Sad News -- RIP Ralph Lee Smith
General mountain dulcimer or music discussions
Thank you Ken. It's a deep loss for the dulcimer world. Ralph Lee Smith has given us all so much.
We're talking about fret markers, not fret placement.
Sounds like he's not very experienced in dulcimers and diatonic instruments. He may be a good luthier at other intruments, but I don't think he understands how the concept of modal scales applies to mtn dulcimer fret patterns in particular. He's defensive because naturally no one who presents themselves as professional likes to have their lack of knowledge pointed out to them. Still, you have done him a favor because future clients will have a hard time with his strangely placed fret markers as well, if he doesn't understand a diatonic scale with its half and whole steps and how they are used in tuning and playing.
After hearing all your replies I felt confident in contacting him and letting him know he definitely did not have the Fret markers in the correct/standard places. He took the critique kindly and informed me that his confusion came because he counted the nut as fret one when he began putting in the markers. Mystery solved.
Well that solves the mystery. You helped improve things for the next person who buys a dulcimer from him! Still gotta wonder though why he didn't do two minutes of simple google research or just looking at online dulcimer images before inlaying the markers.
I suspect fret markers were invented for chromatically fretted instruments. Guitar, banjo, mandolin players really need them. Sometimes they have tiny inlaid dots on the side of the necks as fret markers rather than on the fretboard itself.
I agree with the others that on dulcimers, the distinctive fret spacing patterns serve as a good visual map. If someone wants fret markers anyway, the 3/5/7/10 placements would not cause objections form players. Other placements such as 4/6/8 don't make much sense to me and would cause confusions for many players.
Other practical problems with converting/selling this Galax dulcimer into a baritone: First, people looking for a baritone mountain dulcimer usually don't want wooden tuning pegs . Also, most people looking for a baritone dulcimer will be chord style players , and this Galax is a real traditional wooden pegged dulcimer with no 6.5 fret. It's daunting to play a diatonically fretted dulcimer in chord style without a 6.5 fret. Baritone players are not going to want to retune in order to play various tunes. They want to stick with standard baritone tunings. And to play chord style in typical baritone tuning means you'll need that 6.5 fret.
Though not a precious museum antique, this is nonetheless a lovely traditional vintage Galax dulcimer (and such beautiful naturally blonde wood! ) though it seems to lack a double back. There is a substantial market for traditional Galaxes. It would be a bit odd to market this as a "Galax Baritone" since Galax dulcimers weren't made as baritones. There is also a good market for baritone dulcimers, but most folks who know dulcimers and are looking for a baritone dulcimer will avoid a wood peg dulcimer without a 6.5 fret that is obviously a Galax dulcimer. They'd want a more modern large scale dulcimer with 6.5 and 13.5 frets, and geared tuners.
And if for no other reason... I'm pretty sure you would get a better price selling this as a traditional restored Galax and not a concocted Barilax. (sounds like a Barium enema, hahah). If someone who loves vintage instruments did buy it, they'd probably immediately turn it back to a traditional Galax stringing anyway. Why not bring out its own natural beauty and appeal in what it is? Just my two cents.
Do take another look at the gorgeous droolyworthy Galaxes shown on Ben Seymour's site. They are so wonderful! I'm extremely lucky to have a custom Galax made by Ben. But this Delser has heaps and heaps of charm, especially if you let the beauty of that blonde chestnutty-poplary wood come through.
I can't blame you. That would be somewhat distracting if you play more than one dulcimer. I suppose you could get used to it, but yeah I think you did the right thing.
If i were to retrieve the thread you deleted, then there'd be two. Since you have added a bunch of stuff to this new one, it creates a dilemma. Which thread would you want to keep? I could lock this new thread and then you could copy/paste the new posts from this thread to the old thread and I could then delete this one. Wanna try that?
I'm so glad this worked out so well Traildad! Thanks for the happy update!
I agree, I have a kit dulcimer from the 80s that looks very much the same, just slightly different peg head shape. Something about the thinness of the wood, and the 'cut' appearance of the edges.
Awesome!!!! So excited for you! Those look nice and bright, fresh.
Now be sure to measure how many seeds you start with in the jar, they should almost fill the jar when done. I find that 4 level teaspoons (meaning 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon, all level not rounded) will fill my entire quart jar nicely without being so tight I can't pull them out.
For lunch today I had a sandwich made with two thin slices meunster cheese and a BIG handful each of mung sprouts and red clover sprouts, on peasant bread with a little butter and mayo. Yum! Basically a sprout sandwich.
