Capo for Radius Fretboard?

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
4 weeks ago
1,900 posts

@d-chitwood , try reading this thread in our "Stie Questions...How do I..." forum:

https://fotmd.com/forums/forum/site-questions-how-do-i/32804/how-to-add-an-audio-mp3-or-soundcloud-clip-to-fotmd




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
D. chitwood
D. chitwood
@d-chitwood
4 weeks ago
142 posts

Not sure how to do that on here, @gale-a-barr

Gale A Barr
Gale A Barr
@gale-a-barr
4 weeks ago
46 posts

@D-Chitwood , sure would like to hear a sound file from your new Bella dulcimer....winker

D. chitwood
D. chitwood
@d-chitwood
4 weeks ago
142 posts

@dusty-turtle, I did see the dulcimer Tony Vine made for Aaron. He had it displayed cause all the other dulcimers got sold and there was just a row of empty stands, LOL. I think Tony did say something about Aaron's being custom made. Tony's guitars are like masterpiece works of art and the dulcimer Billy got...man, oh man...I've never seen anything so beautiful! 

I stayed up late last night playing around and the Ron Ewing capo was working fine and keeping the tune spot on. So for now, I'll stick with that. I did speak with Tony and he said to hang tight that he was making a capo and it would be ready in a month, so I can use it then. 

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
4 weeks ago
1,066 posts

@D-Chitwood and @Brian-G, in addition to a radiused fretboard, Aaron O'Rourke's dulcimers also have what he calls a "reversed flare."  The strings are 1" apart at the nut but .8" apart at the bridge.  That might compensate for what Brian refers to as the difficulty fretting on a radiused fretboard up high.




--
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

updated by @dusty-turtle: 11/19/18 07:57:53PM
Brian G.
Brian G.
@brian-g
4 weeks ago
113 posts

Hi Dana,

Thanks for the quick response!  Yes, a 10" radius fretboard is still pretty flat, so what you've written doesn't surprise me. 

As for the reason for coming up with the idea - there are certainly good reasons for radius fretboards, but like pretty much everything else you can choose to do on an instrument, there are trade-offs also. I mentioned bending earlier, but moving across strings, especially higher up the fretboard, is another example of something that's generally considered easier with flat fretboards.

But it sounds like in this case, at least, any trade-offs were minimal and well worth it. :)  And I certainly can't argue with how that instrument sounds.  Love it!

D. chitwood
D. chitwood
@d-chitwood
4 weeks ago
142 posts

Hi Brian,

It is 10" fingerboard Radius according to the dulcimer specifics and a 25.5 VSL. I don't know about compound radius.

So here's the thing. I can't feel any type of curve, nor does it look different. All I do know is that the action is low and smoothe and after an intensively insane class with Aaron O'Rourke on flying finger licks, Cindy ran a flying finger test on the fretboard and her eyes flew open wide and she said, "OMGOSH did you see that!? That was so easy on this fretboard!!"

It has the most comfortable feel to it of any dulcimer I've played and I do use all five fingers in chording and barring and whatnot.

I did find out Terry McCafferty also does a radius fretboard. 

Again, I can't see it or feel it. I'm sure there was a reason Tony and Aaron came up with the idea. All I know is my fingers don't hurt at all and I don't find myself wishing the action was lower. 

 I've only had the Mcspadden, Folk Root, Gibson, Gallier, Sweet woods, Modern Mountain & Blue Lion to compare to. So many have hurt my fingers. This just feels ...gentle and easy. I will say one thing...the sustain on the harmonic is insane. I think I heard it still going after I went to bed. giggle2

 

Brian G.
Brian G.
@brian-g
4 weeks ago
113 posts

Hi Dana,

I have a couple questions for you, but rather than ask them privately I figured I'd do it here in case anyone else was wondering also.

1) Do you know the radius of your new dulcimer's fretboard in inches?  (and if it's a compound radius fretboard, do you know the radii for each end?)

