Wally Venable
Wally Venable
@wally-venable
3 days ago
72 posts

I ordered a set of the tuners on Ali Express for under $15 for a set of 4. I used PayPal to avoid sending a credit card number. They arrived promptly, considering their origin in China.

They ARE 4 to 1 planetary geared units. I wouldn't give them the 1 in 5 rating another buyer gave but more like a 2. They look good but the quality is poor. Two of the four had flash on the castings which should have been removed before plating and needed clearing before the retaining barrels would insert. All four were a bit jerky in turning, and the barrel threads may or may not work to full depth.

Aside from quality, they have a downside in that without making special spacers, they will not fit wood less than 0.4 inches thick, and maybe not under 1/2 inch so they aren't good for side mounting. They are described as "banjo tuners," however.

I haven't tried fitting them to anything. I'll almost certainly put them on a stick before risking any bodied instrument on them.

Research is never free, and $15 isn't a big expense.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty
2 weeks ago
1,738 posts

Glad it all worked out for you.  And you probably have the only Roosebeck with a bone bridge!




--
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

updated by @dusty: 06/11/24 08:54:11PM
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 weeks ago
1,107 posts

I'm glad to hear that everything worked out for you with your new dulcimer. I'm sure you will enjoy playing it and it will bring you joy for many, many years.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Wally Venable
Wally Venable
@wally-venable
2 weeks ago
72 posts

I frequently tell people ALL NEW INSTRUMENTS NEED TO BE SET UP AFTER ASSEMBLY. On factory made instruments this is often left to the retailer, or to be done by the buyer or at their expense.

Sounds like you got great service at a reasonable price.

I've bought a number of instruments on Shop Goodwill. The dulcimers have had minor issues which were easily resolved. The violins/fiddles frequently never had the bows properly rosined. When you "buy cheap," expect that an hour's work, or more, will be needed to make a string instrument play properly.

AG Murton
AG Murton
@ag-murton
2 weeks ago
9 posts

Hi everyone. 

I have picked up my Roosebeck from the luthier, and as promised, here's an update: 

The luthier fashioned a new bone bridge that fits more snugly in its slot. He also glued the nut in place. More importantly, he addressed the tuning peg issues. It seems that Roosebeck used standard guitar machine tuners, which have a lot of washers and nuts to stop the pins from bending, as they would not be supported otherwise on a guitar. However, on the dulcimer, they pass through the peg head, and the end of the pin is supported because it fits neatly into a hole on the other side, so there is no need for the nuts and washers. The luthier removed these so that the strings can now be wound closer to the edges of the peg head. I just have to leave a bit of extra length on the string when I restring. This reduces the angle the string takes from the nut to the tuner. You can see the before and after pictures attached. 

I also asked him to cut slots for three string arrangements: 

- 4 string double melody: I asked him to bring the melody strings closer together, as I found my finger was slipping between them. He reduced the distance between them by 1 mm, and it has made a huge difference. The middle string is now actually centred over the fret board, and is equidistant between the outer melody string and the bass string, which is great because it has made strumming easier.

4 string equidistant: the slots he cut are shallow enough that I don't have to detune much to slip the strings across. 

3 string equidistant: I can now remove the inner melody string so I have three equidistant strings. 

I can now use any tuning I like without the nut and bridge moving at all. 

Finally, I asked for the following string action: 1.5 mm at the first fret; 2.5 mm at the seventh fret; 3 mm at the 17th fret. He achieved this perfectly, and I love the action now. (Apologies for using mm - I'm not familiar with inches.)

Thank you all very much for your contributions, without which I would have struggled to explain what I needed from the luthier. (He works primarily on violins and cellos, and he'd never worked on a dulcimer before, but he did an excellent job, and I'm happy to say that the Roosebeck sounds and plays great and the intonation is perfect.)

Although it cost me an extra R1700 ($90), I still don't regret buying the Roosebeck because it was basically my only option, and without it, I wouldn't be playing dulcimer right now.

