Search found 15 matches

by John Dallas
Sat May 11, 2019 10:31 am
Forum: Other Stringed Instruments
Topic: A few questions about the mandolin family
Replies: 8
Views: 9391

Re: A few questions about the mandolin family

Kids, the mandolin is an Italian instrument that was around long before Orville Gibson was even born...! Very true; but what is perhaps more important for the neck width is that in Italy - and also in Germany, where the mandolin is also a folk instrument - the playing style is usually melodic. That...
by John Dallas
Thu Sep 10, 2015 5:35 am
Forum: Other Stringed Instruments
Topic: Hurdy gurdy tangent spacing
Replies: 7
Views: 10728

Re: Hurdy gurdy tangent spacing

Hi, Barry, Before you go borrowing a guitar, try an online fret calculator here: https://www.stewmac.com/FretCalculator or here: http://www.harpkit.com/category/fretcalc.html . Note that they give the absolute distance from the nut to each fret - not the ratio from one fret to the next, which would ...
by John Dallas
Tue Sep 08, 2015 5:11 pm
Forum: Other Stringed Instruments
Topic: Hurdy gurdy tangent spacing
Replies: 7
Views: 10728

Re: Hurdy gurdy tangent spacing

Yes, it is a mathematical arrangement. Basically, the tangents must be arranged like the frets on a guitar or similar instrument. That is, the first fret/tangent is set at a certain fraction of the distance from nut to bridge; the second fret/tangent is set at the same fraction of the distance betwe...
by John Dallas
Fri May 08, 2015 12:30 pm
Forum: Jam Session
Topic: What other things do you guys make?
Replies: 60
Views: 54122

Re: What other things do you guys make?

Toys. More precisely, Playmobil-compatible toys in wood and/or plastic. The first was a 30cm electric-motored steam launch for the Navy Personnel set, followed by a stockade fort (modular) for the US Cavalry and an Irish tower-house (with dungeon) for the knights and lansquenets. Then came a mock-up...
by John Dallas
Wed Apr 22, 2015 6:54 pm
Forum: Other Stringed Instruments
Topic: Beginner and Chords
Replies: 8
Views: 7325

Re: Beginner and Chords

I agree that learning chords you can use for accompanying songs right from the start is the way to go! When I started out on guitar (actually the guitar-lute), I had a little song-book with words, melodies and chord names of lots of familiar tunes. In the appendix, there were representations of the ...
by John Dallas
Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:53 am
Forum: Other Stringed Instruments
Topic: Re-using vellum banjo head
Replies: 3
Views: 3807

Re: Re-using vellum banjo head

Thanks for the advice, folks! @Patrick (Happy Name Day, by the way - I'll be out playing an Irish gig this evening with two banjos et al.): Sure, you can't cast your nets too wide if you're looking for something as specific as this. @Paul: Good idea - a sort of "dry run" (but with water) to determin...
by John Dallas
Mon Mar 16, 2015 8:04 am
Forum: Other Stringed Instruments
Topic: Re-using vellum banjo head
Replies: 3
Views: 3807

Re-using vellum banjo head

Hello, I have a small zither-banjo that could do with a new head. Not urgent - it's not split, it's just that the previous owner re-headed it rather untidily. It sounds OK. However, I recently had to replace a split head on an open-back banjo, and kept the old vellum. It split at the tone ring, so I...
by John Dallas
Wed Mar 04, 2015 9:40 am
Forum: String Instrument Repair: Practical and Political Issues
Topic: Zero fret
Replies: 34
Views: 30794

Re: Zero fret

A zero fret is normally not a part you can add to an existing guitar. It must be considered during the design phase and the neck must be constructed such to allow for it. I had one problem for which a retro-fitted zero fret was the only solution. It was an ancient, no-name, open-back 5-string banjo...
by John Dallas
Tue Mar 03, 2015 7:26 am
Forum: Other Stringed Instruments
Topic: Banjo bridge notches
Replies: 8
Views: 7031

Re: Banjo bridge notches

And here I thought that the British simply didn't know how to build banjos the correct way :twisted: :lol: Well, back in the 19th century, they did build ordinary banjos. But then a young American by the name of Alfred Cammeyer came over, pedling his new invention, the zither-banjo. Apparently the ...
by John Dallas
Mon Mar 02, 2015 12:47 pm
Forum: Other Stringed Instruments
Topic: Refretting a Mexican vihuela
Replies: 3
Views: 3928

Re: Refretting a Mexican vihuela

This reminds me of a line from Shakespeare's "Hamlet". Hamlet's friends Rosencranz and Guildenstern have been pestering him to do them a favour, and he refuses with the words, "Though you may fret me, you cannot play on me!" Obviously a pun on "to fret", meaning to annoy or to tie a fret round a lut...
by John Dallas
Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:57 am
Forum: Other Stringed Instruments
Topic: Banjo bridge notches
Replies: 8
Views: 7031

Re: Banjo bridge notches

Stephen, You mean, like a Ukelin? No, the zither-banjo is functionally just another 5-string banjo, but with a few peculiarities. First, the short 5th string runs from the 5th fret under the fingerboard in a tunnel to the peghead, so there's no side peg in the way of your thumb when going up the nec...
by John Dallas
Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:07 pm
Forum: Other Stringed Instruments
Topic: Banjo bridge notches
Replies: 8
Views: 7031

Re: Banjo bridge notches

Stephen, thanks for the tips! I'd heard that one about sloping the file to get a clear cut-off for the string. It was good to be reminded that the notches should only as deep as absolutely necessary. So a saw-cut is not optimal ... As to the strings: I doubt whether American folkies or OT folks woul...
by John Dallas
Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:39 am
Forum: Other Stringed Instruments
Topic: Banjo bridge notches
Replies: 8
Views: 7031

Banjo bridge notches

Hello, Forum! I'm just in the process of fitting new bridges to two banjos. One banjo is an open-back strung with nylon throughout, the other a zither-banjo with nylon 3rd and 4th strings and the rest steel. I'm using bridge blanks, so I can cut the notches myself. So my question to you luthiers is,...
by John Dallas
Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:10 am
Forum: Introduce yourself here!
Topic: Hello from Germany
Replies: 2
Views: 5210

Re: Hello from Germany

Thanks, Barry! I'll just try and see if I can find out how to post pics/attach files here. First, the actual 6th century Alemannic lyre that I'd like to replicate. For an instrument one and a half millennia old, there's not much guesswork involved in reconstruction: Trossinger Leier 2.jpg Then the B...
by John Dallas
Mon Feb 16, 2015 6:45 am
Forum: Introduce yourself here!
Topic: Hello from Germany
Replies: 2
Views: 5210

Hello from Germany

Greetings from an Irish folkie domiciled in Germany! My real name is actually John E. Dallas - like the well-known London banjo-maker of the early 20th century. There's no family connection, and I'm not a luthier by trade, but I do play the banjo. My first banjo was a derelict, no-name open-backed 5...