to read Richard. Looks like it might have been made from a kit.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

pristine2
@pristine2
3 years ago
33 posts

Some more pics here:

http://s302.photobucket.com/user/pristine2/slideshow/Dec%201977%20Kit


updated by @pristine2: 01/12/16 08:58:45AM
pristine2
@pristine2
3 years ago
33 posts

The first name is Bill, but I cannot make out the surname. Any guesses would be appreciated ...

 


updated by @pristine2: 06/08/16 09:24:05PM