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instrument kit recommendations please

GUEST,TIA 24 Oct 05 - 08:17 PM
Don Firth 24 Oct 05 - 08:29 PM
Helen 25 Oct 05 - 03:50 AM
Cluin 25 Oct 05 - 03:57 AM
JohnInKansas 25 Oct 05 - 05:10 AM
Mr Happy 25 Oct 05 - 05:11 AM
mooman 25 Oct 05 - 05:20 AM
GUEST,TIA 25 Oct 05 - 08:47 AM
Sorcha 25 Oct 05 - 09:13 AM
JohnInKansas 25 Oct 05 - 04:40 PM
beardedbruce 25 Oct 05 - 04:47 PM
beardedbruce 25 Oct 05 - 04:58 PM
Grab 25 Oct 05 - 07:53 PM
JohnInKansas 25 Oct 05 - 09:40 PM
Gypsy 25 Oct 05 - 11:31 PM
GUEST,Val 26 Oct 05 - 05:54 PM
Jon W. 26 Oct 05 - 06:46 PM
Grab 27 Oct 05 - 04:17 PM
JohnInKansas 27 Oct 05 - 04:33 PM
Sorcha 27 Oct 05 - 05:39 PM
GUEST,Mooh 27 Oct 05 - 08:50 PM
beardedbruce 28 Oct 05 - 11:26 AM
GUEST 05 Oct 06 - 08:10 PM
Dave Hanson 06 Oct 06 - 04:14 AM
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Subject: instrument kit recommendations please
From: GUEST,TIA
Date: 24 Oct 05 - 08:17 PM

My middle daughter (11) plays several string and wind instruments. she has decided she wants to build an instrument (not fussy which). Can anyone recommend a kit or kit maker that will allow her to end up with a decent instrument (provided it's put together right) that won't hurt Dad's bank too much? Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

Tim


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Oct 05 - 08:29 PM

Hi, Tim--

You might find something that will fill the bill HERE. I don't know anything about them, but they seem to have a pretty good selection.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: Helen
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 03:50 AM

I have a Celtic harp built from plans but they also sell kits at various stages of making depending on how much work you want to put into it.

Cambria Harps

The reason I chose Markwood kit, now sold by Mountain Glenn is that the designer, Mark Bolles wrote a series of very informative and enlightening articles in the Harp Journal years ago. He explained why a harp should be designed around the strings rather than designing the harp and then working out which strings should go on it. It's all to do with physics of sound and the harmonic curve, but he made it all make a lot of sense.

For a simple looking harp it has a very good sound, so I think that Mark Bolles knew what he was talking about. It wasn't a haphazard outcome, it was well planned and well designed. (Unlike some of the less professional harps I have heard about.) I have a Markwood Cambria 34 which a friend of mine built from the plans and I bought the strings and hardware from Markwood as well.

I love the sound of this harp. It is full and strong, but has a beautiful clear and mellow tone. It is lightweight for its size but this doesn't detract from its good qualities at all.

I highly recommend using the Markwood strings because of the string analysis they do which creates the best possible gauge and composition for the harp. (I use Markwood strings on the 3 harps I have had - the sound quality has been improved dramatically on the two non-Markwood harps.)

I also investigated the spruce soundboard and decided that it was worth the investment. Spruce is very strong but can be cut very thin so that the vibrations of the sound are enhanced. (Don't ask me the scientific technicalities of this!!) But, the heavier/thicker the soundboard the less sound projection you will have.

I have had my Cambria 34 for nearly 13 years now and I still think that it is one of the better harps I have ever heard for its size, and definitely worth it compared with what you would get for the same price on some other harps.

(Usual disclaimers: No connection with the Markwood or Mountain Glenn companies - just a very very satisfied customer.)
Helen (in Australia, so it was mail order)

Helen


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: Cluin
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 03:57 AM

Stew-Mac has some decent kits. The campfire mandolin looks like a good starter.

I'm thinking of getting one of those Triple O guitar kits for a winter project.


