New to Music Instruments

New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:45 pm

Hi, I didn't find an introduction area, so I am just diving in somewhere to see what happens. I have always loved music. It has always rattled around in my brain, without any way to get out via a musical instrument. I am soon to be 69 years young, and really wanted to try learning things that I can do with the hands. Recently I purchased a Yamaha 76 key digital piano, and have played they instrument a little. It's kind of difficult when for some reason I cannot get both hands working together. I guess that is something you learn, though, maybe I am starting too late in life.

I've been listening to many types of instruments on YouTube, and one just caught my attention, the Zithers. I am assuming these are just a different type of harp. There seems to be a ton of variations to the harps. But the Zither seems to be something that just sounded right to my ear.

So I took the plunge and just purchased one, circa 1896, for $50. It was listed as a display model, but after a few emails, the only problem it has seems to be a crack running from top to bottom on the back. The picture shows it very prominently, but I am hoping it is repairable, and this forum is where I hope to get the information to achieve that repair. From the videos on YouTube on guitar crack repair, it seems I need to somehow get short pieces of wood set crosswise inside, over the crack. It looks like about five pieces should achieve some stability to the crack. Next would be somehow bringing both sides of the wood together, if that is needed, or possibly just gluing the crack back together. I don't know what type of glue is required, but I will tell you now that CA of any type and I do not get along at all. I am a disaster with the stuff, getting more on me than the subject, even though my fingers never come in contact with the stuff. Kind of like it migrates through the air to my fingers.

Based on the emails, the string tuning pegs are all intact and firm. So, all I will need to do is replace all the strings, and get them tuned properly. I am trying to find some kind of APP that I can run on my computer, or an inexpensive device I can use, hopefully found on Amazon.

But before I string it, I will have to clean the wood up, and refinish the instrument completely, without, hopefully, ruining the artwork, and the lettering on it.

Since I have never repaired an instrument, I will have to rely on those on this Forum, and just take things very slowly. I would absolutely love to achieve as nice a restoration as I can. If I had the money, I would pay a professional, but then again, this is a cheapie, and not worth the expense. It is a learning experience that I hope I can achieve some success on.

Regards Caley Ann Hand
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Charlie Schultz » Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:24 am

Hi Caley,
A picture would be helpful. I'm not sure if you tried to post one or not, but here's a link to how to post a photo: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=1656
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Sat Jun 23, 2018 10:41 am

Hi Charlie, The package will be mailed this coming Monday from the middle eastern US. So I probably won't receive it until the end of next week at the earliest.

I basically just Googled to find Forums that might be able to help me work on this new adventure. I guess you call it pre-planning.

I get the feeling that I will be waiting even longer, as I find out just what I need to do the work. Probably will need new tools and other things.

Meanwhile I am also accummulating the parts I will need to build a Chromatic Kalimba. My biggest problem is not knowing what some things are called, so I cannot Google properly to find it. One item is a pin that bolts through a wood base. Sticking above the wood near the top is a hole you insert your tine (key), and at the top is a screw to hold the tine in place. I haven't a clue as to what this is called. Not sure it is something sold in the music industry, or it is used for some other application. I saw a gentleman build one of these Chromatic Kalimbas on YouTube, and was absolutely amazed at the skill he showed. The results were wonderful to listen to, even if it was a simple musical ditty.

If nothing else, my new interest, even if I cannot learn to play the things I build or fix, can be given to friends or family. I just love making things, and feeling the excitement of something accomplished, even if it does not come up to the standards of professionals. Its just the adventure I enjoy. Caley Ann
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Steve Sawyer » Sat Jun 23, 2018 11:11 am

Caley - never too old. I'm 68 and just started to learn piano. I figured that after playing guitar (badly) for almost 30 years, I really should learn to read music. Getting both hands working independently is a matter of practicing enough to get the muscle memory to kick in, so that the hands begin to kinda run on auto-pilot. It comes. Just keep at it. I'm using one of the digital/online instructional tools, and it's impressive at least at my level.

I also started building electric guitars a few years ago and am well into my second build.

As Peter suggests, post some pictures of your "problem child" and I'm sure you'll find the help you need here.

