care of the dulcimer - fretboard wear

john p
john p
@john-p
8 years ago
174 posts

A lot will depend on your choice of wood and style of play.

Mine is faced with beech, which is legendary for it's resistance to abrasion. It's had thirty odd years of regular use and shows little signs of wear, still more than serviceable. The frets on the other hand have been worn down to tram lines long ago.

Joy - you don't say how old it is, if you start with a brand new instrument then even the slightest sign of wear will show up immediately. Judge it after a few more years and you may see it differently.

john p

Joy W.
Joy W.
@joy-w
8 years ago
19 posts

What a timely discussion this is for me to read! I've been playing for six months now and just a day or two ago I was pointing out to my husband the visible wear on my favorite dulcimer. I wasn't sure what is considered "normal" wear and tear so it looks like I need to take a look at how I am strumming and how I'm holding my pick. You all are such a wonderful resource!

cyndi spear-duncan
cyndi spear-duncan
@cyndi-spear-duncan
8 years ago
27 posts
Fortunately Mike looked at my Clemmentine this weekend and said its really cosmetic at this point and I can take it to him when we are sometime in Townsend...(might be awhile..but I am gettin' a banjammer sometime) and he'll fix her up. In the meantime, no more Pointy picks for me!
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
8 years ago
1,688 posts

Another "less damaging" strum technique is to not hold your hand (and the pick) rigidly at right angles to the strings (even with only a 1/$' sticking out), but rather rotate the wrist and the "attack angle" of the pick so that it hits the strings at an angle: \ or / not |

Play slower - don't necessarily try to keep up with a bunch of speed deamons. Develop your speed in your own time, don't be pushed. Better to play slower and correctly than fast and sloppy...

cyndi spear-duncan
cyndi spear-duncan
@cyndi-spear-duncan
8 years ago
27 posts
Thanks everyone. I will try all these things
Linda I. Vickers
Linda I. Vickers
@linda-i-vickers
8 years ago
5 posts

On more suggestion I heard discussed at a festival. A new player was asking the workshop leader "how to hold the pick" and the leader replied that you should "choke down on the pick" until you have maybe a 1/4 inch or maybe a little more with the tip sticking out kind of at an angle rather than straight down and play that way. It would certainly limit the length of pick that would be entering the string area. Maybe someone else has some ideas. I love this forum - the sharing helps all of us. LindaSmile.gif

Linda I. Vickers
Linda I. Vickers
@linda-i-vickers
8 years ago
5 posts

I agree with Wayne about the pointless picks. I also was tearing my fretboard up with the way I was coming down on it with the herdum (sp?) picks and their "point". Since I changed to the pointless (round picks), I haven't seen that kind of damage. I also started ordering dulcimers with fret boards that have really hard wood overlay on the fret board for those I use for strumming. One thing to realize - it took me a awhile to get used to using those round picks - in fact it took a couple of weeks to really feel like I was as comfortable (hitting the strings like I wanted to) with the round ones as opposed to the pointed picks. But, I haven't gone back so that tells you something. One added note: David Schnaufer's model for McSpadden has a pick guard on the sound board because David wore a hole in his dulcimer from coming down on it with the pick so don't feel too badly. And, when Aubrey Atwater came to the Lone Star State Dulcimer festival in Granbury TX last year, she held a couple of workshops. The dulcimer she was using had two grooves worn in her dulcimer so deep it looked like someone had carved it out with a knife and the sound board had an 8-inch long crack in it. She explained the fret board as a result of her aggressive playing. Hope you find a solution to your quest. LindaSmile.gif

cyndi spear-duncan
cyndi spear-duncan
@cyndi-spear-duncan
8 years ago
27 posts
Thanks...Wayne...do you know where I can get those pintless picks?
folkfan
@folkfan
8 years ago
378 posts

Changing the type of pick you are using and especially how much of it extends from your fingers should help. The pick needs to strike the strings not the fret board.

cyndi spear-duncan
cyndi spear-duncan
@cyndi-spear-duncan
8 years ago
27 posts

thanks guys,I do believe Ken hit on the the head, I do wipe down the dulcimer,....I am scraping it with my pick.... Mike Clemmer has delicate etched fret markers and I keep scraping it. I don't know how to strum differently. My club plays so fast, I believe it comes from trying to keep up. But I guess I need to really work on this.

john p
john p
@john-p
8 years ago
174 posts

How long instruments last depends a lot on the materials used and style of play. Stuff like do you use a noter, how hard the fret wire is, what the fingerboard is faced with etc.
One of my instruments has been played daily for 30 odd years and the frets are down to tram lines now, it's long overdue for a re-fret but never quite get round to it.
OTOH, the fingerboard is done with steamed beech and renowned for it's resistance to wear, it's marked but not at all worn.

In the end, how does it play for you, I think the reason I keep putting off the re-fret is because it's so comfortable to play(I use a finger).

If it becomes difficult to play or fret cleanly, you can easilly have it refretted and/or refaced if you think the instrument is worth it. (excessive wear after six months sounds a bit suspect though)

john p

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
8 years ago
1,688 posts

Concerned? Not really. You should perhaps wipe it down with a damp ag to get off the finger goo. How is the "fretboard worn? Is the shiny finish gone? Are the frets actually worn, or just polished? If you are damaging the finish or the wood on the fretboard, you really should learn to not scrape the fretboard with the pick. That's just a matter of fine control of your hand position. There is a Group here about things to do to care for your dulcimer. It sounds as if your fretboard could use a wiping of an oil such as Fast Fret or Dr. Duck's Ax Wax.

cyndi spear-duncan
cyndi spear-duncan
@cyndi-spear-duncan
8 years ago
27 posts

When I die no one will ever be able to sell my dulcimer on Ebay with the description of looks brand new, little or no wear. I am as they say an agressive player! In fact my dulcimer I use most is just 6 months old, but the fret board looks pretty worn in the 6- 10 frets. But to be fair I play a LOT...say at least an hour a day. In fact I was off work for a month and played 2 plus hours a day...so do I need to be concerned or do anything about this?


updated by @cyndi-spear-duncan: 06/08/16 09:24:05PM