Forum Activity for @ken-hulme

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/30/23 10:57:48PM
2,025 posts

Introduce Yourself!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Shootrj2003 -- If you want a "true" dulcimer dating to 1840s there are a bare handful of photos of originals.  "True" in this case means having a central raised fretboard -- a major distinguishing characteristic which separates dulcimers from the ancestral Fretted Zithers of the Pennsylvania "Dutch" -- Germans --  who were there in PA long before 1800. 

The fretted zither plays basically the same as a dulcimer, but has a very low "staple board" on the straight near side of the body.  The photo shows a replica of one which I built from dimensions and photos supplied by the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, PA.  The instrument I replicated was made by a man named Jacob Gross, who built it sometime before 1865.  It has a traditional diatonic fret spacing, three strings, the VSL is 24", overall dimensions 4" wide and 37" long and a maximum of 3.5" high.  John and several other of our Traditional builders saw and played my replica at a Traditional Dulcemore Gathering we held in Kentucky a few years ago.

Fretted Zither.JPG

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/11/23 07:10:36AM
2,025 posts

to get chromatic or not


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

The short answer is YES. 

But if you've ever watched Robert Force perform you have to ask yourself "Why".  Why, if someone can do the Magic that he does with an ordinary diatonic dulcimer, why go to the expense of having a chromatic instrument built.  Better to spend the time really learning the instrument you already have.

There's also this to ponder...  When asked about a dulcimer with “extra" frets, Jean Ritchie replied “In a strict sense it has a different finger board, it’s not quite a dulcimer anymore.”

If you can play better than Robert or Jean, then yeah... go ahead and spend the money.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/30/22 12:35:54PM
2,025 posts

Recommendations for best software for splitting PDFs?


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

30+ years as a science and technical writer creating documents large and small!

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/30/22 07:11:28AM
2,025 posts

Recommendations for best software for splitting PDFs?


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

Adobe Acrobat is, of course, the quintessential PDF manipulation software.  You can get a free trial version of Acrobat Standard, which may be all you need to disassemble and reassemble several large PDFs.  Or You can buy it for $12.99 per month and cancel within 14 days for a full refund.

Back in 2004 I set the then world record for creating a single large file -- 1.3 terabyte!  A project recording all of the re-fit upgrades to the vessel and its science and technical suite of a Missile Range Control ship called the KRS Worthy based on Kwajalein Atoll.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/23/22 04:45:24PM
2,025 posts

The Positive Thread...


OFF TOPIC discussions

Thankful for friends & family who survived Hurricane Ian whether they lost everything else, or nothing; thankful the dulcimer which has brought me so much joy over the years; and thankful for having been alive for nearly seventy-five years and having seen the changes, good and bad which have taken place around the world.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/18/22 05:58:48PM
2,025 posts

Looking to Upgrade/Add to my Dulcimer Collection


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

I believe John does put feet on, and he would certainly do so by request.  Freeing up the bottom of the dulcimer to vibrate acts as a natural natural amplifier, giving you a noticeably louder voice...   I love Darlin' Corey!

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/17/22 07:52:33AM
2,025 posts

Looking to Upgrade/Add to my Dulcimer Collection


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

Michael -- John is being modest.  he is one of the top five or six replica/traditional instrument builder out theretoday.  His Uncle Ed Thomas Kentucky hourglass dulcimers are very sought after!

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/16/22 03:35:48PM
2,025 posts

Looking to Upgrade/Add to my Dulcimer Collection


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

John's TMBs are very traditional and have a great voice.  The big difference is that John's TMBs are made to be played traditionally --  with the melody string only being fretted -- so they have frets only under the melody string.     Gibson's TMB isn't very traditional and has frets all the way across the fretboard.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/15/22 10:38:32PM
2,025 posts

Ron Ewing 6 string dulcimette songs


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

Almost all dulcimers have 3 courses of strings -- Bass, Middle Drone and Melody. 

