Gennaro
Gennaro
@gennaro
3 weeks ago
12 posts

Great responses. I ended up using a product called Ultra Flo Clear lacquer.  Anyway, I mentioned that my other dulcimer was louder and more vibrant and the other would never sound as good. This is funny because the more I play the duller toned one, the better I like it and the less I like the more vibrant, or I should describe it as twangy. So much so, that I actually don't enjoy playing the vibrant one. The mellow toned dulcimer is 3 inches deep. The twangy one is 2 1/4 inch. I've read that could be the difference.

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updated by @gennaro: 05/10/20 08:39:09AM
IRENE
IRENE
@irene
3 weeks ago
154 posts

WOW, another interesting and thoughtful post.   yep, I've tried several kinds of finish.   On my harps and other instruments I've used OLD DAD'S wipe on finish and I loved that.   Easy to put on, to touch up and all.  then they went out of business.  I then went to General Finishes (Oil based) Gel Topcoat Satin.   I also noticed that too many coats seemed to lessen the sound.   So 3 is about my limit and very thin coats.  My brother introduced to some water based finish that dried in an hour........and I didn't like it all....but it was a trial on the one that I had with me there.   I'm going to sand that one down and try something else.   When in Hawaii in the month of Feb.....I made two dulcimers and got what Bob suggested Minwax wipe on Poly.   I like that very much.....3 thin coats is all that is necessary.   Who was it in Berea that said they often didn't have any varnish or paint on the early ones?   and it's very very true, all of these instruments need time to develop their sound.....the little tiny air pockets need to be filled with sound and sing.   There has been studies on instruments that ARE NOT PLAYED and they do lose their musicality.  It's so fun to play an instrument, and have the other instruments I have around me do some sounding simpathetically. aloha, irene

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
4 weeks ago
19 posts

Ken Hulme:

Body volume differences, wood differences, internal bracing differences, age of strings, many other factors will audibly affect the quality of sound between two dulcimers.  Finish... not so much, IMHO.

The first three dulcimers I made for practice were exactly identical in materials and dimensions, but one was unprotected craftboard, one had just enough of a poly stain mix to coat the surface, and the third had a heavy few coats of poly forming a shell around the wood. These three were all made from craftboard so not exactly identical grain or anything, but the difference in the three was stark. The bare craftboard has by far the softest most mellow tone, and the one with a heavy poly coat is very twangy and bright, while the one with a modest amount of poly falls in between. The one with the most poly is loudest, and the one with exposed wood is the quietest, also. My assumption has been that because the poly is stiffer than the wood, the more i add, the more the tonal quality resembles a stiffer type of wood. I dont know how this would translate to harder types of wood. Maybe if it were a wood that is stiffer than the poly it would actually dampen the sound?

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 weeks ago
1,736 posts

Body volume differences, wood differences, internal bracing differences, age of strings, many other factors will audibly affect the quality of sound between two dulcimers.  Finish... not so much, IMHO.

I'm not sure that, all things considered, anything short of sensitive audio recording equipment could "hear" the difference between poly and lacquer finish.  Please,  if you have such sensitive audio measuring and recording gear, do a recording with one finish and then the other and report back to us the numeric differences between the two..


updated by @ken-hulme: 04/30/20 04:26:05PM
Gennaro
Gennaro
@gennaro
4 weeks ago
12 posts

I actually have some. Poly may not have anything to do with the dead tone of this dulcimer, but I have some lacquer coming that gets good reviews for stringed finishes. I don't know beans about the subject, but maybe it's the larger mass of this bigger dulcimer that is keeping tone and volume down. As of now, there is no comparison to my Calkin dulcimer.

Bob
Bob
@bob
one month ago
96 posts

Gennaro, have you tried Minwax Wipe-on Poly? I have gotten good results with it.

Gennaro
Gennaro
@gennaro
one month ago
12 posts

Thanks for the responses guys.  I just wasn't sure if the poly finish didn't affect it negatively. I'll play it for a few weeks before I strip the poly off.  Update: Found an article on finishes that described poly as " that dreaded finish". I stripped it and will probably go with lacquer. No matter what I do, I know it's not going to sound as good as my John Calkin dulcimer. I know nothing, but feel the feather light Calkin will always be more vibrant. 

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updated by @gennaro: 04/28/20 12:52:52PM
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
one month ago
1,736 posts

I own (and have made) dulcimers which vary by well over a pound in weight.  Different woods, different overall size, different material dimensions, different building techniques --  all can make significant differences in dulcimer mass. 

Likewise there are several dozen factors in dulcimer construction which can make a difference in dulcimer tone and volume, even between "identical" models by the same maker.

Dulcimer building is an art, not a science, especially when trying to build an instrument with specific properties for a specific person's taste.

John Gribble
John Gribble
@john-gribble
one month ago
94 posts

In construction, there's no real standard that I'm aware of. Sometimes a newly refinished instrument is "stiff" until it gets played a few dozen hours, just like a new instrument. 

Gennaro
Gennaro
@gennaro
one month ago
12 posts

I actually only played it a few times. I may not have noticed if i didn't have both at home right now. Bought it from her so i wouldn't have to drag mine back and forth. There is a marked difference in tone(lower) and volume( just not near as loud). My other was made by John Caulkin. It is extremely light. My problem dulcimer seems to have been made by a wood worker. Nice work, but all materials are heavier or thicker. 4.3 lbs vs 3 lbs. Is it common to see such a difference in dulcimers?


updated by @gennaro: 04/27/20 10:27:00AM
John Gribble
John Gribble
@john-gribble
one month ago
94 posts

How did it sound before the accident?

Gennaro
Gennaro
@gennaro
one month ago
12 posts

Bought a dulcimer recently, however at a friends house, her cat knocked it off a table and broke a good sized piece off the top. In repairing it, I had to strip the finish, which almost seemed a plastic. Turned out OK, but I used polyurethane. I think that was mistake. It is not near as vibrant as my other dulcimer. It is a much heavier dulcimer and includes a pickup. I read posts about deadening the instrument with the wrong finish. I'm not above redoing it.

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updated by @gennaro: 04/27/20 09:24:13AM