Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 years ago
1,870 posts

Have a real dulcimer luthier look at it.  Normally in such cases we don't raise a whole fretboard for a couple of dips; usually its the other way around -- lower a fret or two.  Low spots don't cause intermittant "twanging", high spots would

joe sanguinette
joe sanguinette
@joe-sanguinette
5 years ago
73 posts

u need a luthier to examine this dulcimer.  a non level fretboard is trouble and the fix could be expensive

Paula Brawdy
Paula Brawdy
@paula-brawdy
5 years ago
51 posts

Oh darn!   The next jam is the first saturday in November.   Bob Warner and I looked at it today and we took a metal ruler and it looks like the fretboard has some slight dips in it...  I think they set the action really high to avoid the fret noise due to this.. not sure there is a remedy... unless the frets could come up to be even...   no festivals other than Sharna Tanner is having something in Pinckney, and all day Thursday type annual day...

 

John Gribble
John Gribble
@john-gribble
5 years ago
121 posts

Even a crushed, smashed, or exploded instrument can be repaired, given time, determination, and skill enough. 

It sounds like there's a hump in the fingerboard, or some frets have popped up because of humidity issues. In either event, the problem can be fixed by a reasonably competent guitar or violin repair person. The cost of the repair may be more than you think the instrument is worth. But consider the cost of repair vs the cost of a new (or new-to-you) instrument. 

If the problem is either a hump or high frets and isn't too bad, the frets can be filed level, then re-shaped and polished. If it is really a camel in disguise, then the frets need to be pulled and the fretboard planed flat. Some of the fret slots may need to be re-cut before new frets are installed, leveled, shaped and polished. All of this sounds pretty drastic, but the procedures are pretty common in guitar repair. 

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 years ago
1,870 posts

Have you identified the high spots?  If it's a fret here and there, they can be lowered, at least to some extent.

Paula Brawdy
Paula Brawdy
@paula-brawdy
5 years ago
51 posts

It looks like the fretboard is not level.  Not a good thing and not Sure this can be fixed.  I think that may be why the action was set so high to compensate for this.   

Matt Berg
Matt Berg
@matt-berg
5 years ago
77 posts

No, sorry, I won't be in the state on Saturday.  When do we meet in November?  Are you going to any nearby festivals?

Paula Brawdy
Paula Brawdy
@paula-brawdy
5 years ago
51 posts

Matt Berg:

Paula,  a few questions first.  Are all the strings hitting the frets?  All the frets or just one or two?  Can you post a picture of the nut and the saddle?  If you are lucky, you just have a loose fret that needs to be reset.  I have had more luck replacing the saddle than replacing the nut.  If the nut is does not appear to be worn or broken, it is likely the problem is with the frets rather than the nut.  Matt

Hi Matt, the mtn dulcimer group meets this saturday at Bob's Barn... Will you be there?  If so I will have the dulcimer there and maybe you would be so kind as to take a look at it...  

Bob Reinsel
Bob Reinsel
@bob-reinsel
5 years ago
79 posts

Paula, I think Matt may be on the right track.  If there is a buzz in a particular area, you can check it with a short straight edge or a small square.  It needs to be long enough to rest on at least three frets.  As you check the frets you will quickly see and feel where the high and low points are.  You might also be able to see a curve or twist in the fret board by holding the instrument up to your eye and sighting down the length of the fret board from one end.




--
Bob
Site Moderator

The greatest music is made for love, not for money -- Greg Lake
Matt Berg
Matt Berg
@matt-berg
5 years ago
77 posts

Paula, happy to look at it during the next jam,..., when is that exactly?  It almost sounds like your fretboard is warped.  If you have a good straight edge, usually a metal ruler 18" or longer will do, place it on the frets between the strings without touching the nut or saddle.  The straight edge should touch all of the frets.  See if the straightedge rocks on the center frets.  It so, the fret board may have bowed out and is causing your problem.  It doesn't sound like your fretboard bowed inward as you said the action is too high by the upper frets, not the middle.

Susie
Susie
@susie
5 years ago
448 posts

Yes, Arnold did retire. However, I just had my 1978 dulcimer in there and Joe Konkoly did the work....superb!! He's also the Repair Shop Manager. Like I said earlier, the guys in the repair shop are the ONLY ones who touch my instruments. Joe said he and a couple others are now doing the dulcimer work. A dulcimer really isn't that complicated compared the other work they do. They know their stuff. It does cost money, but sometimes a little investment will ensure the work is done right and will result in you bring a very happy camper rather than a frustrated one.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 years ago
1,870 posts

Might be easiest to start over with a new Nut and Bridge.

