1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Share tidbits of dulcimer history, or history of the songs we play on them

Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby strumelia » Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:35 pm

It might clarify a lot of things if there was actually a sound clip of the dulcimer in question- played note by note all up and down slowly, so we could hear any problems. Even a cheap digital camera can make video and sound clips.
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby jkitay » Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:08 am

In response to John's point, I climbed on a ladder and took a photo of the top using a standard focal length fixed lens - I live in a small apartment, it was a ladder or forget it using that lens with today's light! Hopefully that will eliminate much of the distortion - attached.

Strumelia, your idea is a good one. I have various bits of gear that might work for a recording, possibly recording + video. Let me think about what might work best.

It occurs to me - this site is very limited in terms of what you can upload. Anyone know how big a file I can upload if I manage to do a recording?

Richard, I'll get out my calipers soon and measure the frets.

This is turning into quite an enterprise. Thanks everyone for taking so much interest!
Jim
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby rtroughear » Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:25 am

I should have adherred to Benjamin Frankin's admonition to not believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see. It's clear that the first photograph is severely distorted, even though it looks OK. The second photo produces a match to the template similar to the photo of my own dulcimer - spread out from the middle. The mis-match with the new photo looks systematic enough that the scale might even be equal temperament. Here's a picture of the two photos next to each other - from nut to bridge in both cases.
Ritchie212Fretboard_TwoPics.jpg


There's a lesson for me here to be careful about drawing dimensional conclusions from photographs. I hope no brains are too bruised over all this.

Ricvhard T
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby strumelia » Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:41 pm

Fascinating!

I still suspect the dulcimer in question was fretted with the intent that the scale starts with the tonic note at the third fret. And that the fret pattern probably was not compromised in any way in order to improve how chords sounded when fretted on multiple strings. It was likely intended as an instrument for playing in noter drone style.
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby Robin the Busker » Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:46 am

jkitay wrote:In response to John's point, I climbed on a ladder and took a photo of the top using a standard focal length fixed lens - I live in a small apartment, it was a ladder or forget it using that lens with today's light! Hopefully that will eliminate much of the distortion - attached.

Strumelia, your idea is a good one. I have various bits of gear that might work for a recording, possibly recording + video. Let me think about what might work best.

It occurs to me - this site is very limited in terms of what you can upload. Anyone know how big a file I can upload if I manage to do a recording?

Richard, I'll get out my calipers soon and measure the frets.

This is turning into quite an enterprise. Thanks everyone for taking so much interest!
Jim


If you can record sound in .mp3 you can upload a file up to 4mb here. When the file is uploaded to the 'upload attachment' section place it somewhere in line within the posting box and it will automatically appear as an .mp3 player in your post. Use at least 192bps quality. You should get about 2 mins recording time at that quality and be under 4mb in file size. Bigger .mp3 sound files need an external host such as Kiwi6 that can be linked to using the mp3 button which appears above the posting box.

Video needs an external host such as YouTube that you can link to using the YouTube button which appears above the posting box.

Robin
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby jkitay » Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:33 am

Fret measurements! I got out my caliper, which I must have obtained in the US, because the measurement is in inches. I wouldn't know whether the Pickows were working in inches or metric. The scale was 1/32". I may have a metric caliper but can't locate it at the moment - sorry Richard!

I started at the inner edge of the nut, then measured to the middle of the first fret, then as close as I could get to the middle of each successive fret. Thus the first entry (1) is the distance from the bridge to the first fret, 2 is the distance between the first and second fret etc. The last entry is the distance between the seventeenth fret and inner edge of the bridge.

I entered the measurements in an Excel spreadsheet to make calculations easier for anyone who wanted to do so, but for whatever reason, the website wouldn't allow me to upload the file. So I'll enter them manually.
1 = 2 9/16
2 = 2 25/32
3 = 1 3/32
4 = 2 1/4
5 = 1 29/32
6 = 31/32
7 = 1 5/8
8 = 1 15/32
9 = 1 5/16
10 = 21/32
11 = 1 3/32
12 = 15/16
13 = 15/32
14 = 13/16
15 = 11/16
16 = 21/32
17 = 9/32
Bridge = 5 5/32

If these measurements shed any light on our discussion, I'd certainly be interested in hearing about it! Thanks.
Jim
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby rtroughear » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:30 am

Jim
There are a couple of things to note about these measurements.

First is - they only add up to 26.72". In my notes when I first saw this dulcimer I measured the string length at 27.75", and you measured it recently at 27 7/16". Has the dulcimer shrunk recently? I do have a habit of starting a measurement from 1" on a tape measure to avoid the error at the start of the tape. Could we both have done that and not subtracted the 1" from the answer? In other words - is it really 26.72"?

