It helps to heat the fret with a soldering iron, if you're set on removing it. Heat melts any glue that might have been used, and also gets the wood to "let loose of the fret" easier. Fewer splinters occur. But maybe just leave it in?
Removing a fret
( might also use this as an excuse to get another dulcimer!)
Ha, ha, that is why I got this one for the 1+. I play the 9 with my thumb & the space is not wide enough for that. Yes, I do need to become familiar with the 1+, I do keep hitting it when I want a 2 - not quit sure I like the sound when I slide over it.
No, I was not doing anything yet, just getting info & I am always thankful for what you all have to say. Ya'll have many years of knowing things about the dulcimer & I don't have enough time left to learn but get a quick look from you into all my questions. So again, thanks
Marg, I don't know how to remove a fret, so I can't help you there. However, the lack of knowledge has never discouraged me from speaking up!
My advice is to be patient and not rush into altering your dulcimer in this way.
As others have explained, it would be easy to harm your freboard when removing a fret, and you certainly don't want to do that.
Skip might be right that if you keep playing and consciously think about the small space available for the 9th fret, your technique will improve and this problem may cease to exist.
And if you keep playing for a while, you might find uses for the 8-1/2 fret as you get more used to it.
For the three reasons above, I suggest waiting a while before making a final decision to remove a fret. You can always do it later, but in 6 months or so you might find it unnecessary or even undesireable.
You might also use this as an excuse to get another dulcimer!
Dusty T., Northern California
As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Hmmm, sounds like something I shouldn't try on my own. I have written the builder & will see what he has to say - if he glued the frets in or not or would he take out one of his frets - then the trick of getting it to him.
The other thing I thought of was to file it down. Before I would do or have any of this done, I guess I would need to consider if I will have this dulcimer forever or would want to pass it on one day. But to make it work for me, I really feel I need to have more room to fret the 9.
Removing a fret is not as easy as it sounds. You need to be very careful. Frets have tangs which hold them in place and when the frets are pulled the tangs have a tendency to pull some of the wood out of the fret board. Once the fret is removed, you need to fill that empty space. There are special tools designed to pull frets with minimal damage. Various types of wood used for fret boards react differently to having frets pulled. If the builder of your dulcimer glued the frets in, you have another whole set of problems. I am not suggesting it can't be done, but it is not a job for the faint-of-heart.
"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."
You can slide a knife edge under a corner and pry the fret up but you are almost sure to create splinters on the slot edge. Frets have little 'teeth' on each side of the tang to grip the sides of the slot. These teeth have a tendency to tear out the surface of the fretboard. There are tools the help prevent that but they don't work 100%.
There are pliers specifically designed to remove frets, some builders may use a very thin knife, working it across the length of the fret on both sides, some frets may be tapped on the very end in an upward manner (not usually recommended). Any method requires protecting the surface of the fretboard as much as possible. There are even thin metal 'fret shields' that may be used during the process. If the fret has been glued in it is going to be even more difficult. Just go slow and easy.
I am sure other members may have suggestions.
updated by @kusani: 10/30/17 06:28:00PM
I have a dulcimer that has the 1+ & the 8+, I have trouble fretting the 9 for a clear ring (too small a space), so I was thinking I could remove the 8+ fret since I need the 9 & not the 8+.
Is a fret usually just tapped in, & would I slid something small in under it & try & lift enough to grab with some pliers?
Suggestions & ideas welcome