Thinking About Buying a Ban Jammer

Kusani
Kusani
@kusani
2 years ago
121 posts

The bridge and nut may be set up....just be sure he installs 4 tuners so you have that flexibility. 

patsyannie77
@patsyannie77
2 years ago
3 posts
Mike Clemmer responded to my email and said that the bridge and nut are set up for either! How cool is that?! So I can start with 3 and then add a string before i go on tour! ūüėČ just kidding..... dreaming.
Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
2 years ago
438 posts

I think it's easier with 3 strings, so I think you made the right call!  But then I usually play dulcimers with just 3 strings--if a dulcimer happens to have 4 tuners, I just use 3.  So I guess it depends on what you're used to...




--
Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
Site Moderator

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke
patsyannie77
@patsyannie77
2 years ago
3 posts
I ordered my banjammer yesterday. I'm guessing it will be ready around Christmas. Here's my question - Do people order them with 3 or 4 strings? I ordered mine with 3, now I'm wondering if I should have said 4? Opinions? Thanks!
Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
2 years ago
438 posts

Patsyannie, I have owned my Banjammer (made by Mike Clemmer at Wood 'n' Strings Dulcimer shop in Townsend, Tenn.) for 8 years.  I have never mastered playing the "real" banjo playing techniques (like "claw hammer") but I really like the sound you get when you play songs like "Camptown Races".  I also play slow songs on it though...it's a lot of fun to experiment!

For anyone who is interested in learning to play a Banjammer (which you can play like a dulcimer or play it clawhammer style like a banjo) the Clemmers will be hosting the 5th annual Banjammer Gathering in Townsend, TN the first weekend in October.  Here's a link http://www.banjammer.com/   I went the first and second years and it was a LOT of fun!

 They have classes for beginners/novice and intermediate/advanced levels.

 




--
Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
Site Moderator

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke

updated by @jan-potts: 09/12/17 09:57:11PM
patsyannie77
@patsyannie77
2 years ago
3 posts
I am new to this group. Just started dulcimer lessons a couple of months ago. Heard of this instrument called a banjammer, went to YouTube and I fell in love with the sound!!! Can anyone out there tell me if the enjoy playing one? I love my dulcimer, don't get me wrong. I was just curious. Thanks
Bill Robison
Bill Robison
@bill-robison
3 years ago
6 posts

I have built 4 "banjammers" or as I call mine, banjo-dulcimer. A practice drum head in 6 or 8" diameter  either set on a dulcimer shaped 1/2" thick board or suspended in a round based dulcimer body. Yes they are loud and alone they are fine. In a group sometimes I put a 1" wide piece of sponge rubber under the head before putting tension on it. then usually rest  pinkie and ring fingers on the head to further mute it. The dulcimer group s that I jam with seem to welcome the addition. The only complaint I have is that above the 11th fret it loses a  little ring and clarity

Bill Robison

banjo dulci.jpg
banjo dulci.jpg  •  191KB

Jim Bollman
Jim Bollman
@jim-bollman
3 years ago
5 posts

Yea I was following the one on eBay (someone got a deal). I also corresponded with Mike Clemmer about learning on one. Decided I better stick to a stock dulcimer then move on to variants. The Ban Jammer is stung with 4 strings all in different tune to better simulate a banjo sound. Mike said I could leave one string off and tune as a Dulcimer. It seemed like the spacing on the sound board would be strange with 3 strings and as a newbie player I don't need any more excuses for having problems.

I stopped at a music store to see what it would cost to have my Hondo fixed up and they said around $50 but they were 2 weeks behind on work. So I will play it the way it is for now and maybe buy a slightly better one if I find one I like.

Thanks for all the help.

Jim...

Susie
Susie
@susie
3 years ago
297 posts

There's a Mike Clemmer Deluxe on eBay right now.


updated by @susie: 01/26/16 12:43:33PM
Ryan PA
Ryan PA
@ryan-pa
3 years ago
3 posts

Thanks Ken for the information.  I saw Pristine2's eBay info and realized he lived in Hollidaysburg.  I might have to touch base with him at some point.  He seems like an accomplished MD player.

 

Ryan

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

Ryan, no I don't have a physical shop. I do sell Folkcraft dulcimers and usually keep a few in stock. Actually, you are closer to Pristine2 who sells some used dulcimers from time-to-time. He lives in Hollidaysburg. I do some building and repair work.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."


updated by @ken-longfield: 02/03/16 09:21:30AM
Jim Bollman
Jim Bollman
@jim-bollman
3 years ago
5 posts

Thanks for the input so far, more is welcome.  If/When I get dug out (1200 foot drive up the lower side of a mountain) I will check out a couple of semi local places to see if any can fix the nut and how much. I can probably handle the tuner replacements if I decide to stay with what I have. The reasonable side of me says, wait till I learn more about how to play what I have, the ooh ooh shiny thing side says just buy a Ban Jammer.  That is how I ended up with a Banjo, Mt Dulcimer, Uke, Uke Banjo, and a Pixie Lute (walking dulcimer) hanging on my wall. Spent about 2 months on banjo and hung it up, a couple of weeks on the Uke (Uke Banjo was just to neat and cheap to pass up), MD the first time a couple of weeks, Pixie Lute a couple of months. But they do look nice on the wall.

 yeah

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
3 years ago
1,105 posts

I'm all for getting a better dulcimer if you think it will encourage you to play more and if it will help you sound better.

