Value of this instrument or maker

waynebergman
@waynebergman
3 days ago
3 posts

Thanks Strumelia, the overall length is 40" and no it did not come with a case.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 days ago
1,667 posts

Wayne, a 28" or 28.5" nut-to-bridge scale length is about as long as it gets and still be considered 'standard scale length' range.  So it seems to me this instrument was designed with a scale length in mind that is several inches longer than that.  Whoever laid out this fret board with the nut positioned where it is now had the goal of making this longer dulcimer have a 'standard' length scale. 
If you replaced the current fret board and put the nut where it would 'normally' be expected, this dulcimer would likely have a scale of 31" or so--  really a bit too long to comfortably tune up to the usual dulcimer key of D, and such a long scale would also make for difficult-to-reach finger stretches while making chords.  So, somebody made this dulcimer have a 'normal' scale by the easiest way possible- by having the nut moved up by several inches.

How long is the overall length of this dulcimer?  I assume it did not come with a case?  Might be a little fragile and expensive to ship because of its added length.

About the Merlin, I can't say much because I feel like it's comparing apples to oranges.  Instruments are tools, and much depends on what your own personal goals are for your playing. Choose a tool that will help you get where you want to go.  :)




--
Site Owner

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

There have been a number of complaints about the Seagull Merlins not having correct fret spacing and very few frets.  Seagull makes decent guitars but whoever is making the stick instrument Merlins for them is apparently not doing particularly well.  Definitely what I would call a "try before you buy" situation!

waynebergman
@waynebergman
3 days ago
3 posts

Thanks for the help folks. The scale is 28" inside measurment from nut to bridge. Intonation seem very good except for the fret that plays the octave in relation to the open string. For some reason it is about 20 cents flata at the octave fret. I guess that fret could be slightly closer to the nut to sharpen up things but I am OK with how it plays at this point. I am new to the MOuntain Dulcimer and my main instrument is the upright bass. I like the concept of the DAD tuning and the easy of making nice sounds with the Diatonic layout. After seeing a Merlin 4 string that is also same tuning but the D strings are reversed I think I am more drawn to this Merlin option as its more guitar like in posture. The reason I was wondering about value is I may sell this Dulcimer  and buy a Seagul M4  Merlin shown here http://www.seagullguitars.com/en/products/m4

Any adivse on how these Merlin guitar style Dulcimers compare to a real Mountain Dulcimer would also be appreciated. 

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 days ago
1,667 posts

Someone laid out the scale a little differently by starting the nut higher up the fret board than usual. That shortened the scale overall.. which actually might make it easier to play if you have smaller hands.  As long as the frets are placed so that it plays in tune on all frets, you're good to go!  (use a tuner to fine-check the fret placement, but at first glance it looks to be generally correct)

I'd be interested to know the scale length of this arrangement- what's the length in inches between the black nut and the bridge?  Perhaps the instrument itself is extra long, and the owner decided to shorten the scale to a more standard length, to make it easier to play.

I'd say that if it plays in tune and comfortably, you can enjoy having this dulcimer that didn't cost much!  dulcimer




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
IRENE
IRENE
@irene
4 days ago
114 posts

Where ever it was made, all the joints are tight and looks great that way.  Good you replaced the tuning gears and strings.  Now the "taste is in the tasting"....of the pudding.  HOW does she sound?   Have you checked with a tuner?   first fret and 7th fret octave in tune the same?   that's a good indicator that it's done good in the "fret department".   I've gotten a few dulcimers that frets are NOT TRUE...and I'm going to rip out those frets and make new fret board and put 'em on it....making sure the VSL fits the frets and be in tune.  a project for another day.   This dulcimer would be really cute some added flowers and tole painting.  aloha, irene

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 days ago
1,591 posts

I think it was a decent buy for $50.  Very strange setup, that for certain.  Not "old style fret placement", just a plain Diatonic layout, but with a HUGE blank run at the head from the Nut to the break over the edge of the tuning head!! 

Almost looks like the wrong fretboard was installed on the body.  Or the wrong VSL scale was used to cut the frets -- that board could have a much long VSL...  Maybe the strum hollow was cut and the frets installed from the wrong end.  The sound holes are a strange mishmash too, with the trefoil between two round holes.

The body appears to be mahogany veneer, and heavily braced inside.   

I take it there is no maker's label visible through the holes.  I'd say YES it's a commercial build, probably from Asia (just a hunch) or at least somewhere that did/does not understand how the fretboard is supposed to be on a dulcimer.


updated by @ken-hulme: 09/11/19 01:10:41PM
waynebergman
@waynebergman
4 days ago
3 posts

Greetings Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer. I have just acquired a used mountain dulcimer. It would not stay in tune so switched over to the geared tuners from Folkcraft and also a set of new strings. I think the instrument had been sitting for a long time. I feel its older but hardly used. I am looking for some kind of marking inside the instrument to see if I can tell who made it. No signs of any kind of ID on the dulcimer. Seems like a quality build and seems in excellent shape. Old style fret placement. Thought I would share the photos to see if anyone can give input on the possible value of the instrument and if others feel its a commercially manufactured piece. Intonation is good and no signs of any damage of any kind. I paid $50 bucks for it and then another 40 for the tuners and strings.