Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

If it's not a guitar or a bass guitar discussion, and it's got strings, put it here.

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Bill Raymond » Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:31 pm

Look at YouTube for Alex Karas' playing the Theme from The Third Man. He plays melody with his thumb on the fretboard, and a bass note + rhythm with his fingers.
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:18 pm

Thanks, Listened to it. Never realized the old videos with music players existed anymore. CaleyAnn
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:46 pm

I decided to start practising tuning of this bugger. I thought it would be really difficult, but to my surprise, it was really easy with the tuning wrench and the Korg Tuning Meter. I got all the melody strings done. Still have the 4 chords of 4 strings to do. This should tell me if my substitute music wire is correct. CaleyAnn
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Barry Daniels » Thu Aug 16, 2018 11:53 am

I would definitely replace all the strings because there is a large difference between new and old strings in regards to tone and volume.

I recently replaced all the strings on my 40 year old hammered dulcimer and it sounds like new.
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Thu Aug 16, 2018 12:10 pm

Barry, Yes, I will be replacing all of the strings, but I will have to do it a size at a time. It all comes down to money. I purchased replacement tuning pins. I will be replacing the metal rod bridge pieces, as they just keep blackening after I clean them up. I already ordered 8 x D'Addario BW026 80/20 Bronze Wound .026 inches (.66 mm), Single String (BW026) from "Strings by Mail". This firm seems to have fairly reasonable prices. But I think these strings are just plain with no loop or anything. I will have to make my loops, which so far I have had no problem. I will also have to figure out how to cut wound strings down. Somehow I need to take the windings off to the point where I can get the center wire through the tuning pin hole, at least with the larger wound strings.

You said you changed the strings on you hammer Dulcimer. I just listened to several musical pieces on that instrument. They really sound great, and you don't have to scrunch your fingers to play the instrument. I wish I had the skill to make one. Can't afford $1200 for one, and that is apparently a cheap one. CaleyAnn

I did strum the melody strings last night, just to see how they sounded. To my ear they sounded great, but then I am a bit tone deaf.

I thought I would give it a try. I took a very thin red oak stick I cut last night, and gave my Zither melody strings a tap. I ended tapping out two lines of "Ode to Joy". The sound wasn't overwhelming, but the music was understandable. Wow! A hammered Zither. :-) A lot easier than trying to pluck those close together strings. CaleyAnn
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Barry Daniels » Thu Aug 16, 2018 1:27 pm

Building a hammered dulcimer might be a good first build project for you after you get the Zither done. There are construction plans for hammered dulcimers available from several sources.
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Thu Aug 16, 2018 10:44 pm

I got the strings into today, and found they have a ring inside the loop. Unfortunately the ring is too small for my, I believe they are called, hitch pins. So I managed to wiggle the ring out and just use the pre-made loop.

Per instructions on a video, I stretched the string out, and cut it about 2 inches above the tuning pin. I discovered a little tail from the windings, and started pulling, and was able to remove enough so that the wound part does not enter the tuning pin.

But I ran into another problem. This paticular tuning pin, and I would imagine others are the same, is loose. it actually just slides up and down inside the hole. It will take the string, and keep tension on it, but I do not think that is the way it is supposed to work.

So I went back to YouTube, and found a piano expert who talked about loose tuning pins. He uses super thin CA glue to tighten up the hole. He keeps the pin in the hole, and just wicks the CA around the pin. Apparently the CA expands the wood around the pin, making it fit tighter. And apparently the pin can still be turned. He said that piano tuning pins should have about 100-120 on a torque meter, but I douibt that is the same for this Zither. I think that is getting too technical. I just want the holes tightened so that the tuning I do sticks, at least until the string stretches, and requires a tweak to get it back in tune.

If I understand the string stretch, that happens several times for new strings before they finally stay pretty much in tune, but apparently always need checking.

Anyway, these strings are really pretty, a gold colour, and apparently corrosion resistent.

