Your "Dream Dulcimer?

Lexie R Oakley
Lexie R Oakley
@lexie-r-oakley
5 years ago
232 posts

Well I have 3 of my dream dulcimers, now there is just one more which is a hogfiddle by Bobby Ratcliff.

Then a TMB by John Knopp would be nice.

Gale A Barr
Gale A Barr
@gale-a-barr
5 years ago
34 posts

My dream dulcimer at this point ... a large body , shorter scale VSL (25"), with false bottom - want the volume! happys  Built in pickup and chromatic setup. Wood, I am flexible but ebony fretboard would be nice.  Played a McCafferty dulcimer at Evart with a lot of these features - nice but open to suggestions....

Tony Karl
Tony Karl
@tony-karl
5 years ago
4 posts

My current dream instrument  is a Mike Clemmer, church dulcimer with butternut top on walnut body. Thanks for your attention 

Richard Streib
Richard Streib
@richard-streib
5 years ago
189 posts

My next dream dulcimer, I think, will be a Kevin Messenger Presnell reproduction, walnut back, sides, fretboard, butternut or poplar top, natural finish, not painted, Just intonated, Perfection or Wittner tuning pegs. Its on top of my bucket list for early next year.

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
5 years ago
1,329 posts

 @ellen-horn 

Way cool!  I gotta ask-- what did Jackson Browne's lap dulcimer look like?  

ellen horn
ellen horn
@ellen-horn
5 years ago
1 posts

I'm on my way to my dream dulcimer.  I've wanted a Joellen Lapidus instrument since I played Jackson Browne's, back in the 70's.  I've met with her twice and we're deciding on inlays.  It also turns out we are, in some way, related!  She's a great gal and I'm so excited about this.  It will mean, of course, that I'm going to have to let go of some of the other dulcimers.  Just trying to decide who needs a new home....

Lexie R Oakley
Lexie R Oakley
@lexie-r-oakley
5 years ago
232 posts

I have my dream dulcimers, 2 by Kevin Messenger a Presnell and Thomas reproduction, one by Robert Schuler modeled by Jefferies, but one I have wanted is made by Bobby Ratcliff, like Ken H. has.

The real dream would have an original Presnell or Thomas.

hugssandi
@hugssandi
5 years ago
254 posts

What's hard is that it changes from season-to-season.  I remember wanting a Yocky, I remember wanting a big 'ole Tennessee Music Box, I remember wanting a Schnaufer 6-string, I remember wanting a double back...  Now I am just so happy with my little Feather Dulcimer (a Wren), Teagan, that I feel complete.  At least for a while, anyway....

dianapalmer
@dianapalmer
5 years ago
3 posts

I bought a custom made dulcimer about four years ago. Had everything I thought I wanted: 1-1/2 fret, extra back (is this called a possum board?) to increase resonence, and shorter scale length.

In December of last year I saw a dulciimer on Etsy that I was really drawn to. It was made by OldTymeDulcimers, in Georgia. Builder had great reviews. I took the plunge, and it is my dream dulcimer. It is lighter than my custom made and has a longer scale length. For some reason, it is easier to play and seems to like being finger picked. I fell in love with it right away.


updated by @dianapalmer: 04/23/17 12:53:22PM
Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
5 years ago
414 posts

Well, I know I started this thread off, but times change and dreams sometimes change, too.  After playing a Jeremy Seeger "traditional" for a few months now I'm not sure about the big body.  The Seeger has great volume, in fact, some might say it's LOUD and it's a pretty shallow body.   So.... 4 independent strings, body shape unimportant (either hourglass or teardrop,) no (zero, zip, nada) extra frets, some kind of geared tuners and an ebony fretboard overlay on a 26.5" vsl.  Oh and a pickup, maybe a Schatten.  Who is to build such a beast?  I know of about 6 to 10 builders who could do it well, so I'll leave it at that.  Woods?  Oh Yeah, Spruce top, Body - mahogany, walnut, butternut, poplar, cherry?  Though I don't believe the choice of wood is unimportant, I'm flexible. The Seeger's Cherry top, mahogany body is really sweet sounding to my ear.   So... all you luthiers out there who'd like to donate one to me, I'm ready to try it out!

