Sunday, 29 August 2010

Real progress at last!

By getting the sides glued on I feel like I've made some real progress with the dulcimer at last! I'm so embarrassed by my attempts to clamp it all up that I didn't take any photos in case they fell off! But making proper mould to hold one instrument seems a lot of extra work. It's far from perfect (as usual!) and now contains rather a lot of glue mixed with sawdust to fill the gaps around the bottom but I think it will come out OK. (from a distance) Since this photo I have glued on the rosewood cap that sits at the base and cut the six vent slots in the sides that allow the air to move between the bottoms, this is my own slant on the design which yet is to be proved!
Btw on the glider front I have managed to coax my 1980's radio control into life so will get that fitted soon, then it's all down the the weather, it's been raining, windy and quite chilly here and feels like Autumn is all ready here!
Before I go I just have to mention that we went to see Jamie Cullum in concert at the proms on Thursday!!! An amazing evening! We were in the prommers (standing crowd) and were just a few feet from the stage!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Most instrument builders won't even look at plywood but my cigar box ukulele is plywood and I think sounds better than many solid uke's and these are hard times, anyway I like the fact that dulcimer was made from a 1950's? glass fronted cabinet that came from my mother in laws front room, it gives it a some personal history and makes it more folksy! But the top has been niggling me because when I tapped my knuckle the first top I made sounded just dead, no resonant bong,no tone at all, same if I rapped my nails on it, but I noticed the piece from the shelf is different all together! Very loud! So I abandoned the old one and drilled out all the sound holes again, this time using a hole saw to no tear outs as it when though the top of the grain though I forgot to rest it on another piece of wood so I got some nasty rips underneath! Doh!
So obviously even plywood is not all made equal.
Note in the picture I now have the timber for my ebony fingerboard and mahogany staff (that the bit that goes underneath) also note the double bottomed bottom! It means that when you lay it on your lap you aren't stopping the bottom from vibrating, my version will have six vent slots along the sides which is different from the traditional method of gluing lots of small blocks between the two bottoms my own stamp on the design- after all it's an English Handcross hill dulcimer rather than the more common Appalachian Mountain variety!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Sorry for the lack of instrument building blogging but I've been spending some quality time building a 6 foot wing span radio control glider with my 15 year old son as a summer project.Nearly ready to fly!

Dull-cimer? Possibly,I'm completely in unknown territory here and I'm making this recession busting instrument from an old plywood cabinet. What I have discovered is that because the body of a dulcimer doesn't bear the load of the string tension like a guitar it more a box to act as a sound amplifier and back in the day even cardboard dulcimers have been known!
To give my dulc a fighting chance I'm constructing it with a double back, this allows the (inner) back to freely vibrate when you lay it on your lap or stand it on a table. I'm not doing this the traditional way (of course) but am extending the sides right to the bottom and having vent slots in them.
Today I ordered some ebony for the fingerboard and a proper timber for the stock which unknown to me until I placed my order goes underneath the fingerboard to make up the thickness, (a bit like a neck) and is the bit that goes right to the bridge (Thank you David Dyke for you're help!)
Anyhow I'm thinking this dulcimer might sound a little more thin a nasal than the quality solid wood top quality ones I've seen and heard but never mind I quite like that sound I don't want it to sound too guitar like.
More photos and further blogs soon!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Summer update

Just a quick note to say that as you can see by the photo the glider is progessing and we hope tp be able to fly it before the school holidays are over. On a musical theme (which is what this blog is suppssed to be about!) the dulcimer is coming along too and I will post some photos of that soon!