Hackbrett/dulcimer sounding board

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Rudy Mueller
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Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:33 am

Hackbrett/dulcimer sounding board

Post by Rudy Mueller » Sat Nov 29, 2014 4:58 pm

The beautiful zither diagram posted in the repairs and restoration section today prompted me to ask the question: Which surface of the hackbrett is the sounding board? top or bottom?

Does anyone have experience with solid state type pickups affixed or otherwise glued to the sounding board of either zither or hackbrett? interior or exterior?


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Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:50 am

Re: Hackbrett/dulcimer sounding board

Post by kenbloom » Sat Nov 29, 2014 5:26 pm

Most hammered dulcimer makers consider the top the soundboard. The same for the cymbalom. The back of a cymblaom is often many inches thick to help take the strain of the strings.
I have used all sorts of pickups over the years. I had an interior mounted transducer in one but it wasn't great. The sound was rather muddy, not unlike the elctrostatic pickup that Ruth Welcome used. The magnetic pickup that Rudi Wacek made me was much better for clarity. The tone wasn't bad. The most satisfactory sound I've gotten is simply with a condenser mike through a sound system or an amplifier. Right now I'm using a Crate solid state amplifier that is made for acoustic instruments. Between the mike and the amp I get a fairly good acoustic sound. The major drawback is feedback in high volume situations.
With any stick-on transducer you have to do a lot of experimentation to find the "sweet" spot that gives you good tone and balance between the fingerboard and the rest of the instrument. If your placement isn't right, the basses can really overpower the rest of the instrument. My Wacek pickup had separate outputs for the fingerboard and everything else which made balancing really easy.

Ken Bloom

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