Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
6 months ago
1,128 posts

There are some pretty fancy carbon-fiber guitars that are made specifically for outdoor extreme temperatures.  And I've played those ukuleles like the Waterman by Kala that can be used as an oar if you get stuck in a boat.  But I don't think dulcimers built along those lines would be so simple or inexpensive.

My initial thought is similar to what @Greg-Gunner and @Ken-Hulme have suggested.  Get an octave dulcimer.  They are no more than 2 feet long and can easily be transported in a small padded case and left beside your desk while you work. Then you just sling it over your shoulder, grab your lunch pail, and have a musical lunch hour.  I work from home and still sometimes play one during lunchtime!  My wife sometimes takes a shoulder bag to work that could easily hold a purse, a lunch, and an octave dulcimer.  You could do the same.




--
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: 03/06/19 08:32:29PM
Dan
Dan
@dan
6 months ago
103 posts

I've ordered a piece of 6061 aluminum bar stock. I'm going to put together a prototype extreme dulcimer, (ED) this weekend.

Kevin R.
Kevin R.
@kevin-r
7 months ago
14 posts

Lisa:

I ended up buying an old “Plickett” dulcimer shaped object to keep in the car.  It’s very quiet and sturdy.  It had a trial run last night, as I ended up doing an emergency overnight respite visit with a hospice client to give the family a break.  I spent most of the night in a recliner about fifteen feet away from the open bedroom door, and plucked on my Plickett softly, to keep myself awake and pass the time, along with watching Forensic Files at low volume. 

The strings were the original super thin, rusty wire, so I swapped two out with what I had on hand, and ended up tuning it to C, g, D, with the melody string being tuned lower than the middle, as is my personal presence.  This is my favorite tuning that I use on my cardboard box dulcimer that I play constantly, too.  The lower tunings made the Plickett sound less plinky, giving a more pleasing plunk.

It’s a fun little board, and I think would survive the trunk of my car wrapped in a towel in a duffle bag this summer.

For those who don’t know, a Plickett was a small novelty dulcimer sold in the 70’s for a while.  It’s two feet long, five inches wide at the bouts, and a 3/4 inch thick solid board, with a big circle cut beneath the bridge in the back, to give it a little volume and resonance.

It’s not perfect by any means, but it beats not having a dulcimer at all by a long shot.  I suspect my cardboard box dulcimer would survive a summer in the trunk if it were in some sort of bigger box or case, but I love it far too much to try that.  The Plickett is actually small enough that I just put it in my work bag and it stuck out just a little, so I could bring it into work or field work situations with me, and not leave in the trunk at all.  Yay!  I have something to use during work breaks!

Lisa

I have one of these too. It's hanging on the wall of my music room. My wife got it for me years ago. Probably mid 80's at the latest. Every now and again I get it down and strum on it a bit.

Lisa
Lisa
@lisa
7 months ago
21 posts

I ended up buying an old “Plickett” dulcimer shaped object to keep in the car.  It’s very quiet and sturdy.  It had a trial run last night, as I ended up doing an emergency overnight respite visit with a hospice client to give the family a break.  I spent most of the night in a recliner about fifteen feet away from the open bedroom door, and plucked on my Plickett softly, to keep myself awake and pass the time, along with watching Forensic Files at low volume. 

The strings were the original super thin, rusty wire, so I swapped two out with what I had on hand, and ended up tuning it to C, g, D, with the melody string being tuned lower than the middle, as is my personal presence.  This is my favorite tuning that I use on my cardboard box dulcimer that I play constantly, too.  The lower tunings made the Plickett sound less plinky, giving a more pleasing plunk.

It’s a fun little board, and I think would survive the trunk of my car wrapped in a towel in a duffle bag this summer.

For those who don’t know, a Plickett was a small novelty dulcimer sold in the 70’s for a while.  It’s two feet long, five inches wide at the bouts, and a 3/4 inch thick solid board, with a big circle cut beneath the bridge in the back, to give it a little volume and resonance.

It’s not perfect by any means, but it beats not having a dulcimer at all by a long shot.  I suspect my cardboard box dulcimer would survive a summer in the trunk if it were in some sort of bigger box or case, but I love it far too much to try that.  The Plickett is actually small enough that I just put it in my work bag and it stuck out just a little, so I could bring it into work or field work situations with me, and not leave in the trunk at all.  Yay!  I have something to use during work breaks!

