Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by NoterMan

  1. Here's the fret spacings for a 27.0" VSL from WFret. Distance from Nut to Fret. No 6+ or 13+ frets. 1. 2.95 2. 5.57 3. 6.77 4. 8.98 5. 10.95 6. 11.85 7. 13.50 8. 14.97 9. 16.29 10. 16.89 11. 17.99 12. 18.97 13. 19.42 14. 20.25 15. 20.99
  2. As KenWL points out, you certainly can have a nylon strung dulcimer; and Bernd Krause makes a fine one. But they are a custom instrument, built much lighter and more vibration sensitive then a conventional dulcimer. You just won't have much luck trying to put nylon strings and a new nut & bridge on a conventional dulcimer
  3. Nope, not worth scalloping out, IMHO. Your build is looking very nice, BTW. Those kerf blocks aren't really worth the effort either. IMHO. Very "old school" 1970s feature. With modern glues we don't need to have huge glue surfaces. Unless your sides are going down to .10" thickness or less. Kerf strips are needed if you are going to router a channel around the edge and install binding -- the binding has to have something to glue to. But I'd say the vast majority of modern builders today do not use kerfing -- it's an unnecessary expenditure of time, effort and expense.
  4. Box dulcimers may not be the prettiest instruments on the planet, but they can certainly be striking if the builder uses beautiful wood (and can be designed to act as a storage box for your music and accessories as well. And you don't have to go with just a rectangular instrument. A Galax style dulcimer is usually a very deep/wide teardrop. A builder named Dan Cox, noted for his traditional dulcimers, just completed a unique Music Box with the distinctive TMB fretboard, metal work and tuning keys on a fiddle-shaped body. Any of us who build dulcimers can make you a more mellow inst
  5. That all depends on your VSL. It's not something that we can just say "18 gauge".
  6. As our mysterious Admin says, nylon doesn't work well because of the way dulcimers are constructed and make their sound -- not at all like a guitar. And they have lower string tension which doesn't have as much energy to transmit vibration. Changing strings is not going to give you a markedly mellower sound. If you are not playing with others, one way to get a little more mellow is to change tuning. Drop down one whole step from DAA or DAd to CGG or CGc. That lower note is often seen as "more mellow". The real way that dulcimers get mellow is by getting bigger -- having
  7. There are no String Police. Many of us have experimented with a variety of gauges for many years. Nylon strings are going to sound very quiet. They will have trouble generating enough energy to make good sound. Heavier gauge or lighter gauge strings -- I use all the time. What is it you're trying to achieve? For example I never use 20 ga wound strings for the bass string because I like the sharper sound of an unwound bass string. I almost always use 19 or 20 ga. plain steel strings. I often go several gauges heavier than the Strothers String Gauge Calculator suggests -- it i
  8. Your braces look pretty massive, but I wouldn't worry about their placement. Certainly not worry enough to try and pull them out and replace them! What's done is done. Building is about learning technique as much as anything. Next time, perhaps, ask us before you commit to a step. For example, these days I don't personally add braces to the back (or top) but if I did, I would not put them where you did, but rather one at the widest part of each bout, and skip the brace that you did not put at the narrowest part of the waist (which serves no purpose). Back when I did add braces, I
  9. "Relatively affordable" is the problem. Most people who want a solid-body electric dulcimer want really good electronics, which aren't cheap! Sure you can make a solid-body dulcimer from a scrap length of 2x8, a fretboard and your lipstick pickup. But my understanding is that lipstick pickups don't provide all that 'true' of sound. I would not necessarily mount a pickup in the strum hollow, as hardly anyone strums there. Most folks strum between fret 10 and fret 14. There's about an inch of space between fret 10-11, and 3/4" between 11-12. You might be able to mount a lipstick the
  10. If you're asking about modern Mushroom Fret Wire, I use Medium or Large. For Staple Frets I use .043 - .046 music wire. For finish you're gonna get 15 answers from 6 builders. It's a real personal preference depending on the nature of the final look you are trying to achieve. There are a few builders who, like Dwayne Wilder, spend hours (and charge accordingly) to apply classic French Polish. Many traditional builders prefer a boiled linseed oil based finish. Some people want a deep 'mirror' gloss, others prefer a more 'satin' or 'matte' look. Each requires a different approach.
