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Everything posted by NoterMan

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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/
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. If you have any questions, just holler! We make up pretty good answers!
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. "It looks like the bottom as well as the top is made of solid walnut, giving it a brighter ring than dulcimers with laminate (plywood) backs." FYI -- the top is NOT Walnut; it appears to be Spruce. And solid wood does not necessarily give a dulcimer a "brighter" ring; in fact, the glue between layers of laminate seems to have that effect -- the glue is harder than the wood and reflects sound differently than solid wood.
  15. Wow! That would be great! Think of that Merlin shape -- which is actually a Renaissance shape -- as a Ukulele without all the extra frets!
  16. Plum is a fabulous wood. I have a Mirliton flute made from Plum. Too bad you have left it as a log rather than slicing it into boards and stickering them in a pile to dry. Hopefully boards that you cut now won't go all squirrely warping when released from the log. Plum has a Janka Hardness of 1550, where Hard Maple has a hardness of 1450; so just a bit harder than hard maple. Dulcimers were traditionally made from Eastern hardwoods, as Admin says. Poplar was very common, so was Chestnut before they all died. Spruce and redwood are not traditional woods, but some people think they make good soundboards/tops. If you'd like help on designing/building your dulcimer, drop me a message here and we'll trade email addresses. I've built a few hundred in my years as a builder/player. Had to build my first one from a kit so I could learn to play... When you get that plum cut into 1/8" thick boards, I'd like to buy enough from you to make a "plum nice" dulcimer of my own!!
  17. Yeah; I understand. There are a number of places and people who don't bother to do any research or listen to those who do. Diatonic sticks are no more a dulcimer than a Martin Guitar is!đŸ˜®
  18. Hi Brudd: Merlin is a brand name, you aren't going to find plans for that. If you can copy the shape (if that's what appeals to you, then making a "stick instrument" (NOT a dulcimer) like it is fairly simple if you have a handful of tools and some experience building folk instruments. The only "plan" you need is the correct fret spacing for the VSL that you choose. I've built similar instruments by simply drawing out the shape on an appropriately thick and wide plank, and using a saber saw to cut out that shape; and then cut away the interior wood, leaving a 1/4" thick rim. After that all you have to do is trace and glue on a top and bottom plank, install frets and tuners, make a nut and bridge, and string it up. You can start with a true 1" thick plank (not a 1x6 or 1x8 which are only 3/4" thick). You can also glue up two thinner planks to make up the thickness you want (a 1x8 for the upper body and neck for example, plus another piece of 1x8 to make the soundbox 1.5" thick). The reason I say this is NOT a dulcimer is that by international musical instrument definition, the Appalachian or Mountain Dulcimer does not have a neck extending beyond the body. Instead, it has a fretboard which extends the length of the body. This Merlin( andtm) similar instruments like the Strumstick(tm) have a neck, and are therefor not dulcimers, regardless of the diatonic not chromatic fret spacing.
  19. The correct name is Send In The Clowns. Written by Stephen Sondheim for the 1973 musical A Little Night Music. "It is a ballad from Act Two, in which the character Desirée reflects on the ironies and disappointments of her life...Sondheim wrote the song specifically for Glynis Johns, who created the role of Desirée on Broadway."
  20. Decent looking one-off. Seems nicely done, but nothing special. I'd probably start a selling price at $350-400 and see if you get any bites.
  21. No maker's label when you look inside either sound hole? Are the bottom or top made from plywood? I don't immediately recognize the off-center sound holes arrangement; nor the fleurs de lys and round designs.
  22. Couldn't begin to guess without a lot of photos to judge by -- closeups of the pinblock side and tuning pin side, bridges, etc. whole back. top and sides, etc.
  23. The dulcimer can be tuned to ANY of the 8 keys: A, B, C, D, E, F, G and their sharps or flats. However, any given set of string gauges will only allow the instrument to be tuned to 3 or 4 keys without strings breaking or being too floppy to sound correctly. Generally speaking, the instrument is tuned to a particular key by tuning the bass string to that note. If you are playing/singing for yourself or with others who agree, then you all tune to the same keynote. Most dulcimers are tuned and played together in the key of D -- the D just one note higher than middle C on a piano. The middle drone and melody strings are then tuned relative to that bass string. The middle drone is usually tuned a musical fifth higher than the bass. In the key of D, that would be A. The melody string can then be tuned to a variety of notes depending on the nature of the music being played. Most commonly the melody string is tuned to A, or to d -- one octave higher than the bass D. These tunings are expressed as DAA and DAd, or as 1-5-5 and 1-5-8 which represent the spacings of the notes. Because of the diatonic nature of the fretboard, the dulcimer will do a great deal of transposing of notes from one key to another. If you have the tabulature, or work out which notes to play for a particular tune in a specific key and tuning, then the same frets will play the song whether you are tuned to DAA or its other key equivalents. AEE, BFF, CGG, DAA, EBB, FCC, and GDD for example all play the same tune with the same fret numbers. For example, the tune Frere Jacques can be expressed as: 3..4..5..3 3..4..5..3 5..6..7 5..6..7 7..8..7..6..5.....3 7..8..7..6..5.....3 3..0..3 3..0...3
  24. What you have is NOT a hammered dulcimer. It is a Salterio mexicano -- a Mexican 'plucked psaltery' with a very old history in that country. It is played with ten fingerpicks and sounds absolutely wonderful. Many, many years ago (30+) at a dulcimer festival in Arizona, I had the great pleasure of meeting and hearing a young Mexican lady who at the time was their national champion player, along with her classical pianist husband. She was phenomenal. Their duets on piano and salterio were otherworldly! Here's the Wikipedia entry on the Salterio: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salterio_(Mexico)
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