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Everything posted by NoterMan

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. Here's your 27.0" VSL spacing chart in fractions: 1. 2 61/64 2. 5 9/16 3. 6 49/64 4. 8 63/64 5. 10 61/64 6. 11 27/32 6.5 12 45/64 7. 13 1/2 8. 14 31/32 9. 16 9/32 10. 16 57/64 11. 17 63/64 12. 18 31/32 13. 19 27/64 13.5 19 27/32 14. 20 1/4 15. 20 63/64
  8. I agree that working with millimeters is easier than decimal inches. The WFret calculator can give millimeters, fractional inches or decimal inches, and can give Diatonic, Diatonic with 6+ & 13+ and Chromatic frets and much more. I gave decimal inches to show the minor differences between calculators. We can only cut wood to the nearest millimeter or 1/64" anyway...
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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.
  12. 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
  13. That all depends on your VSL. It's not something that we can just say "18 gauge".
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. "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
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Should post this in the Instruments For Sale Thread -- not here. This is where we talk about playing the instrument.
  22. 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.
  23. The only one I've ever used is the Herco Thumb-Flat Pick.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
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