  11. Jack makes very professional, beautiful, and great modern sounding dulcimers (not my personal style of instrument to play). I've seen and heard a number of his, and they sound and look really nice. From everything I've heard, you won't go wrong with one of his.
  12. This should have been its own thread --- it's much better that way -- and your question and subject won't be lost -- if you don't tack something unrelated to this topic of Playing Position on here. You're lucky I even spotted this question. To answer your question, Jack Ferguson has been building for some time, and makes really good modern dulcimers.
  13. Should post this in the Instruments For Sale Thread -- not here. This is where we talk about playing the instrument.
  14. I only want a playing stand to be one height -- the right height. I use a waiter's tray table which is the perfect height for me. When I was experimenting I made a simple stand to hold my dulcimer at heights which varied 1" until I found the perfect height for me. Then I found a tray table and adjusted the straps until I have it the perfect height.
  15. The only one I've ever used is the Herco Thumb-Flat Pick.
  16. I don't suppose stick instruments are "off topic". But they are NOT dulcimers. By international organographic definition, mountain dulcimers and other fretted zithers do not have a neck which extends beyond the body. Your stick instruments belong to the class of Lute relatives (guitar, mandolin, banjo, balalaika, bouzouki, etc), not the class of Zither relatives.
  17. Move your body to the right as you move your hands to the right. Literally take a step right, then as you go back down, a step left. 'Way in the upper end of the fretboard you seldom find songs with more than one or two notes (Londonderry Air comes to mind) unless you're transposing the entire tune higher up.
  18. Move your feet/body as you move up the fretboard, not just your hands. Are you tense because you are aren't familiar with the music and are reading the tab and trying to multi-task?
  19. A video closeup showing you fingerpicking as we can see and hear what you're doing and when the buzzing/noise happens would be a good thing to post. There are probably two dozen reasons strings can twang and buzz!!
  20. Removeable feet. Don't that beat all! I don't understand why anyone would want such things; but whatever works, works. If a dulcimer has feet you just set it in your lap if there's not table handy; feet don't get in the way of that.
  21. Are you looking for a flat guitar style tuning head or a scroll head? Modern tuners, zither pins or wooden pegs?.
  22. Welcome to the world of dulcimer! Glad to hear that Stephen's class is working out for you. I've not done any classes on-line, since I play traditionally not modern chord melody, and there has been nothing available. I learned to play 40+ years ago when there weren't any other players with a couple hundred miles. It was more than 10 years before I even was able to attend a festival, and that's where I met Stephen the first time, along with Robert Force, Aubrey Atwater and a number of other dulcimer icons.
  23. 1. Hot is at least hottest tap hot, preferably boiling to start. I have a length of 3" PVC pipe, capped on one end, that is my soaking tank, I've also used a length of raingutter or a large plastic tote box. The smaller the tank the less water you need. Put the sides in the tank and if flat, weight them down. Then pour hot-to-boiling water on to submerge them. I have an electric teakettle that boils a couple of quarts of water, quickly, and I'll start with that and a large pot of water boiling on my stove-top (or a camp stove in my garage/workshop). I'll let the strips soak for a co
  24. As I said above, the hourglass is the most difficult of the standard shapes to build. And the hardest part is the shaping of the sides. The easiest way to do that is to hot-water soak the sides for a couple hours to soften them. Then bend the side pieces into a jig which then holds them while they dry. I've attached a couple pix of simple peg jigs. Jig 1 is almost too simple but will work just fine. I prefer to use 1/2" dowels in a 3/4 plywood or chipboard base, similar to Jig 2 but without as many dowels. Make the dowels about 1/8" shorter than the height of the sides. That way,
  25. Hi Dylan; welcome to dulcimer building! Building plans for dulcimers are not common; and the ones I've seen are not particularly useful. A couple builders like myself and others here will do you a lot more good! The dulcimer is a very simple instrument to begin with; very forgiving (that is it is easy to make a dulcimer that sounds good). Cherry is a good wood. So are walnut, maple and all of the other Eastern hardwoods -- which is what the old timers used. Truth be told, a very good wood for dulcimers is ordinary poplar. It is inexpensive, works easily and the results sound good.
  • Create New...