1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby strumelia » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:59 pm

Ok then! :D

:lol: :lol: :P
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby jkitay » Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:53 am

Hi again - I've been waiting for a day on which I was in my apartment and the light was good enough to photograph my dulcimer before posting.

First, Robin asked for some measurements. I've done this as accurately as I can. One thing to bear in mind is that the top and bottom pieces extend about 1/8" beyond the sides, and the top and bottom are about 1/8" thick, so for the upper & lower bout, waist and depth, you need to subtract 1/4" if you want to exclude the depth of the top/bottom and width of the rim that extends beyond the sides. I figured I would give what the tape showed, and let those who are interested do the subtraction themselves. In other words, I have not adjusted the measurements for the 1/8" rim.

Lower bout - 7 1/16"
Upper bout - 5 9/16"
Waist - 4"
Depth - 2 15/32"
Fretboard width - 1 5/16"
Fretboard height - 11/16"

Scale length - I'm not sure exactly what I should be measuring, but from the inside of the nut to the inside of the bridge is 27 7/16". Richard Troughear suggested that I use WFret to see if the frets were placed correctly (thanks for that, Richard!!) - and they don't come close using either of the methods available. This may be because I did something wrong! That's certainly possible.

The full length from bow to stern, as it were, is 36 7/8".

Photos - it seems that I've exceeded the limits required by this site, so I've tried my unpracticed hand at reducing their size. I also have six images I want to post, and I'm limited to two. I'll try to post those and see what happens...
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Last edited by jkitay on Sat Sep 22, 2012 1:14 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby jkitay » Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:54 am

Well, that seemed to work! I'll see if I can post a couple more. Here are two of the bridge area.
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby jkitay » Sat Sep 22, 2012 1:02 am

We're really going here! Now the final two images. One is of the peghead area. The other is of the original wooden pegs. As I mentioned, the original pegs began to slip a year or two after I got the instrument and I didn't do anything about it until a year ago when a friend replaced them. The new tuners aren't exactly scenic, but they work.

I think that's all for the moment. If anyone has any other questions or would like a more detailed photo, I'll do my best. Richard, if you would like another look at it, I've just booked my ticket for next year's National Folk Festival and I could bring it with me to Canberra.
Jim
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby rtroughear » Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:17 am

Jim
The first photo you posted looked like it was taken fairly square from above, so I thought I'd see if a WFret template would line up with the frets. For those who might not know, WFret is a free computer program that can print a series of short vertical lines using a standard printer, that are spaced accurately at the fret intervals determined by the scale length you enter. It's a very useful tool for checking the accuracy of frets, provided it 's done soon after printing (the paper can change dimensions by a mm or so with humidity).

Using the scale length measured from a printed copy of the photo (213mm) I printed an equal temperament template but couldn't make it match the frets in the photo. So I took a photo of my own dulcimer, same scale, and known accurate frets, to see what sort of distortion a photo might add. There is some, but if the 7th (octave) fret is lined up with the template the dispersion is consistant on both sides of the fretboard - the camera seems to stretch out the fretboard a little from the middle.

Back to the Ritchie photo and a new template printed for a scale of double the length from the nut to the 7th (octave) fret (227mm). Again not possible to line up the frets in the photo. I know this dulcimer is unlikely to have equal temperament, but all tunings should at least have the octave at half the scale length, and the nut and bridge positions should fix the octave fret position (in the absence of nut and/or bridge compensation). If the 213mm template is used (actual string length in photo) the implication is that the 7th fret is about 1" too close to the bridge. If the 227mm template is used (twice the nut-7th fret distance) the fit to the frets is better, but it implies that the bridge is about 1 1/2" too close to the nut. Even allowing for the distorting effect of the photo, and the fact that a non-equal temperament is likely, these are large errors to account for. The octave from the third fret to the 10th fret also do not line up in either of the two templates. Here's a picture - others may be able to draw some conclusions.
Ritchie_FretTemperamentA.jpg


Regardless of fret temperament Jim, I think several of the guitar and hammered dulcimer makers at the National Folk Festival would be interested to see such a rare instrument.
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby jkitay » Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:10 pm

Thanks for that Richard.

With regard to the photograph, my zoom lens was on a wide-ish angle setting, which I think is consistent with your comment about distortion.

I couldn't print out the WFret diagram in landscape setting - for some reason I couldn't find a way to change the printer orientation from portrait to landscape in WFret, and I couldn't adjust it in my printer settings - so I was only looking at the first few frets at the nut end. Which were out by quite a distance, though that could easily be because I wasn't doing something correctly.

What my ear tells me is that the tuning is much better after doing as Robin and Strumelia suggest, but is still a bit out, which confirms what you are saying. I'll bring the instrument to the Folk Festival so you and others can have a look. Let me know if you're in Sydney before then and want to drop by.

