Tuesday, May 01, 2007

IADs, SFI to the rescue

Some of you will recall that IADs, Instrument Acquisitive Disorder syndrome, is a disease for which, sadly, there seems to be no cure.    During Betty's Spring Dulcimer Week I engage in my annual 'cleansing' at SFI.    Here's the shop and staff of Smakula Fretted Instruments -
This year my projects were a Pollmann banjo manufactured about 1890 that I bought from Grant at Clifftop and a 'bathtub' lap dulcimer that I got off ebay for $9.95 plus shipping (which was almost double the purchase price).

The banjo had a split head and a bowed neck.    The dulcimer was missing a few frets, had a crack in the back and a badly split top - but it has a very nice, carved fiddle scroll!

I became so intent on alleviating my 'symptoms' that I forgot to start photographing my progress until I had almost completed the banjo.    The remedies involved clamping the neck with a reverse bow and heating it in the 'easy bake oven' of the front seat of a closed pickup truck sitting in the Sun.    It gets VERY hot in there!    The banjo head, being calfskin, involved wetting and stretching and clamping a new calfskin head over the pot.    Here's a photo of the pieces after repair but before assembly -
and here's a photo assembled and strung -

The dulcimer was more interesting and I remembered to photograph it.    Here's the two halves of the top being glued together -I was awarded 'clamp job of the week' honors
The scroll being attached -(those white and black sticks across the top are just 'spreaders' and will be removed after assembly.)

The bracing being glued inside the top -
And the top being glued on -
So here's how it looks now -
I still have to do the frets, cut a slot in the front of the scroll for the nut, do a little cosmetic work and string it.    That'll be next year.    We're thinking that with a body this large we might try heavier strings and tune it an octave lower.


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