Each course can have 1, 2 or even 3 strings.  Traditionally dulcimers had only 1 string per course.  However today we see 4-strings with a doubled Melody course, 4 strings with doubled Bass course, and once in awhile 4-strings with doubled Middle Drone course.    We also commonly see 5-string dulcimers with doubled Melody and Bass courses.  Of course the 6-string setup, sometimes called a Church dulcimer, has all three courses doubled.    ALL of the above are played as if they have only 3 strings -- strumming, flatpicking or fingerpicking both strings of each course as if it were a single string.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/15/22 10:25:42PM
2,025 posts

"Bill Davis "? 5 string tuning and string gauges


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

Use the Strothers String Gauge calculator to tell you what gauges to purchase.
Tom & Missy Strothers | String Choice

Plug in the VSL and the Note you want to tune a particular string to, and it will tell you the gauge.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/15/22 06:41:58AM
2,025 posts

Misplaced fret


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

Can you hear the off-ness or is it just a few cents on the tuner?   Is this instrument supposed to be fretted Just Intonated, or Mean Tone or something else.  Most people who play ordinary dulcimers with groups of folks don't order a JI fretted instrument because JI instruments don't sound quite right when played together with conventionally scaled instruments.

Call the builder.  Tell him your issues.  Tell him what you've told us.   Have him listen to you play the scales.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/14/22 10:06:11PM
2,025 posts

Misplaced fret


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

Like John, I do not see any "issues" with the placement of the 6+ or 13+ frets.  Play it.  Play the scales.  If the scales sound right and read right on your electronic tuner, they ARE right.  Photographs can be deceiving.  


updated by @ken-hulme: 12/14/22 10:09:50PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/13/22 05:09:56PM
2,025 posts

Ron Ewing 6 string dulcimette songs


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

As Dusty sez -- Join the group to see the responses...  And your dulcimette is really a 3-course dulcimer with two strings on each course... so there is a TON of music out there it depends on which genres you like to play!   I have a short VSL dulcimore made by Bobby Ratliff, on which i play (in Noter & Drone or Fingerdance) mostly Americana and Celtic folk music and ballads).


updated by @ken-hulme: 12/14/22 06:38:20AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/29/22 04:56:29PM
2,025 posts

Howie Mitchell Dulcimer Building Book and Booklets Available Again!


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

That's a nice find @gail-a, but Howie's HD book is another thing entirely.  Not the same as the Mountain Dulcimer book and recordings we discussed all those years ago on ED.  Both book, by modern standards, are somewhat outdated in their approach to building.  Many things Howie was explaining how to calculate, for example, are commonly found today or easily acquired from on-line calculators etc.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/29/22 08:12:19AM
2,025 posts

info wanted on inherited dulcimer


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

It shouldn't need much, if any 'setup".  Just perhaps a new set of strings, wiping with a damp cloth, and a couple drops of Peg Dope to make sure the pegs work smoothly.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/29/22 07:42:13AM
2,025 posts

Howie Mitchell Dulcimer Building Book and Booklets Available Again!


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

The links do not work because the original www.everythingdulcimer.com no longer exists.  The current site called that is nothing like the original.   Gosh -- I haven't been in any contact with David for at least 8 years.  Haven't any idea if he's even still alive.   

There are a couple of archived versions of ALL the conversations we had on ED, but I don't remember who has them posted on-line.    Perhaps someone else will have that link.  The discussions there undoubtedly have David's contact information although it might not be valid any longer.  

Sorry I can't be of more help.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/28/22 04:06:41PM
2,025 posts

info wanted on inherited dulcimer


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

I've never heard of Robert Bryan as a North Carolina builder.  But with over 400 builds he had some superior building skills.  The veined, leaf shaped tuning pegs, the laminated layers of light wood between dark on the tuning head and fretboard, and  skillfully cut sound holes are nice touches.  Probably built in the 1970s or 80s -- no 6+ or 13+ frets common to many post-Revival instruments.  Or perhaps he just liked the older ways of playing.  

I'd suggest keeping it "as is" rather than trying to retrofit 6+ and 13+ frets.  Playing Chord-Melody style tuned DAd would not be easy unless you are willing to re-tune.  Probably best to tune to DAA or even CGG and learn to play Fingerdance or Noter & Drone style.

Have you tried finding the builder's obituary on line?    "robert bryan dulcimer raleigh" should be a good google search string.  An obit will often give you interesting information,  likewise listings in Ancestry and similar sites may gain you more data.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/25/22 06:56:28AM
2,025 posts

Introduce Yourself!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions


Welcome Mivo!  You have a fabulous journey ahead... enjoy every step.

I thought it interesting that you said "... I also believed it was just for accompaniment, not for solo instrumentals,..."  when in fact it has nearly always through its history been a solo instrument rather than an ensemble member.