Paula Brawdy
Paula Brawdy
@paula-brawdy
5 years ago
51 posts

Paula Brawdy:


Ken Hulme :

 


First things first.  Have you changed all the strings within living memory Laugh    If not, try that before anything else.


Nuts do not normally need to be raised.  As Matt sez, sometimes a fret needs to be lowered.


As Susie sez, a trip to Elderly would seem to be in your future.  


If the nut does need to be raised, you have to loosen all the strings and see if it will move under finger pressure.  If not, then you use a small (1/4" wooden dowel as a 'driver', along with a hammer, to tap the bridge sideways.  That's the easy way to pop a 'drop of glue' holding the bridge in place.


 



 



Hey Ken,   It does have new strings.  I had a luthier try to set it up at a festival.   The strings are really high over the upper (meaning 7 and higher) frets so I asked him to set it up.  He lowered the bridge and then he said the strings started to hit the frets, so he then put a shim under the bridge.   Now the strings on the higher frets are way high again, and it sounds twangy when you play it...  ugh...   I could take it to Elderly's, I did hear the guy who did all the dulcimer work left.  Not just anyone can work on a dulcimer and do it well.  Not to mention they are not cheap.  However, it probably does need to see a luthier again... as I certainly could mess it up more!   :) 

Paula Brawdy
Paula Brawdy
@paula-brawdy
5 years ago
51 posts

Ken Hulme:


First things first.  Have you changed all the strings within living memory Laugh    If not, try that before anything else.


Nuts do not normally need to be raised.  As Matt sez, sometimes a fret needs to be lowered.


As Susie sez, a trip to Elderly would seem to be in your future.  


If the nut does need to be raised, you have to loosen all the strings and see if it will move under finger pressure.  If not, then you use a small (1/4" wooden dowel as a 'driver', along with a hammer, to tap the bridge sideways.  That's the easy way to pop a 'drop of glue' holding the bridge in place.



 

Paula Brawdy
Paula Brawdy
@paula-brawdy
5 years ago
51 posts

Matt Berg:

Paula,  a few questions first.  Are all the strings hitting the frets?  All the frets or just one or two?  Can you post a picture of the nut and the saddle?  If you are lucky, you just have a loose fret that needs to be reset.  I have had more luck replacing the saddle than replacing the nut.  If the nut is does not appear to be worn or broken, it is likely the problem is with the frets rather than the nut.  Matt

Hey Matt, I may have you look at it at the next jam...  

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 years ago
1,870 posts

First things first.  Have you changed all the strings within living memory Laugh    If not, try that before anything else.

Nuts do not normally need to be raised.  As Matt sez, sometimes a fret needs to be lowered.

As Susie sez, a trip to Elderly would seem to be in your future.  

If the nut does need to be raised, you have to loosen all the strings and see if it will move under finger pressure.  If not, then you use a small (1/4" wooden dowel as a 'driver', along with a hammer, to tap the bridge sideways.  That's the easy way to pop a 'drop of glue' holding the bridge in place.

Susie
Susie
@susie
5 years ago
448 posts

Just a thought, being you're so close to Elderly in Lansing. Given its age, the dulcimer may need more than bridge work. The nut and frets may also need work/adjustment. I recently took a 1978 dulcimer in for a complete set-up and it plays wonderfully now. I have been a customer of Elderly since 1974 and trust only them with any of my instruments. A little investment may be worth a lot, IMHO.

Matt Berg
Matt Berg
@matt-berg
5 years ago
77 posts

Paula,  a few questions first.  Are all the strings hitting the frets?  All the frets or just one or two?  Can you post a picture of the nut and the saddle?  If you are lucky, you just have a loose fret that needs to be reset.  I have had more luck replacing the saddle than replacing the nut.  If the nut is does not appear to be worn or broken, it is likely the problem is with the frets rather than the nut.  Matt

Paula Brawdy
Paula Brawdy
@paula-brawdy
5 years ago
51 posts

I have a 1979 dulcimer.  Very nice walnut by Richard and Denise Wilson, who lived in MIchigan.   The nut needs to be raised as the  

the strings are "twanging" (is that really a word?)  on the frets.  How hard is it to pop the nut out without breaking it.  I am guessing it has glue on it.. It seems pretty tight.  I am afraid it would be destroyed in the process.   I wish there was something I could put over the existing nut like a cap or something.. I tried putting little pieces of paper on top of each string and that didn't seem to help and I couldn't really keep them in well ... any suggestions?  


updated by @paula-brawdy: 02/19/20 01:41:46PM