Sometimes I wonder about the origin of certain random words. Today out of curiosity I looked up the etymology of the word "leotard" which sounded kinda French.
Found out it was named after Jules Leotard, a famous French trapeze artist of the 1800s. He created a stretchy legless performance suit which he referred to as a "maillot". Over time, such skintight outfits caught on with other athletes and performers- circus acrobats, gymnasts, strongmen, dancers, ice skaters, and various entertainers who often embellished their leotards to make them more showy.
These stretchy body suits weren't named leotards until years after Jules Leotard died. He died in his early thirties of an illness (cholera, typhoid, or smallpox) during a performance tour of Spain.
You can google images of Jules- there are many impressive publicity shots of him... and his physique. lolol
And there you go!
There comes a point on a 27-28" vsl where the strings required to reach a very high note become so thin that they will probably break by virtue of their own thinness. I found this out once with .008 strings, tuning up somewhere around high f. Went through 2 strings before I decided I probably needed a shorter scale length. ;D
How Jimmy Stewart's WWII experiences shaped It's a Wonderful Life... and how this affects us today.
Zu Zu's petals...
As far as I know, a dulcimer having feet doesn't specifically suggest WV. Galax dulcimers are traditionally tuned in unison all high ddd or equidistant dddd stringing. BTW we have a Group here on fotmd for Galax dulcimers- might be some fun threads in there to check out for fun.
Maybe the 1/2" action was an experiment to use it as a lap steel, with a slide? Obviously one cannot fret a 1/2" action. Maybe they clipped on a pickup. People do things weird things with dulcimers they find. Do you think the bridge and nut were replaced with high ones? Can't say much without pictures.
Agreed, that bass string someone put on is way too heavy. And yes someone might have been trying it out as a baritone. Wrong dulcimer for a baritone experiment, IMHO. ;)
I have had some antique banjos and mandolins that absolutely had to be strung only with a slightly lighter gauge set than normal. Older instruments deserve a little love and tenderness I think.
Dusty's right- there is no room for fine tuning beads or any kind of fine tuners behind that bridge. But if the wooden pegs are well fit to their holes, and a drop of Peg Drops applied and let to cure, then the pegs 'should' turn smoothly and hold well... as they are supposed to do.
People who buy dulcimers find out pretty quickly if they like wooden peg tuners or not. Some people won't buy vintage dulcimers by a known maker if they've had their pegs replaced with geared tuners. Other people won't buy dulcimers unless they have geared tuners. Those people aren't usually that interested in an antique or collector dulcimer. Don't worry about it, because you can't please everyone.
In general, it's best to keep an antique dulcimer with its original wooden pegs if at all possible. There are thousands of geared tuner dulcimers all over the place to buy if one wants or needs geared tuners. And only a finite number of pre-1970s dulcimers in their original configuration.
You can take pride in preserving an old instrument in a way that is faithful to its maker. Remember the word 'restore' means just that- to restore something to the way it was. Your Maxwell has a huge amount of charm and grace and should be a joy to play when strung up. I can tell you care about it. Maybe you can record a simple tune for us on it soon. :)
The string spacing is interesting. What string arrangement are you going to use?
Probably a sign of intense concentration in the music. Lots of musicians do weird things with their mouths and their faces while playing, btw. I suspect that's why oldtime fiddlers like to sport beards so much.
If you can remind yourself periodically to close your mouth it won't matter if you're drooling.
I found this to be really interesting. What is it about Christmas music that gives us a "Christmas/holiday feeling"?
That's a nice looking dulcimer, and looks to be in fine shape. :)
What's the scale length?
I have seen the beads but I am not familiar with what they do. Where are they obtained, or are they just "beads"?
googling "dulcimer fine tuning beads" yields THIS .
I agree, Ken.
I think you meant "Peg Drops" and behind the bridge, not the nut...right? ;)
Warning- biased opinion ahead!:
I'm a big advocate of keeping vintage/antique collector dulcimers in original configuration. There is not an unlimited supply of antique dulcimers, and some we think of as not terribly valuable today might be precious and rare 30 years from now. Whatever your personal preferences, it is true that any collectable dulcimer will be diminished in value if you remove its wooden pegs and replace with geared. Or add extra frets, etc. I usually just suggest that if one wants geared tuners (and most folks do..they are convenient!) one should just buy a more modern dulcimer that has them already rather than alter an antique.
Nina, I'm excited for you- you GO girl! I look forward to a few pix later.
I'm convinced that sprouts that are truly fresh (grown at home) are a real powerhouse of healthy nutrients.
Remember to keep them dark while growing, until the last day when you set the jar next to a bright window- so fun to see them get so GREEN within a few hours of being exposed to light!