Lisa


updated by @lisa: 03/03/19 03:41:20PM
Skip
Skip
@skip
7 months ago
236 posts

You know what might work? A simple fretboard on a board with a cheap rod piezo pickup on the bridge like those from CBGitty. That's all 'strumsticks' and electric MDs are, basically, just add a small amp. Screw the fretboard to the board, no glue required.


updated by @skip: 02/09/19 09:09:14PM
Kusani
Kusani
@kusani
7 months ago
123 posts

A canjo would not be appreciably affected by the heat.... no glued wood joints, only one string (easily tuned if needed), etc. Go ahead and make a nice one out of a single piece of wood, a can, one tuner, a few frets, nut and bridge, and one string and have fun. :)

Lisa
Lisa
@lisa
7 months ago
21 posts
I can't store it at work, there's no closet, I have a table style desk with filing cabinets in a shared office that's too small as it is. Thus, my need for a tough dulcimer. I might just get or make a canjo, they're inexpensive and it's something to plink on for an hour. I was thinking of making a neck out of rectangular or square 1 1/2" aluminum pipe. It could possibly work. It'll have to wait until spring, as I don't have a garage or basement to work in.
Thanks for the input, I appreciate it.
Lisa
Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
7 months ago
947 posts

I neglected to state (along with my Corian idea) that I wouldn't put the Corian on a wooden instrument.  A cardboard box or a tin for a soundbox? 




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
7 months ago
1,667 posts

It's not so much about the material the instrument is made from. Two things here: 

1) Under high heat, GLUE is going to fail under the string tension in high heat. No matter what material you use for the parts, if any glue is used the dulcimer parts will come apart as though you had stuck it in the oven.  Maybe you could investigate glue that does not fail under high heat.

2) The sudden and drastic temperature change might implode/explode a wooden instrument if you: Bring it from a freezing cold car into a heated house....OR... Bring it from a very hot car into an air conditioned house.  Remember a dulcimer is a long narrow box that's under high string tension.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
7 months ago
1,591 posts

Personally I would NOT store a dulcimer in a hot car in a parking lot!!  Corian would probably hold up, but would be almighty HEAVY!   As Banjimer says, store your dulcimer alongside your desk in the office, then take it to the park, rather than storing it in the care.  Everything expands and shrinks with heat and cold -- wood, metal, plastic, Corian.  The trick is finding the material with the smallest expansion.

Nothing wrong with an all wood dulcimer; you just need the patience to spend a minute or two checking your tuning when you get to the park.  

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
7 months ago
947 posts

I'm thinking a fretboard made of a material such as Corian (used as counter material in kitchens, baths, etc.) might hold up? 




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Banjimer
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
7 months ago
83 posts

Lisa, isn't there a place a less expensive dulcimer can be stored at work.  Then you wouldn't have to go home to get it.  You could carry it from work to the park and back on those days when the weather allows you to sit and enjoy both the dulcimer and the atmosphere of the park.  You might even end up with other dulcimer players joining you for lunch and a few tunes over the lunch hour.  There's no need to store it in your hot/cold car if you have a sympathetic boss and a safe place to store it at work.

Dan
Dan
@dan
7 months ago
103 posts

Lisa, the old style traditional pieces with oil or shellac finishes hold up pretty good in the cold, but I don't know of anything that will be good in the heat. String tension against most plastics will win out in the extreme heat of a car.....maybe aluminum?

Lisa
Lisa
@lisa
7 months ago
21 posts

Hi,

I’m wondering if anyone has a good idea for a dulcimer for all weather, leave it in the car to play on your lunch break?

Would a cardboard dulcimer with a wooden fretboard hold up to temperature extremes of a car in the summer?  Would the fretboard warp?  

I know some ukuleles are made out of all plastic and people keep them in their car or take them hiking with success, and they sound decent for a travel instrument, according to what I’ve read on uke forums.  So how about a cardboard dulcimer with a plastic fretboard?  In theory, would that hold up better as a car dulcimer than a wood fretboard version?  I have a friend who owns has a small business and makes things out of acrylic plastic, like custom fish tanks.  I could ask about the logistics of making me a fretboard (And even the body) out of acrylic, if it sounds like it’s worth pursuing.  I have to take an entire hour for lunch at work, and it’s too far away for me to drive home and back.  I usually go sit in a park to kill time, and would love to have a dulcimer to play that I could leave in the car trunk all the time.

Thanks, Lisa