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Jean Ritchie dulcimer w geared tuners?

Sandynewlap 09 Apr 12 - 10:19 AM
John P 09 Apr 12 - 01:54 PM
catspaw49 09 Apr 12 - 02:03 PM
catspaw49 09 Apr 12 - 02:34 PM
Ross Campbell 09 Apr 12 - 06:11 PM
Sandynewlap 09 Apr 12 - 06:35 PM
catspaw49 09 Apr 12 - 08:14 PM
JohnInKansas 09 Apr 12 - 09:17 PM
Mark Ross 09 Apr 12 - 09:29 PM
catspaw49 09 Apr 12 - 09:33 PM
Sandynewlap 09 Apr 12 - 09:38 PM
catspaw49 09 Apr 12 - 09:53 PM
JohnInKansas 10 Apr 12 - 02:04 AM
GUEST 10 Apr 12 - 06:28 AM
GUEST,leeneia 10 Apr 12 - 02:52 PM
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Subject: Jean Ritchie dulcimer w geared tuners?
From: Sandynewlap
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 10:19 AM

I've got a Jean Ritchie dulcimer (it's my daughter's actually), made by Morris Pickow, and our family considers it a treasure. The trouble is that with the arthritis in my hands, I simply CANNOT tune it. It has those beautiful hand-carved wooden tuners, and they require a lot of strength to move at all. So the question is, should I alter this beautiful instrument by added geared tuners? What do folks think?


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Subject: RE: Jean Ritchie dulcimer w geared tuners?
From: John P
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 01:54 PM

From a player's perspective, put geared tuners on it and make it easier to play, no matter the condition of your hands. There are some very nice looking ones available that don't unduly muck up the appearance of instruments.

From a lover of old instruments standpoint, leave it alone and get another one with geared tuners to play on, if someone else is going to play it as is. I'd prefer to see an altered instrument than an instrument hanging on the wall.


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Subject: RE: Jean Ritchie dulcimer w geared tuners?
From: catspaw49
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 02:03 PM

No......Get some #0000 Steel Wool and a stick of THIS STUFF. You can use soap but I've always had better success using the "peg dope".............

Steel wool the surface of the pegs to clean them and then the holes. Remember you are cleaning NOT reshaping.....don't go nuts, although you'd have a long way to go before this became an issue. Now apply the peg dope as directed and voila!!! Working pegs!

This is an easy procedure and one known to most fiddlers worldwide. You have a beautiful instrument....don't muck it up with geared tuners. If you are afrain for some reason to try this yourself, you shouldn't be......but if you are see a local luthier and they can fix you up.


Spaw


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Subject: RE: Jean Ritchie dulcimer w geared tuners?
From: catspaw49
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 02:34 PM

I hadn't read your post Johnas the time diff was me looking up a source for peg dope and making the link. What I find interesting is that we both used "muck."


Spaw


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Subject: RE: Jean Ritchie dulcimer w geared tuners?
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 06:11 PM

You might consider Planetary geared tuning pegs for violin, viola & cello which presumably share the appearance of your original pegs. You would retain the traditional look of the dulcimer but have a more manageable tuning peg.

Haven't used these on a fiddle or a dulcimer yet, but I am considering it for a nice Appalachian dulcimer given to me by Ron Baxter a few years ago. Neil Brook of Preston, Lancashire occasionally uses planetary geared pegs on his hurdy-gurdies where the appearance demands pegs, but also fits standard geared tuners for ease of use where that's the important consideration.

Ross


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Subject: RE: Jean Ritchie dulcimer w geared tuners?
From: Sandynewlap
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 06:35 PM

John P, this is exactly the dilemna! Catspaw, I'm not sure that even with peg dope I'd be able to move these pegs with my messed-up hands. It sounds like the right place to start, though, and if it doesn't work, I'm still better off than I was. Then I can re-think. I'm REALLY reluctant to alter this instrument!


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Subject: RE: Jean Ritchie dulcimer w geared tuners?
From: catspaw49
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 08:14 PM

I hope you can make it work out for you. If not the JohnP's Grover's are an option. You might also try a local luthier as I suggested and depending on where you live that might work out. Warren May in Berea Kentucky makes extemely beautiful Appalachian Dulcimers and makes his own pegs too. Especially with a vintage instrument made by Jean's Uncle-in-law you might consider that...........

BTW....Before her stroke back in 2009, Jean used to post here some good bit and it was always great info when she did as well as being her own good friendly self. We've had some guest posts from her since but if you want to read her postings 2000-2009, CLICK HERE

Hope you decide to hang around too. We have a ton of App dulcimer threads.....Welcome to the 'Cat


Spaw


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Subject: RE: Jean Ritchie dulcimer w geared tuners?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 09:17 PM

The tuning pegs work exactly like the ones on a fiddle, and the proper method is to "unseat" the peg by pulling it out of the hole slightly. Something like a sixteenth of an inch or less will generally be enough to let the peg turn "almost like free." Then you're pulling against only the string tension. When you get the pitch you wnat, a little push back into the hole should seat the peg so that it holds.

