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EverythingDulcimer

NoterMan

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  1. You should be able to Edit the post Dave. Button at the bottom left of each of your posts. Although... the idea of a 1/12th fret is intriguing...
  2. Yeah... plywood rules out 1800s, although that was the look they were going for. Excellent job in any case. Plywood or not, it's certainly worth more than 10 euros even as just a folk-art wall hanger! For strings, it would depend on what keynotes you want for the open tuning. You will want plain steel strings for all 9 strings -- no wound strings like modern dulciemrs use for their bass string. Measuring the thickness of the fretted strings is a good start, and then fins a good gauge for the bourdons. According to my string calculator you could use: D .025 d .014 A .018 or C .018 c .015 G .020
  3. Filing a piece of regular fretwire down is a LOT more trouble that just using a piece of paperclip or a small brad. WHY not make it permanent? Because permanent is permanent. To experiment and see if you will really use a plus fret as much as you think you would; before actually you spend the money to have a fret installed that you don't really want or need except occasionally. If you're like me and lots of others you might have two or three songs in your hundred or more song repertoire which absolutely requires that odd fret. BUT you only ever play those songs once or twice a year. So once or twice a year, for a performance, I tape a temporary fret in place just to play those songs.
  4. That is a Fretted Zither, and since you're from Belgium (and I assume the instrument is also), it is your 'regional' variation called a Hummel. The five strings over the frets would be tuned something like DDddd or CCCcc -- some combination of strings an octave apart -- and all strummed together and played together using a noter. The four bourdons or drones would be tuned a fifth above -- A or G -- and strummed to a greater or lesser degree long with the melody strings. All the strings are plain -- not wound. The Hummel was almost always played flat on a table, to enhance the sound (and also make it easier to stand alongside and make the broad sweeping strums that would sound all 9 strings). That's a beautiful mid-late 1800s instrument you have. The brass lined holes are really a nice touch. I would love to see more photos of the whole instrument. It appears to have been influenced perhaps by the French Epinette des Vosges. What is the VSL -- the distance between the nut and bridge?
  5. 1. Don't recognize the maker, but the design, with the pins in the side blocks, is NOT common. 2. Those ARE loop end strings. They start on one side, cross over the top, around a pin on the far side, then back to the start. What gauges? You'll need a micrometer to measure that. You'll also want to know the length of the longest string -- from loop end across to the pin and back. Where? Folkcraft may be able to help. I buy most of my strings from www.juststrings.com; but then I know exactly what I want. 3. Yes that crack in the pin line is "worrisome". Those holes probably should be re-drilled lower and new pins hammered in. At least the cracks should be filled with one of the more gel-like super glues, which should stop movement and tighten things up a hair.
  6. You're fine Kristie. What you have are a series of jigs (not usually called "forms") for building hourglass dulcimers of several shapes and sizes. Some of the jigs are for bending the side boards, some are for laying out the sound holes and fretboard, etc. It would take someone a certain amount of 'studying' to figure out how and in what combinations Mr. Green used to make his instruments.
  7. If you have not seen the following link you will find it very informative. https://blogs.loc.gov/folklife/2020/05/margaret-macarthur/ I would suggest contacting the Vermont Folklife Center, which seems to own her life collection: https://www.vermontfolklifecenter.org/
  8. Strings are strings are strings as a friend says. There are only a handful of companies in the world that make what is called music wire. They sell the stuff, in mile-long rolls of various diameters to companies who add windings of various kinds to some of the wire, to make wound bass strings. They also sell miles of plain string to companies like D'Addario, D'arco, Martin, and others, who cut it into lengths and put loop or ball ends on the cut lengths. So. Brand really doesn't matter. But some sellers are more expensive than others. I usually buy in bulk -- a dozen strings of a given gauge at a time. But I also buy sets of dulcimer strings. My go-to sources is www.justystrings.com. Their private label string sets are under $5.