Also, any glue can be a disaster waiting to happen. Like any other element of craftsmanship it's a matter of getting to know your materials, how they behave, and what tools are appropriate to the task. There are folks who have built guitars in apartments or on their kitchen table with a minimum tool investment, so the knowledge is more important than the tool box. That said there are all kinds of thingumbobs both purchased and home-made that can be used to get the glue where it's needed and away from where it's not.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Sat Jun 23, 2018 11:37 am

Hi Steve, I just watched another Luthier repair a guitar crack, and his method is so simple. But it does require building one of those thingumbobs.

It seems the glue of choice is thin CA, and also Titebond. First this gentleman used the Titebond. To hold the crack sides in place, he used Neodymn magnets, and also used a weight because one side was still wanting to be high. Once the Titebond had cured, he used thin CA to ensure the wood was bonded together, and cleaned it all up.

Next he drilled some microscopic holes, and used very thin fishing line, where he attached the cleats to. He pulled the cleats up tight on the inside, and used that thingumbob to tighten the fishing line until the cleat was tight on the inside. He repeated the step until all the cleats were in place.

Of course, he constantly was cleaning the glues up, and ensuring the outer wood finish was preserved. There was a lot in this video, and I will have to watch it, and make notes.

The big problem is that the sound hole in a Zither Harp is no where as large as a guitar sound hole, so doing the same thing is going to be very difficult. I'm not sure there will be a way to completely remove the back, and work on it seperately, then put the back on again. The problem is removing something that has been glued 125 years ago, and doing it without damaging the wood.

But I am sure that once I do post photos of all this parts of this instrument, I will be getting lots of suggestions. It will just be a week or so before I can do so. Caley Ann
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Steve Sawyer » Sat Jun 23, 2018 12:37 pm

I am ABSOLUTELY NOT one of the repair experts around here, but I'm probably safe in guessing that an instrument being that old is held together with some kind of collagen adhesive - hide or fish glue. These can be persuaded to come apart with the application of heat and moisture. Folks do that all the time.

Also, I might suggest that you complete your profile indicating your location (helps to know climatic conditions in your area and product/service availability) and allowing members to send you private messages (if someone wants to offer specific advice or send you a document of some kind).
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Sat Jun 23, 2018 12:39 pm

Steve, Oops! I am pretty bad at filling in all the parts on the Forums that I belong to. I'll get on it right now.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Mark Wybierala » Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:20 am

Welcome to the best forum I've found for solid advice and guidance. The adventures here never stop.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:44 am

Thanks Everyone. I m just waiting for the instrument to arrive so I can look at it, and take some pictures. It is a Zither type instrument, that has a label inside "Mandolin Harp" It is not from the late 1800's, but is rather a copy done more than likely sometime in the early to middle 1900's. I believe it is a Schmidt re-issue, a Phonoharp 4/30 (No. 2 1/4), circa 1930's, but I could not find a photo on the net that showed the exact same decoration pattern. I get the feeling that the decorations were quite varied between instruments.

As for my other project a Chromatic Kalimba, I really haven't a clue as to what I am doing. I purchased some Red Oak from Home Depot to make the sides and the top. But will have to use some finished Birch ply for the bottom. I purchased a small strip of Walnut for the hold down strips that retain the tines. I need to strip it into two long pieces. I just got my flush cut router bit to remove the extra wood around the sides, and I will have to bevel the edges with a rounded type router bit. I still need to drill three holes in the top, or maybe put a hole on the sides that can serve the dual purpose of handles and sound holes. I've seen it done both ways. I have a lot of finish sanding to do, especially on the top, where I had to join two pieces of wood to make a large enough surface. It's really amatuerish, as it is the first time I have ever done such a joining of wood.

I had a difficult time understanding what the Chromatic scale was until it dawned on me that I had been playing the piano, which uses that scale. At least I know what notes to create now. This first one will probably be terrible, but at least I get the experience of my first to use towards when I create the next one

Caley Ann
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Kalimba Sound Box.JPG
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:18 am

Well, I tried using the flush cut router bit this morning. I did the ends first to try to prevent chip out, and then did the sides. One side went just fine, but apparently either I did something wrong, or the wood had an imperfection that caused a strip of wood to shatter off that side. Was nearly a foot long and about 1/8 inch wide. All I can do now is try to sand things so that it looks as nice as I can make it, and then use that side as the rear of the unit.