Skip
Skip
@skip
5 years ago
318 posts

A 'dream dulcimer'? There is always seems to be a new one, or a return to a prior choice, as I change/adapt/grow/? [words don't fit]. McSpadden, Bear Meadow, Aolelus, Folkcraft [currently have], Blue Lion [ditto], and others, have been on my list during my relatively short association with dulcimers. Some have been much too costly, but not all. Some I made.

The thing is, once acquired it's no longer are a dream, it's a reality and I dream again.

Monica
Monica
@monica
5 years ago
64 posts

speaking of dream dulcimers I would trade my Blue Lion llR for a Custom McSpadden KOA.if anyone is interested.

Monica
Monica
@monica
5 years ago
64 posts

Matthew Andrew:

My dream dulcimer would be a McSpadden Custom in all curly maple!

Matthew, I received my McSpadden Custom in curly maple but with a spruce top a month ago. I bought it with money I had from selling another instrument and I was looking for something different. It really is a dream, perfect tuning and intonation, the builders at McSpadden save their best work for customs and the finish on it is incredible. I would love a Custom Koa from Mcspadden.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 years ago
1,926 posts

Got my dream dulcimer -- a Bobbie Ratliff Virginia Hogfiddle with Holly back and sides, Butternut top, and 1" wide unbleached Walnut fretboard.   Three strings spaced for Noter & Drone play, staple frets,  solid block Walnut scroll head holding the autoharp tuning pins and a Walnut hollow D tailblock.  

Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
5 years ago
408 posts

I would like to own Gary Gallier's personal "go to"  dulcimer. 

I have played it for about 6 hrs. total, so I know how "dreamy" it is!

It's not for sale.

It's my dream, though!




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Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
Site Moderator

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke
Matthew Andrew
Matthew Andrew
@matthew-andrew
5 years ago
3 posts

My dream dulcimer would be a McSpadden Custom in all curly maple!

Paul Certo
Paul Certo
@paul-certo
9 years ago
242 posts

Ain't gonna happen, I never get the last word in, even when I talk to myself! I would probably want a pickup in it so I can plug it in at gigs and actually be heard. I forgot that yesterday. Tomorrow I'll see what else I forgot.

Patty, both of mine were kits, and I was green as last weeks pine sprout. There is a great deal of satisfaction in playing an instrument you built yourself. But it gets hard to keep a lid on it. I keep thinking of building more, and that path leads to trouble. Just ask the comptroller of this corporation, Mrs. Wanda.Grin.gif

Still, you might look into kits. You need a certain amount of tools, but not the big powered shop equipment, mostly hand tools and clamps. It's fun, at least I enjoyed it. But if you use sassafras wood, you gain weight. Stick to some other wood, and avoid the weight gain. My sassafras dulcimer is 21 years old, and I still haven't lost that extra weight!

John Keane
John Keane
@john-keane
9 years ago
182 posts

LOL! That would work just fine! Grin.gif

Helen Seiler said:

OOOOh a dream dulcimer. Something that sounds great and has lots ofinlay workwith a log cabin in the mountains theme. Yum. Hey JK, I could call it BIG CABIN.

Helen Seiler
Helen Seiler
@helen-seiler
9 years ago
118 posts

OOOOh a dream dulcimer. Something that sounds great and has lots ofinlay workwith a log cabin in the mountains theme. Yum. Hey JK, I could call it BIG CABIN.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
9 years ago
2,077 posts

I often have inner conversations with myself about what instruments I 'need' vs. what instruments I 'want'....because the two are sometimes the same, but not always.