As a new player I'll suggest you take a look at the essay/booklet I write a number of years ago for beginning players.  It's called I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What? .  It's an illustrated glossary of dulcimer terms (so we all speak the same jargon) plus answers to many beginner questions about the tuning, playing care and feeding of your new friend.  You can find it here:

Ken Hulme's "I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What?" Article - Strumelia | fotmd.com

Feel free to copy and print it as much as you want.


updated by @ken-hulme: 11/25/22 06:58:04AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/13/22 11:36:59AM
2,025 posts

Rugg and Jackel Folkroots dulcimer - year?


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

Drop Howard a note.  He's usually glad tohelp with dating their insruments.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/11/22 01:56:19PM
2,025 posts

Feedback welcome


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

As my friend John suggests, look closely at the nut and bridge of your Mize dulcimer.  There may be two notches, close together, on the melody side.  To make a 4-equal string setup into a double melody plus mid and bass drone setup, all you have to do is loosen and move the one equi string over to make a pair in the melody position.    The double-melody setup is very common for beginner and experts alike.  

Even if there are no second notches, you can either make a second notch using a small triangular file in the existing n&b; or buy a new nut and bridge for a couple bucks and replace the existing ones.  In either case you can then get rid of the 'leftover' middle string and just have 3 strings.

We can talk you through filing new notches or replacing the existing nut & bridge.  You won't be the first...  It's actually very easy.

Blue Lions are NEVER cheap, and you've already not had such good luck buying used.  If you're going to spend more money on yet another instrument, buy a new Folkcraft or McSpadden or an instrument from one of the numerous builders who hang around here.  


updated by @ken-hulme: 11/11/22 02:01:58PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/07/22 10:26:21PM
2,025 posts

Can you identify this dulcimer


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

Doh!   How did I miss that!  shruggerconfuseyzzz

 So... yes, this is either a kit instrument built backwards, or someone's one-off 'mirror image'. Certainly not a commercial product.     I'd bet it's a kit of some kind built nose-to-tail.  The shallow-sloped tail end should actually be the shoulder below the tuning head, and the more rounded bout should be the tail!

Good thing you didn't buy this.  It may play OK, but it's only real value is as a curiosity.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/06/22 02:46:01PM
2,025 posts

Can you identify this dulcimer


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

If there is no maker's label visible inside the bottom, below of the rear sound holes, chances are it is a personally-made instrument rather than a commercially made dulcimer.  Many personal instruments (better term than 'home made') which we make also have labels inside.   That fretboard inlay is nice, but is not like anything I've seen from the usual commercial builders. 


updated by @ken-hulme: 11/06/22 02:49:45PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/06/22 09:54:32AM
2,025 posts

Best Practices for Practice


Playing and jamming difficulties...HELP ME!


So MANY questions!HUG    Each of us is different, of course.  I don't practice, per se.  I play.    Noter & Drone.  By ear, not tab or SMN.  Sometimes a lot, sometimes a little.

I have, I suppose, over 200 songs in my repertoire (well, tunes anyway, not words). I have about 100 of them printed on a "cheat sheet" in tiny type, each with the first measure or two of melody tab notes, so I can recall how they start.  It's especially hard for me to 'hear' the start of a tune in my head when I'm in a high noise musical environment like a song circle or Open Mic event.  Here's the first few from the Americana section of my list:

Wayfaring Stranger 11..55..454.3.0
Shady Grove 4.444.5431
Skip To My Lou 55..33..55.7 4.44...22...44.6
Old Joe Clark 4565.4.3.2 45654
I'll Fly Away 5.3.0.3.5456.5...4.....3.22.0


updated by @ken-hulme: 11/06/22 10:07:45AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/04/22 05:02:37PM
2,025 posts

Clemmer Peg head


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


I thought mike's instruments we well labelled.  Call him and ask --

 Retail shop open Thursday and Friday 10am - 5pm.    Call 865.448.6647 


updated by @ken-hulme: 11/04/22 05:02:59PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/30/22 11:25:17PM
2,025 posts

Help me name this instrument!


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

The fret spacing does not define it as a "dulcimer" anything -- the instrument has a neck.  Lots of instruments in the past 1000 years have had diatonic fret spacings.  Dulcimers, by international definition, do not have necks.  It is a small bodied diatonic guitar, a member of the Lute family of instruments.    River Lute isn't a bad name...

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/30/22 11:16:15PM
2,025 posts

Strap button question


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

No, as I don't use straps.  However, it may seem different because you aren't pressing down on the instrument so firmly, and thus allowing it to vibrate more.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/28/22 07:07:16AM
2,025 posts

Dulcimer Moving when I play


Playing and jamming difficulties...HELP ME!