Now I have to find somwhere that sells super thin CA before I can finish installing the strings I just purchased. As I have said, I live in the boonies, and what stores we have generally do not sell anything but necessities. I doubt CA is considered a necessity. CaleyAnn
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:21 am

Ive a question about what strings will work with this instrument. For the most part I have been able to order bronze wound strings up to .064, but I have two strings, .080 and .082 that are needed. I cannot find a .082 string anywhere, and the only .080 strings are nickel wound electric guitar strings. Can you use an electric guitar string on an acoustic type instrument?

If I cannot obtain these two strings, I will have to just go with smaller sized strings, and hope I can hit the note in a higher octave.

The melody strings are just fine sounding, but the way the chord strings are grouped, it is really strange sounding. I'd almost prefer a guitar type Zither that only has strings above a fret bar and then melody strings. But then, those type of Zithers have a strange sounding melody set of strings. I bet it is just my poor hearing that is giving me problems, but I just need to discover those last two strings to complete a new set, and finally finish upgrading this Zither. CaleyAnn
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Sat Aug 18, 2018 11:32 am

You can find heavier gauge strings at Harpguitarmusic .com. They are not cheap and very long, so I would buy 1 and make two out of it.
Rather than wiggling the ball ends out of the strings I have found it easier to take pliers and crush the "balls" to remove them. I found this worked better and made it less likely to snap the loop, when I wanted a Loop end string.
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Sat Aug 18, 2018 11:59 am

Thanks, I just ordered 2 of the .080 strings. They will have to do for the .080 and .082 strings on this Zither. I get the feeling that my measurements are probably a bit weird. The .080 actually measured about .0805, and the .082 actually measured about .08105. I wonder if that is because of the poorer tolerances back in the 30's when making these strings, or that they are just stretched, causing them to be odd measurements, or maybe both. Anywho, thanks for the line on my last two strings It is just a maatter of waiting on them to arrive.

Nice thing is I found sellers who beat Amazon prices hands down, sometimes by almost half. I guess the behemoth Amazon has huge overheads they have to pay for. CaleyAnn
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Barry Daniels » Sat Aug 18, 2018 3:04 pm

You should be able to get CA glue at any local store that should work for this purpose. But be careful with technique. The pin could get stuck in the hole permanently. You might try putting a coat of wax on the pin so the glue won't stick to it.
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:17 pm

I purchased a bottle from Amazon. I have a lot of those little slip on nozzles with the long skinnt neck so t hat you can place the glue in harder to reach places. I will take the pin out and stick those in the hole, then squirt some CA on the sides. I had also thought about the pin sticking. CaleyAnn
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:50 pm

The CA glue did the job of tightening up the hole. Only problem was I put too much in, and it pooled at the bottom of the hole. Couldn't see how the glue was going in with that little tube down in the hole.

But not to worry. I used a smaller drill bit than the hole diameter, and twisted it a lot, and eventually the glob of extra CA popped out with the drill bit.

The hole is still oversized at the top, but the lower half seems to be just right; actually it was a chore getting the tuning pin twisted in.

Thank goodness for the internet, and YouTube. If I have a thing I wish to do, I just check out the site, and usually there is something just exactly what I need, or at least close enough to help with the problem I am trying to solve.

Hopefully I will not have a lot of these oversized holes. CaleyAnn
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Tue Aug 21, 2018 11:51 pm

Report on fixing other loose holes. Some of the holes were so big that just CA did not do the trick. It firmed up the sides of the holes, but did not make the wood expand enough.

I have done other reading, and one of the methods is to use various materials to fill things in. One mentioned using electrical shrink tube over the pin, but I have to imagine that is for super over sized holes.

Another was to use cardboard. Again, just a bit too thick after I have tried with the CA. So I took a guess and used bond paper. I cut enough to fill in half the hole. In other words, I did not circle the hole with paper, only circled half of it.

I then inserted the tuning pin, and turned it until it got to the point where I want it, so I can start string winding. The paper definitely tightened up the hole. I just tore the excess paper sticking above the hole off.

I'll have to see just how long this fix lasts. I get the feeling it will be fine until I unwind a string to replace it. Then I will have to replace the sliver of paper to make things tight again.

