I ordered a walnut capo from Ron just last week, using Paypal, and everything went through like a charm. I received it only 3 days later. I don't know how to use one yet, but have one just in case.
recommendation on a capo for the dulcimer
Thanks, dan - I know when the tab has it printed for a capo at the top. I was looking for the info, without a tab just to know the mode or tuning when using a capo.
Thank you, this is what I was looking for - something like the chart for associated tunings and the starting frets listed in
Here are a couple of references on where to put a capo, and what happens to the key and mode when you do it:
Sorry ken, didn't say this right, if we can try again: Is there a guide showing - when the capo is on the different frets in DAd and/or DAA what key would I be in then? - like - (if you are tuned DAd and put the capo just left of the second fret, your strings are now tuned FCf) What tuning would the dulcimer be in if I put the capo on the other frets, if I am tuned already in DAd?
I reccomend "the capo book #1" by Dallas Cline. I got mine off ebay. But if you google you may find a place that sells it!
Lots of good info
Sorry ken, didn't say this right, if we can try again:
Is there a guide showing - when the capo is on the different frets in DAd and/or DAA what key would I be in then? - like - (if you are tuned DAd and put the capo just left of the second fret, your strings are now tuned FCf)
What tuning would the dulcimer be in if I put the capo on the other frets, if I am tuned already in DAd?
Mine was not influenced by Ron Ewing. In fact I'd never heard of him or anyone else using a dulcimer capo when I made mine about 30 some odd years back. It's still my favourite dulcimer capo.
Interesting idea! It would be nice to have a telescoping model, so you don't get stabbed!
Just a shout-out to Ron Ewing. He originated the mountain dulcimer capo, from which all others derive, to one extent or another. I have one of those brass ones that Dusty Turtle mentions, and love it for some technical reasons special to dulcimer builders. But I highly recommend Ron's work!
Yes Strumelia, I really like it a lot. The workmanship is excellent!! I've used it quite a bit too. It is much trickier than using a guitar capo due to the diatonic frets but I'm finding that I'm enjoying the challenge!!
thanks again everyone! I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. I sent Ron a check for $20 and within 10 days I had my capo!
Yes please, let's not jump into the mode quicksand again...staying on the thread capo topic. :)
Maria, I too think you made a good choice with the Ewing. My old Ewing dulcimer capo far outlasted a later plastic cheaper one I bought.
Capos can definitely be handy in various playing situations. Some folks use them regularly, and others don't use them. To each their own!
Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
updated by @strumelia: 01/02/16 03:09:44PM
Kitchen Girl is a fiddle tune that could be called mixodorian. Since one part is mixolydian and the other is dorian... Mixing modes is like mixing paint. Leave it to the listener to decide... Robert
I asume you cut them in half and swith the end part? You are kidding me? Both end the same, so starting Mixolydian STAYS Mixolydian (same end as Dorian). :D The same goes likewise for the Dorian. You can't connect starts or ends... These will not create an octave.
I looked at Kitchen Girl, but the modes can be described as Mixolydian and the second part as Aeolean, but it is just a modelation in the song itself, not in the mode or scale!
Why end so many fiddle songs on the fifth? Mostly because they are follwed by another song in D or something like that, it's not a coda...
Modes makes theory difficult, simple because we don't think in modes anymore. Mostly just major and minor. I believe modes are an immigration feature, but we need another discussion about that, not in the capo pages.
I know it is folk music, because I play in my folk band (#194 in the repertoire). It is not special Turkish; could be Pakistan or even India... We simple don't know. But to call it modified Phrygian? There is a name to that scale: gypsy (BTW it isn't a mode!). But that doesn't make it Phrygian, which I asked: show me a Phrygian song :-)
There are a lot song going around which are called Mixolydian and don't have that 6th in it...
Still, in dulcimer land the players like it difficult. And it is such a simple instrument.
updated by @wout-blommers: 01/02/16 11:10:49AM
It's folk music, so there are lots of versions, but the one I play is in the Phrygian dominant, or modified Phrygian, scale: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrygian_dominant_scale which is Phrygian with a raised third. (This seems to be called the "gypsy scale" sometimes too, so it could be we're playing very similar versions, though that's probably an ambiguous name.)
I get it by capoing at the first fret and using the 8.5/1.5th frets. I wouldn't be able to play it without the capo unless my fingers were about twice their current length.
updated by @robinjohnson: 01/02/16 10:43:14AM
I add the score of Misirlou how I play it in my band, although transposed to E, which means only white keys in Phrygian mode. There shouldn't be accidentals... There are. There is an interval f-g#, which is special to the gypsy scale, in fact, Misirlou is in gypsy scale... Not Phrygian at all.
"They are a disaster on a diatonic due to its inflexible nature." No! They are extremely useful on a diatonic dulcimer, because they let you play in different modes. I couldn't play about half my repertoire without my capo.
