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Brudd

Merlin Dulcimer

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Hi All,

 New member, first post.

Anyone know where to get plans for a Merlin?

Thanks

merlin.jpg

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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.

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I agree with @NoterMan, you're not likely to find a pattern for one as it's a commercial instrument they created on their own pattern.  I use to have one of these and they're definitely carved from a single piece of wood except for the top, which a separate piece laid on the body.

Just want to mention one thing about the tuning / frets on these.  They come tuned DAd, which is fine, but they don't have what would be called a 6 fret on a dulcimer (only 6.5).   The fret pattern is Ionian instead of Mixolydian from the open string, which has a couple consequences: 1) You can't play Mixolydian tunes and 2) It's missing the G note on the middle string (only has G#) which makes forming some chords odd.  3) Modal tuning is problematic.  You can still do it, but the modes will not match the ones on a dulcimer because of the fret pattern differing. 

If you're building one, I'd at least add the regular 6 fret on there.  Also the number of frets is a little low.  You can still play a lot with it, but there are also a lot of tunes will go to the 10th fret, some the 12th.  You may want something with a few more frets for more versatility.  If you do build one, would love to see some pics 🙂

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19 hours ago, NoterMan said:

Hi Brudd:

Merlin is a brand name, you aren't going to find plans for that. 

Ok, I didn't know, I thought it was in the stick dulcimer family or at least what I've read is a stick dulcimer.

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 idea looks pretty straight forward, what I'm looking for are the necessary measurements and types of wood to use.

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.  

There are a number of places that call these and strum sticks, stick dulcimers so thats why I referred to them as such. thanks for the info.

 

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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!😮

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9 hours ago, NoterMan said:

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!😮

It's a learning curve . . . Well, as long as I have some attention here, I do want to build a Dulcimer but don't know what wood is good, is plum a good option for body/back? . . . I have a 4 foot log thats been seasoning in  the garage for 4 years that looks like it will have awesome figure to it.

 

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From what I can find on plum it should be similar to a very hard maple.  It'll probably make a bright sounding instrument.  And it looks like it glues and finishes well, so you should be fine.

Dulcimers are commonly made out of walnut, cherry, mahogany and sometimes have a spruce, redwood, maple or butternut tops.  But really they're made out of all sorts of woods.  Even cardboard.

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Posted (edited)

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!!

Edited by NoterMan

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3 hours ago, NoterMan said:

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!!

Thanks for the great info on plum wood. It shouldn't "go all squirrely" when cut but I guess you never really know.

Right now I have to get new tires for my bandsaw, they decided to give out as soon as I started cutting one of the larger branches of this plum, ebay is a great place for stuff like that.

When I get it cut up the only thing I would ask for is the postage and a picture when you are finished.

Ultimately, I'm going to be making the Dulcimer for one of my daughters and either the "Merlin" type or a Ukulele for her twin sister. I've made Ukulele's before but it would be my first Dulcimer.

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Wow!  That would be great!  Think of that Merlin shape -- which is actually a Renaissance shape -- as a Ukulele without all the extra frets!

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14 hours ago, Brudd said:

Ultimately, I'm going to be making the Dulcimer for one of my daughters and either the "Merlin" type or a Ukulele for her twin sister. I've made Ukulele's before but it would be my first Dulcimer.

If you're familiar with building a Ukulele, you could make it as a 3 or 4 string with diatonic frets and you'd be all set.  I've seen a couple like that before:

Druid Moon by Folkcraft Bobbi-Jo Dulcilele Hybrid Dulcimer / | Reverb

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While you're working on your bandsaw, maybe you'll find this video and link to sawblades.com helpful.  Previously I have struggled with trying to cut thin slices of wood from a log on my bandsaw.  The information in this video gave me some really good information for picking the right blade for such a task.  I really like the blades I got from sawblades.com.

Dave

 

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