Having a rare instrument certainly isn't something that entered my mind when I bought it! It was a matter of Jean Ritchie appearing one day and being kind to a kid who was interested. The rest, as they say, is history.
Jim
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby rtroughear » Sun Sep 23, 2012 8:21 am

Jim

WFret prints templates in portrait mode only. If the scale runs off the page it prints those frets on the next line. You then cut them off with scissors and join them with tape to get the full length template.

Scale temperament is a complicated area of music (at least for me). Maybe you could accurately measure the fret positions from the nut and post them here. 0.5mm accuracy would be good. It might help some others here to determine what temperament was being used.

Richard
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby Robin the Busker » Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:22 am

Jim, thank you so much for posting the detailed photods of the dulcimer and description. They are a delight to see and read 8)

Richard - Your comparison of templates is great - what a good idea!!! Here is a bit of 'out of the box' thinking on the issue - what if the 7th fret is not set at the octave? And the scale length itself is not relevant to the fretted scale on this dulcimer? But a scale, starting at the 3rd fret, has been marked on the fretboard. Now if that 3rd fret was in the 'wrong place' the scale would not match up in any comparison with a scale included the open string's note as a start point, or within the equasion at all - yet as long as you tuned the fretted note at the 3rd fret on the melody string to blend with the drones, rather than matching the open melody string to the drones, the dulcimer would play OK except for the open melody string note. I'm not sure if you could use Wfret to check this out as you won't know what the scale length should actually be if the 3rd fret was in the right place?

Imagine if on your own dulcimer you tune to DAA then placed a capo on with a piece of wire at say a 1/4 tone from the nut. Now tune the bass D and middle A drones back down the quarter tone to D and A so you have DA and A+ 25cents. Your dulcimer will play in tune for melody drone as long as you are fretting the melody string but the open melody string will be out by 25 cents. If you tune to DAA all the frets will sound out when playing melody drone style. You have shortened the scale length of the dulcimer but are working from a fret pattern of a longer scale length. Could something like this have occured in this case? The dulcimer seems to play OK if it is tuned to a fretted note on the melody string rather than the open string itself.

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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby rtroughear » Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:53 am

Robin

This could be checked by systematically trying a series of scale lengths until the one that seemed to fit best was found. That would then give the notional scale length of the instrument. I'll give it a go from the photo. It will still be approximate because of the slight distortion of the photo, and because the template is in equal temperament. If the fret measurement is started from the third fret, then the open melody would be out, as you say, and it would probably mean that no chords could ever be played in tune. But Jean did say to play ONY on the first string.

There's a picture of Morris Pickow cutting fret slots in Jean's "The Dulcimer Book". Like the other dulcimer construction pictures in the book it may have been staged just for the photo, but he is not using any guide to cut the slot so some increased placement error would be expected. Also the dulcimer he is cutting looks to be completed so it's just possible that it was temporarily strung up and the fret positions marked with a moveable fret using the old fashioned "by ear" method. That's how I did my first dulcimer in 1969.

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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby rtroughear » Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:22 pm

I've checked templates for all scale lengths from 200mm to 230mm on the photo. That's equivalent to approx. 26" to 29.5" on the actual dulcimer. None give a clear fit.

223mm gives the best fit when keyed from the third fret, but that implies that the bridge is misplaced by about 1 1/4" which I find hard to believe. All notes would be so far out of tune it would be unplayable. 223mm means that the frets would have been placed for a 28.8" string length, but the dulcimer was constructed with a 27.5" length.

If the actual 213mm (photo) scale length is keyed to the third fret, and assuming Jim's camera introduces similar distortion to mine, then the first three frets would be a little flat and everything above would be a little sharp (compared to equal temperament). The open first string might be noticably flat, but that might be acceptable. How the postion of the third fret was set is hard to say.
Ritchie_FretTemperamentB.jpg


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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby Robin the Busker » Mon Sep 24, 2012 3:45 pm

I see what you mean Richard. There looks like a lot of random variation? I can't understand what's wrong but something's not quite right there :(

It looks like a template error somewhere - I can't see how you could get the fretboard so off if you were working by ear? There must be something else amiss or we are missing something somewhere?

Robin
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby John Shaw » Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:11 pm

Just a thought - From comparisons with photos of other Ritchie/Pickow dulcimers, I think Jim's overhead photo may be distorting particularly the right side of the picture. The large bout appears to have its scale length foreshortened somewhat. (Or the opposite could be happening: the left side of the picture could be a little stretched, so that the lower part of the fretboard is lengthened.) If I'm right this would contribute massively to the mismatch with the template.
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