Second: Assuming the scale length is 26.72", then the fret placements match quite closely to equal temperament, with one modification. Robin has noted elsewhere that he sees older dulcimers with the first fret distance shorter than the second fret. That seems to be the case with this dulcimer also, and appears anomalous. It implies that the nut has been moved closer to the bridge by 1/8". This is a large nut compensation, but it is not without justification. It's known that just moving the nut about 1.5mm closer than it ought to be to the bridge on a guitar improves the intonation in equal temperament. (ref. Contemporary Acoustic Guitar - Design and Build; Gore/Gilet, p.4-104). Is it possible that older dulcimer makers routinely applied nut compensation? This could be an explanation as to why the instrument sounds more in tune when tuned from the third fret rather than the open string.

(I can't upload the spreadsheet that shows the lists either).

Richard T
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby jkitay » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:15 pm

Richard,
I was afraid something like that might happen! And it did. I just added up the numbers in Excel and get the same result you did, and remeasured the dulcimer using a tape and still get 27 7/16. So I must have measured something incorrectly with the caliper, or written something down incorrectly. I'll have to remeasure with the caliper - but I thought I was pretty careful the first time. Maybe I wasn't careful enough.

I noticed that the distance to the first fret was less than that to the second as well. It's noticeable just by looking, once you know what you're looking for.
Jim
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby Robin the Busker » Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:49 am

jkitay wrote:Richard,
I was afraid something like that might happen! And it did. I just added up the numbers in Excel and get the same result you did, and remeasured the dulcimer using a tape and still get 27 7/16. So I must have measured something incorrectly with the caliper, or written something down incorrectly. I'll have to remeasure with the caliper - but I thought I was pretty careful the first time. Maybe I wasn't careful enough.

I noticed that the distance to the first fret was less than that to the second as well. It's noticeable just by looking, once you know what you're looking for.
Jim


You did measure centre to centre on the frets - just not the spaces? That could loose you a good inch over the fretboard length.

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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby jkitay » Sun Oct 07, 2012 2:49 am

I think I've solved the problem. I remeasured with the caliper and got the same results as before. I then took the fret measurements using my tape measure - which is calibrated in 1/16" rather than the 1/32" of the caliper - and got results that were very close but not always exactly the same. So I compared the calibrations on the tape measure and the caliper, and 1" on the tape measure at any point (not just the first inch) is about 31/32" on the caliper. Do that for 17 frets, plus some for the distance from the 17th fret to the bridge, throw in a factor for the fallible human doing the measuring, and that seems to be the answer - measurement error! The difference is about 3/4",which seems like a lot, but it makes sense when you have very small errors repeated many times. Both results are therefore "right", depending on which tool I use.

Which is "really" right? I don't know. I would need a measuring device that I knew was exact, and I don't have that. I'm just glad that I'm not the one trying to build a dulcimer. It would probably come out looking like a zither and sounding like a glockenspiel.

In answer to Robin's question, I did my best to be consistent and measure from mid-fret to mid-fret, but I wouldn't swear that I got it exact each time. That could of course have contributed to the discrepancy.

No, I don't know why I didn't think to compare the tape and the caliper before. But I'm glad I did. It was bothering me!
Jim
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby rtroughear » Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:04 am

Jim
I wonder what I used when I measured the length six years ago - I can't remember. I suspect the actual length is closer to 27.75" than 26.75". You need an accurate reference to tell you which of your measuring instruments is the more correct. And that's WFret. You could print off a template of arbitrary length, say 27.75", to the 0.01" accuracy, and also print the chart of the numbers. I've found the marks on the paper to be quite accurate when compared to my digital vernier calipers (actually several calipers), so it's a reasonably good reference. Check the distances on the paper with your calipers and tape measure and use the more accurate of the two for the frets. You should be able to estimate the lengths at least to an accuracy of half the least graduation on the tape i.e. 1/32" or about 0.03". Measuring from the nut to each fret rather than from fret to fret will reduce total overall error, and rounding up and down an equal number of times.

It's harder than it looks to measure these things so that there's only about 0.5mm error in the total length, but that's the sort of accuracy we'd like. 1/2" error in total length (implied by 1/32" accuracy and constant round up or down at each fret) means that the temperament of the instrument could not be reasonably determined. If we can figure this instrument out, it is probably the same as the other 300 Ritchie/Pickow dulcimers.There must be at least 3 people who want to know that. I do, now.

Richard T
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Re: 1968 Ritchie Dulcimer

Postby JohnH » Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:06 am

jkitay. Just an idle thought here, is it worth measuring the original marked 'tang' position of each fret(often descernible by a slight 'oversaw' of the fret cut) rather than the crown of the driven fret ? It is possible for frets to 'drift' a fraction during driving despite extreme care ?
JohnH
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