If I bought instruments based only on owning my 'dream instrument' I would have many wonderful instruments that might not get played much. There is undeniable pleasure in owning such things, but neither do I want to feel like I'm buying only for the sake of owning something special. And I dont really want a house full of instruments that aren't played much. I certainly can't say that about my dulcimers.

I find i have had to consciously discipline myself against impulse buys, because I could easily get in over my head. In the past I bought a few instruments just because they were tempting, but I later sold those that I didn't play much. Like when trying to lose weight...it always seems far easier to accumulate than to shed. lol!

I really try to consider any purchase in practical terms now- will this instrument allow me to play in some way that my other instruments are limited by? Scale length is the first thing that comes to mind- for playing in various keys. Other practical factors might include: fretless/fretted, steel/nylon strings, volume/punch/tone for solo/outdoor/group playing, arched bridge for bowing, number of strings and/or frets, travel weight/size, ...stuff like that.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
9 years ago
237 posts

Awww shucks - I've been rumbled Grin.gif

Like most folks my dream dulcimer is whichever one I have in my hand at the time. I have a good (and growing Smile.gif ) collection of instruments many copies of old designs or old originals. Each has its own special characture and I love them all 8.gif

I have a few more old original designs I'm still chasing- not because they are individually my dream dulcimer but because they have the distinct timbre I want to add to my quiver of instruments. And as John Tose says above, there is something VERY special about handling and playing old dulcimers Grin.gif

So perhaps, for me, it is not about my 'dream dulcimer' but my 'job specific' dulcimer. I'd just got back from an open mic' last night when I posted about the Fishman Aura Spectrum with the sound modelling from all my favourite dulcimers loaded on to it and a loop pedal plus effects box. I'm the sound guy for the open mic'in the bar of ourlocal cinema each month. The film finished earlier than usual and no musicians had turnedup (typical 110.gif ) but a small audience had rolled in early. For the first time at the event I hada dulcimer with me because I hoped Ella may be along later and I thought I'dask if she fancied singing The Blackest Crow (we didthe songlate on in the evening and it went down great 113.gif ). So I grabbed my dulcimer and just played a few tunes while waiting for the first act to show up. The instrument I had with me was my cherry McSpadden and I just used a directional condensor mic' to amplify it through the p/a. The dulcimer sounded sweet but I would have liked a few other timbre options after a couple of tunes. It was then that I thought how useful a 'plug and play' dulcimer would be for small venue performances and coffee house work. Something the size of an A W Jeffries would be ideal ( shallow withthat beautiful WV hourglass shape), I'd want a 26" scale with a good p/u system built in to it, no 6+ and Perfection pegs, action and fret intonation set for noter drone playing. I actually wouldn't want too much voice in terms of acoustic volume (the Jeffries size/sound would be perfect) - just a nicely balanced natural sound that the p/u system would work well with - a semi-acoustic dulcimer if you like. The p/u would probably be an LR Baggs as I don't want handling noise.

I think that, with a loop pedal, effects pedaland some modelling software I could have a compact little system for small venue gigs that would give me great timbre variety possibilities from tune to tune - plus I could overlay harmonies live. Now this may have Ed Thomas turning in his grave - and nothing will be the same as playingtraditional instruments acoustically live (my absolutepassion Grin.gif ) - but pragmatically I could do with a halfway house so I can play noter drone style for a full set from one instrument to a non-dulcimer audience - and also jump in to back up other musicians whoes acoustic guitar etc are plugged in to the p/a. All in noter drone style of course (is there another way to play?).

So I'm not talking about my dream dulcimer here more my 'job specific compromise dulcimer' - simply a pragmatic musician's tool for a specific task. Anyway, I may be commisioning a new dulcimer soon 3.gif I really need to get out and play some solo gigs next year!

John Tose
John Tose
@john-tose
9 years ago
26 posts

I've got to go with what Rick says here, though for me it wouldn't even have to be playable. Can't beat actually owning a piece of history.

