Slate Creek Dulcimers
Slate Creek Dulcimers
@slate-creek-dulcimers
4 months ago
13 posts
I would think it is fixable. You're just gonna have to determine a way to put a dip in the fretboard instead of a hump.
Most dulcimers with a full length fretboard will keep relief, or a dip in the fretboard under tension due to string tension. The problem with this style fretboard is the partial length transfers the tension it's getting from the strings to the soundboard and sides and it will sometimes make the problem worse because the tension will tend to lift the rear end of the fretboard.
You'll likely need to pull the frets and use a hand plane or handheld sander to remove some material to make a dip, or some sandpaper and elbow grease and time.
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 months ago
1,674 posts

One basic string height setup that we often use is known as the Nickel & Dime technique. You can lower the strings even more, but this is a good place to start:

Place a dime next to the 1st fret and see how close the strings are to the coin.  Sand the bottom of the Nut until the strings just touch the dime. Now balance a nickel on top of the 7th fret, and check the height of the strings.  Sand the bottom of Bridge until the strings just touch the nickel.  

Salt Springs
Salt Springs
@salt-springs
4 months ago
176 posts

If you have not done so, and it sounds like you are working through a learning curve, may I recommend you go to Bearmeadow.com and read through all of the building and adjustment tips and instructions that DW has posted..........it is great information and will help you a great deal.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
4 months ago
1,188 posts

Proedrick, the issue with the terminology is not a big deal.  If the strings sit on top of the box, the instrument is in the zither family (like the dulcimer or autoharp). If the strings extends past the box, we call that a neck, and the instrument is in the lute family (like a guitar or mandolin).  

In the picture you posted, the head of the dulcimer extends past the body, but the fretboard sits on the box itself, so technically it has no neck.  

Incidentally, this is one reason why purists don't consider stick dulcimers to be dulcimers. The "stick" is the neck of the instrument, so from an organological (fancy word, huh winky ) point of view, the instrument is in the lute family rather than the zither family regardless of whether it has a diatonic fretboard or not.




--
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
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
4 months ago
1,188 posts

Hey Phroedrick, I guess you have to call this a time-consuming lesson. I have no knowledge of lutherie, so I would have no idea how to fix fret buzz. But when I've brough an instrument in to a shop for that reason, the luthiers always eyeball the fretboard first, looking to see how flat it is.  I would think that actually working with the frets would be the last adjustment to make. I'm sure it's been frustrating for you.

And hey, River City Dulcimers is meeting this Saturday in Roseville if you want to make a drive.  I know it's a schlep, but you'll have folks to commiserate with. You're more than welcome to join us.




--
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
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
4 months ago
1,738 posts

Phroe...  I'm thinking you'll eventually have to make a decision whether to continue putting in your time and expense to make this a dulcimer that is enjoyable to play . Sometimes we just have to let an instrument-fixing project go and chalk it up to good learning experience. But only you can decide where that point might be in your personal scale of pros and cons. You might opt to keep this instrument as a good one for hauling around to campouts or trips without having to worry about it like you would with a more expensive dulcimer. Or it may be the instrument that prompted you to make one from scratch. Or it may be the one that caused you to go out and try some dulcimers made by known and respected makers. You have lots of choices as to how to see this and what to do next.  But I think your attitude has been real positive through this experience.  yes




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 months ago
1,674 posts

Point of terminology, Phroedrick --- dulcimers do not have necks.  Dulcimers have fretboards, with or without fingerboards.  Necks extend beyond the soundbody, fretboards do not.    Also, dulcimers seldom have a saddle.  The vast majority have a bridge set on fretboard, or in a slot in the fretboard; even dulcimers with dis-continuous fretboards seldom have a saddle.  Instead they use a banjo or violin style tall bridge.

In your discussion you mention both fretboard straightness, and bow.  Dulcimer fretboards, especially old dulcimer fretboards, were often made with a distinct bow from say 3rd fret to 12th or thereabouts.  The bow is/was intended to accommodate the elliptical nature of vibrating strings, being deepest near the 7th fret and shallowest at either end.


updated by @ken-hulme: 09/25/19 07:27:38AM