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Everything posted by NoterMan

  1. The only disadvantage to a hammered dulcimer is carting it around to and at festivals and such. However many folks use some form of collapsible cart these days, which makes it easy. Like Ardenvoir, I think you can be perfectly happy playing by yourself at home, but getting out and getting together with others challenges you to learn and improve you skills. I don't know where you live, but I strongly advise getting involved in a local dulcimer club, even if it means an all day trip once a month to get together with other HD and MD players.
  2. I tabbed it out in DAA years ago, and play it once in awhile. But like KWL I've never seen published dulcimer tab or sheet music. Have you checked Steve Seifert's Join the Jam books? It might possibly be in there. Also check with Sam Edelson and Tull Glazner they do a lot of modern music.
  3. OK then. I understand wanting to make pegs, I guess. Here's a link on how to make and use a peg shaft taper cutter using your reamer and some scrap hardwood. Rustic but effective and 'way less than the $90+ for a commercial peg shaper. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kt75XRPvimU Getting the taper of the peg and the taper of the hole to match is the critical part of making wooden pegs work well.
  4. That's the one. The price has gone up a bit since I bought mine, I guess. Unless you're really into historical accuracy building a replica, modern violin tuning pegs work great, look good, and are pretty darn cheap. And with a reamer you drill regular 1/4" holes through the scroll head, then turn the reamer in to open the holes out at the correct taper to make a perfect fit. You also adjust how much of each peg you want sticking out. Here's a link to International Violin, where I get the pegs I use. I usually get 3/4 size pegs for a regular size dulcimer for under $1 each for plain Ebony or $1.75 each for Rosewood (there are lots of styles): https://www.internationalviolin.com/Shop/accessories-bridges-chinrests-endpins-fingerboards-tailpieces-and-more/pegs/violin-pegs
  5. Lookin' forward to hearing/seeing you play that new friend! No reason your teardrop or elliptical (slightly different) can't be at least as wide as the wide bout on your hourglass. I can't remember if we got the final specs on your build... Anyway, 6"-8" is just fine. Sometimes width is defined by the wood you have handy... The cubic inches "under the hood) are a major definer of the mellowness of the sound. Less cubic (1.5" or less) is more "high silvery", where 2-3" is more mellow... Pear wood is more than hard enough for pegs, and would be beautiful. Do you have the taper cutter and taper reamer for making the holes and tapering the shafts? If not, I can recommend a couple things. IMHO it's worth a few bucks for the special taper reamer (about $15). With the reamer you can also make a simple but functional shaft taper jig. There are a couple of design possibilities for the scroll head. First is to make it from one solid block of wood. The other is to built it up with two side plates, a head piece and disks for the scroll. Either way you really do want to have it "bottomless" to make putting strings on a lot easier. I would suggest starting a new thread for your teardrop, so that posterity can more easily see what is going one with each dulcimer build.
  6. Any things to report Dylan? How did the tuning to the sound samples go?
  7. Good ideas, DulcimerJim. Although your #1 won't work if there is little or no instrument "behind the saddle" like some of my instruments. Otherwise, I suspect this is what Melody is referring to. The drawback -- to my ear -- is that your picking is so close to the bridge that you get a 'sharper', more tinny sound. Your #2 idea seems to me to be the most all around useful.
  8. I don't think there is any "standard" anchoring place. Each player finds whatever works for him/er self. It could be the edge, or a sound hole, or the side of the fretboard. The "anchor" is just resting a finger, or the edge of the picking hand. Experiment and see what works for you. Start by watching several of Bings videos without the sound, so you focus on his hand technique, and see what you can discover where/how he is 'anchoring'.
  9. Do you mean an actual object like a pickguard, or just a location somewhere on the top? I have seen the occasional dulcimer with a designed "wrist rest" at the tail end -- a sort of wooden arch over the the bridge area. Most players, certainly the expert players who I know, don't anchor or rest their wrist when strumming. We're moving up and down the fretboard with the pick, so that the strum is happening closest to the center of the vibrating string as its length changes. Personally, I'm an 'outie' strummer more than an 'innie' or back-and-forth strummer, so I often use my little finger to tap the instrument back on my lap during the 'backstroke' from my out-strum.
  10. I only ever put about two loops on the tuning pegs. Through the hole, around and back through the hole again; and trim off the rest. A zillion loops around the peg before you come up to tune does nothing to make tuning any easier and just makes the tuning head look cluttered. Where did that melody string break? At the tuner end or the loop end or in the middle? With those gauges of strings on that VSL you should NOT be trying to tune up to the key G. A set of strings like that can tune from BFF to FCC without being too floppy or too tight, but they will not allow you to tune up to key of G without breaking usually the bass string. Admin posted above good audio clips of what the D tunings should sound like. I suggest you try to duplicate one of those and learn to play it, rather than searching for some 'clear open note' that you associate with dulcimers. Those audio clips are what dulcimer players play in the key of D. We usually play together in the key of D, but as solo performers/players play in anything from B to F without changing strings, and up in G or down in A with different string sets.
  11. You've got the tuning backwards! Tunings are normally, these days, expressed from the bass string to the melody string; not the other way around. Tuning to DAA should have the bass string at D and the A strings 5 notes higher in pitch. A .022 string will almost always break if you try to tune it up to G on a 27" VSL. DAd tuning has the bass string at D, the middle drone string at A and the melody string(s) at d, an octave higher in pitch. If one of your tuners shows the octave as well as the note, you want DAA to all be in the 3rd octave: D3 A3 A3. Key of G tuning is actually G3 d4 d4 because the ds are in the next higher octave. Tuning letterings are usually shown as C' D' E' F' G' A' B' C D E F G A B c d e f g a b c' d' e' etc. I've attached a copy of Ken Hulme's free article called I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What? which is written for new players with little or no musical background. There are answers to many beginner questions like "Which D is D?" and "How Do I Tune This Thing?" I Just Got A.pdf
  12. Make sure you move your right hand as your left hand comes higher on the fretboard; so that your picking is occurring half-way between the fretted location and the nut. That's where the 'action' will be easiest. I'm assuming here that you have a low action height -- at a minimum a "nickel & dime" low height.
  13. Welcome to the dulcimer world Tim! If you have any questions, ask away. There're aren't any dumb questions, just ones you don't ask.
  14. 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.
  15. That's OK, we all have to start somewhere. And somewhen. You'll catch up as we educate you!
  16. 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.
  17. 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".
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
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