New bridge.jpg
New bridge.jpg  •  112KB


original tuners.jpg
original tuners.jpg  •  183KB


updated by @ag-murton: 06/11/24 04:07:31AM
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
3 weeks ago
1,107 posts

Wally Venable:

The listing says "Banjo Tuner Tuning Key Head String Machine Peg Pegs Geared Tuners Parts Accessories Knobs Friction Set Keys Button 5String"

 

Thanks for pointing this out Wally. I guess I skimmed over the Geared Tuners part without it registering in my brain. The word "Friction" jumped out at me. 

Yes, it would be nice to see the installation instructions.

I agree, it is a puzzlement.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@nate
3 weeks ago
264 posts

John C. Knopf:

Wow! People who wrote on that page use English in some mysterious ways!

 

" Its is made of sturdy metal, which is very. 

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 weeks ago
2,269 posts

I think you should just take the strings off, put 1 tiny drop of superglue at the bottom of the bridge and nut and hold them down a couple of minutes. Leave it to set for several hours before putting the strings back on. --> Try using a bass string one size thinner/lighter gauge- it won't pull with as much tension. A change of one size shouldn't make much difference in playing.

By the way I think those tuners are common enclosed-gear guitar machine head tuners. Not planetary or "planet" geared tuners. Either type are fine to use, but machine head guitar tuners are usually cheaper. Aliexpress is based in China and usually ships from China. Inconsistencies in their ad descriptions and grammar are typical.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 06/05/24 08:24:55PM
Wally Venable
Wally Venable
@wally-venable
3 weeks ago
72 posts

The listing says "Banjo Tuner Tuning Key Head String Machine Peg Pegs Geared Tuners Parts Accessories Knobs Friction Set Keys Button 5String"

If there are gears in the package configuration, they almost certainly have to be planetary. Planetary gears have internal friction due to rubbing of the teeth. If the gear friction isn't large enough, the string tension will cause the gear set to unwind.

(Before I retired I taught about two weeks worth of gear design to Mechanical Engineering seniors.)

Perhaps additional friction is adjustable, just as on traditional friction pegs. It would be nice if we could access the installation instructions, but they might not be in usable English.

IS A PUZZLEMENT !

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
3 weeks ago
1,107 posts

The one thing I noticed in the description of the tunes from aliexpress is that they are described as "friction" tuners rather than planetary. Could these be friction tuners disguised as a planetary tuner? Or is it an AI generated description? It has been interesting reading all these responses.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty
3 weeks ago
1,738 posts

AG, it is clear that you have an instrument that needs some adjustment to be playable.  That is not surprising. I've seen some Roosebeck dulcimers that were perfectly fine and others with serious design flaws.  I think they move their factories around eastern Europe and Asia, so quality varies tremendously.

This discussion settled on the "glue it down" solution, which is the correct one, I think.   Gluing the bridge and nut in their slots will stop this movement.

HOWEVER, you have now raised the issue of string spacing, and you may want to have a new nut and a new bridge made with the string spacing you prefer.  First, be aware that many traditional dulcimers had string spacing in which the melody strings were set apart from the drone strings.  And the spacing of the melody strings from each other can also be wider than you might think if the intent was for the instrument to be played with a noter rather than fingers.

So there is not necessarily anything "wrong" with the string spacing on your instrument. But if you want--at least some of the time--to play across all the strings and want to use your fingers to fret strings, you might want to ensure that the melody strings are close together and the middle string is equidistant between the base and melody.  If you are happy with the action, you might be able to just put new grooves in the existing nut and bridge.




--
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
John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
3 weeks ago
399 posts

Wow! People who wrote on that page use English in some mysterious ways!  I think the foreign manufacturer reverse-engineered a high-quality Waverly 5-Star planetary peg, then just cheaped-out on all components when they made theirs.

A low- to moderately-priced dulcimer should wear tuning pegs that are appropriate, that is, what it's designed to use.

AG Murton
AG Murton
@ag-murton
3 weeks ago
9 posts

I discovered that there's a very good luthier who lives down the road from me. He said I should bring the instrument round tomorrow and he'll have a look. 

I'll be sure to let you guys know what he says. 

