|Tom Yocky's Mountain Dulcimers|
|How to care for your dulcimer|
All About The Artist
|With all well made things,
it is important that you take an active roll in maintaining your dulcimer
to ensure it stays nice for a lifetime.
The most important precaution to take is to avoid extreme temperatures and humidity. Too hot or too cold can cause your dulcimer damage. Wood is a natural material and reacts to cold or hot, expanding and contracting to the temperature fluctuations and too much of this can cause cracks, warping, and other problems. I do all I can to brace and fortify the internal structure of the dulcimer to resist these problems, but I can only do so much before it has adverse affects on its sound and playability. So please, do not leave it in a place that will get too hot, or too cold, and do your best to keep it out of high humidity. This includes around windows, heaters, showers, attics, and any other area that would change in temperature or moisture frequently..
To maintain the dulcimers nice finish, simply give it regular applications of pure lemon oil. Make sure it is pure lemon oil and does not have any additives such as wax. Waxes and other additives can clog up the wood and will dampen the sound. A pure lemon oil product simply replenishes the natural oils in the wood and thus extends it life indefinitely. You should be able to find a pure lemon oil product at a local hardware or home improvement store, but if you can't find any you can purchase some from me. How to apply it: Use a small piece of a clean paper towel. Using a large piece simply soaks up more lemon oil and is wasteful. Fold a small piece in half twice so you have a 4 layer square about 1 1/2" wide. Then apply a small amount of lemon oil to the paper towel and apply it to the wood. Wipe it on in a circular motion. If any areas are particularly dry, they will soak up more. Apply the oil until there is an even layer and then wipe off all the excess with another clean paper towel. Wipe off it in a straight direction with the grain. Long straight strokes of light pressure. Wipe it until it is dry and uniform. If you are leaving streaks, change to a fresh paper towel and continue wiping it dry. Do this to the entire dulcimer but you may find that it works better to break it up into sections. The right half of the top, apply then wipe dry. Then the left half of the top, apply and wipe dry. Then the back, then the sides and so on. If it is a pure lemon oil product, you can even apply it to the strings and it actually makes playing them easier and less squeaks. How often? That depends on how much you use your dulcimer, and how it is stored. If you use it regularly, then you will find it gets dirty from oils in your hands and fingers, and from dust in the air. In this case, an application of oil once every month or two is sufficient (or whenever it looks a bit dirty). If you use it less often and keep it stored in a case or bag, then every three to four months is sufficient.
When changing the string spacing from four equally spaced strings to the double melody string setup, or vise versa, it is important that you sufficiently loosen the two middle strings, before moving them to the alternate slots in the nut and bridge. Make sure they are good and loose otherwise, you may damage the string slot, causing the ebony nut or bridge to chip out and thus not hold the string in it's proper place. Loosen the string to be moved until it is under no tension at all, then move it to the alternate slot, and then re-tighten the string (not too quickly) while holding the string in it's proper place in the bridge (at the tail end) until it is re-tuned.
Be very careful where you place your hands when handling the dulcimer. Squeezing too much on the face may crack it (because I make the tops quite thin for better sound response). Also, be sure to never squeeze down on or near a soundhole. Some soundhole designs can be quite delicate even though I internally brace them. It seems like common sense but I am speaking from experience, it is easy to forget where your hands are and accidentally crack the top from mishandling. When holding, carrying, or handing the dulcimer to somebody, hold it with two hands. One hand at the tail, the other at the head. The head and tail ends are extremely sturdy. Another strong area is at the center of the hourglass shape, so long as you squeeze on the fingerboard, and not on the top wood.
When and how to change strings. They
say to change your strings about every 30-40 hours of play time.
Although I agree that fresh strings sound better than old and dirty strings,
I rarely take the time to change the strings on my personal dulcimers.
I have a couple dulcimers that sound and play just fine and the strings
have not been changed in years. I'm only saying this so you know
that it is not essential to change the strings that often for your own
personal enjoyment. However, when you do go to change the strings,
it is important that you replace them with the correct string types and
are careful when re-stringing. I ship the dulcimers strung with the