  9. Anytime you get a second hand instrument, it's a good thing to change strings. One at a time -- do NOT take them all off them put them all back. If the bridge or nut aren't in exactly the right place it can really mess things up if one or both fall out of place, and string tension will keep them where they belong. What is the VSL? That's the distance between the inside edge of the nut and the inside edge of the bridge. THAT, plus what you want for the home tuning, is what tells you which strings to buy. There are charts and calculators, but virtually ALL pre-packaged sets of "dulcimer" strings will work if the VSL is around 27"--28". Brand is irrelevant. As the Admin says, since your new friend does not have the 6+ fret, tuning to an Ionian/Major scale (DAA, CGG) is the best option. Some folks will tell you all sorts of nonsense about DAA/CGG tunings, but I've been playing in those tunings, without a 6+ fret, for decades -- and have hundreds of tunes in my repertoire. Plus more in other tunings. There are actually very few tunes in the common dulcimer canon which require the 6+ fret. All it means is that you will actually have to learn to tune and re-tune -- get to know -- your dulcimer. You won't find much Tab for songs in DAA, but there is an easy way to convert DAd tab to DAA. Also, if you really must play in the modern Chord-Melody style in stead of more traditionally, and this is your only or primary dulcimer, then I respectfully suggest you learn to play in DAA Chord-Melody rather than DAd. There is a rather nice article by now a sadly deceased gentleman named Merv Rowley, in which he discussed DAA Chord melody playing and gives charts of the chord positions for the various notes. Most of us who use more traditional instruments like yours with the wooden pegs, keep a bottle of Peg Drops or Peg Dope around. It lasts forever! A couple drops on the peg shaft will fix the slipping. Loosen a peg, put a couple drops on the shaft where it will be in the holes, and re-tighten the peg. Always best to push and twist when settling a peg in place. Set the string a bit sharp and let it sink into correct tune as the string relaxes a tiny bit. If you have any further questions, please post them here, or send me private messages if you like. I have a number of resources for new players which you may find useful.
  10. If you have any questions, just holler! We make up pretty good answers!
  11. We mostly DON'T make "piccolo" or "soprano" dulcimers except by scaling down. Haven't seen real plans for one in 40 years, although a couple of makers specialize in short VSL instruments (Mc Spad Ginger, the Dave Beedy miniatures, etc. For kids we don't normally take the tunings up into the soprano or "piccolo" range, but rather use strings that work with short VSLs to get normal C or D tunings. Basically, make a regular width, short VSL (say 18-20") fretboard with an inch or two aft of the nut, and design an elliptical or teardrop body around it.
  12. Welcome to our world! Enjoy your journey. MOST dulcimers -- first or second hand -- are "finished". In decades of dulcimering, I've never seen an unfinished dulcimer sold, unless it was an uncompleted kit instrument. Many of us builders use a tung oil or linseed oil finish. Some of us use wax finishes. Many of us do not do super glossy finishes -- all of which may look "unfinished" to the inexperienced eye -- because we don't like the glassy, glossy look of fancy furniture, we build folk instruments. To clean a dulcimer, I most commonly use a damp paper towel or washcloth rag. Avoid alcohol or spirit, or ammonia based cleaners, they can eat some finishes. Guitar and similar cleaner/polishes are just fine. The most important "maintenance" you can do for your dulcimer is to NOT keep it in a case, and to keep the humidity up. We're heading into winter, and your home furnace will probably make your house too dry. If you get static shocks shuffling across you carpet in sock-feet -- it is too dry. Bowls of water with a sponge, or several kinds of commercial humidifiers will keep a dulcimer from drying out and cracking.
  13. 1. Get a new "nail", that one's bent beyond straightening I suspect. Get a brad that is longer. 2. Get some quick-set epoxy mix some up and put some in the hole. 3. Put the nail in the old hole and gently but firmly tap the nail in until its head is the same level as the others. Wipe up excess glue. The alternative is to drill a new pilot hole and add the new nail that way.
  14. As my "handle" implies, I am Noter...man. I make noters. Exotic and common American hardwoods $10. Bamboo (including rivercane) $5, plus a buck or two shipping. Round, square, flat or ergonomic.
  15. If you're gonna add all those extra frets and take the instrument totally away from being a dulcimer by having Dulcimer-Shaped-Object made with a chromatic fretboard.
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