Thursday, February 25, 2016

String Replacement ... Continued

My 8 o'clock student showed up this morning with a length of .025 wire in hand and a dulcimer minus its low F# course of strings. Time for a string replacement demo!

We ran into some obstacles, which has inspired me to make an addendum to the article posted on Wednesday, February 17 concerning string replacement.

First, in addition to the missing string ...
I noticed the piece of delrin was gone. That's the little rod that sits on the dulcimer bridge under the strings, sometimes called "bridge caps." Some instruments have a continuous black rod along the length of the bridge. Other instruments, including the one in question, have a separate piece of delrin for each course of strings. These separate pieces of delrin are often color coded black or white to correspond to "marked" and "unmarked" courses. Typically loose - i.e. not glued down - without string tension the delrin may fall to the ground. Do not lose your delrin! If you do, no worries. You can buy more. Check with your builder. Or check with other builders, such as Dusty Strings or Master Works.

Luckily, I have many instruments around the house, including one that has been retired because of structural defects. I guess it is now officially being used for "parts"!

Second, my student's instrument was originally strung using one continuous piece of wire per course of two strings. I hate that. If you break "a" string, you've got nothing! Both strings are gone. Alternatively, if you put on two separate wires and one breaks, you still have one string to play on.

Third, this morning's available wire was long enough to replace one length of dulcimer string 4 times over. That's GOOD, because we needed two strings on that course and sometimes strings break while replacing them. That's BAD because we did not have pre-cut, pre-looped wires. Believe me when I say, it's much easier to put on individual strings that have been pre-cut and pre-looped.

I will spare you all the gory details, but suffice it to say that I did break the supplied wire several times. Ended up using a wire I had on hand, pre-looped, size .026 ... close enough! Successfully installed that wire without incident. I finally was successful in looping a length of the provided wire by hand and installing it as the second string. Woo hoo!

Then tonight, I read this:
"Besides the tensile strength of the wire itself, the next most important thing about the wire is the loop that goes around the hitch pin. If you do not get this exactly right, you will never get the higher tension wires to tune. You also have to consider how many coils you want to take for each loop. If you take too many coils then you will weaken the loop or the loop will cut into the side bridge when the wire is tightened. If you take too few, the loop will un-twist."  ~ from Stringing the Dulcimer, Everything Dulcimer

"Exactly right"? Ha ha! I guess we'll see how long that second string lasts!

Let's review.  What have we learned?

  • Hang on to your delrin
  • Order pre-cut, pre-looped wires from your supplier

Please do share your own stories of stringing adventure!

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