Can anyone tell me about John Maxwell Dulcimers.

Dan
Dan
@dan
2 years ago
148 posts

Maxwell was friends with John Rice Irwin.He did a lot of work on the music display @ the Museum Of Appalachia in Norris Tennessee. There are several pieces of his displayed.

Kusani
Kusani
@kusani
2 years ago
134 posts

Just for clarification: Tennessee Tech's  Appalachian Center  for  Crafts are not the same.  Maxwell's Craft center was privately owned and preceded the Appalachian Center for Crafts.  I do own one of his dulcimers, and live in Cookeville, Tn. where he had his shop and his dulcimers were built; made primarily for the tourist trade but overall not a bad instrument.  The wooden pegs are a pain to keep in tune however. 

Nathina
Nathina
@nathina
2 years ago
189 posts

Ken Longfield:

I have a question for you Nathina. Have you been to the Musical Instrument Museum? There is a nice display of dulcimers and their predecessors there. My wife and I visited there in 2018.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Several times, but not since COVID. I tried to donate a ukelin to them but they made it too much of a hassle. I probably will go again if they stay open.

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
2 years ago
287 posts

I have -- somewhere-- a brochure from the Upper Cumberland Craft Center when John Maxwell was running it, and a John Maxwell dulcimer which was damaged when somebody removed it from the wall of a T.G.I.Friday's restaurant years ago.

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 years ago
833 posts

I have a question for you Nathina. Have you been to the Musical Instrument Museum? There is a nice display of dulcimers and their predecessors there. My wife and I visited there in 2018.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 years ago
833 posts

By the 1980s most workshops at dulcimer festivals were in DAd. People looked at you like you were a lunatic if you tried to offer anything in DAA.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Nathina
Nathina
@nathina
2 years ago
189 posts

I think I have traced the movement which started bigtime to 1978. By the 80's "everyone" (not everyone) wanted DAd. Music also started changing becoming harder to find DAa tabs. I guess they somehow would pin the 2nd string at the third fret? Not sure how they would pin it, especially if they were noting.


updated by @nathina: 12/09/20 08:02:21PM
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 years ago
833 posts

Nathina, I forgot to address your question about the 6.5 fret. There are some examples of it being used in the early part of the 20th century. On some of those, the 6 fret was absent. For the most part the 6.5 fret began to be included by modern builders by the mid-1970s. Some included it before that. It was also at that time the mountain dulcimer players began moving away from DAA to DAd. Before that they moved from CGG to DAA. 

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 years ago
833 posts

Lisa, I will try to put together a thread on my Thomas dulcimer #1465. I did not do the restoration myself. I had John Huron do it. I met John at Dulcimerville in 2011 (I think). John was teaching a dulcimer building workshop based on the Thomas pattern. I showed him the dulcimer and was thrilled that I asked him to restore it. John took many photos during the process and some video as well. At the time, I was still working full time and did not have the time to do the work. John and I consulted a few times by email and phone during the three years it took to do the restoration. Betty and I stopped in Bristol, TN where John lives and picked up the dulcimer on our way home from visiting our son in CA. I wrote an article about the restoration that appeared in Dulcimer Players News. I will have to look up what issue it is in.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Nathina
Nathina
@nathina
2 years ago
189 posts

I will call him. I can fix the tuners without any "real" modification. Recommend that I don't add 6.5 unless he demands it and fix the case. I will also remove any dents to invisibility so it will be pristine. A good cleaning, maybe new strings and bring it back to new. I can also match the patina. I will post it when it is done. I should also ask him the number to see what time this might have been made. Wish there was a time line somewhere. Wonder if there are any archives?

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 years ago
2,018 posts

Maxwells are vintage and are slowly now becoming 'historic' dulcimers and collectors items. Be careful about making changes to one, as putting in more frets, changing the wooden tuners, replacing parts, and refinishing can all actually permanently devalue it. If it's an original wooden case made by Maxwell that too would be part of the value. An old dulcimer is most valuable when it is in good condition and as close to unchanged as possible.
The thing is, there are so many newer dulcimers available for sale that already have geared tuners and 6.5 frets etc. And dulcimers are not that expensive. I always feel it's a shame to change a lovely vintage dulcimer from its original state and intent. Modernizing antique instruments usually devalues them. Just my two cents!

I would love for Ken Longfield to post again (with pix) about how he restored a rare "Uncle Ed" Thomas dulcimer that was all smashed up. An monumental and successful project!




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Nathina
Nathina
@nathina
2 years ago
189 posts

I have a way of filling in dings and matching restoring the look. 

Nathina
Nathina
@nathina
2 years ago
189 posts

If the pegs are in good condition I will clean and adjust them. There are a couple of items that are available to enlarge the peg body itself without loosing anything to the wood. Do you know when a 6.5 fret became the defacto or when eveyone decided to go from 1-5-5 to 1-3-8 (DAa toDAd)

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 years ago
833 posts

The Maxwell dulcimers I've seen were solid wood.  Replacing the tuners might be a challenge depending upon the diameter of the tuners he made. You might have to plug and re-drill the holes. As to the 6.5 fret it depends upon the tuning the person wants to use. The 6.5 fret is not needed for a 1 - 5 - 5 tuning. If playing 1 - 3 - 8 the 6.5 fret is helpful as well as the octave, 13.5. When I replace those frets I measure the VSL and calculate the proper placement. I can't speak for others, but I don't mind you asking questions. Ask away.

Ken
"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 years ago
833 posts

This one is also interesting. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John-maxwell-dulcimers-moa-tn1.jpg

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Nathina
Nathina
@nathina
2 years ago
189 posts

I did read all the links here. I can ask the owner for a number.  From what he tells me there is no 6 1/2 which would make the dulcimer around 1970ish. Did he use solids or veneer? His tuners were wooden pegs. So I will probably have to redo that for her. Should I upgrade it for him for a 6.5, or leave it pre / 1970s. This has a wooden custom box, that accompanies it, which I can fix easily. I am trying to find some pics of his obviously upgrade pre 70's. Revels I believe has his new ones or those within the last few years of manufacturer. Hope people don't mind me asking difficult questions?

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 years ago
833 posts

Nathina, I've seen a few of his dulcimers over the years and may have played a tune or two on one. Here is link that shows what I believe to be typical of his instruments. https://revelsmusic.co.uk/dulcimers-for-sale/historicunusual-dulcimers/maxwell-teardrop/

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Nathina
Nathina
@nathina
2 years ago
189 posts

He stopped building in the late 1970s. That is about all I know. He built about 3000 dulc, and was from Cookeville TN. Cannot really find any pictures re his builds or prices? Did he ever add 6.5 fret and if so when did he start. Thanks. I believe he added a sound hole into the 4th fret.