Please, show me a Locrian tune or Phrychian one. (better notes on paper than a youtube link)
Why do dulcimer players make theory so complicated? The risc of making mistakes is always there... So don't read this when you are not familiar with musical theory and want to avoid a head age...
A capo offers you the possibility to use the same left hand position, special the grip of a chord, at another place of the fretboard which means to play in another key. Capo's are handy on a chromatic fretboard. On a chromatic fretboard it can avoid barré chord grips. They are a disaster on a diatonic due to its inflexible nature.
Playing chords or chord/melody style in D without capo becomes G when the capo is placed on the 3 fret (don't use the 6+; it will show the disaster...)
Ken, placing the capo on the second fret changes DAd into F#C#f#, or do you mean the 1+ fret? The mode becomes Phrychian using the 6+ and Locrian when using the 6 fret) Tuning a string is changing the tension of it, so is bending. The capo is changing the VSL or length of the string usualy known as stopping. It's a the same as a barré chord grip.
updated by @wout-blommers: 01/02/16 09:42:10AM
A capo lets you change the tuning of all the strings simultaneously.
For example, if you are tuned DAd and put the capo just left of the second fret, your strings are now tuned FCf, and the capo'd fret becomes the nut or Open fret for the new scale you've created. The new scale will not be the usual Mixolydian scale because the sequence of wide and narrow intervals between the frets has changed.
These are my dulcimer capos. The elastic band/chopstick capo has been in use for over 30 years with occasional replacement elastics, but the same chopstick.
The Bic pen cap with the tail cut short and a string groove put in it fits over the fret to capo the bass string for playing in different modes without re-tuning. It works well for DAA tuning. I got the idea from a 5-string banjo player who uses one of these for a fifth string capo.
updated by @jim-yates: 12/13/15 11:20:43PM
Thanks everyone for your input. In the end I went with the Ron Ewing. I called him up and spoke with him and he was very nice to speak with. I told him that maybe someday I would be buying one of his custom ones!! I mailed him the check on Thursday and I hope to be getting the capo by the end of next week!
I'll let you all know how it is etc.
For a diatonic (non-chromatic) dulcimer, a capo makes it possible to play in modes other than major/mixolydian without retuning. If you want to use a minor (aeolian/dorian) scale with drones or open chords that make sense, you capo at the first fret, and so on.
updated by @robinjohnson: 11/12/15 06:25:47AM
I understand it very well, believe me I play a lot with other instruments, special the violin. The violin is a chromatic instrument and transposing, or just shift your fingers, is rather easy, where on the dulcimer the diatonic fret board is a hazard. Violin players won't give up playing open strings , unless they are more secure about there playing. (When a singer better sings in Eb rather than in D, the violin player is against plying a different key, not the guitar nor the bass player. I will not mention the percussionist. To use a capo the best way is on a chromatic dulcimer, so playing a lot together with other instruments, leave the diatonic ones behind.
BTW to make the sound of the guitar more flamenco, flamanco players use another guitar made of different wood. Using a capo is a trick, but doesn't make it sound gypsy like. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamenco_guitar
Wout, I don't think you understood the first part of my response. Fiddlers (especially) play songs in certain keys, they won't play a tune written in the key of A in D. That's where the capo comes in. When you play with other instruments, they are not going to play everything in D. A capo is quick way to get to G or A (with a 6 1/2 fret) on the dulcimer.
That's what I said: a different quality in sound, but a flamenco guitar is a chromatic instrument, the dulcimer isn't...
Transposing to D (Dm) allow same chords. Once you know these in these two keys, you can play everything without learning new grips.
Anyway, I have a capo
Wout, use of a capo can be handy when playing with other instruments. Fiddle tunes are played in certain keys. If you ask a fiddler to play Old Joe Clark or June Apple he'll immediately start playing it in the key of A, not D. A capo on 4 is the easy way to get to A, particularly if you're in DAd. Old Black Cat and No Corn on Tygart are in G, so capo on 3 and off you go. Then again, sometimes you just want a different "sound." I took a flamenco guitar master class with Chucales once and we were using a capo. I asked him why, since we weren't accompanying a singer. He said, "so it will sound more flamenco." There you go!
I don't understand the use of a capo that much, unless you are playing on a chromatic dulcimer. To me transposing a song to D or Dm is easier than using a capo. I can use the same chords grips. Surely, there are songs which need a high register sound, like German Zweifager, but that's an exception to me
I have one of those quick release brass capos that look real fancy. It costs three times as much as the Ron Ewing capos and works almost as well.
Seriously, Ron Ewing's capos are the simplest and also the best. They are also affordable. What more do you want?
Dusty T., Northern California
"A good song makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you think."
-- Pete Seeger