2) Do you like it (not the dulcimer itself, which sounds fantastic, but the fretboard specifically)?  I'm familiar with the general advantages of curved fretboards (eg, more easy to barre and chord) as well as their disadvantages (eg, can't usually get action as low as with flat boards, more prone to buzzes, especially when bending notes or hammering) and I can understand the desire for curved fretboards on, say, a guitar, because of how they are played. But given the way a dulcimer is played, it doesn't seem to me that it would make much difference for playability.  My guitar playing is mostly limited to classical guitar (those have flat fretboards) so my experience with curved fretboards is limited.

Thanks for any insight.

Brian

 


updated by @brian-g: 11/19/18 04:56:37PM
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 weeks ago
1,830 posts

As Dusty mentions, there are a number of makers of "Spider-like" capos other than Spider-brand.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
4 weeks ago
1,066 posts

Dana, I was just going to respond to your personal message, but I saw this forum, so I'll respond here instead.

More and more luthiers (including Folkcraft as an option) are making radiused fretboards, but the truth is that unless you barre with a single finger like Aaron O'Rourke or Stephen Seifert, it doesn't really offer an advantage.  Then again, if more of us had radiused fretboards, perhaps more of us would barre with a single finger!

I bought a dulcimer from Terry McCafferty, but it was before he started offering the radiused fretboard as an option.

If the Ewing capo works, then you have your solution.  The Spider Capo should work once you get the hang of it.  Ideally you would want a capo with the exact same radius as the fretboard.

David Beede provides a radiused capo with his models that have radiused fretboards, so you might contact him and find out if he can sell one separately, but unless the radius is exactly the same as the Bella, I am not sure it would work.  According to the website, Bella dulcimers have a 12" fretboard radius.  Terry McCafferty used to sell capos that matched his dulcimers in design, but I don't know if he's started making radius capos. You might send an email to both of those luthiers and see if they can help you.

This is all pretty new.  If more luthiers begin making radiused fretboards and that exact radius becomes standardized, then I'm sure someone will start making radiused capos to match.

 




--
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
D. chitwood
D. chitwood
@d-chitwood
4 weeks ago
142 posts

It's walnut with butternut soundboard. The fingerboard overlay is wenge and the VSL is 25.5. My friend got one of the fancier ones (I think he sold out every single one he brought) and honestly, it was the most beautiful dulcimer I've ever seen. The sound...unlike anything I've ever heard. It made me cry when I played it. It made. me. cry. I looked up at my friend, and her eyes were filled with tears. Yall. The dulcimer made us both cry. 

It will be my keeper for the rest of my life. The tones are stunning. He sells $20K guitars so the man knows high quality stringed instruments. He did something heavenly with his design, gracious alive. 

Several instructors were lucky enough to order or buy one. 

It was a once in a lifetime find. 

But that spider capo, it can go suck an egg as far as I'm concerned, LOL. I'll find which capo works best and go with that. So far Ron Ewings is doing pretty good. 

 

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 weeks ago
1,830 posts

A Spider type capo would have been my suggestion.

Salt Springs
Salt Springs
@salt-springs
4 weeks ago
113 posts

Wow!  I would sure like to see a photo of that Bella.....I just checked Tony's website and those are some amazing instruments.

D. chitwood
D. chitwood
@d-chitwood
4 weeks ago
142 posts

Hello all!

 This past weekend I got to go to Unicoi festival and it was fantastic! I bought a new dulcimer from Bella Dulcimers and it's the best sounding thing I have ever heard, Lordy mercy! The action is low and so comfortable and the sound...ohmyheavens, it's like angels singing! I have never heard anything like this before and I've owned a gallier starsong which to me, was a gorgeous sounding instrument!

This Bella Dulciner has a radius fretboard, like Terry McCafferty's dulcimer. Tony Vine the luthier (you may be familiar with his guitars?) suggested I use a spider capo and gave me one. I'm struggling on the best way to use it. If anyone else has a radius fretboard, what do you use?

I did put on one of Ron Ewing's capos and it seems to work fine actually. Just wanted to know what yall use if you have one! Thank you!