You said: "B flat / G / F (melody string is F)"
In listening to your sound clip of your open strings, you have lowest string (bass) at Bb. The middle string is tuned to the G above the melody string's F. Thus, the highest sounding open string is the middle string G.
The youtube you copied below is playing Emma's waltz with a capo at fret one, resulting in the minor-sounding aeolian mode. This is what I guessed before with your tuning. On your open F melody string, the first fret of your melody string will be your 'home'/tonic note which would be a G (matching your open middle string in G). If you aren't using a capo (without telling us), you'd be playing the waltz in the G aeolian scale, in Aeolian mode which has a lonesome/sad feel. From the internet: "G Aeolian is the sixth mode of the Bb major scale · G Aeolian Scale Notes: G A Bb C D Eb F". Your tonic/home note is G, on the 1st fret of the melody string.
The reason your melody string is the F note LOWER than the middle string (usually it's higher than the middle string) is because if you tried to tune it to next f note one octave higher, at a 28"+ vsl that string would break no matter how thin a gauge you had. So you went with the F an octave lower which happened to be one note below the middle string G.
What tune are you playing with this tuning? That will help us.
What fret does the tune end on? That will help too.
I'm 'suspecting' you are playing in G aeolian, with the tonic note being G at the first fret of the melody string, and the middle string being tuned to G the tonic. That would give you the minor/lonesome sound.
But tell us answers to my questions above.
There are many good youtube tutorials if you search there for "growing sprouts in quart mason jars". You can get organic sprouting seeds easily on A*zon, also those stainless steel screen tops that I like to use. Or just use some cheesecloth and a rubber band. Just make sure to use the wide mouth jars so you can pull the mass of grown sprouts out without damaging them. You can buy either like a 1lb bag of a certain seed (a lb of alfalfa seed last me a year) or try a collection that has several varieties of littler sampler bags of seed to try out. Be sure the seed specifically says it's for sprouting.
Once you've put in the seeds and secured the screen or mesh top, you won't be removing the top until the sprouts are all grown and ready. You just do the twice daily rinsing right through the mesh at the sink. The jars stay upside down so no water pools in the jar, and must stay covered and dark until the last day when you do a final jar rinse and set the jar by a bright windowsill- the leaves will green up within 2 or 3 hours in the light.
A handful of sprouts is actually more nutritious than a handful of lettuce leaves. It's such a cheap and easy way to have absolutely FRESH greens on hand. You'll be amazed at how low the sprouts stay fresh in your fridge- because the sprouts one buys in the store are days or sometimes more than a week old since they were packaged.
Today we taste tested the alfalfa vs the red clover sprouts. Alfalfa won again, but both were tasty.
Dusty, the red clover has very slightly more golden leaves and finer texture. The alfalfa sprouts have darker green little leaves and whiter roots, so they are really pretty. Here is a pic of a quart container full of my alfalfa sprouts after rinsing removed most of the empty hulls. They really are purty after being cleaned and drained and tucked into a fridge tub. A quart goes a long way, giving enough for several very generous sandwiches and salad toppings.
It's convenient how the empty hulls float to the top when you rinse the finished sprouts, making them easy to skim away. When you pull the wad of sprouts out of the jar, they really are a packed mass which you have to gently tease apart to wash them before draining well and putting in the fridge. That's why I never use more than 4 level teaspoons of seed for a quart jar!
here are a few pix from this morning. The full jar ready to harvest is red clover. The little seeds just soaked overnight and ready to start growing are alfalfa. Then you see the mung beans which have been growing about three days after soaking overnight.
Then pix of pulling the mat of sprouts out of the jar, and teasing them apart and risning in a tub where the hulls float and can be skimmed away. then the finished rinsed drained red clover sprouts in a quart tupperware tub for the fridge.
Hi Lois, I just posted a comment on the comment wall of the Dulcimer Therapy Group. I also posted in a discussion in the Little Dulcimers Group. Both posts immediately appeared in the main 'feed' on FOTMD's Home Page. If you post something new on the site, it usually appears in the main activity feed (except for comments on people's personal profile pages).
If you want to get notifications concerning new content in particular Groups that interest you, then read this: https://fotmd.com/forums/forum/site-questions-how-do-i/18538/new-group-follow-features-added You can also subscribe to get notifications on Forum topics you like.
Because Groups are generally more focused on special interests, they tend to have less activity than the General site forums have. As with any online forum, people tend to get back what they put in, as opposed to say watching a movie. Flurries of activity come and go in various places on our site and at any given time. Some threads or groups more than others, some members more than others.
