Robert Mize 5 String tuning help wanted

Jim Hedman
Jim Hedman
@jim-hedman
4 years ago
25 posts

Lynn, probably not good form to jump in on an old thread, but from your description of the deep body and the photos of the peg head and strings, it is pretty apparent you have a five-string, four-course, baritone dulcimer.  If the VSL is 28", give or take an inch, a common Mixolydian tuning would be A-E-a-aa (bass to melody-doublet) with corresponding string gauges of 34bw-22bw-14-14,14 (where "bw" = bronze wound and gauge means x/1,000").  With this tuning you can change to a "New Ionian" (aka Reverse Ionian) tuning by lowering that wound middle string from E to D (A-D-a-aa).  In doing so you've gone from Mixolydian in A to New Ionian in D.

If the unwound middle string next to the melody-doublet look a tad thicker than the melody strings my guess would be a "1-3-5" tuning, i.e. A-C-E-aa with maybe 16 to 18 gauge for the E.  Lots of  luck with that unless you've dabbled with 1-3-5 before.  I'd stick with the baritone mixolydian described previously and experiment with the quick change to New Ionian.

If you play with someone who is in DAd tuning you can do simple back and forth rounds in keys of A and D while you are in A Mixolydian mode or duets while in D New Ionian mode.


updated by @jim-hedman: 03/29/18 02:09:55AM
Lynn austin
Lynn austin
@lynn-austin
5 years ago
19 posts

Thanks Rob, that's interesting....what size strings would you guess they are proportionally?....are the 2 wound the same size, the middle different than the 2 melodies?.....

Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
5 years ago
413 posts

Well, I finally dug out the Maxwell and looked at it.  Yes, it has 2 wound strings. I tuned it D D A AA and it sounds pretty durn good to me

 

Bob
Bob
@bob
5 years ago
86 posts

Estes George:

Saw Joes posting on the stringing on this Mize, and agree, who knows how many times it's been restrung with whatever range of strings.

 Also Joes comment on what fine craftsman Mize and Orthey were, But he left one other fine craftsman off that list. Mr. Joe Sanguinette himself.

 I stumbled across one of his Elk River Dulcimers, #1322 on a random E bay search, picked it up just for the beauty of it, and have not been disappointed one lick with it as far as intonation, sound, play-ability, would be a cold day in hell before I ever parted with it now, one of those sight unseen gems!!

 Take a look at the photos of the one I was lucky enough to find.

 All I can say is if you are ever fortunate enough to come across one, don't hesitate, grab it up!!

 

 

That is a BEAUTY! I love the lines, the sound holes and the hearts in the strumming hollow. The simple chip carving adds a whole new element to the design that is splendid and simple. Thanks for sharing these photos. Its a very pretty dulcimer!!!

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

thank you george for your kind commnents about my work.  i am always glad when  i hear someone is enjoying one of my dulcimers.

Lynn austin
Lynn austin
@lynn-austin
5 years ago
19 posts

Thanks all for your comments and ideas...I will experiment with different size strings. I put a set on and it is really sweet but think I'll put heavier gauged strings on for a bit more volume. So far I'm finding its best tuning is most comfortable in Ionian as it doesn't have a 6-1/2 fret. I've got it up to Ebbbb but will try Eebbb

That is one gorgeous dulcimer Joe/ George!....wow!!!!!

Estes George
Estes George
@george-desjardins
5 years ago
92 posts

Saw Joes posting on the stringing on this Mize, and agree, who knows how many times it's been restrung with whatever range of strings.

 Also Joes comment on what fine craftsman Mize and Orthey were, But he left one other fine craftsman off that list. Mr. Joe Sanguinette himself.

 I stumbled across one of his Elk River Dulcimers, #1322 on a random E bay search, picked it up just for the beauty of it, and have not been disappointed one lick with it as far as intonation, sound, play-ability, would be a cold day in hell before I ever parted with it now, one of those sight unseen gems!!

 Take a look at the photos of the one I was lucky enough to find.

 All I can say is if you are ever fortunate enough to come across one, don't hesitate, grab it up!!

 

IMG_2060.jpg
IMG_2060.jpg  •  217KB

IMG_2061.jpg
IMG_2061.jpg  •  554KB

IMG_2062.jpg
IMG_2062.jpg  •  493KB


updated by @george-desjardins: 01/03/17 03:28:35PM
joe sanguinette
joe sanguinette
@joe-sanguinette
5 years ago
73 posts

your 5  string probably has been re strung a number of times.  unless u can  find someone who knows how Mise strung it u have to experiment

you have a gem there with the Mise and the Orthey.  i knew both of these exceptional craftsmen

marg
@marg
5 years ago
572 posts

I have a 5 string Berg, The inside string next to the bass is a thin string, tune high d as the melody strings. The heavier wound bass, the outside string tune lower D. the 2 strings are close together, like the melody strings.