Another thing I should mention is that the middle string is not equidistant between the bass and melody strings. It's closer to the bass string. I saw another Roosebeck owner mention this in another forum so I don't know if that's by design on their part. I can't really see the utility in that. 

Also, the melody strings are about 4mm (0.157 inch) apart. I'm not sure what the ideal distance is but it seems like a larger gap than I've seen on other dulcimers.

I could almost certainly make a new nut and bridge or cut the desired slots myself but there's no harm in having a pro check it out.


updated by @ag-murton: 06/05/24 11:00:21AM
AG Murton
AG Murton
@ag-murton
3 weeks ago
9 posts

That's a very interesting point about the tuners. I hadn't thought of that.

Out of interest, I detailed my problem to the customer service department of the supplier and this was their (somewhat dubious) response:

Thank you for your very detailed inquiry. 

 

I talked to the repair shop at Roosebeck and they are more in the position that their instruments were not designed to be "customized", and that using the instrument with any fewer strings than designed will cause an imbalance that is causing the movement.

 

They say the only way to keep the bridge and nut from moving is to glue it down. They use Loctite glue.

 

Of the various options you have compiled, it seems if you want to keep the two pieces from slipping or moving around, but don't want to glue it down, you may want to try spraying the back of the pieces with non-permanent spray adhesive, they stuff they use on fabrics, headliners, etc. If you search on Amazon, you may find a liquid non permanent adhesive. This would be the preferred option versus permanent glue or screws into the wood.

 

If the adhesive solution does not hold tight enough and you have to resort to screwing things in place, go peruse the Home Depot isle where they stock screws and brackets, you can most likely find a very small screw/bracket/washer that you can screw into the sides of the bridge to lock it in place.

 

Should be a selection of washers like this at Home Depot for you to find the right size, then you would need a very small wood screw.

 

Sorry we can't offer an exact solution, but it looks like you have explored all the options.

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
3 weeks ago
399 posts

Those look like high-end, planetary tuners in those Roosebeck dulcimers.  I'm surprised to see they're using those relatively expensive ones on their "cheap" instruments from Pakistan.

Wally Venable
Wally Venable
@wally-venable
3 weeks ago
72 posts

Looking at photo img-20240604-210414-914.jpg it seems clear to me that the problem is the result of putting fancy tuners of some sort on an instrument designed for simple ones. The large angle of the bass string lead is pulling the nut toward the melody side. Replacing that one tuner could go a long way toward a fix.

Strings should run as straight as possible above the nut, with any pull on a tuning peg toward the outside. With a slot in the head for the strings, any fastener on the inside makes the string lead worse.

The nut would not be moving if it was thick enough to wedge itself in the groove which positions it, that is a precision issue. I might be that simply putting one or more pieces of paper of tape on the head side of the nut might create the necessary friction. You could also make a new nut.

I like NateBuildsToys' spacer suggestion also.

Super glue is the simple patch solution, and maybe the best..

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
3 weeks ago
1,107 posts

I'm glad my friends here were able to help you, Andrew. The next time you decide to change your strings I would do as suggested and put a drop of glue under the nut and the bridge to keep them from moving when you put the new strings on. If they are not secured in place they will slide in the slots as you've discovered. You are conquering the idiosyncrasies of the mountain dulcimer. Stick with it, you are doing well.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

AG Murton
AG Murton
@ag-murton
3 weeks ago
9 posts

Haha no worries. I need all the help I can get!

Thanks to everyone for helping me out with this issue. It's awesome to have such a helpful community to turn to.

I'll post an update in case someone has a similar issue down the line. 

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@nate
3 weeks ago
264 posts

LOL whoops, I typed out almost the exact same message you did at the same timemrdance

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@nate
3 weeks ago
264 posts

Both the bridge and nut look to be in slots. If I am understanding correctly, the issue is that they do not fit snugly into the slots and are not glued into place, so the bridge and nut are being pulled sideways in their slots by the force of the low D string.

