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NoterMan last won the day on April 15

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  1. Your build is really beautiful! Congratulations!!! The welding rod string pins are perfect. The dulcimer has three courses of strings -- melody course (closest to you), middle drone course, and bass course (farthest from you). Any of those courses can have one, two or even (but rarely) three strings. Normally the melody and bass courses begin 1/8" in from the edges of the fretboard, and the melody course is down the center. Couplets, such as a doubled melody string, are spaced 1/8" apart to give the two strings room to vibrate without hitting each other. Instruments built specifically for Noter & Drone style play are usually only 3-strings, and often have the melody string significantly separated from the middle and bass strings spaced like a couplet. We'll help you learn to play too; but you should probably start a new thread about that in the Playing The Dulcimer section. Suffice it to say here in the Building section that there are three major styles of play, named by their left hand actions. Two older, traditional styles and one more modern: Noter & Drone and Melody-Drone (sometimes called Fingerdancing) and Chord-Melody. In Noter & Drone style, the player users a short dowel to fret only the melody string(s), while in Melody-Drone style, the bare fingers fret only the melody string(s); and in both cases the middle and bass courses are played open. In the modern Chord-Melody style each note of a melody is played by using one or more fingers to create a 3-note chord across all three courses of strings by simultaneously pressing strings at different locations. In any of those styles the right-hand can Strum (sometimes called Pluck) the strings, Flat Pick or Finger Pick exactly like a guitar or mandolin, but with fewer strings. There are, of course, many ways to strum, fingerpick, or flatpick.
  2. That's OK, we all have to start somewhere. And somewhen. You'll catch up as we educate you!
  3. Like Admin said... "ball end" strings don't really end in a ball, but in a teeny brass ring, and you slip the ring over the end of the brad. You can also stick the pointy end of the string through the ball and have a 'slip knot' at the end -- that works for some of the older dulcimers that used 1/4" dowels for string pins.
  4. Must be nice to have lots of metal laying about! I think most builders these days put a label in their instruments. Maybe not the first one.... but building dulcimers is like those chips -- betcha can't build just one! Good idea to put the number of your build too. I generally just use small headless brads/finishing nails. That way you can use either loop end or ball end strings. No worries about bending -- the stress is at 90 degrees to the shaft, and right up against the junction of shaft and end block. I generally put them in at a slight upward angle though "just in case".
  5. Howdy Schmidtrock! Tell us what you play -- instrument, music style, all that stuff. Any way we can help, just ask. There are no dumb questions, just ones we haven't answered yet.
  6. DO NOT START OVER! Thickness -- a little under and over isn't going to hurt anything. Humidity/Warp/Gluing -- At least it bowed up, not down! You could weight the carcass down on something dead-flat and wait awhile for the humidity to go away. But that's no fun...! I often use water as my 'clamp' at this stage, and the technique should work here to help flatten things out as well. You'll need a large cooler, some scrap wood. and a dead-flat surface like your saw table or long belt sander table. I don't have a saw table, so I use a length of marble window sill that is about 36" long, 3/4" thick and 8" wide. I paid, I think, $10 at Home Despot). You want just a cheap styrofoam cooler hopefully almost as long as the dulcimer is. Set the carcass on your flat surface. Tape the outside edges of the side to prevent glue dripples. Set the top/fretboard assembly in place. Put scrap wood to fill in between the fretboard and sides up to a bit above fret top height. Check top/carcass alignment. Set the large empty cooler on top. Check alignment again. Put a couple inches of water in the cooler. Check alignment again -- third time is the charm. Continue to slowly add water until it's 8-10" or more deep. Water weighs over 62 pounds per cubic foot. That's pretty darn good clamp pressure spread evenly across the top. If you plan on making more than one dulcimer, you can make a "jig" from a large-ish piece of scrap wood (2x8 or so) to slip over the fretboard of future builds and act as a clamp weight spreader.
  7. You could probably thin that out from the bottom side, using a belt sander, and the a palm sander to finish it smooth again. The head can taper in thickeness -- be a little thicker at the rear and thinner at the outer end.
  8. The sound holes look GREAT! Nice job. Really. Especially with a push gouge. Saw the wood you are making the tuning head from, but we haven't seen what style/design you are going to use. Classic traditional scroll? Zither pin style scroll block? Flat 'guitar' head? Something new and different? In any case, the thickness of wood you have there seems extreme -- like that thinner laid up piece too thick. If that's a flat guitar head, they are usually only about 1/2" thick. Does that tuner shaft have just the one hole? Or is that the outer hole of two? If it has two holes you want to use the hole closest to the gears, not that outer hole.
  9. Don't worry, I've seen a lot more delicate soundhole designs. I've used card stock and heavier "cardboard" from new shirts and such as a soundhole reinforcement; also thin wood, as Ken mentions -- thinner than 1/8" usually but not always. The dryer sheet thing is an interesting idea that I've not tried.
  10. From the picture above. I would use the paw print you have sketched there -- perhaps just a bit larger -- as the large sound holes in the lower bout. Nice idea, but IMHO that size print just looks a bit too big for the upper bout location. Then make two more, smaller, paw prints, for the upper bout holes. Center the sound holes half way between the edge of the body and the edge of the fretboard, at the widest point of each bout.
  11. There is a hugely complicated mathematical formula that can be used to calculate the optimum total area of of sound holes based on the volume of the body and a sphere and a bunch of other higher math -- Helmholtz Formula and such. Anyway, as it turns out, a good rule of thumb is to have the total area of your sound holes be about the same area as 4-5 US Quarters -- each quarter is about 1" in diameter and about .75 sq. in. in area.
  12. As KenWL says, depth of the hollow is a personal choice. Personally I don't cut a strum hollow -- almost no one strums there, and you seldom see and pick damage to a full height fretboard except when beginners are just starting out and dig too deep with their pick. We all strum up around fret 12-14. I just run my hollowing all the way back to the butt end, and round-over the area between the last fret and the bridge location. One builder I know uses a small radius but decorative beading cutter on his router. I round over by hand.
  13. Wound strings are like the large diameter "bass" string. They have a multi-strand longitudinal nylon wrapping over a thin steel core, and are spiral wrapped (a.k.a. wound) with very fine wire. They look exactly like a wound metal string but have the spiral winding of metal. Wound nylon strings are only available in thicker gauges -- .020 or larger. You cannot buy wound strings in small enough diameters to work for tunings around DAA/DAd or other dulcimer tunings You asked originally about Nylon strings, which are like those on a uke -- a poltruded length of "nylon", like monofilament fishing line or "weed wacker" line. The top photo shows nylon strings on a uke. The other photo shows a close up of a nylon wound string.
  14. Dulcimer Jim -- you're talking about wound strings. The OP is talking about solid nylon strings -- like a uke or heavy fishing line. Not the same thing at all.
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