Forum Activity for @ron-gibson

Ron Gibson
@ron-gibson
09/11/21 08:37:06AM
6 posts

Can you tell me about Curt Mangan FusionMatched strings?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

In my opinion, there's a whole lot more to the tone of a dulcimer than just the strings. The strings are part of a system that includes the soundbox dimensions, string height, wood type, etc. There's really not as much difference in string brands as sellers would have you believe, although there is a noticeable difference in sound between phosphor and nickel strings with nickel being brighter.
No offence to Mr. Mangan, but "fusion matched"? I'd love to hear those strings in a blind sound test using several dozen instruments and see if anyone anywhere in the world could reliably pick out which instruments had the "fusion matched strings".
I suspect the bright sound of your dulcimer is more in the dimensions you list ( 27" VSL.(1.75" deep, upper bout 5.75", lower bout 7", waist 4.5"). The thinner the body the brighter the sound and your dulcimer is on the thinner side for a modern dulcimer. Judging by the dimensions I suspect you have a TK O'Brien, Cripple Creek, or one the many brands made in that style. Those dulcimers would be extremely hard to turn into a warm, guitar tone type dulcimer.
Heavier strings in general are probably a better bet than any particular brand of strings. But of course, the heavier the strings the harder it would be to play. 

Ron Gibson
@ron-gibson
03/16/19 01:21:41PM
6 posts

Playing dulcimers with different VSL


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I have a different perspective.  Going back to my old career as an engineer and quality control manager, we used a term called "stacked tolerances".  This means that if you have for instance three parts and each is near the outside acceptance criteria of their measurement (although still within the acceptable specified tolerance), the combined effect when the parts are assembled together is that all the "tolerances" are added together to produce a less than optimum part.

So while as Ken states the maximum distance between frets on a 28" and 25" scale may only be 0.2", when you play a chord you have to add ALL those "tolerances" together.  So if you play a Bm chord on the 5th, 3rd and 2nd fret in DAD tuning, the difference in distance is 1/2".  That is a pretty big difference in stretch for someone with small hands.

If I play a 28" dulcimer for ten minutes or so, then switch to a say 25" or 26" I notice a big difference in ease of playing. In fact, doing this is a great way to warm up.  In my old band days I would play a bass for 15 minutes or so before grabbing my Les Paul and heading out to the gig.  


updated by @ron-gibson: 03/16/19 01:22:28PM
Ron Gibson
@ron-gibson
02/25/19 10:33:30AM
6 posts

Five strings?


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

The only 5-string dulcimers I make lately with any regularity is my  Extended Range™ dulcimer.  It is basically a combination of a regular & baritone dulcimer with a wider fretboard to accommodate the extra string. It has a very full sound.  You can hear it and read more about it here Extended Range™ Dulcimers  .  Other than a setup like this or some unique tuning, I've never seen the point of a 5-string.


extended_range_dulcimer.jpg extended_range_dulcimer.jpg - 185KB

updated by @ron-gibson: 02/25/19 10:34:59AM
Ron Gibson
@ron-gibson
09/19/18 09:00:26PM
6 posts

Sound Hole Placement


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Dulci-clan... you can easily get caught up in side issues with dulcimers.  The most important thing is not soundhole size or placement... it is whether you personally like the dulcimer. If a particular dulcimer sounds good to you and it is easy to play.... then that is a good dulcimer for you and whether the soundholes are left, right, top, bottom or cut into the scroll means absolutely nothing.  All that matters is your personal preference and how it "feels" to you. 
In 43 years of building dulcimers I have had people fixated with things like the screw size used in the tuners or the width (down to the millimeter) of a certain part of the dulcimer. Those things do not make you a better player or make it easier to learn to play and enjoy making music. 

Remember, there is a scientific component to music.... but at its heart it is an art.  Art is not constrained by where the soundholes are located, the size of a screw used in a strap button or any other "deep dive".  My advice... grab a dulcimer, play it... if it feels right and sounds right to you - then it is right for you, .... play it and enjoy the gift of making music. 

Believe me.... the placement of the soundholes will not make you a better musician or make you enjoy your dulcimer any more or less. 

Ron Gibson
@ron-gibson
09/19/18 08:42:01PM
6 posts



Thanks Dusty.  When I used the icon the uploaded picture looked "funny" so I'm guessing there are size constraints. By the way, I really like your Dizzy quote, true words indeed. 

Ron Gibson
@ron-gibson
09/19/18 09:42:35AM
6 posts



My favorite soundhole design tends to change with each unique new dulcimer I build and I tend to get fixated on a particular design at times.  Here's my current favorite (I have no idea how to actually post a picture instead of a link).

https://www.facebook.com/327233890744010/photos/pcb.1336554066478649/1336553353145387/?type=3&theater


updated by @ron-gibson: 09/19/18 09:43:21AM