After seeing the photos, I definitely think that you should remove the strings, and then glue the nut and bridge into place, taking serious care to make sure that they are perfectly centered on the fingerboard, and also being very careful to make sure that the nut is held firmly in place while the glue sets. you seriously want to avoid leaving any kind of gap between the nut and the fingerboard, as that will mess up your intonation. On some dulcimers, the bridge and nut can be replaced for different string arrangements, but your bridge and nut have slots for both of the common arrangements, so probably the bridge and nut were not intended to be sitting loosely.

AG Murton
AG Murton
@ag-murton
3 weeks ago
9 posts

The nut and bridge are in their slots. They are sliding in their slots towards the melody string due to the tension in the bass string when I tune the melody strings down to A. There's no problem in Dadd and the scale is nearly perfect. Slightly sharp after the tenth fret, but not noticeably so. I'm just beginning to learn so I'm not too worried about that. 

It seems my best option is to put a couple of spots of glue and keep an eye on it. I might also make myself a spacer as suggested in one of the posts. 

Dwain Wilder
Dwain Wilder
@dwain-wilder
3 weeks ago
64 posts

[quote="NateBuildsToys"]

I had no idea there were so many factors to consider. I'm used to switching between tunings on the banjo like crazy and assumed I'd have a similar experience on the dulcimer.

[/quote] 
It's not usually an issue, but with a mass produced dulcimer, there may be small manufacturing oversights to resolve. I would say the easiest solution is definitely to just glue both the bridge and nut into their slots with a drop or two of superglue. You probably don't want to use a bunch of glue, to avoid mess and in case you later want to replace them.

[/quote] 

Probably a good solution, though not having a firm seat for the saddle robs the dulcimer of full response being delivered to the fretboard and soundboard.

If there is a way to find out whether the problem is inaccurate flatting in the bottom of the saddle or of its seat in the fretboard, and fixing the problem, the Roosebeck might sound a lot better, and be more responsive.

And yes, AG, I understand being out of the U.S. and wanting a dulcimer that isn't a budget-buster. Good luck with your Roosebeck!


updated by @dwain-wilder: 06/04/24 03:32:43PM
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 weeks ago
2,130 posts

Both nuts and bridges are often set into slots on the fretboard.  You SHOULD be able to "switch between tuning... like crazy" without any issue.  And many of us do. 

However.  You did say it is a Roosebeck, and they are not particularly known for their precision.  And of course the VSL is the most crucial measurement on the instrument.  

Hopefully there are marks on the fretboard which show exactly where the nut was originally located.  If so, I would definitely Superglue it in place with a couple drops of glue.  If there are also marks which show exactly where the bridge was, I would glue it in place with a couple drops of Rubber Cement.  Rubber cement should be strong enough to hold the bridge in place when everything is under tension, Then I would get out my tuner and check the accuracy of the scale up and down the fretboard. Once satisfied that the scale is true, then I would use a sharp knife or awl to cut a line in the fretboard to exactly locate things again if necessary...  

AG Murton
AG Murton
@ag-murton
3 weeks ago
9 posts

@dwain-wilder thanks for the information. Here are a few pictures of the instrument. I understand your reservations about foreign-made instruments.

However, living in South Africa and not having a lot of money limits me somewhat in terms of access to American instruments.

I read quite positive things about the roosebeck Grace and was just able to afford it from Amazon, so I need to make it work. I must say it sounds really nice. And it feels nice to play. Even the action is great. I just encountered this problem today when I took the second melody string off. 

The bridge and nut did move around when I tuned it up the first time but aligned perfectly on their own once I got it to DAdd. 

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@nate
3 weeks ago
264 posts

AG Murton:

I had no idea there were so many factors to consider. I'm used to switching between tunings on the banjo like crazy and assumed I'd have a similar experience on the dulcimer.

 
It's not usually an issue, but with a mass produced dulcimer, there may be small manufacturing oversights to resolve. I would say the easiest solution is definitely to just glue both the bridge and nut into their slots with a drop or two of superglue. You probably don't want to use a bunch of glue, to avoid mess and in case you later want to replace them.

AG Murton
AG Murton
@ag-murton
3 weeks ago
9 posts

Thank you so much @nate and @skip. Those are very helpful suggestions. 