Depending on the tuning, the string tension on a dulcie likely will be a little more than for a fiddle, but shouldn't be unmanageable unless your arthritis is fairly advanced.

Trying to turn the peg while it's fully seated can be really difficult - especially if the peg and hole are well fitted. It also wears out both the hole and the peg.

The peg dope already mentioned does help make things work smoother.

If you "back off" the string tension while "unseating" the peg, it may be easier, and you can brace the heel of the hand against the instrument to "lever" the pin out so that forces on the wrist are minimal. If the arthritis is mainly in the finger joints, you may still have some difficulty.

When you push back in to seat the peg, you only need enough "push" to hold things in tune, so with reasonably well-fitted pegs it shouldn't be too hard.

If you do decide to go with gears, the planetary type (often called "banjo tuners") are frequently enough used on dulcimers to look "almost traditional" to most, and although they usually require a little larger hole than the pegs, they don't "deface" the instrument with the screw holes you need for "guitar style" tuners. They also tend to work a lot smoother and are adjustable so you can get "just enough" holding with minimal turning resistance.

Since any instrument with pegs eventually will "wear out the holes" and require plugging and re-boring, plugging the slightly bigger holes needed for the banjo tuners is theoretically possible should you decide to go back to pegs. The dulcie then will just look like it was "worn out once" and was repaired - if you can find a capable repair person to make the fix for you. If that's really important to you, I'd suggest discussing how well it would work on your particular instrument with a good shop before proceeding; but unless it's a very old and/or "rare" instrument the change to good tuners shouldn't harm it - much.

John


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Subject: RE: Jean Ritchie dulcimer w geared tuners?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 09:29 PM

Try and get some fine tuners like they use for a fiddle,

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Jean Ritchie dulcimer w geared tuners?
From: catspaw49
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 09:33 PM

The most widely used planetary is the Grover's I mentioned above and while I often agree with John in this case I don't.   I have to say that Grover's do not loook "almost traditional." They look like Grover Tuners.   

LOL....On the other hand, there is an old saying about Appalachian Dulcimers that the only tradition is there are no traditions........and that's the truth!


Spaw


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Subject: RE: Jean Ritchie dulcimer w geared tuners?
From: Sandynewlap
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 09:38 PM

Thanks, catspaw! I'm actually not new to mudcat, just an infrequent user/visitor who doesn't know what the heck a cookie is, and only recently finally figured out how to log on again! I've seen your posts many times, always good ones. I started mudcatting back when Jean R used to post fairly frequently - got to meet her once - what a treat! I can't quite remember if I've ever met you - have you been to the FSGW Getaway? I've been a regular for the past - uh - 9 years? Anway, I'm going to try the peg dope and steel wool for sure, and see how it goes. And I think I'm inclined to get me my own dulcimer with geared pegs, and leave the other for my daughter to use as-is! It is hers, after all!


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Subject: RE: Jean Ritchie dulcimer w geared tuners?
From: catspaw49
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 09:53 PM

Sounds a great and workable solution!

Never make the getaway although I've been trying since '99 or so. Come by here more!!!


Spaw


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Subject: RE: Jean Ritchie dulcimer w geared tuners?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 10 Apr 12 - 02:04 AM

Spaw -

By "almost traditional" what I meant was that so many dulcimers made more recently do use the gears that a lot of people expect them to look like that.

For traditional, you use baling wire or fence staples for the frets and whittle your own pegs out of the broken handles off'n the hoss brushes - and argue with yer buddies about whether cat gut is better 'n skunk innards for the strings.

I figgered y'all would know that.

John


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Subject: RE: Jean Ritchie dulcimer w geared tuners?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Apr 12 - 06:28 AM

My wife has a Jean Ritchie dulcimer, and although it still has the wooden pegs, when we got Nic Herbert to fit the fourth peg supplied to make it a four-string he fitted fine tuners down on the tailpiece.
For what they are worth I don't think fitting anything that makes it playable would significantly reduce its value. I could be wrong on this.


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Subject: RE: Jean Ritchie dulcimer w geared tuners?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 10 Apr 12 - 02:52 PM

Hi, Sandy. You might like to try my way of playing. Most people play dulcie with a flat pick, but I believe my way is easier on the right hand.

Go to music store and ask to see the thumbpicks. Select a few plastic ones that fit your right thumb. Put a thumbpick on your right thumb. When you play, hold your right hand, palm down, over the strum hollow. Your hand is basically flat. Then pick the melody string with the thumbpick and pluck the other strings with your first, second or third finger(s).

This method allows your hand to be relaxed and fluid, because you aren't holding on to anything.

Also make sure your strings are not too high. You should be able to just fit a nickel under the melody string at the 3rd fret. Strings that are too high give your left hand too much work.

Good luck!

PS I don't hold it on my lap. I stick it to a table with Plasti-tack. Makes it louder and lets my shoulders relax.


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