As to scrolling 72 pages, well any site with an activity feed will require a lot of scrolling through past pages if you only visit the site once in a while and then want to review weeks' worth of activity. Facebook is even worse imho since it doesn't even utilize pages...just one bottomless Black Hole of Scroll.
Lois I notice you always seem to post about having trouble missing out on or finding old content after returning intermittently, despite being a long time member. I hope this info from Dusty and me helps in some way. Maybe if you visit more often and post more in the groups and forums that interest you, you won't need to search so hard for activity you missed. ;)
Now to adjust the action the nut is to adjust the first fret, the bridge for the 7th, or is there something else?
Well, just that one will also need to be sure the string gauges are appropriate to both the tuning to be used, and the scale length/VSL of the dulcimer. Otherwise even with correct action you might wind up with buzzes (strings too loose), or strings that are too high tension and perhaps unpleasant to play. Keep in mind also that beginner players often like very low action for their sore fingers, and people who strum vigorously might need slightly higher action to avoid strings hitting the frets. (This being a separate consideration from the "noter players like higher action" thing.)
I tried a variety mix once, but found it problematic that the different types of seeds matured at slightly different rates. I also found the larger seed ones in the mix to be a little too crunchy. But some folks like the mixes especially for sandwiches and salads, so you could try a small package maybe? Other people love broccoli sprouts.
My husband and I like mild tasting sprouts best, so our mainstay is alfalfa. Every time I try something different, we wind up going back to alfalfa...I guess we're just set in our boring ways.
Dulcinina, yes cheese cloth and a rubber band works too! Some people cut plastic cross-stitch mesh into circles to use with the canning jar's metal band top. Others use pieces of tulle fabric or landscaping mesh. Anything that keeps the seeds in but lets water drain out. I just find the stainless steel screens to be convenient to clean and reuse, since I sprout a lot.
Try to use the WIDE-mouth canning jars, so that it's easy to pull the finished clump of sprouts out once they are done growing... usually the sprouts pack the entire jar if you start with 4 teaspoons of seed, and it's hard to pull a big dense clump out with a small mouth jar. You can use a little less seed, or smaller jars or different containers, but don't use more than 4 teaspoons of say alfalfa or radish per quart jar or the sprouts will get too crowded to grow. I read that a 1/4 cup of mung beans per quart jar works well, but I'm trying that out now.
I'll try to get some photos later to add. :)
Now that Winter has set in and the veggie garden is dormant, I've started my winter tradition of growing fresh sprouts in jars in my kitchen.
Especially now during the pandemic when I want to avoid frequent trips out to buy food, fresh SPROUTS are a terrific substitute for lettuce! We pile them on sandwiches, in tortilla rollups, and as a side for scrambled eggs or anywhere you would want a little handful of greens. Mung sprouts are also good in stir fried dishes. I find that a head of pretty purple raddichio stays nice for three whole weeks in the fridge, so a couple of thin slices of raddichio, some grated carrot, and a handful of sprouts (and some croutons!) makes a wonderful salad.
This year with buying lettuce less frequently, I went all in and am adding two other types of sprouts to our usual favorite of alfalfa sprouts... I'm now alternating growing jars of alfalfa sprouts with mung bean and red clover. (we don't care for the peppery types like radish sprouts though some folks love those)
I use quart jars with screw on screen tops, and because each jar takes 5 or 6 days I keep two jars growing at any given time. I start a new jar every 4 days or so because it takes us about four days to eat through each batch. I just have to remember to rinse and drain the growing sprouts twice a day so they stay moist and clean while growing. I keep the jars upside down (to avoid any water pooling in the jar) in my dish draining rack, covered with a cloth to keep them dark. On the last day I sit the jar near a bright window and they totally green up within a few hours- so pretty and magical! Then I pull them out of the jar, tease them apart, rinse several times to remove most of the hulls, and put them in a plastic tub in the fridge to eat. A quart jar can make a big bunch of sprouts! It only takes 4 teaspoons of alfalfa seeds to wind up with a quart jar jammed FULL of mature sprouts.
I buy organic 'sprouting seeds' on am*zon in 1 pound bags. Don't use seeds meant for planting because those are often treated and/or GMO. A 1lb bag will last you at least a year.
Just seeing the green jars growing in my kitchen during the dead of winter always brings me a feeling of hope and renewal.
On Christmas day 2020 it will be ten years since Rod passed away. Just wanted to post a fond remembrance of "Deputy Mo" again. He contributed so much friendship and encouragement to members here on FOTMD. Rest in peace and in music, Rod.