Actually @jmhundley, I personally think your original solution -- a "lap cover" if you will -- is a much safer option.  Seems like every time I get around a group which favors straps over good leg and dulcimer placement, or a cover, I see someone stand up without unstrapping, and the instrument hits the seat or ground.   Can't say I've ever seen an "unstrapped" player stand and drop their instrument.  I firmly believe that a "proper position" is more important that any artificial solution. 

The knees needs to be spread more than shoulder width apart; the first fret needs to be over the player's left knee (assuming right handed) while the bridge (more or less) needs to be tucked into the right hip, with the dulcimer diagonally across your lap.  You do not want your knees any closer together, and you don't want the instrument setting at right angles to your body, with more dulcimer hanging outside the knees than between them.  If you habitually wear slick polyester slacks, then a shelf-liner is useful.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/18/22 12:17:25PM
2,025 posts

Aha! Experience with modes


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

If you want a less conventional -- but entertaining as well as educational --  look at Modes, check out my essay called Uncontrite Modal Folker:


Uncontrite Modal Folker.pdf - 92KB

updated by @ken-hulme: 10/18/22 12:19:02PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/15/22 11:07:50PM
2,025 posts

Warren May Hourdrop Question


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

GinaB -- the short answer is no, a short VSL will not  "bring both hands to the front of my body" -- unless your body is 24" wide!   The reason is, we strum the dulcimer mostly at one end, and fret mostly at the other end.  I have a couple hundred tunes in my repertoire and from experience, most tunes occur between frets 1-10, with occasional forays up to frets 12 and even 14. 

If you have trouble with the instrument bobbing up and down, moving around and such, the solution is probably to be found in how you're setting the dulcimer on your lap.     The first thing to do is get your knees far apart -- 16" or more apart.  T

The second thing is to angle the dulcimer across your body -- not square across, but angled, with the first fret (more or less) over your left knee (assuming you're right handed) and tucking the bridge (more or less) into your right hip.

Hard to take a picture of your own lap, but here you go.  The first photo shows my Bobby Ratliff Cumberland Model with a 20" VSL and you can see the first fret out over my left knee and the right end tucked into my hip.  I sit up. and don't hunch over, but I do look down at the fretboard often while I play.  

The second photo shows another Ratliff dulcemore, with a 26" VSL (the bridge is just out of picture on the right side.  Same wide stance.  Same 1st fret over the right knee.  Same right end tucked into my right hip.

However, in both cases I'm playing with my left hand moving from my left knee to the middle of my lap -- not from leg to leg.  





updated by @ken-hulme: 10/15/22 11:19:21PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/15/22 11:05:11AM
2,025 posts

Do I keep it and fix it up or play it as is


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions


IMHO FB Marketplace is not a particularly good place to shop for dulcimers if you are inexperienced with them.  Neither is Goodwill.  Most of us who really care about our instruments would not sell there, I think.  

FYI the New Harmony Pudge has a 24"VSL, considered by many to be a most excellent length, and hardly too small for you.  I build and play a 24-25" VSL instrument as well as 28-30" instruments.  The McSpadden Ginger has a nominally 24" VSL and the same notion applies.   

IMHO, with your lack of experience you are fretting (all puns intended) far too much over the VSL.  After you've played everyday for 6 months, you'll have some idea of what  "too big" or "too small" mean to you personally.

What exactly is the issue with the tuners?  Are they too tight?  Or too loose and don't keep the strings in tune?  Have broken knobs?  We can talk you through fixing them if they are too tight or too loose.  No need to spend money when a quick fix with a screwdriver will do the job.



updated by @ken-hulme: 10/15/22 11:21:55AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/13/22 10:29:08PM
2,025 posts

Do I keep it and fix it up or play it as is


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

IMHO spending $200 to fix a $100 dulcimer is not worth it unless you happened to luck onto an historical instrument from a known master builder (it has happened, but rarely).  Spend the $200 on another instrument.  Keep you eyes open here for someone selling an instrument that you could become attached to, at a price you can afford!

As Richard sez, we can talk you through cleaning up the instrument you have, adjusting the tuners so they work as properly as possible, and other issues.  

