Walnut Valley pick click

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Walnut Valley pick click

Postby Don O. » Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:30 pm

Maybe some of you are familiar with the "Walnut Valley" brand dulcimers that were made in Burns, Kansas. I have an all solid walnut one with hummingbird holes. It's a nice looking and sounding dulcimer. I made some improvements to it. I took out the horrible cheap plastic nut and bridge off and made bone replacements. At the same time I carved some compensation into the bridge to improve DAD intonation. I also replaced the friction tuners with planetary geared units. One thing still bothers me about it though. It does not have the traditional strumming hollow. Instead, it has a routed area, but the routing makes no sense to me. The routing on either side is pretty low, and the bass and melody strings vibrate pretty freely. But the middle of rout, where the A string is, is level with the fret board. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to play the thing without getting pick click. I try turning my pick thus way and that, varying my strumming technique, but I get the clicking sound every time. I have considered sanding the high area down, but am reluctant to change the original design. I have even considered sawing it out altogether, but as it is essentially in integral part of the elevated fret board, I worry that it would affect the structural integrity of the instrument. But I have to do something. The only other alternative is to accept that the clicking is just a part of the characteristic sound. Any ideas would be apprciated.
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Re: Walnut Valley pick click

Postby kwl » Sat Jul 15, 2017 2:00 pm

Don,

I tried to look at photos of the dulcimers in the Walnut Valley Dulcimer advertising flyer, but the resolution is not good enough for me to see what the details of the strum area. My suggestion is that you might try using different types and thicknesses to picks to see if one minimizes the click. I would need to see a good photo of the dulcimer before I would offer any suggestions on modifying it.

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Re: Walnut Valley pick click

Postby Don O. » Sat Jul 15, 2017 3:19 pm

Thanks for the reply. I have difficulty posting pictures here. Never have been able to do it. However, if you want to see what my strumming area looks like, just Google "walnut valley dulcimer image". For me, the first two pictures that pop up are dulcimers with strumming areas identical to mine. The photos are from a business in the UK called "Revels Music", which apparently sold a couple of them in the past.
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Re: Walnut Valley pick click

Postby KenH » Sat Jul 15, 2017 10:03 pm

I play two dulcimers without any strumhollows, and play over the 12-16th frets all time, without any pick click. IMHO it's a matter of how flat the pick is to the strings as you strum back and forth, and how much pick you have sticking out of your fist; also how hard you 'attack' the strings.
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Re: Walnut Valley pick click

Postby kwl » Sun Jul 16, 2017 1:52 pm

Thanks for the suggestion Don. I did the Google search and viewed the photos.

Like KenH, I play over the fret board and not at the strum hollow with no "click" sound while playing. Before modifying your dulcimer you may want to try modifying your playing style. In some styles a little pick sound is acceptable and even desirable.

If you do choose to modify the instrument, I see no problem in creating a strum hollow other than changing the monetary value of the dulcimer. Personally, I would leave the dulcimer as it is.

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Re: Walnut Valley pick click

Postby joe sanguinette » Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:38 am

pick clack is often caused by playing hard to increase volume. experiment with a number of picks and be satisfied with the instrument's volume. i know walnut
valley dulcimers owned by jack bruner who passed away number of years ago. the instruments were sold at epcot center for a few years. the routed strum
hollow was always a mystery to me......other than a quick way to go
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Re: Walnut Valley pick click

Postby Don O. » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:50 am

Yes, Joe, I agree. The routed area does absolutely nothing to assist with strumming. He could have just left that area alone. It seems more decoarative than functional, in my opinion.
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Re: Walnut Valley pick click

Postby joe sanguinette » Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:39 am

don O ......my favorite picks are made of delron. they minimize pick clack. if u will e mail me (joesanguinette@aol.com) with your address i'll send u a few.
these may be stiffer than you are used to. if u are using thin floppy picks it could be causing ur pick clack
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Re: Walnut Valley pick click

Postby Don O. » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:15 am

Thank you for the offer Joe. I have a number of different picks with different thicknesses and materials, including Delrin. I will experiment with them but just haven't gotten around to it yet. Been kind of busy.

Sounds like the consensus here is to not try modifying the dulcimer. If the concern is value and collect ability, though, I don't there is any. These are pretty common and don't seem to command that big of a pice. I think I paid 100 dollars for mine.
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Re: Walnut Valley pick click

Postby KenH » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:27 am

Don -- the consensus is that it's not necessary to modify the dulcimer to get rid of pick-click. The click isn't normally caused by the pick hitting wood, but rather from the way the pick hits the strings. If it were caused by hitting the wood, you'd be feeling a dragging sensation and there would be serious marks in the wood.
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Re: Walnut Valley pick click

Postby joe sanguinette » Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:02 pm

don O u are correct about the collectors value of these dulcimers. they have value but not collectors value in my opinion
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Re: Walnut Valley pick click

Postby kwl » Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:43 pm

I agree with Joe and KenH that there is little collectors' value of this instrument.

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