Hello Friends, this is Bro. Dave. With Christmas approaching I'd like to hear what some of your favorite Christmas songs are. If anyone would like to share one with me, then please do. Thanks
Lisa, I'm just going to repeat what other have said, but phrase it in a different way.
Forget the strings. Look at the grooves in the nut and bridge on your Mize. Do they look the same as those of the Blue Lion? If so, the instrument can be strung as a traditional 3 course dulcimer with either 3 strings or 4 (with a double melody string). If not, then you may be correct that it can only be strung as a 4 equidistant instrument. If that is the case, then you might consider replacing the nut and bridge rather than buying a new instrument.
Having said that, Blue Lions are wonderful instruments, and if you can get an affordable used one, you might want to do so. I would only caution you that Blue Lions have a floating bridge, meaning it is not glued to instrument. If it sounds off when you first play it, the bridge probably needs to be adjusted. If you change the strings, do so one-at-a time so the bridge doesn't move.
Dusty T., Northern California
As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Lisa, I have owned a Mize and own two Blue Lions. (I only sold the Mize because the tuning pegs were wooden and my aging hands couldn't manage them very well.) To my knowledge, a Mize and a Blue Lion can be strung with 3 equidistant strings and it is a good way to begin learning to play mountain dulcimer.
P.S.- Though it is rare to find an inexpensive Blue Lion, my first Blue Lion was bought used (yet in new condition) for far less than a new one cost.
John and Ken have already given you good advice, however, I'm going to add another one or two. First, from the photo the Blue Lion looks to be in good condition. It can use a good cleaning, but that's not a problem. I play my Blue Lion as a three string as I prefer that to four strings in any configuration. Second, I'm sorry you've had bad experiences buying used dulcimers. It can be frustrating. Like Ken said, we can help talk you through replacing a nut and bridge if that is all that those dulcimers need. There are resources out there for playing with four equidistant strings, both books and videos. I do think that most of them (if not all) require some knowledge about how to play the dulcimer.
"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."
As my friend John suggests, look closely at the nut and bridge of your Mize dulcimer. There may be two notches, close together, on the melody side. To make a 4-equal string setup into a double melody plus mid and bass drone setup, all you have to do is loosen and move the one equi string over to make a pair in the melody position. The double-melody setup is very common for beginner and experts alike.
Even if there are no second notches, you can either make a second notch using a small triangular file in the existing n&b; or buy a new nut and bridge for a couple bucks and replace the existing ones. In either case you can then get rid of the 'leftover' middle string and just have 3 strings.
We can talk you through filing new notches or replacing the existing nut & bridge. You won't be the first... It's actually very easy.
Blue Lions are NEVER cheap, and you've already not had such good luck buying used. If you're going to spend more money on yet another instrument, buy a new Folkcraft or McSpadden or an instrument from one of the numerous builders who hang around here.
updated by @ken-hulme: 11/11/22 02:01:58PM
Lisa, the notches on the Blue Lion's nut look like they can accommodate either equidistant or doubled-melody setups. If it has 5 or 6 notches, then you could string it either way. I prefer doubled melody myself, which looks like: I I I I .
If you want just three strings, leave off the second of the double melody strings. If you can find somebody there to make a new nut and bridge for your Mize, you might be able to use that one to learn on. Folkcraft Instruments sells Delrin nut and bridge multi-packs for 1-3/8 wide, 1/8" slotted fretboards (# 2851420). Just something to try. Best wishes!
I joined this group some time ago, and sadly still don’t know how to play the dulcimer due to the fact that I have bought two used instruments neither of which were suitable to learn on. The first I found out was a cheaply made instrument and would need to be upgraded to give me a decent chance at being successful. The second is actually a very decent Mize dulcimer, but I found out it is an equidistant stringed dulcimer and I couldn’t really find information for a beginner starting out with that type. I am not aware of any instructors in my area to ask for help. At present, I still have the desire to learn, but haven’t had the opportunity to see a variety of dulcimers in person or the funds to buy a very expensive instrument. There is a Blue Lion for sale near me. They aren’t asking a lot for it, but I’m afraid to buy it without knowing if it would be suitable for a beginner as there are many things I may not know to consider. From zooming in on the picture, it looks like it is made to be strung in the traditional style ( and maybe converted to equidistant based on the notches I see). It is a model IW if that helps with feedback. Thanks so much
updated by @lisa-summey: 11/11/22 02:41:02PM