Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

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

Postby bret » Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:22 pm

dholeton wrote: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).


That's Dave, that's interesting to see how he does those. Maybe that's a solution for the ones on the body that would be easier to do.
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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby bret » Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:34 pm

Judy K wrote: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!


I'm thinking the original manufacturer probably won't. The Merlin is made by Seagull, which is a subsidiary of Godin. It's essentially Canada's version of Fender or Gibson. Given their size, I doubt they do much if any business directly with consumers.

That said, I did just shoot a message to their general email address just to see what they'll say. It never hurts to ask right? :)

I'm definitely going to find someone who knows what they're doing work on it. It would probably be fascinating and I most likely would enjoy the experience of trying to figure it out myself, but it's a rabbit hole I've been down before with the violin. :lol: It's better if I focus on my goal (learning to play) and get a professional to do the work on the instrument. Otherwise I'm liable to end up with a bunch of tools I'll use just once and several Merlins in various states of disrepair. :lol:
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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby Judy K » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:47 pm

:D I started down that same rabbit hole, bret. Bought the frets, already had a fret saw (used to do a bit of woodwork) .... came back to sanity before slicing into a fret board. There was no way I could bring myself to "practice" on one of the dulcimers I own. Played around and tried it on a flat piece of wood and discovered it takes a lot of talent to get 2 frets the same height and equidistant. Buying a dulcimer kit was in my plans. Life interfered with that plan; so now I just enjoy the hard work of others.
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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby bret » Thu Sep 07, 2017 8:45 pm

Contacting Godin went about as I expected :lol: Though they did send a quick courteous reply "Hi Bret, Our factory is not set up to offer custom options...sorry! Regards, <name removed>"

So I'll keep looking for someone who has experience with fret work. Dave, if you're willing and able, I'd be happy to send it out to you. The "staple" method on the body seems to be a good path, but I don't know if you have the tools or experience doing that.

I'm in the same boat with "practicing" on the Merlin. I'm sure I'd make some beginner mistakes the first few times and end up with a mess :lol: I wouldn't mind getting into making dulcimers in the distant future. I've seen some videos on Youtube and I do enjoy woodwork, though I've never had a lot of time to practice. My grandfather was a carpenter and I loved the chance to work with some scraps in his shop or help him on something he was working on.

At the moment though, I just have enough time to start learning to play it. Nothing wrong with that, no one has time to make all the things they use :)
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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby dholeton » Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:40 am

Bret
Have you contacted Appalachian Bluegrass, a music shop in Catonsville, Maryland and/or is Catonsville in your area? The shop sells Seagull Merlins and it appears there is a repair shop that will work on just about any musical instrument.
Dave

http://www.appbluegrass.com/product-category/dulcimers/
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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby kwl » Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:58 pm

I haven't been to Appalachian Bluegrass in years, but it is a great store. They did not sell dulcimers back then. I would stop in to look at banjo when I was visiting hospitals in the area.

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

Postby bret » Sat Oct 07, 2017 3:44 pm

Just wanted to add an update. On September 16th I attended the dulcimer workshop at House of Musical Traditions with Karen Buglass. It was great to meet some other people playing the dulcimer and to have a chance to play one for a couple hours. Great stuff :D

I considered buying the instrument I used in the class (a loaner from HMT), but it had friction pegs. From my experience with the violin, I know this would be a source of frustration, so I decided against it.

Over the past couple weeks I've been looking at number of instruments on the Folkcraft site. I'd most settled around a D series (deeper/taller body), but I listed to a couple more traditional size instruments over the past couple days and they swayed me over. The deeper body sounds a bit muddier to my ear. So this afternoon I ordered one :D Hopefully it'll be here sometime this week.

Thanks again to everyone for all the help. Karen pointed me to a couple festivals taking place next summer and I'm planning to go to some of those. (Kentucky Music Week and Dulcimer U are on my radar).
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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby kwl » Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:36 pm

Thanks for the update Bret. Glad to hear about your new dulcimer. Although I have been to neither of those festivals, I have friends who have been to both of them. The comments have been very positive. I hope to get to one or both of them.

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

Postby bret » Sat Oct 14, 2017 6:26 pm

kwl wrote:Thanks for the update Bret. Glad to hear about your new dulcimer. Although I have been to neither of those festivals, I have friends who have been to both of them. The comments have been very positive. I hope to get to one or both of them.


Perhaps I'll bump into you or some of the other folks here at one of them :) Unfortunately, Karen confirmed at the workshop that most of the dulcimer groups around here no longer meet. She did pass me contact information for one, and now that I have a dulcimer I'm going to try to get in contact with them and see if they're still meeting regularly.

Regarding the dulcimer itself, it's a sweet instrument. The craftsmanship is top notch and the wood is really beautiful. And wow, it just fills the room with sound. I really enjoy playing it and time just seems to slip away when I'm messing around on it. I've gotten a bit more comfortable with the overhand style of fretting, though chords are still a challenge and I mostly stick with melody lines.

Now my biggest fear is that DAS may be starting to set in... :lol:
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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby Judy K » Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:09 am

Congrats on your new dulcimer, bret. Sounds like it is a sweet instrument.

DAS is an easily caught ailment. As the owner of at least a dozen dulcimers, I haven't quite been cured yet -- but may be in remission at the moment. 8)
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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby bret » Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:23 pm

Judy K wrote:DAS is an easily caught ailment. As the owner of at least a dozen dulcimers, I haven't quite been cured yet -- but may be in remission at the moment. 8)


"I've got a fever, and the only prescription... is more Cowbell!" ...er Dulcimer! :lol:
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Re: Where to get a dulcimer & best way to learn?

Postby Judy K » Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:48 pm

bret wrote:"I've got a fever, and the only prescription... is more Cowbell!" ...er Dulcimer! :lol:


:lol:
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