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 05:10 AM

Some 11 y.o. kids may be prepared to work with a kit, but the wants to build an instrument (not fussy which) sounds as if the "want" is a little vaguely formed.

Perhaps one of the basic books on building instruments should be considered before getting her into a major project?

A couple that are often recommended, and generally fairly easy to find:

Making and Playing Musical Instruments, Botermans, Dewit, Goddefroy, University of Washington Press, should be around $20 US and shows how to make a number of instruments from "primitive trumpets" using garden hose to fairly sophisticated things requiring a fair amount of "whittlin'" but using mostly simple materials. (Your kid would probably enjoy this one even if you don't apply it to choosing a kit for her.)

The Amateur Wind Instrument Maker, Trevor Robinson, University of Massachusetts Press, at about $18 (US) when I got mine gives pretty detailed dimensions and instructions for flutes, recorders, etc. A few real "ancient instruments" are included. This is a much more advanced book, and most instruments here would require some skills and a bit of machinery - or a kit. It probably is more advanced than your kid will want to try to work from, but looking through it might give her a better idea of what kinds of instruments to look for, and might give you a better idea of what to look for in a kit - even if you choose a much different sort of instrument.

Probably the absolute simplest "real instrument kit" you could get for a typical kid at this age would be a mountain (lap) dulcimer. I don't see a kit for one at the links given above, but a few inquiries should find a decent one for under about $150 (US). A "playable" result is fairly easy to get with most of the kits I've seen, and most will make a pretty nice instrument with a little care in the assembly and finishing.

John


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: Mr Happy
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 05:11 AM

have a look at the kids stuff pages, there's piles of diy instrument projects there!


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: mooman
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 05:20 AM

I have never built an instrument from a kit but have made several different types as part of my instrument repair training.

One of the most pleasing projects I ever did was a harp and it is a splendid instrument to learn (not that I ever really did and I passed it on to a more dersrving owner when I left the UK!). I know that several manufacturers sell a reasonable-priced kit for "Celtic" harp (Irish or Welsh). Besides Cambria, as mentioned above, another such is the French company Camac.

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: GUEST,TIA
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 08:47 AM

Thanks for the tips. Checked out Stew-Mac. The teardrop dulcimer fits the budget, and the instructions don't seem too tricky. Plus it'll be quite a bit easier to play than a harp (I think... is this true?).

Thanks all.


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: Sorcha
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 09:13 AM

Yes, true. MUCH easier.


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 04:40 PM

The dulcimer should be an excellent choice for a first kit for your daughter.

You will need a clear flat workspace for her. Since there will be several glue steps, each of which should be allowed a few hours or overnight for drying before going to the next step, plan on having the space occupied for about a week, perhaps. More or less depending on how impatient - or fussy - she is about getting everything "just right."

The normal recommendation for lap dulcies is a "white glue." The easiest to find in my area is probably "Elmer's" but you should get a "wood grade" - not just the paper glue. Elmer's Wood Glue is okay but I've had a few performance failures with it on moderately loaded joints, and would suggest "Titebond II" or "Loctite Wood Worx" as somewhat better. A lumber or hardware outlet should have adequate ones.

Any of these glues can be cleaned up nicely with a slightly damp paper towel if you get the spills and "squeeze out" before they dry.

Depending on the assembly sequence your kit uses, you'll likely want "a lot of clamps." Usually spring type wooden or plastic clothes pins work nicely, and if the instructions call for it, a bag of at least 50 is about right for a dulcimer.

It should be fun.

John


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: beardedbruce
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 04:47 PM

Black Mountain Instruments makes a good kit, for dulcimers. I suggest NOT getting the Phillipine Mahogany, the Cherry or Walnut sound much better. Easy to build, pre-fretted.


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: beardedbruce
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 04:58 PM

http://www.blackmtninstruments.com/product6.html


I made a number of them... The only negative with mine were that they are set up as three strings, 1st doubled. If you reset as a four string, the fretboard is a little narrow. Those were early 80's...


