Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Help for new mountain dulcimer players of all ages!

Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby philips » Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:13 am

Wow Strumelia, that's a great looking altered zither you're holding in your avatar. Congratulations .... lucky girl. :lol: ;)
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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby strumelia » Tue Aug 29, 2017 3:48 pm

Thanks Philps! I like all kinds of zithers, dulcimers, dulcimer antecedents, and descendants. (and a whole bunch of other instruments too) If you took a fiddle, a koto, or a banjo-uke... tuned it DAd and called it your mountain dulcimer, hey that'd be your business- it doesn't amount to a hill of beans to me how anyone wants to label their own instruments. (Just don't call my 5 string banjos 'guitars'... lol.) As long as folks are having fun with their music and they let me have fun with mine without being petty or picking fights, I'm all for it! :D :lol:

Hey Bret- did you figure out what you are going to do yet, concerning dulcimers/Merlin/extra frets etc?
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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby dholeton » Tue Aug 29, 2017 5:50 pm

I am still especially attached to my first dulcimer I built from a kit in 1978, so I guess I can understand the attachment you (Bret) might have in your instrument. Adding four frets shouldn't be a super big deal. If you are anywhere near Clinton, TN, I can add them for you in a half hour or so just for the fun of seeing you play beyond the 8th fret.

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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby bret » Sun Sep 03, 2017 7:14 pm

strumelia wrote:Hey Bret- did you figure out what you are going to do yet, concerning dulcimers/Merlin/extra frets etc?


I still am leaning toward getting some extra frets added to the Merlin, despite it not being a traditional dulcimer ;). I've found it very natural to play and it's probably the first instrument I've wanted to pick up and just play. It sits by my desk and I play it every day.

I picked up a couple Canjo and (old) Dulcimer books now that just have melody lines and I've taught myself some songs that have all the notes on the Merlin. I've also watched some strum stick videos and learned about power chords and cut offs. You can really jam on this thing. (I make no claims to sound amazing! But I do have fun playing it.) I'm planning register for the dulcimer class at HMT in a couple weeks and see how that goes. It's only about a 30 minute drive for me. I was considering the music festival Judy suggested, but I don't think I can get away early before that weekend and it's about a 6 hour drive for me.
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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby bret » Sun Sep 03, 2017 7:21 pm

dholeton wrote:I am still especially attached to my first dulcimer I built from a kit in 1978, so I guess I can understand the attachment you (Bret) might have in your instrument. Adding four frets shouldn't be a super big deal. If you are anywhere near Clinton, TN, I can add them for you in a half hour or so just for the fun of seeing you play beyond the 8th fret.

Dave


Thanks for offering! It looks like Clinton is about 8 hours from me, but I'd considering mailing it out to you.

Just so you know, the frets beyond 7 would be off the neck and on to the body:

http://www.guitarplanet.eu/uploads/pics/seagull-merlin.jpg

I don't know how much that would complicate adding them.
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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby dholeton » Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:09 pm

Bret
You might only have room for a few frets and putting them on the body might take some extra effort. The body might not be level with the fretboard would be one consideration. The other is to scratch out a slot for a fret and not scratch the rest of the top.

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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby Judy K » Mon Sep 04, 2017 1:08 am

Bret, there is a way to add a temporary fret that works fairly well. Take a large paperclip and snip off a straight piece of the wire to the same width as your fret board. Tape it halfway between the two frets already there .. wherever you need/want a fret. It takes a little bit of adjusting to find the right paperclip, or sand it to match fret height. It is a fun experiment that works. I used one of these temporary frets as a 1 1/2 fret for a couple of months. Others who have more experience may chime in with better directions, I hope.
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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby dholeton » Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:19 am

I took a small finishing nail, filed it flat on one side, and cut it so it would lay flat on the fretboard. I used tape to hold it in place, but I don't leave it on any longer than I am playing where I need the extra fret. Tape can leave marks on the finish or the wood if the fretboard doesn't have a finish on it.

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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby bret » Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:20 am

dholeton wrote:I took a small finishing nail, filed it flat on one side, and cut it so it would lay flat on the fretboard. I used tape to hold it in place, but I don't leave it on any longer than I am playing where I need the extra fret. Tape can leave marks on the finish or the wood if the fretboard doesn't have a finish on it.

Dave


I saw this video some time ago, but it may offer a permanent solution to the ones on the body:



He used a piece of copper wire to create a 1+ fret. For the 6 fret that's missing that could be added as a regular fret. Then perhaps this wire solution could be used for the ones that go off the neck as it would only require drilling two holes for each fret.

I also thought of a couple ideas that may work for adding regular frets to the body. Note that I did check to make sure that it's level, and aside from the change in wood it's impossible to feel the difference going from the neck to the body. They did an excellent job putting it together and I think it may have been planed and sanded after the body was assembled. It's seamless all around and appears completely flat and level across the top and the fingerboard.

That said, here are my ideas. I haven't done much woodworking so these may be completely crazy :)

1) Use a very small routing bit to route out the fret grooves. I don't know if they make bits small enough though.

2) Use a Dremmel cutting disk to cut out a groove for the frets. Looking at the side of the neck, the slots for the frets are the same depth as the top, so it would probably mean going all the way through the top, but it's not very thick.

3) Use the saw that's normally used for frets and just cut all the way across the top and then:

a) just put really long frets from side to side across the top.

b) put normal size frets and use some type of epoxy or filler (maybe decorative) to fill in the excess.

I don't know if #3 would affect the sound as it would essentially cut the top into sections for extra frets.

Just some thoughts :)
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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby bret » Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:23 am

Judy K wrote:Bret, there is a way to add a temporary fret that works fairly well. Take a large paperclip and snip off a straight piece of the wire to the same width as your fret board. Tape it halfway between the two frets already there .. wherever you need/want a fret. It takes a little bit of adjusting to find the right paperclip, or sand it to match fret height. It is a fun experiment that works. I used one of these temporary frets as a 1 1/2 fret for a couple of months. Others who have more experience may chime in with better directions, I hope.


That's a really good idea. You just reminded me that I saw a video with a similar suggestion. The girl in the video used bobby pins and said they were the perfect height for the Merlin if the jagged side is broken off. Let me see if I can find the video real quick.

I'd still like to get something more permanent, but I may do something like this in a pinch :)

edit: I found the video:

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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby dholeton » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:12 am

I suspect a Dremel is not a good option.

Another option to consider would be to add staples. Dulcimore Dan has this excellent video on how to install staples.



Since you're adding frets to an existing fret arrangement, I suggest using tape to attach different size wires or other fret materials to make sure the size is right (no string buzzing on the new fret or any of the nearby frets on all of the strings).

Best of luck

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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby Judy K » Wed Sep 06, 2017 1:16 am

Any chance you could send the Merlin back to the maker for extra frets, Bret? It is really important for the fret height to exactly match the installed frets. With a temporary fret it is easy to fudge (raise or lower) the fret into the right height, (thin card stock, paper, sanding, etc.) with no harm done to the fret board.

Good luck in whatever you try!
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