John (Jolm?) Dubroff dulcimer

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
4 days ago
1,125 posts

Thanks for this information, Fiona. That's one of the few issues of DPN that I don't have. It was interesting reading. I sure do miss the Whole Earth Catalog. It was fun to read and leaf through it.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

DulcimerPlayersNewsEditor
DulcimerPlayersNewsEditor
@dulcimerplayersnewseditor
4 days ago
3 posts

I'm a little late to this chat, but I found an article in the DPN Archives on fine tuning beads that I thought might be of interest: https://archive.org/details/dpn-1975-001-07/page/n5/mode/2up 

I also found John Dubroff mentioned in a publication called the Whole Earth Catalog from the 1970s, in two issues:

- https://archive.org/details/wholeearthcatalo00unse_3/page/21/mode/1up 

- https://archive.org/details/updatedlastwhole00unse/page/334/mode/1up

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@nate
4 weeks ago
278 posts

That's really cool. That would be a really useful thing for me to do on dulcimers I make with eye bolts for tuners, since theyre super finicky to fine tune

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
4 weeks ago
2,278 posts

@dallas , I do apologize that we have veered a bit off track from your main subject. But your Dubroff dulcimer does have some very nice fine tuning beads! happydance

@nate , a few years ago, member @dave-d restored a Keith Young dulcimer and posted a photo here of the wooden bead fine tuners Keith used to make. (You can look up his 6 yr old thread) Below is the 'before' photo, showing the remaining two beads- one in place properly and the one on the bass string had crept under tailpiece into the wrong place. From the one good one showing, you can see how they were elegantly made and how they might work. They don't actually need to move all that much in order to hear the audible change in the note due to tension change. When moved all the way to the bridge, it should be pretty much slack and not change the note much at all... when slid towards the tail you can hear the pitch go up more. If you need to change the note more than just a little, you just use the main tuning pegs. These beads are only for very fine adjustments once you are quite close to the note you need.

keithyoungdulcimerforumfile1.jpg




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
4 weeks ago
2,278 posts

It 'shouldn't' be hard to slide the bead, and it 'shouldn't' drastically change the break angle. The tuning leeway it gives is usually less than 1/2 half step... fine tuning the note. Well made fine tuning beads are (or should be) a pleasure to use... mostly useful if you have old fashioned (non geared) wooden peg tuners. Of course you need to have a flat fretboard surface between the bridge and the pin or the end of the tail, in order to have a place for them to slide up and down. An inch is not generally quite long enough. I like the beads to have a smooth flattened surface where they slide on the fretboard, so that they neither roll nor dig into the fretboard surface over time such as a spherical bead might do.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
4 weeks ago
1,445 posts

Nate, beads fitted properly are easy to move to make very fine adjustments.

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@nate
4 weeks ago
278 posts

I am curious about how that affects the break angle of the string. Is the bead difficult to move, due to the pressure on it, or does it slide easily?

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@nate
4 weeks ago
278 posts

Okay, I think that is what I originally thought ken H meant. So, the strings are always in contact with the bridge, and the beads do not change the VSL for intonation? The beads just redistribute the tension that is past the VSL, to allow small tuning adjustments to the open string?

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
4 weeks ago
2,278 posts

My Keith Young dulcimer has the wood bead fine tuners as well.
Because the string sits high above the soundboard next to the bridge and very low as the string approaches the tail pins or tail end, when you slide the bead towards or away from the bridge, it raises or lowers the non-vibrating section of the string slightly, thus either increasing string tension or lowering it... which makes the note a tiny bit higher or lower, as much as a half step sometimes. Since the Vibrating String Length is not actually changed, these tuning beads simply change the tension of the string by stretching it tighter (with the bead close to the tail) or allowing it to be at natural tension as if the bead wasn't there (when the bead is slid close to the bridge).




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@nate
4 weeks ago
278 posts

Thanks to both kens and Robin for the explanation. The fact that it also has an installed bridge in front of them made that unintuitive to me. Now that I understand better, that seems like a very clever feature.

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
4 weeks ago
1,125 posts

NateBuildsToys:

Oooh, so are they basically fine adjusters for bridge intonation? Sort of like having a separate floating bridge under each string? Kind of like on an electric guitar bridge?

 

Yes.

Ken
"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@nate
4 weeks ago
278 posts

Oooh, so are they basically fine adjusters for bridge intonation? Sort of like having a separate floating bridge under each string? Kind of like on an electric guitar bridge?


updated by @nate: 06/27/24 12:35:57PM
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
4 weeks ago
1,125 posts

Walt Martin, of Sunhearth Dulcimers, put fine tuners on his instruments. Rather than using beads he made them out of ebony and they were pyramid shaped. A small hole drilled from one end in a slightly upward direction met another hole drilled from the opposite direction met in the middle so that the string moved over a slight peak inside the tuner. By sliding it forward or backward one could shorten or lengthen the string length. I believe Dwain Wilder continues to off this on his Bear Meadows dulcimers, the successor of Sunhearth.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@nate
4 weeks ago
278 posts

That's really interesting. So is it basically the case that sliding the beads forward and back slightly changes the amount of tension?

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
4 weeks ago
1,445 posts

If this helps, here is an example of fine tuning beads used on a mountain dulcimer, a Keith Young built model (the instrument leaned against the back of the bench):

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 weeks ago
2,137 posts

Nate -- what you show ARE dampers for mandolins.  But bead type fine tuners are/were common on dulcimers; especially the melody and middle drones -- the most commonly adjusted strings...

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@nate
4 weeks ago
278 posts

Could those beads on the strings be "dampers" similar to the ones on some mandolins and other instruments with a lot of string length past the VSL? Just a thought, I'm not familiar with that sort of fine tuners so I don't really know or understand how they would function.

original


updated by @nate: 06/26/24 10:14:19PM
Dallas
Dallas
@dallas
one month ago
2 posts

Good Morning Ken,

Our email address is:

carlondj6@charter.net

Thank you 

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
one month ago
2,137 posts

Nice looking dulcimer.  Never heard of John (definitely John) Dubroff, but there there have been thousands of people who built a handful of dulcimers since the 1960s.  However -- he appears to have done a nice job on this narrow waisted hourglass design.  One interesting thing is that two of the strings have fine tuners -- those light 'beads' or whatever they actually are -- behind the bridge and before the strings bend over the tail piece.  

Send me your email address and I'll send you a PDF of my beginner booklet I Just Got A Dulcimer,  Now What?   It's an illustrated glossary of dulcimer terms (so we all speak the same jargon), plus answers to many beginner questions about tuning, playing, care and feeding of their new instrument.

Dallas
Dallas
@dallas
one month ago
2 posts

Hello Everyone,

My mother-in-law gave my wife a dulcimer back in the 1980s. It was built by a man named John (Jolm?) Dubroff of San Francisco in 1972.  I'm wondering if anyone has information on this craftsman, the quality of his work, a rough value of the dulcimer, and any other details that might be of interest with regards to said instrument.

My 12-year-old daughter who has dabbled in playing the violin, piano, and double bass is kind of excited about playing something new to her that had been hidden in our closet 😉.

Thanks for your input in advance!

Dallas