As a new player I recommend you copy, print and read the following booklet I wrote a few years back for beginners called
I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What?   It's an illustrated glossary of dulcimer terms, so we all speak the same jargon, plus answers to many beginner questions about tuning, playing, care and feeding.  Tips like how to never breaks another string when tuning...

Ken Hulme's "I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What?" Article - Strumelia | fotmd.com

The Beginner Players Group here is the perfect place to ask beginner questions.  You actually have to Join the Group to read most posts and make your own posts there.  Start a new post with your question(s) rather than tagging in on someone else's post -- it will help others like you find the answers you asked for.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/13/22 04:30:02PM
2,025 posts

How do I create a new forum discussion?


Site QUESTIONS ? How do I...?

Gina -- the How To Start A Discussion instructions are in the very first post at the bottom of this string. 

Basically go to the Discussion area you want to start a new Discussion in, such as General Mountain Dulcimer Or Music Discussions.  At the top of that page, click on the + sign at the right of the name.   In the appropriate boxes, give the new Discussion a name and write a bit about what you want to discuss there.  Then click the Create Button.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/13/22 07:47:31AM
2,025 posts

Introduce Yourself!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Gina & Doug -- there IS a UK dulcimer organization -- it's been around for decades.  The group is called Nonesuch Dulcimer Club: www.dulcimer.org.uk   They can set you straight as to local players, activities, meet ups and such.


updated by @ken-hulme: 10/13/22 07:48:39AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/09/22 08:00:19AM
2,025 posts

Holiday


OFF TOPIC discussions

WHAT AN ODYSSEY!   Nearly perfect month in the UK  from the far south (Steyning on the coast of West Sussex) to Lincolnshire on the east coast.  Then up north beyond the northern tip of Scotland to the  Orkney islands, when humans first came to the UK tens of thousands of years ago.  Home to stone monuments, underground villages and religious centers as old or older than the pyramids and at least as impressive as Stonehenge.  From there driving diagonally Scotland to Oban on the west cost, down the The Great Glen (which includes Loch Ness).  Then diagonally the other way to Dunbar south of Edinburgh and on to the West March where my ancestors held sway around the towns of Coldstream, Kelso, Eyemouth and the stately homes/castles of Wedderburn, Duns, Marchemont and Hirsel (including the lands of the Blackadder branch of the family for you Rowan Atkinson fans).  After our Clan Gathering, we went south to Birmingham for a week or so before returning to the US.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/09/22 07:51:30AM
2,025 posts

Seagull Merlin spruce- stain? Lacquer under soundhole?


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

Stain and lacquer or varnish are not the same things.  Lacquer or varnish provide a protective covering, which is clear or slightly red-golden in color.  Stain just colors the wood -- make your spruce look dark like oak or red like cherry or brown like mahogany.  Unless you have perfect pitch or extremely sensitive instruments you will never hear an effect that such tretments will have on the sound (at least until the finish gets 1/16" deep!).  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
09/27/22 01:56:42PM
2,025 posts

Holiday


OFF TOPIC discussions

Played some Border Ballads in The Scottish Borders, it's true -- Hugh the Graeme (mentions Clan Hume), Kinmont Willie, Tramps & Hawkers, Lammastide,  Lock the Door Lariston and more...   Spent four nights in Wedderburn Castle and used their kitchen to cook breakfast for the 20 or so clansmen and women staying there with us (the others had to do with whatever the could).

Now I'm hunkered down to endure the coming of hurricane Ian.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
09/23/22 07:16:23PM
2,025 posts

Holiday


OFF TOPIC discussions

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...."  Almost everything went perfect -- flight over, visiting friends and family in Sussex and Lincolnshire, Orkney and the Scottish Borders. 

Our Clan chief, the 15the Earl Home passed away about 10 days before the Queen.  His son, Michael succeeded as 16th Earl, and Charles succeeded a King Charles III.  The Clan Gathering went really well, and our new Chief was able to attend even though he's a member of The Company of Archers --  the Royal bodyguards when in Scotland.  We even saw him on TV as part of the processions and parades of the royal funeral.

Then we went down to Birmingham and ran into snags.  First Sally got Covid (relatively mild), which deleted our canalboat trips and delayed  our flight home.  Then an Aer Lingus SNAFU has our luggage somewhere at Birmingham International (we have iTrackers on them) and cost us a $175 taxi ride from B'ham to London Heathrow airport (all good there).  Caught a British Airways flight to the Dulles, near DC. Then home today to Florida.

And now.... we face the possibility of a hurricane!

1