Nathina
Nathina
@nathina
2 weeks ago
111 posts

In the long run, it doesn't matter if the dulcimer plays well. Also of note is that dulcimer maker "production" does change hands. McSpadden I believe is on its third owner and I wonder how often the old documents are reviewed?


updated by @nathina: 11/15/20 06:21:56PM
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 weeks ago
689 posts

Perhaps when the dulcimers were made in "factory" style someone had the responsibility of measuring the instruments for a brochure and measured incorrectly. No one checked. They just accepted what he submitted. A spec list provides the maker the maker a description to put in advertising. Widths especially can change depending upon the outward pressure on molds. Now that you have a single builder doing all the work there should be a better consistency. Looks like he just gave the specs as previously noted without checking for himself.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

traildad
@traildad
2 weeks ago
55 posts

Well I got an answer of sorts from the the guy that made the dulcimer. 

He said:
“I need to revisit the spec list for the dulcimers - I got those years ago and some things have changed - thanks for pointing that out.”

I don’t know about making dulcimers and why he would “get” a spec list or how it would change. It is what it is and it will do the job. 

Nathina
Nathina
@nathina
3 weeks ago
111 posts

You have a Black mountain Jumbo Dulcimer. A good product and Dave is a good luthier. Your sound board is spruce which tends to have a higher sound than red cedar which is more rich. The use of his term "Jumbo" simply is a name used to identify this model. Enjoy it. I love the scroll head.


updated by @nathina: 11/08/20 10:05:39AM
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
3 weeks ago
689 posts

I am puzzled by the 29.25 inch VSL. Your tape measure clearly shows it as 28.25 inch. Maybe David (the builder) is measuring the whole distance of the fret board. I wouldn't worry about it too much. 28.25 is a nice length for noter/drone style playing.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

traildad
@traildad
3 weeks ago
55 posts

As for why I was measuring my brand new dulcimer... It was a noob misunderstanding. When I read the height specification I was thinking it meant not counting the fretboard. I quickly realized it meant total height but by then I had the tape measure out. ;-)

traildad
@traildad
3 weeks ago
55 posts

Nathina:

Are those screws or lynch pins on the end?

Not screws.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
3 weeks ago
1,344 posts

Looking at the pictures, it's possible they measured from the nut rather than the zero fret.

If you are playing noter/drone, VSL should not matter as much. For chording, a half an inch makes a big difference. The same with a buzz on a drone string. If you are not fretting it, who cares?  But it might matter if you ever wanted to sell the dulcimer, so if you bought it new, you might want to contact the builder. 

Black Mountain makes their own instruments and they do not look like those Roosebecks made overseas.




--
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
traildad
@traildad
3 weeks ago
55 posts

Nathina:

With the brightness mentioned and the measurements, I wonder if I guess it was a Roosebeck if I would be right?

Not unless he put his sticker inside a dulcimer and sold it as his own. 

Nathina
Nathina
@nathina
3 weeks ago
111 posts

Are those screws or lynch pins on the end?

traildad
@traildad
3 weeks ago
55 posts

I have emailed the maker/seller. I’m asking here if it’s common for measurements of a dulcimer to not be precise. As I posted below the height is listed as 3.13”. Listing 3.13 suggests they are measuring in a very precise way. I’m not claiming anyone lied. I’m trying to figure out if my expectations are out of line. The VSL is listed as 29.25”. I am measuring from the zero fret and it measures 28.5” to the back of the white piece the strings rest on.

It sounds like a dulcimer. This is the first time I’ve played with two melody strings. It kind of adds a 12 string guitar sound to it. The drone strings are loud and the melody strings have a “super high up the fret board deadness sound” that is noticeable lower on the fret board than the loaner I’ve been using. I’ve read that is an issue with bigger dulcimers. There is a little buzz on the D drone string on the 9th fret. Since I’m playing noter drone it isn’t a problem. To my novice eye it looks like a quality build. No glue puddled inside that I can see. It has a lower action where I strum which seems to make it easier to keep the pick from going in too deep.

I’m not sure it’s a deal breaker. I haven’t had the chance to listen to and play many different dulcimers. Maybe I shouldn’t care as long as it doesn’t cause a problem. If it was the full size specified maybe it would lose more high end treble. Playing noter drone style maybe the VSL isn’t important. I didn’t choose it for the specific VSL, that was just what they listed. I’m really not sure what to think about it. 

Nathina
Nathina
@nathina
3 weeks ago
111 posts

With the brightness mentioned and the measurements, I wonder if I guess it was a Roosebeck if I would be right?

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
3 weeks ago
1,344 posts

The dimensions listed for a dulcimer should be pretty exact.  I don't know anyone who would list the VSL as 29" if it were really 28.5".  That half inch would make a huge difference in terms of fingering the frets, even if the difference in sound would be minimal.

Having said that, if you expect a dulcimer to sound a certain way based on dimensions alone (or wood choice or bracing or . . .) you are likely to be disappointed.  There are so many factors that influence a dulcimer's sound.  Certain luthiers have certain sounds regardless of the exact size or shape or wood they use.  My point is not that size has no effect, for in general you would expect larger instruments to have more volume and more sustain, but modern luthiers are able to achieve both in smaller dulcimers.  My McCafferty is very loud and very mellow, and the VSL is only 25", though the box is indeed deeper than those of traditional dulcimers. My point is simply that the luthier has much more to do with the sound of a dulcimer than the size or shape or any other individual variable.




