Modifying a dulcimer.

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Modifying a dulcimer.

Postby DulciBob81 » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:30 pm

Forgive me if this question is in the wrong spot, but I figured builders would give the best advice for this. I was given a dulcimer, not really old or worn out, but just of cheaper quality. Can't really afford a higher end dulcimer right now. This dulcimer doesn't sound bad, just a little on the tinny side and gets out of tune easily.

It may not even be worth putting money into it, but I'm also just wanting to experiment anyway. Would replacing the tuning gears and strings help the tuning hold better? Also, are there any other modifications that people make to improve the sound quality of an instrument?
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Re: Modifying a dulcimer.

Postby danc9 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 8:38 am

New tuners might be a good way to go. I for one love the tinny sound, you might get used to it and if you are to stay in tune that would be a plus! You can find them starting around $10 on the internet...... If the nut and bridge are made of a "very" hard material, a softer nut and bridge may "soften" the tone?

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Re: Modifying a dulcimer.

Postby Jon » Sat Nov 18, 2017 8:55 am

In addition to the tuners and nut/saddle, make sure you get the right string diameter for the VSL and tuning you want to use. See for example :http://www.bearmeadow.com/build/materials/strings.html
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Re: Modifying a dulcimer.

Postby KenH » Sat Nov 18, 2017 9:39 am

Like Dan, I suggest new tuners -- and strings. Strings won't help it hold tuning, but will make it sound better.

"Tinny" depends on what you mean by that word. Is it 'tinny' because you're not used to hearing the drone sound of a dulcimer? 'Tinny' because a string or strings is sharp and not properly in tune? Or overall "high and silvery" in tone rather than guitar-like?
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Re: Modifying a dulcimer.

Postby Skip » Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:43 am

Double melody strings make a sound that takes getting used to also.
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Re: Modifying a dulcimer.

Postby kwl » Sat Nov 18, 2017 11:37 am

Bob, you may not need to replace the tuners depending upon what you have. It may just be a matter of a little adjustment and/or lubrication. I have refurbished a few inexpensive instruments and this has helped them. Of course, new and better tuners are always an option. I usually find that I need to adjust the string height on some of these instruments as well.

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Re: Modifying a dulcimer.

Postby DulciBob81 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:43 pm

Thanks, all, for the responses. I will replace the strings and tuners because I think it needs it anyway. I may adjust the action a hare. As far as the thin sound, it didn't dawn on me before, but this is a smaller than normal dulcimer, 26.5 long tear drop with 6.25 width at widest point and 1.75 deep. That could be the reason. Like I said before, it's not a bad sounding instrument, still pretty, just a little thinner than most others I've heard and played. So the smallish body could be the culprit.?
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Re: Modifying a dulcimer.

Postby Robin the Busker » Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:37 pm

It sounds like you need to go heavier on your string gauges and tune up a little higher. A dulcimer doesn't need to be tuned to D. It is surprising what a great difference to the tone and intonation that can make. The shorter scale length will work better at a higher pitch and possibly that will also 'pull' the instrument into better tune. You may not need new tuners, just new, slightly heavier strings tuned up a bit higher. It would certainly be worth experimenting with strings before changing the tuners. If the present strings are thin and at a slack tension then you'll have a job to keep the intonation as you play.

Try 0.022w bass, 0.014 middle and 0.012 melody for DAd or a semi tone higher, or 0.022w, 0.013 middle and 0.013 melody for EBB

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