This old instrument had a ton of problems that you just do not know about just looking at it. Most of the problems I have found when I started taking things off, or apart. I guess that is good, as I have learned a lot from this experience. I doubt the instrument will ever be as nice sounding as when new, but hopefully it will provide some enjoyment.

Right now I am making insert cards for under the strings so I can play music by plucking the string that matches the song music note. Next to that note I am also placing the number of the chord that plays at the same time you are plucking the melody strings. I took this idea from the little basic trapazoidal Zithers that are basically childrens instruments, and adapted it for this instrument. Yes, this is another area I have never delved into, so it is taking some time to develop even one short piece of music. Still having trouble reading music sheets. The bars/lines going across the music sheet that contain the music notes are just too close together for my poor eyes to use

CaleyAnn
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Barry Daniels » Wed Aug 22, 2018 11:53 am

Electrical heat shrink, cardboard and CA are not going to work well. The best and permanent way to fix oversize holes is to add some wood. If you have a wood plane, make some shavings of maple. Then find a shaving curl that is long and wide enough to fill the gap. Place some wood glue in the hole and spread a little bit on the shaving by pulling it though glue covered fingers. Place it in the hole and insert some type of plastic plug into the hole to clamp it. Then re-drill the hole with a proper sized drill bit. This is the technique used to repair violin tuning peg holes.
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Wed Aug 22, 2018 1:32 pm

Barry, I was wondering how I could use wood. Unfortunately I do not own a hand plane. Guess it is time to purchase one. I cannot afford a $100+ Stanley. Do you recommend one that is somewhat multi-purpose. The reason is I live in a very small house, and have not garage or covered patio. So everything I have gets stuck in a 10x10 metal shed, or in the tiny bedroom I have. So I need to keep the amount of stuff I have at a minimum. CaleyAnn
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Barry Daniels » Thu Aug 23, 2018 10:54 am

I bought my Stanley planes off eBay. I waited until nice, non-rusty, older planes came up for sale and pounced on them. When I bought them about 10 years ago, they typically ran for $40 or $50. Once they are tuned up and sharpened, they work wonderfully.
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Mon Sep 03, 2018 12:29 am

I thought I would post a picture of the Zither with the new strings. Sorry for the blurry photo. Just could not seem to get a good focus. I think the golden colour of the strings contrasts with the black nicely.

This is a 4 Chord Zither with melody strings. I tried to figure out what the chords were, but am just not smart enough to do so, even with all the info on the internet These notes are grouped as follows CGCE, GGBF, FACF, and AACE. The melody sstrings are paired, starting with C and going through the notes twice, and ending up with a third set of C strings. I guess that means there are two octaves of these strings plus the one extra C set

I still have a few more tuning peg holes to work on. Seems a few are left that still let the tuning peg slip a little when the strings are tightened. Othat than those, it sounds fairly good.

Now all I have to do is learn how to play something on it. Getting this back to where it almost sounds OK was fun. It does sound a bit flat, but the strings are tuned to what the notes on the instrument showed. Maybe the newer made strings just sound different than the older made ones. Or maybe I chose the wrong string composition. CaleyAnn
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Zither New Strings.jpg
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Barry Daniels » Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:27 am

I think I mentioned previously that new strings sound a LOT brighter than old strings so you may want to get all new strings on there.
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Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:51 am

Barry, All of those strings are new, as are the hitch pins, and tuning pegs.

The reason the instrument sounds weird is maybe because I do not know how to play a lap harp. I'm going to try to make some music sheets that I can slip under the strings, so they can guide me on where to pluck the strings with a pick. Then all I have to do is figure out how to use the available chords with the melody strings.

What is strange is that the instrument has paired melody strings. Many of tahe more modern instruments I have been able to see the notations on do not have paired melody strings. If athere are two C notes next to each other, they generally are a C and a C#, or some such. I am wondering if maybe the paired strings were meant to be tuned like this, but probably not, as they are not annotated on the surface that way.

I am still figuring out things about these instruments. It took me time to figure out how the strings were set up. Before I was trying to get all the strings even, and finally realized they were grouped in fours with the chords and pairs with the melody strings, with larger gaps between. CaleyAnn
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