String Tension McSpadden Question

Cheryl Johnson
Cheryl Johnson
@cheryl-johnson
11 years ago
43 posts

I hear ya!!! I have four steel strings and three classical guitars...now three dulcimers. I'm going to join you in the looney bin.....or the poor house! :) Thanks...I get my classicals strings at Just Strings...guess I never looked much further but will on my next string order.

CJ

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11 years ago
1,628 posts

A lot of folks use Just Strings . A string is a string, after all, whether one calls it a dulcimer string or a guitar string. Just pay attention to whether you want loop end or ball end.

I actually have a deal with a local acoustic music shop. Whenever they place their order for single strings I add to the order. I get a good price and they get a small but reliable profit.

The hard part for me now is that in addition to a few regular-sized dulcimers, I have two octave dulcimers, a baritone dulcimette, and on its way is a full-sized baritone.Even if you don't include a couple of guitars, a mandolin, a couple of ukuleles, and more, I need a certified accountant to keep track of my string needs. It's enough to drive you loonie. 35.gif




--
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
Cheryl Johnson
Cheryl Johnson
@cheryl-johnson
11 years ago
43 posts

Thank you Dusty. Yes....took a little bit to figure out what was what in terms of string size/tension.

Do you have a place in particular that you can buy in bulk for good prices???

CJ

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11 years ago
1,628 posts

Cheryl, the gauges you ended up with (12, 14, 24) are what I have come around to using on all my regular-sized dulcimers. Now that you are getting experienced enough to know what your preferences are, I suggest not buying strings in pre-packaged sets and buying them in bulk. You'll save in the long run, especially if you play more than one dulcimer on a regular basis.




--
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
Cheryl Johnson
Cheryl Johnson
@cheryl-johnson
11 years ago
43 posts

Thanks Sylvia....I'm am once again really enjoying the McSpadden....its always been so easy to play but now it sounds even better!

Sylvia Moore
Sylvia Moore
@sylvia-moore
11 years ago
2 posts

Cheryl, so glad it was an easy fix. I am looking forward to the new video.

Sam
Sam
@sam
11 years ago
167 posts

YESSSSSSSSSSSS !!!




--
The Dulcimer. If you want to preserve it, jam it!
Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
11 years ago
419 posts

Glad it worked out. I thought it would and now we get to hear another wonderful song!

Cheryl Johnson
Cheryl Johnson
@cheryl-johnson
11 years ago
43 posts

Okay so this is crazy. I have a whole new dulcimer. Strung her with Riverlark Dulcimer Strings...very very nice...Purple label. I only use three strings currently so treble is .012 middle-.014 and base is a wound .024. I am floored at the difference. No more buzz or twangle of loose strings when strumming and with finger style the tone is clean and clear. And the instrument is actually sounds louder and rounder. Yay, yippee, yahoo!!! Such a little thing and such a big result. Thank you both for helping me on this, I couldn't' be more pleased! 36.gif

I'm learning In the Bleak Midwinter today. Hopefully I can record this on the new version of my beautiful McSpadden early this week so you can hear it.

Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
11 years ago
419 posts

What Sam said! Changing string gauge to increase the tension will make the action (at least seem) higher. I wouldn't do anything to the bridge or nut until you found the best gauge strings for the way it's to be played, then you could play with the bridge height. Remember though, raising the bridge too much, particularly with heavier strings could change the intonation. It may not benoticeableto the ear, but you'll be able to "see" it on a tuner. That's one of the problems I'm having with my Marsh. Get the strings right, intonation is off at the 7th fret. We're now trying to see if it's fret placement or bridge placement. I'm hoping for bridge!

Cheryl Johnson
Cheryl Johnson
@cheryl-johnson
11 years ago
43 posts

Sam, thanks for those ideas. I used to use paper match sticks to shim my guitar bridges back in the day. I thought it was my own invention .. :) I will try string change first and see what that does, then proceed from there if needed. Heading out to a guitar gig now....back later to fiddle with the dulci. Thanks again!

Sam
Sam
@sam
11 years ago
167 posts

If the bridge is not glued or afixed solid to the fretboard you could mark it carefully for position, loosen all the stings and slid a shim underneath it (a piece of paper or thing cardboard). If it is solid, you can try tiny pieces of tape in the grooves of the bridge and/or nut. The nut is most likely glued in. One thing you will notice ... if you go to heavier strings, it will raise the action a tiny bit ... the strings won't go quite as far down into the notches and they will be at a higher tension as well. Maybe a combination of two or three small things will give you the action and tension you need. I wouldn't make any real structural changes until I tried the small things that you can do yourself.




--
The Dulcimer. If you want to preserve it, jam it!
Cheryl Johnson
Cheryl Johnson
@cheryl-johnson
11 years ago
43 posts

Another thought....Is there a way I could raise the action just a tad???

CJ

Cheryl Johnson
Cheryl Johnson
@cheryl-johnson
11 years ago
43 posts

Thanks guys. I'm not sure what strings came on it, but I'm thinking maybe they are the stock mixolydian strings which are .10 for the first two. I have some .12 plain steel strings I'm going to try out today. I'll report back later! Hopefully they will improve things...I like the sound of the cherry dulci and would hate to part with her.

CJ

Sam
Sam
@sam
11 years ago
167 posts

Rob's advice is right on. I would also remember that McSpadden and cherry sort of lean toward a softer sound (from my limited experience). Try a set of heavier gauge strings as Rob suggested. I think they will liven up your McSapdden and compliment your playing style.

Sam




--
The Dulcimer. If you want to preserve it, jam it!
Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
11 years ago
419 posts

Cheryl, sounds like the strings are too light for your style of playing. Use this http://www.strothers.com/string_choice.htm

to determine the basic gauge then add some because this site has it a little too light for my taste.

Ex: vsl=27.5 tune DAd

It says the high d should be a .10; I'd use a .12 'cause I like 'em a little tighter for fingerpicking.

That being said, you know from your classical guitar background that individual guitars like certain strings. My di Georgio hates Augustines. You have to experiment with different gauges and types, bronze for the wound or phospher bronze or steel. Thank goodness we just need 4 and they are cheap. I'm thinking about a wound 3rd on the one I'm keeping in DAAd. Try it 'til it feels good and sounds good too

Rob

Cheryl Johnson
Cheryl Johnson
@cheryl-johnson
11 years ago
43 posts

I have a question regarding the string tension/guage on my Mcspadden standard cherry dulcimer as compared to my modern mountain dulcimer. My strings feel sloppy and loose on the McSpadden, currently tuned DAD compared to the MMD. (I know, apples and oranges). So I can't strum or pluck too heavily on the McSpadden or the strings clang and buzz...whereas on the MDD I can wail away to my hearts content. Can I put higher tension strings on the McSpadden? Or is it a matter of string gauge, scale length or something else?? There is a lot more room on the MMD to produce different dynamics...loud, soft, etc.....whereas on the McSpadden is limited to playing on the softer side.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Cheryl


updated by @cheryl-johnson: 06/08/16 09:24:05PM