jost
@jost
2 years ago
77 posts

Wmacky:


The whole dulcimer project was put on hold as my wife sadly passed away unexpectedly  at a young age. As you can imagine I lost interest.The luthier seemed super defensive and I just couldn't deal with all that at the time. It's been over a year and I'm ready to deal with this again



Quite understandable, you have my sympathies.  I still think that the cost of the dulcimers should reflect in their playability.If the fret pattern is wrong or there are other reasons for it I would expect the builder to fix these issues or get the cash back, especially if you spent over 1000 bucks on it.
I'm not sure about the legal warranty period in your country. Here in Germany we have two years for new product from supplier. 
In any case: I would try this: Ask two other builders for their opinion on the instrument and it's fret positioning and general playing. Ask them for a offer to fix the issues. Then go to the builder and ask him for an explaination and what he could offer to you. 
You can do a first check yourself using following  a fret calculator: https://www.thekimerers.net/brian/YAFCalc/YAFCalc.html 

Best regards, Jost.


Salt Springs
Salt Springs
@salt-springs
2 years ago
207 posts

I'd take a look at McSpadden's Bass dulcimer fret pattern and make a comparison to what you have on those dulcimers.  As the info there says they can be played DAD and while their's are three strings, I really think your OK.  Before I'd can that dulcimer I check the pics on McSpadden's site, especially since the odds of using those high frets are not very frequent.  Then again, I'm just a hack and I'll bow to the experts on here.  Here's a link........

https://www.mcspaddendulcimers.com/category/all

Wmacky
Wmacky
@wmacky
2 years ago
18 posts

John C. Knopf:

Ah, now I see what you mean!  Yes, that looks "wonky", just looking at the close-up photo!  It would be tricky to repair, especially if you want it to look good when done.

Yeah the fretboard would have to be replaced or planed down. I'm too OCD to live with empty fret slots. I'm sure it's not worth doing on a $700 Dulcimer, and I don't have the skills to do that myself,  This may be destined for the trash bin. I hope I can save the other one

Such a shame.  This has wonderful flamed maple on the back and sides

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updated by @wmacky: 12/16/22 01:02:57PM
Wmacky
Wmacky
@wmacky
2 years ago
18 posts

Strumelia:

wmacky, you said:
"For example fret space 13/ 14 is smaller than fret 15/16. Shouldn't the opposite be true?  Also look at fret space 6/7. the spacing is smaller than 7/8?  I believe those fret are 1/2 step apart right? Shouldn't  the frets that are a 1/2 step apart be getting closer as you approach the bridge?"

First of all-
From frets 6 to 7 is a whole step. (From frets 6.5 to 7 is a half step.)
From frets 13 to 14 is a whole step. From frets 15 to 16 is a whole step. From frets 7 to 8 is a whole step.

The other confusion here is that you seem to have posted pictures of two different dulcimers, both of which are similar to each other. One seems to have normal-ish spacing, the other seems a bit 'off'. For discussion purposes, we need to be clear as to which dulcimer is which, and which picture we are all commenting on.

Hi, Strumelia

It's the same dulcimer and the same picture, just zoomed in?

About fret naming  - yeah sorry, I'm not used to the strange dulcimer fret naming thing.  Skipping the .5's when counting got me when I counted. 

However, just looking at the pick you can visually see there is a spacing issue around the .5 frets


updated by @wmacky: 12/16/22 09:01:17AM
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 years ago
2,263 posts

wmacky, you said:
"For example fret space 13/ 14 is smaller than fret 15/16. Shouldn't the opposite be true?  Also look at fret space 6/7. the spacing is smaller than 7/8?  I believe those fret are 1/2 step apart right? Shouldn't  the frets that are a 1/2 step apart be getting closer as you approach the bridge?"

First of all-
From frets 6 to 7 is a whole step. (From frets 6.5 to 7 is a half step.)
From frets 13 to 14 is a whole step. From frets 15 to 16 is a whole step. From frets 7 to 8 is a whole step.

