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hopefully i can get pictures to post her. i bought a dulcimer off ebay for $40. the bridge and nut are missing, and i am wondering how critical the fix is on these. i would like to do it myself, but if it requires special tools, i'll just hang it on the wall.

it was sold as solid spruce top and hickory sides. i thought it would be a good companion instrument.

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Kimberly, if you have basic hand tools, you could do it yourself.  I've got dulcimers with very basic nuts & bridges and one dulcimer on which they were very finely honed-- they all do the job.  

ok, i bought a couple of pieces of fake bone from the local music shop, but they are way to narrow or thin to fill either nut or bridge space. i don't know how to get around that. can i get thick pieces from the stewmac.co??

   Kim, the bridge and nut are a critical part of how you dulcimer will play and sound. They need to be cut and adjusted properly. If you would send me dementions, I could make you blanks that would fit ,but they would still need to be cut for the string set up and hieght adjusted.

that would be fantastic. i will measure tomorrow. thx

Kevin Messenger said:

   Kim, the bridge and nut are a critical part of how you dulcimer will play and sound. They need to be cut and adjusted properly. If you would send me dementions, I could make you blanks that would fit ,but they would still need to be cut for the string set up and hieght adjusted.

How nice of you, Kevin!     You're so right about the importance of properly fitted bridge & nut blanks.  

And Kim ... please try to have patience ... it appears that you have made an excellent purchase. If the only thing wrong is the missing nut and bridge, I think you are going to be really happy with your dulcimer. Since the slots are cut, it takes the computation out of where to put the bridge. Try to get Kevin really good measurements on the depth of the slots as that height, plus the fret height and clearance, minus the depth of the groove for the strings is your 'action height'. It effects not only how easily your instrument is to play, but can effect the tuning as well. I'll look back at the pics, but Kevin will also need to know if the dulcimer is 3 string or 4 (or more?). 

I looked again. Four strings :)

Kim,is there a zero fret on this instrument?  I cannot tell from the photo. This dulcimer looks like it should be repaired and played. Ken and Sam have some good ideas going on this one. No rocket science here, just the skill set that these folks have.

Don.

Kim;  send me a PM with your address, and I'll send you a pre-made and slotted nut & bridge.  I had to buy a package of six from Folkcraft awhile back, and have four left, adn you only need two.  They should fit the slot perfectly.  They will probably need sanding on the bottom to reduce the height and lower the strings to proper action height.  I'll detail how to do that in my reply with the N & B.

ok, i just friend requested you so i can pm and send you my address. do i understand this right that i will just place these two pieces in place and string it up?? that would be so cool. i did additional pics in case this helps>



Ken Hulme said:

Kim;  send me a PM with your address, and I'll send you a pre-made and slotted nut & bridge.  I had to buy a package of six from Folkcraft awhile back, and have four left, adn you only need two.  They should fit the slot perfectly.  They will probably need sanding on the bottom to reduce the height and lower the strings to proper action height.  I'll detail how to do that in my reply with the N & B.

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Yes, you should be able to just remove the old nut & bridge. Don't take the string off, just slack them.  Then put the new ones in place, set the strings in the appropriate slots and tighten up.

Then take a nickel and a dime.  Put the dime next to the first fret.  That's how low the strings should be there - just touching the suface of the dime.  Balance the nickel on top of the 7th fret (not the 6+).  That's how high the string should be there.  If the strings are too high, slack them off and remove the nut.  Put a sheet of 100 or 120 grit sandpaper grit side up on a flat surface like a piece of glass or a counter top and sand the bottom of the nut by pushing it back and forth 8 or 10 times.  Put it back on the dulcimer, tighten up the strings and check the dime height again.  Repeat as necessary until the strings just barely touch the dime.  Then do the same things with the bridge and the nickel on top the 7th fret.

Got your address.  I'll be back at the boat tomorrow or Wednesday (I'm housesitting for my Lady) and send the nut & bridge off then.

there is only one string left on the instrument and it is totally slack. i do have a set of strings, and think i understand what you are talking about. i will go it slowly. 

Ken Hulme said:

Yes, you should be able to just remove the old nut & bridge. Don't take the string off, just slack them.  Then put the new ones in place, set the strings in the appropriate slots and tighten up.

Then take a nickel and a dime.  Put the dime next to the first fret.  That's how low the strings should be there - just touching the suface of the dime.  Balance the nickel on top of the 7th fret (not the 6+).  That's how high the string should be there.  If the strings are too high, slack them off and remove the nut.  Put a sheet of 100 or 120 grit sandpaper grit side up on a flat surface like a piece of glass or a counter top and sand the bottom of the nut by pushing it back and forth 8 or 10 times.  Put it back on the dulcimer, tighten up the strings and check the dime height again.  Repeat as necessary until the strings just barely touch the dime.  Then do the same things with the bridge and the nickel on top the 7th fret.

Got your address.  I'll be back at the boat tomorrow or Wednesday (I'm housesitting for my Lady) and send the nut & bridge off then.

For now, you can leave the old string on. After the nut and saddle are adjusted to the correct height, then take the old string off and put the new set on. You will probably be loosening and tightening the string each time you check the height of the new parts. Let the old string be the test unit. If it breaks before you are done, that's still a lot of wear saved from the new strings.When sanding, be careful to hole the part straight vertical so it gets sanded evenly. And keep your fingers clear of the sandpaper. Unless your job has to do with safe cracking!

Paul

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