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Forum topic by CAE posted 07-02-2021 03:49 PM 752 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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CAE

7 posts in 85 days


07-02-2021 03:49 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I am wondering what dimensions of any musical instruments are and what tools are used to make them

-- Chad A. Eberly


28 replies so far

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Axis39

537 posts in 813 days


#1 posted 07-02-2021 05:37 PM

You may have to narrow that down some to get a good answer…

If you’re talking pianos, you’ll need a different set of tools than a guitar, and way different for a fife or a tuba.

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

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John Smith

2998 posts in 1378 days


#2 posted 07-02-2021 08:45 PM

welcome to the forum, Chad.
your profile says you are interested in “building” musical instruments.
as indicated – you really need to expand a lot on your questions.
do you have any background or experience in building instruments ?
woodwind, string, percussion, keyboard, etc ?
do you have a workshop of some kind ?
what part of the world are you in ?

-- I am a painter: that's what I do, I like to paint things. --

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Phil32

1561 posts in 1119 days


#3 posted 07-03-2021 12:54 AM

I have a nephew who builds French Horns – and plays them in a major symphony – but that hardly seems related to woodworking.

-- You know, this site doesn't require woodworking skills, but you should know how to write.

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darthford

774 posts in 3140 days


#4 posted 07-03-2021 03:12 AM



I have a nephew who builds French Horns – and plays them in a major symphony – but that hardly seems related to woodworking.

- Phil32

That’s the coolest thing I heard today!

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darthford

774 posts in 3140 days


#5 posted 07-03-2021 03:15 AM

Spend some time browsing StewMac they cater to instrument builders, I have an assortment of tools from them. https://www.stewmac.com/

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MrRon

6136 posts in 4459 days


#6 posted 07-03-2021 09:33 PM

Grizzly has guitar kits. Building a musical instrument (any kind) requires a great amount of skill and musical ability all of which takes enormous amounts of time to acquire. You just don’t decide one day to build an instrument and do it without the skill, patience and knowledge needed, unless it’s something as simple as a “cigar box guitar”. Not trying to discourage you, but your question sounds to me like you have no idea what is required in building an instrument.

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SMP

4728 posts in 1121 days


#7 posted 07-04-2021 03:16 AM

thats a can of worms. if you go to stewmac.com and look at tools there you can see its like a Rockler just for musical instrument tools. they also sell kits for many instruments there and on those pages they list the tools required/recommended. i helped my daughter build one of their Ukelele kits and it was a great kit for her to learn on.

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987Ron

1985 posts in 532 days


#8 posted 07-04-2021 12:57 PM

Father, now past away, was an accomplished violin and viola luthier. Made over 120 violins.
His tools were a combination of ones purchased from specialty shops, both US and Germany, ones he made for a specific purpose and the obvious regular woodworking tools, like a band saw, drill press etc.
As you progress you will find the tool needed will set the list of what to get. Then search for it.
I am not a luthier. Just a woodworker.

-- Ron

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CAE

7 posts in 85 days


#9 posted 07-05-2021 01:28 PM

right now i am trying to make a mountain dulcimer

-- Chad A. Eberly

View drsurfrat's profile

drsurfrat

982 posts in 402 days


#10 posted 07-05-2021 02:09 PM

good projects to look at:
DMiller
MJon
MJon
Patrick Jaromin

-- Mike (near Boston) ... Laziness is the mother of invention, necessity is the mother of exhaustion - me

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CAE

7 posts in 85 days


#11 posted 07-05-2021 06:25 PM

I have a multigeneration background of playing accordion,guitar,dulcimer,banjo,etc.I am from PA.

-- Chad A. Eberly

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Loren

11253 posts in 4864 days


#12 posted 07-05-2021 09:30 PM

Catalogs with a lot of special tools notwithstanding, you don’t need a whole lot for building acoustic guitars and mountain dulcimers. You’ll need a saw with the right kerf with for making fret slots, a chisel for the bottom of the nut slot. You’ll need a drum sander or hand plane for thicknessing instrument woods. You’ll need an accurate rule for marking out the fret locations as accurately as possible.

Plans are available form a variety or sources but for a mountain dulcimer I think a book on their construction would provide all the information you would need.

View Bob Gnann's profile

Bob Gnann

143 posts in 888 days


#13 posted 07-05-2021 10:54 PM

Check out the Woodcraft magazine issue Dec/Jan 2018. Excellent article on how to make a mountain dulcimer. Not sure i can show any of the actual article because of copyright. I made mine from walnut I had in the shop but purchased the spruce top, tuners, fret wire, etc. Might have been Stew Mac. I can’t recall.

You will need some basic woodworking tools and skills, but its a cool project that makes a very playable pretty sounding instrument.

-- Bob Gnann. "Don't cloud the issue with facts.". Groucho Marx

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Bob Gnann

143 posts in 888 days


#14 posted 07-05-2021 11:07 PM

And I believe Folkcraft Instruments makes kits that are complete and ready for assembly, finishing, etc. Might be easier to try first build that way.

-- Bob Gnann. "Don't cloud the issue with facts.". Groucho Marx

View DMiller's profile

DMiller

549 posts in 1689 days


#15 posted 07-06-2021 01:35 AM



I have a multigeneration background of playing accordion,guitar,dulcimer,banjo,etc.I am from PA.

- CAE

Hi Chad,
Your interest in music as well as building musical instruments sounds quite similar to mine! Having built an acoustic guitar first and then a dulcimer, I can certainly say you are better off starting with a dulcimer. In reality, while the two instruments are quite different, their construction is quite similar.

I’m not sure where you are at in the building process, but I will warn you that building instruments is in no way cheap or easy, but it is worth it. There is something extremely satisfying about playing an instrument you built and the fact that you have the freedom to build it however you choose.

That being said, aside from typical woodworking tools, you will need a bending iron (and other various specialty tools) with which to bend the sides. I made my own bending iron here. I have since upgraded the lightbulb to a ceramic heating element like the one pictured below. I highly recommend building your own as it costs about 1/5 of what you can buy a Stewmac one for.

I do recommend purchasing a pre-slotted fretboard for your dulcimer. You will still have the opportunity to add the frets and do all the fretwork, but not have to worry about cutting the slot dimensions wrong. Usually, if you are only building a few instruments, it will be cheaper to purchase a pre-slotted fretboard than purchase the saw to do it yourself. In my research, Folkcraft is the only place I know ofthat sells pre-slotted dulcimer fretboards.

You’re welcome to check out my blog for the process of building an acoustic guitar. For building a dulcimer, you follow the exact same steps up for the body, except there is no neck on a dulcimer. If I was building a dulcimer again, I would glue the fretboard onto the dulcimer top prior to attaching the top.

Several people have suggested purchasing supplies through stewmac.com. While I do recommend them, I personally prefer Luthier's Mercantile International. I have found their service excellent and their prices more affordable than Stewmac.

Dulcimer project here
Guitar project here

I will mention I have never built an instrument from a kit, so I cannot attest to the quality of them. I have heard good things about Stewmac’s kits though and I’d assume the same from Folkcraft’s as well.

If you have any questions, feel free to message me and I’ll do my best to answer them!
-Dale

-- Dale Miller Modesto, CA "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. "Woodworking minus patience equals firewood."

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