I had no idea there were so many factors to consider. I'm used to switching between tunings on the banjo like crazy and assumed I'd have a similar experience on the dulcimer. You live and learn. 

Much appreciated. 

Dwain Wilder
Dwain Wilder
@dwain-wilder
3 weeks ago
64 posts

AG Murton:


Update: I've put the second melody string back on now but the bridge and nut still won't sit flush. I'm tuned DAA.


 


That suggests that either (or all) the fretboard and saddle and nut are not flat. If you have a good straight-edge ruler you can use that to find which (if any) of them are flat.


If none are flat, you can approximate a mating by holding a piece of sandpaper against the fretboard in the area the nut should sit and rubbing the nut along the fretboard in very short strokes. Use 120A sandpaper for this (120 is the grit size, A designates a light paper backing. A heavier backing will not give as accurate a match between the surfaces).


It seems Roosebecks are dulcumer-shaped objects made in Pakistan (see https://riverboatmusic.com/app_dulc/app_dulc.htm)


Given that, my estimate is there is no guarantee that the fret placement is accurate. I am very surprised that the nut does not have a slot to sit in! Determining where both the nut and the saddle should be is a problem that requires some precise measurements between various frets. 


A couple of close-up photos of the fretboard in the region of the nut and the saddle might be helpful in suggesting how to deal with this instrument's troubles.

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@nate
3 weeks ago
264 posts

I have one dulcimer with this issue and what I noticed is that without the second melody string, my whole bridge and nut slide juuuust enough to recenter the strings on the fretboard almost perfectly, lol. Actually ended up deciding not to fix it.

It is not normal though. Typically, when the bridge and nut are both unglued it is best to have string spacers past them, which hold the strings in the correct places. Normally the nut serves as a spacer on the head end, and the anchor pins correctly space the strings at the tail end, but since your nut is not glued down, I would say there are two possible fixed that come to mind:
1: Simply glue the nut into it's slot. I personally think that gluing things down that weren't built to be glued can be bad practice down the line, but typically on many dulcimers, the nut would already be glued in.

2 Build a small "string spacer." It could look something like this simple drawing.
PXL_20240604_181655611_2.jpg
The spacer would be placed under the strings, just past the nut toward the pegbox, and would relieve that pressure pulling sideways before the tension gets to the nut.  The spacer should be about 1/8" wider than the fingerboard, and that extra width should hang off the bass side with a small "leg" that can hold onto the corner of the fingerboard to keep it from pulling. The spacer should be made of a hardwood, with slots cut at the same spacing as the slots on the nut. Make sure the slots are deep, so the strings arent being lifted off the nut by the spacer. I would recommend doing this, because it doesnt damage or alter the dulcimer. The piece could be made easily and can be removed at any time.


updated by @nate: 06/04/24 02:59:41PM
Skip
Skip
@skip
3 weeks ago
363 posts

First try changing the string slot or possibly the anchor point. The last thing is a single spot of glue to anchor them [may need to be replaced in the future]. A thin piece of paper/foil behind the bridge [anchor side of bridge] may tighten the slot enough to prevent the bridge from sliding. 

If you retuned from DAdd, you may need to install a melody string the same size as the middle string. The melody string used for DAdd is usually smaller/lighter gauge than the middle so when it's loosened to A the tension goes down.

AG Murton
AG Murton
@ag-murton
3 weeks ago
9 posts

Update: I've put the second melody string back on now but the bridge and nut still won't sit flush. I'm tuned DAA.

AG Murton
AG Murton
@ag-murton
3 weeks ago
9 posts

Hi all.

I'm having a problem with my brand new Roosebeck dulcimer. 

I tried to remove one of the melody strings but when I did, the bridge and nut shifted to the left (away from the bass string). It seems the tension in the bass string combined with the angle the string takes from the nut to the tuner overpowers the opposing force of just one melody string. 

I'm new to dulcimer so I'm wondering if my instrument is just set up so that it only works properly with two melody strings or if it's normal for the bridge and nut to shift like that (I would assume not).

Any advice is appreciated.

Andrew.