--
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
Nathina
Nathina
@nathina
3 weeks ago
111 posts

I suspect your "brightness" is due to wood, and not to measurements.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 weeks ago
1,769 posts

One person's "jumbo" is another person's average.  Did you actually compare the listed dimensions to the instrument you already have in hand to see how different it was going to be?  Is the new body significantly wider, deeper, longer than the one you have in hand?

Is it common to be only "near"?  "What's "near"?  Your "near" may be my "rounded up". 

Is it common to be "only near" when describing a dulcimer?   Probably.  Depends on the builder/website where you ordered.  Was it a mass market outfit like MusicMakers, or a custom builder?  

Not everyone (hardly anyone) measures and reports dulcimer specifications to the nearest millimeter.   Forget "overall length".  That's a measurement only truly useful for a shipping department and has virtually no significance to the sound quality because tuning heads and tail blocks extend beyond the vibrating body of the instrument.   If an instrument I build is 38-13/16" overall length (a measurement almost no one cares about),   I would not hesitate to say it was 39" long.  

What does matter to the sound quality of an instrument is the interior volume of the body (cubic inches under the hood), but certainly not fractions of an inch or a few cubic inches.  A dulcimer of a given shape which is 1.5" deep and 5.5" wide, will be less "mellow" than the same shape of dulcimer which is 3" deep and 8" wide.   

VSL not being exact?  Often.  We often talk about a 27" VSL because it's a convenient number and trips nicely on the tongue.  Much nicer than saying  "twenty-seven and one quarter inches" every time you talk about VSL.   Many are actually built to 27.25" or even 27.5".  Why? because there are common frets-pacing calculators that are set for 27.25" for example, and a quarter inch difference is not going to affect the sound of your instrument in any way that 99.9% of people have any way of measuring.  There are certainly more substantial differences between 26" and 27", or 27" and 28".  Substantial meaning perhaps 1/10" differences in fret spacing -- but not significantly effecting the sound.

If you feel the seller has lied to you, why not contact him/her directly?

Nathina
Nathina
@nathina
3 weeks ago
111 posts

If I new who your luthier is I could comment better. If is one guy, I expect everything to be exact. If it a "factory operation" where several "luthiers" could sign, I have not generally been pleased. I have seen major differences in quality where there should be none. They were all good quality, but some were better than others in matching wood, lengths and fittings. Then there are the factory operations where the head and main assistant make top line dulcimers to specs, and student apprentices make mistakes. These are generally sold at reduced prices but still under the name of main Luthier. I don't think they expect anyone to measure, but I have seen offsets in tuning key positions, and lynch pin positions. Like you, I would expect to get consistency. This occurs in all "hand made" instruments. If you want I can tell you about woods and give you hints about buying hand made acoustical instruments. I spent a lot of time looking for my large hammered dulcimer, and I am very pleased at the result. I spent time studying mountain dulc, and found some phenomenal bargains is used instruments that were actually new made by excellent luthiers.


updated by @nathina: 11/07/20 11:20:48PM
traildad
@traildad
3 weeks ago
55 posts

@Nathina But what does it say the specifications are on the web site? If you order a 29” VSL does it measure 29 or 281/4? I understand different instruments have different lengths and widths. I’m wondering about mine not matching the measurements given on the website where I ordered it from. Is it common for a dulcimer to be only near the stated measurements?

Nathina
Nathina
@nathina
3 weeks ago
111 posts

36" length is the same as my Ron Gibson Barbra Ellen Teardrop. Sound Box depth is 2 7/8 not including fret board and widest is 7 3/8. My McSpadden is 35 3/8 long, width is 6 5/8 depth 1 3/8. As you can see they range widely. The Gibson has excellent sound with a Catalpa Wood Top and sycamore sides and back, not sure yet on the McSpadden as I just got it new (used). Had to do some minor repair on the tuners but just like new, not a scratch. The sound of this is also excellent and the sound box is half that of the teardrop. It really depends on the wood used.

traildad
@traildad
3 weeks ago
55 posts

29.25″ Scale, 36″ length, 3.13″ deep, 8″ wide

Nathina
Nathina
@nathina
3 weeks ago
111 posts

What were the actual listed sizes. There are specific 23" VSL, 26, 28, 28.5.. Each Luthier likes their own width for a specific model. Sound box depth depths are usually 3 inches for some 2.xx for others which includes the height of the fret board. If the keys are up they may add that in also to the total height. I have measured mine and the VSLs are exact to the manufacturer, and depth as to the model. A bright sound may be due to what wood was used in the soundboard.

traildad
@traildad
3 weeks ago
55 posts

Generally speaking how close do dulcimers come to matching the size description on the web sites? I ordered a jumbo dulcimer with the hope that the larger size would affect the sound in a positive way. I brought my new dulcimer home today and found that it does not match what I thought I was getting. It’s about 5/8” shorter in overall length, 3/8” smaller in width, 3/8” shorter in height and the VSL is about 3/4” shorter than the description states. Is this just the normal variances of a hand made instrument? It has a nice bright dulcimer sound. I probably wouldn’t even question this except I was looking for a mellower sound and I hoped the larger size would help in that department. Anyone ever measure?