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: Grab
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 07:53 PM

I've not done any building myself, but I've investigated preparatory to having a go (at some undefined time in the future when I get "free time" :-). Best guess would be something that doesn't require sides bending - everything else can be done using standard tools.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 09:40 PM

Grab -

Unfortunately there are few popular conventional instruments that don't need a bend or two. In the thin strips used for sides on smaller instruments, it's not really all that dificult to set up to do simple bending. Temperatures that you need are at the top end of what you can get with a conventional "steam iron," and it's surprising how easily you can work a strip of reasonably thin wood to the shape you need. Wider strips, as for a guitar, or anything involving thick(er) parts will be easier with a little sophistication in your heater. The wood you select for the bent parts has a lot to do with how easily it goes. Some bend easily and some just fight with you.

For smaller instruments there's really no need to be afraid of trying something with a bit of curl.

Of course, sensible people have reasons other than fear for avoiding some activies, so make your own judgements.

John


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: Gypsy
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 11:31 PM

Musikits is pretty good. have done the hurdy gurdy, and the podium music stands, both kit and plans. Pretty bullet proof kits, from my experience. They also have cardboard kits...........might be an idea, before you invest too heavily.


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: GUEST,Val
Date: 26 Oct 05 - 05:54 PM

I second the motion re: MusicMakers kits (musikits.com). I've built their Shepherd lap harp (remarkably loud & decent tone for a small harp) and have a kit for the Git-a-long Guitar which I haven't assembled yet (needing a small guit-box to fit into a kayak & am tired of the tinny tone of the Martin Backpacker - but that's another story)

Anyway, the kits are well made with minimal fussing needed to make them go together, the instructions are clear & easy, and the sound of the instruments is at least acceptable.

AND they offer quite a variety of instrument kits.


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: Jon W.
Date: 26 Oct 05 - 06:46 PM

An invaluable web resource is the Musical Instrument Maker's Forum (www.mimf.com) if you get into trouble, need to ask questions, or even just want to show off your instrument when it's completed.


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: Grab
Date: 27 Oct 05 - 04:17 PM

Sorry John, I wasn't very clear there. What I meant was that there are kits (from StewMac and others) that have the sides pre-bent for you.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 27 Oct 05 - 04:33 PM

Grab -

Nearly all kits will have pre-bent parts, and with any of them it doesn't matter much how the part got to the shape it is - you just put them together. But it's a lot of fun to forgo the kit and do it all yourself. The best sounding lap dulcie I built was all from boatyard scrap. If you're even a bit "woodworky" by inclination, it's really not all that hard to set up for simple bending.

Now those "carved tops" on the fiddles, that sort of look all bent out of shape but aren't, are a real challenge I haven't been up to facing. Not so much that it would be too difficult, but it would require more patience and time than I've had to invest.

John


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: Sorcha
Date: 27 Oct 05 - 05:39 PM

I do NOT reccomed Hughes Dulcimer Kits from Denver Colorado. The company name is Hughes Duclimer, but they have other kits as well. My harp needed MAJOR modifications to be playable.


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: GUEST,Mooh
Date: 27 Oct 05 - 08:50 PM

There's an International Violin mandolin kit waiting to be completed in my shop. It looks decent enough though the fingerboard will be replaced with a radiused ebony one. I am waiting for the humidity to stabilize for the winter before starting.

I once assembled a harp kit for a friend and it was the worst experience. Nothing was measured correctly, and the woods were not fully dried.

Grizzly (www.grizzly.com) has kits and an online catalogue. The mandolin neck join looks suspect but many of their parts are good.

Good luck.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: beardedbruce
Date: 28 Oct 05 - 11:26 AM

And of course on can always go to Martin- The 1833 shop has kits of most models available. Not cheap, or easy to build, but quality materials...

http://www.martinguitar.com/1833/catalog.php?cat=Kits+Parts+%26+Tools


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Oct 06 - 08:10 PM

Nice to know my work is still holding up after all these years.
s/ Mark Emery Bolles


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Subject: RE: instrument kit recommendations please
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 04:14 AM

Stew/Mac and IV [ International Violins ] mandolin kit have got excellent reviews on the Mandolin Cafe.

eric


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