The other confusion here is that you seem to have posted pictures of two different dulcimers, both of which are similar to each other. One seems to have normal-ish spacing, the other seems a bit 'off'. For discussion purposes, we need to be clear as to which dulcimer is which, and which picture we are all commenting on.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Wmacky
Wmacky
@wmacky
2 years ago
18 posts

The builder builds higher end dulcimers as well as guitars. I see this same fret issue on some other dulcimers he has built but not all of them?  How could a experienced builder make the same mistake over and over?

I'll pretty OCD about such things and that feeling of frustration I had before is returning.  I may have revert back to closet storage.  It's a shame as I was originally pretty excited about learning it.

Thanks for the help confirming


updated by @wmacky: 12/16/22 07:16:26AM
Skip
Skip
@skip
2 years ago
360 posts

Since you have 2 MD, If they have the same VSL they should be the same spacing. Otherwise just use a fret calculator to give reference numbers. 

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

Ah, now I see what you mean!  Yes, that looks "wonky", just looking at the close-up photo!  It would be tricky to repair, especially if you want it to look good when done.

Salt Springs
Salt Springs
@salt-springs
2 years ago
207 posts

This might help you a bit figure out what you've got going on.  BTW, if you ever come to Salt Springs, drop me a note and we'll try to figure it out if it's possible.   Folkcraft has a chart that has fret measurements on it as do lots of others.........check it out on the link you can see some of it on page 2.  The only dulcimer builder around you that I know of is David Beede in Melrose and a few in Jacksonville that might be able to give you some help.

http://www.davidbeede.com/Fret_patterns.htm

https://www.folkcraft.com/products/fret-position-reference-guide-mountain-dulcimer-1340001

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 years ago
1,097 posts

A misplaced is fret is not a difficult repair, but can be tricky depending upon where you need to cut the new slot and what it will look like cosmetically. Good luck on whatever you decide to do.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 years ago
1,097 posts

The 6 1/2 and 13 1/2 frets halve (roughly) the space between frets 6 and 7 and 13 and 14. Essentially you have chromatic fretting in those places. Once you cross frets 7 and 14 you return to diatonic fretting which means those spaces, 7 -8 and 14 - 15, will be wider than the chromatic spacing, but shorter than 6 -7 and 13 - 14 respectively. Take a ruler and measure the spacing 6 -7, 7 -8. The width 7 - 8 should be slightly smaller. The same will be the case 13 - 14 and 14 - 15. If the second measurement in each case is not shorter, you have some misplaced frets.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Wmacky
Wmacky
@wmacky
2 years ago
18 posts

Thanks for the responses -  Just trying to learn

Let me try to answer you -

The whole dulcimer project was put on hold as my wife sadly passed away unexpectedly  at a young age. As you can imagine I lost interest.The luthier seemed super defensive and I just couldn't deal with all that at the time. It's been over a year and I'm ready to deal with this again

The issue with dulcimer number 2 is that it frets out on all 4 strings on the first 4 frets. I fear the neck has a back bow, but I need to find a proper length straight edge to check it. If I can determine the neck isn't back bowed I'll attempt a fret leveling ( I have the tools)

About the fret spacing on dulcimer 1 -

Yes I'm new to Dulcimers but have had guitars for years. My understanding with guitars is that the fret spacing gets closer per half step as you get closer to the bridge. There are frets on that dulcimer were this is not true.

Look at the pic again.

For example fret space 13/ 14 is smaller than fret 15/16. Shouldn't the opposite be true?  Also look at fret space 6/7. the spacing is smaller than 7/8?  I believe those fret are 1/2 step apart right? Shouldn't  the frets that are a 1/2 step apart be getting closer as you approach the bridge?

 Am I not understanding something? This is why I wanted to ask the experts here.To learn if I'm in error

This spacing is different than on dulcimer 2 which seem more correct. 

wrong.jpg
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updated by @wmacky: 12/15/22 07:15:20PM
jost
@jost
2 years ago
77 posts

Wmacky:

I did call the builder last year, and asked about the issue. He became very  defensive and didn't seem to want to discuss it.  When I asked if he used Just intonation, he had never heard of that!!! :-o   It was a bad situation as at the time I had already commissioned a custom built Dulcimer by him which was almost complete. I didn't want bad blood as I awaited the second dulcimer. That dulcimer ended up having different issues, making it unplayable... I needed up storing both and never playing them.  a $1800 loss....



