Challenges of old age: connecting with digital hearing aids

Beth T
11/02/23 09:47:23AM

I bought my first dulcimer (a walnut standard McSpadden) just over a year ago. I used to play guitar, but my arthritic fingers won't bend into the right shapes any more. This was no problem with the dulcimer - I very quickly came down with Dulcimer Acquisition Disorder, buying a walnut/redwood McSpadden Ginger not long afterwards. For my upcoming 70th birthday, I'm treating myself to a Folkcraft walnut/Engelman spruce series H, with the extra 1.5 fret, a shorter VSL - and a pickup. 

Another problem of old age is dodgy hearing. I love the tone of the all-walnut McSpadden when I’m playing to myself at home. It’s so mellow. I play mostly Welsh folk tunes with a flat pick. However I also attend informal meetings where people with various instruments just get together to play folk tunes. In that environment, where there are many louder instruments playing the melody, I just can't hear what I'm playing. I find myself using the Ginger much more in these jams, because of its much brighter tone and higher pitch. I have two digital hearing aids, which work well in most situations, but I have real trouble hearing what I’m playing and whether it’s in tune when jamming, especially with the all-walnut.

Hence the pickup. I’ve discovered that I can stick a mike on my dulcimer, plug it into an iRig HD2 interface which in turn links to my iPhone and allows me to amplify the sound of my dulcimer in my digital hearing aids without amplifying everyone else as well. A huge help when I’m trying to jam with noisier instruments! And a pickup will be a much neater solution. 

If anyone else has had similar challenges, I would be glad to hear from you!