Anything else - well if you know what you want, you either already own it, you can make it yourself, or you can pay someone else to knock it up. Don't be surprised though if it turns out to be a disapointment!

Rick Kennedy
Rick Kennedy
@rick-kennedy
9 years ago
17 posts

I like what Kevin said--I'd love to be sniffing around an auction and find a 19th-century, playable Prichard or Thomas or even a handmade, for-the-purpose,Tennessee music box from around the mid-to-Eastern parts of Tennessee. I'd string it up, move to the edge of the Smokies, and play each day in one of the many old cabins/churches.

Mike Slone
Mike Slone
@mike-slone
9 years ago
18 posts

Doggone it Paul, Your last sentence there should be the last one in this discussion. Maybe.

I hope that it isn't, though.

Paul Certo
Paul Certo
@paul-certo
9 years ago
242 posts

The only thing I know for sure is it would have a shorter scale, not over 25.5", maybe even less, to ease the long stretches for my arthritic wrist. It would have geared tuners, I change tunings to get a different scale, not to fight with friction pegs. Other than that, I won't know it till I hear it. The luthiers I have in mind would set it up to play well, and do impeccable work. The sound would be the deciding factor. When "THE sound" hits your ears, and you know you can't walk away without it, that's when you know you found it.

Kevin Messenger
Kevin Messenger
@kevin-messenger
9 years ago
86 posts

Im with Ken, I pretty much build what I want, but, I would love to someday find an Original Prichard. And I must say I would love to someday build a dream dulcimer from someones ideas of what they want. Thats why I build them so others can enjoy them.

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
9 years ago
874 posts

My dream dulcimer is the next one I make or the one after that or the one after . . .

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Mary Z. Cox
Mary Z. Cox
@mary-z-cox
9 years ago
67 posts

481_forums.jpg?width=450

Okay--I've got many dream dulcimers & this is my newest one--love the wormy chestnut and of course the old man carved head--I really do like the little carved heads on dulcimersGrin.gif

www.maryzcox.com

Mike Slone
Mike Slone
@mike-slone
9 years ago
18 posts

It's interesting how this thread has turned. Instead of talking about what you want, y'all are talking about what you have (except for Rob, and I will say that I asked him privately to kick the thread off). I'm not sure if that's the cause or a symptom of dulcimer players tending to be nice, generally happy people. In my book, that's a Good Thing, all around.

I definitely covet the BL and the Presnell.

Please, continue down whichever avenue you prefer, or both.

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
9 years ago
233 posts

Mike, I have the dulcimers I love. I will say one thing. If I had a dream dulcimer or maybe I should say a dulcimer I would love to have is one that I can make. I would love to learn how to make one. To play a dulcimer that I made myself would be a dream come true. If I'm not able to make one I suppose I would love to have a teardrop. I don't have one of those.

Mike Slone
Mike Slone
@mike-slone
9 years ago
18 posts

I suspect some here might have opinions about that involving Ed Thomas rolling over in his grave...

Can't say that felt he earth trembling here, but I think I did just hear a hearty chuckle from the general direction of Big Doubles. :D

Robin Clark said:

Well, you are going to be shocked at this one - but here is my dream dulcimer 109.gif

479_forums.jpg

To go with the Aura Spectrum DII'd want a trip to the Fishman studio with a full range of original old dulcimers (Thomas, Prichard, Presnell, Tignor, Glen, Ledford, Ambergy, Mawhee, Melton etc etc) to get them all recorded and added to Aura image gallery. Then I'd have a dulcimer built for noter drone playing with a well banalced but acoustically quiet sound and a Fishman p/u. And that dulcimer with the Aura and the Bose L1p/a would be my stage set-up:

480_forums.png I'd have a loop pedal and general acoustic effects box (reverb, echo, chorus etc).