My next router job was trying to put on a 1/4 inch round bevel on all four tops sides. Again, disaster, this time my boo-boo. I get the feeling I am just not quite strong enough to balance the router flat, and I ended up causing deeper cuts on the ends I started my cuts on. Again, lots of sanding to try to make the corners blend so that it doesn't look quite so bad.

I just need to wait on my new sandpaper. I lowest grit I have is 240, and I am guessing I need about 800 as a finish grit before staining and then coating it with some kind of clear coat.

I think I can chalk up a lot of my problems with power tools to the severe arthritis in both of my hands and fingers. Definitely makes holding onto things a challenge.

I just realized that this Kalimba is in the wrong place, so I will have to transfer all of this tomorrow, into the correct place
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Steve Sawyer » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:20 pm

Caly - the moderators can help to move these posts to the correct section.

A good trick with routing is to rig up some kind of support so you're just guiding the router instead of supporting AND guiding. Some routers have a "foot" that cn be extended to support the outboard side of the router against the bench. You can also clamp some scrap to the workbench to the same height as your workpiece to support the outboard side of the router.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:32 pm

Steve, I thought I would move the part of this thread that deals with the Chromatic Kalimba, which is basically a type of piano, but there doesn't seem to be anywhere for such instruments. Guess I will leave it here, and when I start the Zither Mandolin Harp restoration, I will start a new thread for that. Most of what is here is about the Kalimba. Cakey Ann
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Steve Sawyer » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:37 pm

I think they could go in the Wind, Percussion, and Miscellaneous and Experimental Instruments section.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Sat Jun 30, 2018 10:55 pm

Hi All, I decided that if I could not figure out what this thing is called, I would draw a rough picture of it, and see if anyone actually knows what it is called. I viewed the construction of a chromatic Kalimba on YouTube, and this is what the person who designed it, used to hold his thick music wire, which acted as the tines for creating each music note. I hope someone knows what it is called. Caley Ann
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Music wire retension post.jpg
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Jim McConkey » Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:18 am

The video says he used M5 eye bolts. M5 is a metric size. There was no screw on top, like you drew. This bolt sat between the holder and bridge and the string went over the holder, through the eye bolt hole, then over the bridge. He tightened the bolt with a nut on the opposite end to secure and tune the wire. You may have to go to an industrial supply house like Grainger or MSC to find these eye bolts.

I really liked his trick of chopping up a steel electrician's fishing tape or wire to make the tines.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:23 am

Guess I missed the description, and somehow made up what I thought I saw. Oh well, I tend to imagine things I need to get from places like Home Depot, only to find that my own mind invented what I am looking for, Kind of difficult to get something no one makes.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Jim McConkey » Mon Jul 02, 2018 2:20 pm

Look at his test jig at exactly 10:00 and the assembly process at 15:38. For anyone else following, we are talking about this video.

This style of eye bolt is available at Home Depot. It would do the job, but wouldn't be quite as pretty as the ones he used.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Mon Jul 02, 2018 2:28 pm

The eyelet diameter outer dimensions are way too big, as are the inner dimensions. In order to take 1/8 inch wide tines, I would probably need eyelets with an inner diameter of no more than 3/6 inch.

Looks like I am going to have to just wing it, using blocks with strips of wood, and whatever the little pieces of thick wire are that sit in grooves, fore and aft of the hold down point.

The one nice thing about this designers setup that did the video, is that each individual tine can be adjusted to get exactly the correct tone. I get the feeling that just laying six tines seperated by say 1/4 inch, and held down with a mahogany strip of wood will not sound quite as nice. Probably sound thunky, which is what most of these little Kalimbas sound like to my ear.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Jim McConkey » Mon Jul 02, 2018 9:00 pm

The only real use of the eye bolt is to tighten the tine down against its two supports, so the only place the eye contacts the tine is at the top. The inner diameter is irrelevant if it is big enough for the tine to fit through. The hardware store eye bolts will do that just fine, just be clunky. Look and see if you have a Grainger, MSC, or similar hardware supplier in your area. You can order the same M5 bolts that were used in the video without much problem.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Steve Sawyer » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:30 pm

I thought for sure that McMaster-Carr would have those eyebolts, but they don't have anything smaller than 6mm. However, I found these:

304 STAINLESS STEEL M5-M14 MACHINERY SHOULDER LIFTING EYE BOLT LONG 25-150MM

http://r.ebay.com/MfJsZi
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