Page 1 of 1

Hello from Germany

Posted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 6:45 am
by John Dallas
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-string that was given to my father back in the 1950s, when I was about 10 years old. It had no strings, bridge or tailpiece, and there was a peg missing. Dad bought strings and a bridge and improvised a replacement peg and tailpiece, and also bought me a tutor. From then on, playing and renovation went hand in hand.
In the 1960s, I fitted a new set of friction pegs and a proper tailpiece, and in the 1970s I fitted a new vellum head after the old one split. I also improved the set-up (the dowel-stick wasn't quite straight), and then I dealt with the "untuneability" of the instrument by inserting a zero fret. Finally, I converted it to nylon strings, fitting a No-Knot tailpiece, and now it's a lovely-sounding, clean-fretting classic banjo!

Over the years, I've upgraded two old Oscar Schmidt autoharps from 12 or 15 chords, respectively, to 21-chord 'harps, and built a Norwegian langeleik from scratch.

I'm now retired, and in the initial stages of scratch-building a 6-string Germanic lyre, based on the available drawings of the 6th-century lyre found at Trossingen (which is not far from where I live). Another project that I have in mind is to do a proof-of-concept prototype of a strange-looking stringed instrument that the Pre-Raphaelite painter Bourne-Jones used as a prop in several paintings.

So I hope to be able to tap into a lot of expertise on woodworking, glueing and finishing on this forum!


Re: Hello from Germany

Posted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:42 am
by Barry Daniels
Welcome John. Glad to have you here. Your projects sound very interesting. Got any photos of them?

Re: Hello from Germany

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:10 am
by John Dallas
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 Bourne-Jones painting "The Lament" with the wierd instrument I'd like to try out. I call it a "lyre zither" for want of a better term:
Lyre-zither lament.jpg
I hope I get started soon, but at present I've got my hands full keeping my various banjos, autoharps, Waldzithers and concertinas in working order!