I just asked a question on these strings on the General Mountain Dulcimer discussion about maybe trying a bit heavier string next to the bass

String gauges on it now:

.024 for the wound bass string

.009 the string next to the bass string

.013 the middle string

 011 for each of the two melody strings       


updated by @marg: 01/02/17 08:48:00PM
Estes George
Estes George
@george-desjardins
6 years ago
92 posts

 Like I said, guessing at the J11, but think you need to lose the second wound string and lighten the gauge, But sometimes it's all up to the "ear" as to whether slightly heavier or lighter strings "work". Either way, great find, a Bob Mize 5 string with wood friction pegs, Do you know what kind of woods?

 As for the George Orthey, still one of my faves, Not always in the mood for it, but when I pick it up and randomly strum, it draws me right in and hooks me, such a unique voice.

"Dulcimer is the voice of Angels".    George

Lynn austin
Lynn austin
@lynn-austin
6 years ago
19 posts

Thanks Rob and George.... good advise all around. The pictures of the Davis help because I can see that mine was strung all wrong which does not help the sound. I'll take the strings off tomorrow and polish the frets and play around with different string gauges. I thought that J11 also meant just intonated but it definitely says J11 not J1 so I don't know.  And his fret pattern is unusual to begin with....and yes George, you did buy one of my dulcimers, the George Orthey with the flower sound holes...

Estes George
Estes George
@george-desjardins
6 years ago
92 posts

I'm basing this opinion on my old Bill Davis 5 string, also I have seven 6 string and have never seen, or strung it with 2 wound strings. Although i received one that some one strung with way over blown guitar strings.

 The set up I use on the Davis, because it is a larger than average dulcimer, .011, .011, .012, .013, then the wound, .024.

 I have a Mize also so know they are much smaller than the Davis, So you might try .010, .010, .011, .012, wound at .023

 Tuned to DAD, but holds really killer in CGC too. Yeah, that's different tuning, but sounds great on larger bodied, "bassy" dulcimers.

 Did I buy my Edd Presnell from you?? Pretty sure I did buy one from you at some point, but good luck with the 5 string, I love it. The Bill Davis is dated roughly around the late 60's

  One last thing, Is it J11, or maybe JI? Just intonation?, Just guessing now.

 

davis.jpg
davis.jpg  •  153KB

IMG_1388.jpg
IMG_1388.jpg  •  1.5MB


updated by @george-desjardins: 12/28/16 08:57:54PM
Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
6 years ago
413 posts

I know what you mean.  There are still a lot of James's in Braxton County, WV, some of which live on the same road as Sylvan did.  I've thought about contacting them and asking about his string set up.  Wasn't Bill Taylor taught by Mize?  If so he might be able to help with what the setup was.

 

Lynn austin
Lynn austin
@lynn-austin
6 years ago
19 posts

Thanks Rob, 

I'd be curious to know how your Maxwell is set up. Right now it just sounds " interesting" ...I think that it was made really deep for a reason but I dont know what that was.  I had a Robert Mize 4 string that sounded sweet as honey in DAAA but this one I can't figure out. I don't wasn't to take the strings off until I know what's what, but it's really not playable yet.

Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
6 years ago
413 posts

I received a 3 string Sylvan James instrument with 2 wound strings and one plain.  Whether that "right" or not, since they were new strings, I tuned them D-D-A.  I'll have to look at my 5 string Maxwell and see how it's set up. But I'd say the 2 wound strings to D and all the others to A.  Gives you some interesting chordal harmonies.

Lynn austin
Lynn austin
@lynn-austin
6 years ago
19 posts

Hi All,

I just recieved a 5 String Robert Mize dulcimer with a very deep body (2").  It is set up with 2 wound base strings and 3 size 10 or 12 strings spaced equidistantly except for a double melody. I've never seen a dulcimer with 2 wound strings before and am confused as to how to tune it and what size strings to use to replace the old ones. 

It was built in 1977 and # J11.....I don't know what the J stands for or if the 2nd wound string was a mistake. If anyone has any info or wisdom on this I'd really appreciate it!

Thanks...

Lynn

image.jpeg
image.jpeg  •  141KB

image.jpeg
image.jpeg  •  1.2MB