Whether that new dulcimer is a banjammer is a different question.  The banjammers are louder than regular dulcimers, but one trick would be to shove a towel in the back and mute the sound a bit. Lots of banjo players do that anyway.

People must love their banjammers. You hardly ever see used ones for sale.




--
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
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 years ago
1,534 posts

Those Hondo dulcimers were pretty good sounding instrument, regardless of who made or imported them.  We have learned a bit more about making a "good sounding" dulcimer since then, though.  I've played a few Hondos, and have played modern made dulcimers I've liked less. Nuts and bridges are inexpensive to replace.  IIRC those Hondos have uke-style metal friction tuners which are easy and inexpenisve to replace as well.

I've built a few banjimers over the years.  Made the first one because I sorta liked the sound I'd heard from others, and thought that it would be a good addition to my 'stable' of instruments.  Turns out that, for me, the banjimer sound only goes with a limited number of songs in my repertoire -- less than a dozen actually, out of a couple hundred tunes I play regularly.   I can't speak for a group appreciating the sound of a banjimer; groups are their own dynamic.

You can get a dulcimer built to your specifications for $350-$500 or so from a builder like Harpmaker Dave Lynch and some of the other builders who frequent here. 

Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
3 years ago
443 posts

Actually an HD-4 was spruce and rosewood and should have a pretty good sound.  I'd think it would be well worth repairs.

 

Jim Bollman
Jim Bollman
@jim-bollman
3 years ago
5 posts

I didn't even know my current MD had a name but I looked inside and it is Hondo HD-4 made in Korea and has a date of 1981 on the label. A quick Google confirms it was an inexpensive instrument one step up from a cardboard starter dulcimer and one of the first mass imports of foreign instruments.

The tuners are the type with the screw in the end and I already tighten them and it helped some but they still don't hold long. Seems to have a value of about $25-50.

Skip
Skip
@skip
3 years ago
223 posts

I built my own banjimer. It's fine to play, and not a particular bother to others. If it does bother someone, just play softer. :)  You may end up not wanting to play it like a regular MD, there's something about them that leads you to expand your horizons. You don't have to get a 'custom' MD, most all makers have standard models you can choose from. 

As far as your current MD, a piece of credit card under the nut [1st] will probably help and let it be more or less playable. Ken gave the fix/trouble shooting on them. It being that old does not necessarily mean it's cheap or poorly made, especially if built by a recognized early builder.

Ryan PA
Ryan PA
@ryan-pa
3 years ago
3 posts

Jim,

I visited Mike's Clemmen's shop in Townsend Tennesse.  He makes a ban jammer.  Got to listen to one down there very neat sound.

 

Ken,

Do you have a shop?  I am a beginner with the dulcimer actually I order one not that long ago and am waiting for the luthier to make it.  I didn't realize you were so close to where I live in PA about 1.5 hours away.

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

Jim, it seems to me that there are several things to consider here. The repairs to your current dulcimer should not be very expensive. Making a new nut and/or bridge is not difficult. Are the tuners wood, mechanical/metal friction, or planetary? If they have little screws through the button, they can be tightened. You did not mention who made your dulcimer. Knowing this, would aid us in figuring out if it is worth fixing up. It is important to play an instrument with the sound you like. It will make you want to play it more. There are many good luthiers out there who would be happy to make you a custom instrument.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Jim Bollman
Jim Bollman
@jim-bollman
3 years ago
5 posts

Ban Jammer has a banjo like sound I like. Full custom is probably a lot more money. I would just go with a slightly better quality MD rather than custom, till I was good enough to justify the cost. Ban Jammer is just an idea that I was hoping to discuss to either talk me into or out of the idea.

My current MD has tuners that keep drifting and the nut groves are to deep and that is causing some string buzz. Not sure what it would cost to fix these items (not a instrument repair person). I would end up with a cheap with MD with some upgrades.

Jim...

Gary F Smith
Gary F Smith
@gary-f-smith
3 years ago
1 posts

What's wrong with just having a custom-made mountain dulcimer built to your liking?

Jim Bollman
Jim Bollman
@jim-bollman
3 years ago
5 posts

Any Ban Jammer owners on the forum?  I really like the sound of them from online videos and I'm thinking about buying one. Since after years of procrastinating I'm actually starting to try to learn to play again. I have already discovered how cheaply made the Mt. Dulcimer I have had for 30+ years is and before putting money into some upgrades on it, maybe I should just replace it with a better instrument.

Any thoughts? Would I be a distraction in a class of regular Mt. Dulcimers?

Jim...


updated by @jim-bollman: 06/08/16 09:24:05PM