String spacing help, please

Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
5 months ago
419 posts

Here's a picture of Jim Good (Mastertone) 5 string with doubled bass.

Steven Stroot
Steven Stroot
@steven-stroot
5 months ago
32 posts

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and the great information.  You guys always come through!

Matt Berg
Matt Berg
@matt-berg
5 months ago
89 posts

I have only built a few five string dulcimers, but have never doubled the bass string.  Doubling the bass string gives way too much bass (I tried it once on a six string dulcimer).  I have always doubled the melody and middle string.  So my spacing suggestion is a little different.  Outside melody 1/4 from edge, next melody 1/8 further in.  Bass 1/4 from other edge.  Measure halfway between inside melody and bass.  But middle string 1/16 to either side of the center position.  If you prefer a little more distance between strings, change to only 1/8 from edge of fretboard to first melody and bass.  As always, adjust measurements to taste.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 months ago
2,010 posts

With the tuning head to your left, closest to you will be two melody strings, the first one is 1/8"in from the edge of the fretboard, the inner string 1/8" closer to center.  On the far side of the fretboard, you have the same situation -- the outer bass string is 1/8" from the far edge of the fretboard and the inner bass string 1/8" closer to center.  The middle drone is half way between the inner melody string and the inner bass string.   Generally speaking, as Skip mentions, the bass couplet has a regular bass string appropriate for the VSL, and the inner bass string is the same as a melody, and intended to be tuned an octave above the bass string.  From bass to melody,  the usual tuning setup is  DdAdd.

You can buy commercially made nuts/bridges from McSpadden, Folkcraft and elsewhere which already have the notches cut for 3, 4, 5 and 6 string layouts,

Skip
Skip
@skip
5 months ago
354 posts

It's probably going to be 1/8" from the sides to the outside strings, another 1/8" between doubled melody and bass strings and  single middle string. The bass set is probably a bass and its octave with doubled melody strings. My 5 string Blue Lion is 5 equidistant strings, 1/8"  sides to outside strings. 

Look really close at where the strings connect to the pins also


updated by @skip: 06/25/22 06:51:28PM
Steven Stroot
Steven Stroot
@steven-stroot
5 months ago
32 posts

I'm the new guy here.  I acquired a five string dulcimer as a restoration project.  It's missing the nut and bridge so I have no idea what the string spacing was originally.  I'm guessing it probably had two double strings and a single bass but can anyone recommend the proper spacing for the five strings?  The fret board is 1 1/2 inches (39 mm) wide.  Thanks for any help you can provide.


updated by @steven-stroot: 06/26/22 02:08:10PM