I'm a beginning player living in Northern New Mexico
Thanks for all the warm greetings and offers of assistance! I do now have some questions, plenty, and I would love some advice.
With the Pigeon River dulcimer, I removed the old corroded steel strings that were on there and gave it a wipe-down in anticipation of the arrival of its new strings. Seems like it's been sitting unplayed for awhile. In the process I discovered that the bridge has got a chip in it. Is this something I should be concerned about? Should I replace it? It seems it was doing a fine job if its only role is to guide and elevate the string. Also, do you have any advice on geared tuner maintenance? Should I oil them or not? If so, with what? I would also love to reach out to Mr. Lazenby to find out who the maker was, and what kind of wood it is. What is the easiest way to do this? I was thinking it was cherry, but seeing it next to the walnut laminate dulcimer that arrived yesterday, I'm thinking it might be walnut instead. It has a very nice deep tone from what I can tell with the old sprung strings.
My third thrift store find arrived yesterday, a Galax style walnut laminate church dulcimer that was sold by Bill and Jewel Magee in Stone Mountain GA back in around 1982 based on the receipt form I found in the case. It's unclear whether it was sold by them as a kit or finished instrument. Sadly, it has suffered some water damage that appears to be mainly cosmetic and limited to the back except for an area of separation where the top meets the side on one side of the instrument. I'm wondering if this is a repair I should attempt myself with some glue, toothpicks and clamps. On the other hand, it does not appear to affect the tone, which sounds like the Pigeon River took a course of testosterone treatments. I'm wary of addressing the issues with the back at all since it is a laminate, not solid wood. Otherwise I would give it a light sanding and a new finish (no idea what kind of finish to use). I see it as a workhorse as opposed to the Pigeon River thoroughbred so I'm really just concerned with functionality. I have all six strings tuned to D right now. Any thoughts on other tunings for this monster would be appreciated. Finally, I have gained a new appreciation of my original old dulcimer and its high sweet tone compared to the other two. While three seems like a crazy number of instruments for a newbie, I love the variety in the voices. But I am still a long way from being a master of the wooden peg tuners. I like the suggestion of the peg dope, but I'm also considering replacing them. Based on the unique shape of the tuning head, it doesn't seem that geared tuners would work as a replacement. I'm wondering if friction tuners would be much better than the pegs? I love its unique very handmade look to the top and sides which appear to be solid cherry, but I always though less of it because the back is a funky plywood. Now that I've seen the water damage to the Galax, I'm wondering if the back might be a more modern replacement for an original cracked or otherwise damaged back? It does have a well-aged look to it. Any opinions as to possible age and origins out there?
Hi Jan, and welcome to the wonderful world of the Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer. It's a good place to come, spend some time, learn about the dulcimer, and to meet some good people.
Welcome Jangil to Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer. Glad you joined. You have a couple of nice looking dulcimers there. This is a great community with lots of experience and knowledge represented here. Fell free to ask questions and to join in the discussions. Best wishes on your dulcimer journey.
Hey Jim! I'm glad I found you all too! I've already learned a lot. I stumbled across your website searching for more info about a dulcimer I just won at auction from goodwill.com that came from Pigeon River String Instruments, although I'm unclear about whether it was made by the Lazenbys. It has their printed company label inside and says: "handmade in the Smokies" but there is no label with a date or such. I guess there was a thread about another Lazenby dulcimer just the other day - what a great coincidence.
I've been plinking away on occasion on a dulcimer I picked up at the Goodwill a few years back for $15. I've yet to master its wooden tuning pegs, so this has not been as gratifying as I'd like. I started looking around for another dulcimer with geared tuners online, and got a little shell-shocked by the price tags, so I thought I'd try the Goodwill again. I had already put a bid on a Galax style "church" dulcimer when I saw this beauty. I put in a maximum bid and kept my fingers crossed. I ended up with the winning bids on both, so now I'm the proud owner of three dulcimers for less than the cost of one elsewhere. The Galax style is supposed to arrive today. I've attached a photo of two of the three thrifted beauties - my original, unmarked on the right, the new Pigeon River on the left. Any further information about either would be helpful. Two invaluable things I've already learned are about the peg treatment and that I've had my original dulcimer strung backwards! I had already ordered a set of strings from Folkcraft for the Pigeon River dulcimer before I read your advice on choosing strings. I went with a set with .011" .011" .013" .024" RW, and I hope that the strings are long enough. I look forward to using your stringing tutorial when the new strings come.I love the very different tones of each, although I really need to get them both restrung to appreciate them fully. I know that the 6-string Galax with bring a whole different tone to the mix. Now I really have to get serious about my playing to justify this bounty!
Welcome to FOTMD, Jangil. It is good to have you aboard. I look forward to your participation in these discussions. Let us know if you have any questions.
"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."
Hey Jan, welcome aboard. Glad ya found us.