I agree with Ken and John that the fretboard looks quite correct. I'm not a builder (Ken and John are builders and quite experienced) though, just a player.

If you don't mind to explain: Which issues made your second dulcimer unplayable?

If I payed so much bucks I would expect a playable instrument.  I can understand you didn't wanted bad bloot before you got the second one. But why didn't you discuss it afterwards? 

Quote:
The good news is that while I had the dulcimer out last night taking the pics, , I learned and played my first song.  Time after time. It sounded pretty good!



Don't take this the wrong way but I'm getting more sceptical about the wrong frets. If your dulcimer really woudn't be playable or did have a wrong fret positioning it wouldn't sound good. 

So (again please don't take this as an insult) maybe your impression last year was  because you were a beginner who didn't even know one song to try on the instruments? 

As said: No offense just me trying to understand the root cause of your issues. 

Best regards, Jost

Wmacky
Wmacky
@wmacky
2 years ago
18 posts

I did call the builder last year, and asked about the issue. He became very  defensive and didn't seem to want to discuss it.  When I asked if he used Just intonation, he had never heard of that!!! :-o   It was a bad situation as at the time I had already commissioned a custom built Dulcimer by him which was almost complete. I didn't want bad blood as I awaited the second dulcimer. That dulcimer ended up having different issues, making it unplayable... I needed up storing both and never playing them.  a $1800 loss....

The good news is that while I had the dulcimer out last night taking the pics, , I learned and played my first song.  Time after time. It sounded pretty good!


updated by @wmacky: 12/15/22 08:42:00AM
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 years ago
2,126 posts

Can you hear the off-ness or is it just a few cents on the tuner?   Is this instrument supposed to be fretted Just Intonated, or Mean Tone or something else.  Most people who play ordinary dulcimers with groups of folks don't order a JI fretted instrument because JI instruments don't sound quite right when played together with conventionally scaled instruments.

Call the builder.  Tell him your issues.  Tell him what you've told us.   Have him listen to you play the scales.  

Wmacky
Wmacky
@wmacky
2 years ago
18 posts

I was counting the wrong frets I guess.   Compare distance between frets 13/ 14 and then 14/15. The gap gets larger going towards the bridge.

Getting unstable readings from my Korg OT 20 tuner but some frets seem several cents off

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 years ago
2,126 posts

Like John, I do not see any "issues" with the placement of the 6+ or 13+ frets.  Play it.  Play the scales.  If the scales sound right and read right on your electronic tuner, they ARE right.  Photographs can be deceiving.  


updated by @ken-hulme: 12/14/22 10:09:50PM
John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
2 years ago
395 posts

I'm sorry, but I don't see a problem here.  Does it intonate correctly when you play at those places?  The fret pattern looks normal to me, just from looking at that photo.

Wmacky
Wmacky
@wmacky
2 years ago
18 posts

Ok, I'm seeing more fret issues.  Look at the frets just before the 7th, and just before the 14th.

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updated by @wmacky: 12/14/22 07:07:59PM
Wmacky
Wmacky
@wmacky
2 years ago
18 posts

yes,  the 13 + fret      It appears to be at least 50% closer to the 14th rather than slightly past halfway

I   I I


updated by @wmacky: 12/14/22 01:33:22PM
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 years ago
1,097 posts

Are you talking about the 13 1/2 fret?

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Wmacky
Wmacky
@wmacky
2 years ago
18 posts

Yes, I'm at work now but will post a pic tonight

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

Can we see a photo, please?  The spacing of a 6-1/2 fret should be approximately halfway between fret #6 and fret #7, but slightly closer to fret #7.  There is a formula that may be used to place it precisely in the right spot.

Wmacky
Wmacky
@wmacky
2 years ago
18 posts

I purchased a rather expensive dulcimer a while ago and feel one of the frets is misplaced.  It is visually apparent!.  Looking at photos from the Luthier I see most of his instruments have the fret placed correctly, but some have the same odd positioned fret as mine?  With Just intonation/ Even tmp,  Various scales, and added frets it can get confusing, but this just looks wrong?  It's the 6 1/2 fret in the second octave


updated by @wmacky: 12/15/22 08:03:43PM