I don't think I would see any change from $5000 for my custom dulcimer and stage rig - and that's before adding the cost of sampling the old dulcimers in a good studio to get them loaded on to the Aura Spectrum - so perhaps it will have to stay a dream 116.gif

Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
9 years ago
237 posts

Well, you are going to be shocked at this one - but here is my dream dulcimer 109.gif

477_forums.jpg

To go with the Aura Spectrum DII'd want a trip to the Fishman studio with a full range of original old dulcimers (Thomas, Prichard, Presnell, Tignor, Glen, Ledford, Ambergy, Mawhee, Melton etc etc) to get them all recorded and added to Aura image gallery. Then I'd have a dulcimer built for noter drone playing with a well banalced but acoustically quiet sound and a Fishman p/u. And that dulcimer with the Aura and the Bose L1p/a would be my stage set-up:

478_forums.png I'd have a loop pedal and general acoustic effects box (reverb, echo, chorus etc).

I don't think I would see any change from $5000 for my custom dulcimer and stage rig - and that's before adding the cost of sampling the old dulcimers in a good studio to get them loaded on to the Aura Spectrum - so perhaps it will have to stay a dream 116.gif

Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
9 years ago
414 posts

Stephanie, I love the look of that Presnell, but I'd rather hear it Grin.gif .

Stephanie Stuckwisch
Stephanie Stuckwisch
@stephanie-stuckwisch
9 years ago
45 posts

And she sounds as good as she looks.

My other favorite, an Edd Presnell.

Dusty Turtle said:




38.gif38.gif38.gif38.gif38.gif38.gif38.gif Yum. Blue Lion. Yum. Inlay. Yum. Rosewood. Yum.38.gif38.gif38.gif38.gif38.gif38.gif38.gif

Stephanie Stuckwisch said:



I bought my dream dulcimer a few years ago - Blue lion rosewood hourglass w /custom inlay.




Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
9 years ago
414 posts

I'm with Dusty! That thing's absolutely beautiful!

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
9 years ago
1,572 posts

38.gif38.gif38.gif38.gif38.gif38.gif38.gif Yum. Blue Lion. Yum. Inlay. Yum. Rosewood. Yum.38.gif38.gif38.gif38.gif38.gif38.gif38.gif

Stephanie Stuckwisch said:



I bought my dream dulcimer a few years ago - Blue lion rosewood hourglass w /custom inlay.





--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Stephanie Stuckwisch
Stephanie Stuckwisch
@stephanie-stuckwisch
9 years ago
45 posts

I bought my dream dulcimer a few years ago - Blue lion rosewood hourglass w /custom inlay.

 

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
9 years ago
1,329 posts
Mike, your question is a good one to provoke thought. Causes me to realize I own dream dulcimers. :) I answer thus, in large part, because I play in a variety of tunings and favor certain instruments for certain tunes sometimes.
Mike Slone
Mike Slone
@mike-slone
9 years ago
18 posts

Errrr....sure, that's it :D

Just one of those questions that pop into your head, usually when you should be sleeping.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
9 years ago
1,572 posts

Why do you ask, Mike? Are you going to surprise me with a Christmas present this year?




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
9 years ago
414 posts
  • Large hourglass, 4 string with scruggs tuners on a flat head. butternut top with either walnut or mahogany back & sides. Actually Scruggs tuners may not be a necessity. I sure would like to try them though.

  • By large... I really mean deep

  • full frets, 6 1/2

  • soundholes... top - star; bottom - weeping hearts.
  • Natural, matte, satin (whatever you call it) finish
Mike Slone
Mike Slone
@mike-slone
9 years ago
18 posts

I casually asked the question in chat here, then decided that it would be a good topic for the general forum.

If you could have your "dream dulcimer", what would it be? Describe as fully as you wish. Body Style, woods, finish, fret pattern, headstock, tuners...the more specific, the better.


updated by @mike-slone: 03/27/18 10:13:02PM