The Drifting Thread...
OFF TOPIC discussions
Irene; so sorry to hear Tomasi has gone ahead. Aloha 'oe Tomas!
The general rule of thumb for loudness and 'baritone-ness' is that the larger the volume of the soundbox (not just width or length, but volume), the louder the overall sound... especially when accompanied by more than 4 or 5 square inches of sound hole.
Size (square inches) of sound hole is important to creating volume. There's a complex mathematical solution called the Helmholts Equation (Wikipedia has a good write up on the subject). As a dulcimer gets bigger it needs more soundhole to let out the sound, and it's not a linear progression. John's Uncle Eddie has soundholes that are scaled up from the originals, but it needs maybe almost twice as much area of soundhole to "let it all out". If you are truly interested in maximizing performance, I think you'll want to find someone who can help you solve the Helmholtz equation specifically for the volume of the proposed body.
Mass of the body isn't as important as you might think.
Look at the traditional Tennessee Music Box -- roughly 4" deep, 14" wide and 26'-28" long, with planks (sides/top/bottom/back) averaging about 3/8" thick! Usually on feet to allow the back to vibrate as well, and a solid (seldom hollowed) 2x2 freboard.
Without a lot of "messing about", the simplest solution to a LOUD dulcimer is, IMHO, to build something about the same dimensions as the Tennessee Music Box I described above. Look at pictures of original TMBs to get an idea of how many soundholes/how much area of hole you'll need for something that size. Then here's my suggestion. Make twice as many soundholes as an original TMB of the same dimensions. Then start blocking off holes two at a time, and see the effect on the sound.
Dusty -- back then -- 10 years ago -- I was saying I'd been playing 30 years. Now, 10 years later, I'm saying 40 years...
2020 -1975 = 45 years "Time flies when you're having fun; fruit flies like bananas." -- Groucho Marx
I play a number of songs very slow -- Londonderry Air, Danny Boy, Amazing Grace, and others. It's the regular tempo that I'm struggling with -- rather than playing "expressively" to the rhythm of the words, I guess.
"Like a kidney stone, this too shall pass." -- Unk Nown
Speed issues with Ariane's Shenandoah Summer Project. I've spent 40 years playing to the rhythm of the words, and I decided to get involved with her group play project for the challenge. But 60 beats per minute seems glacial! Have I mentioned how much I hate those little blue city guys -- metro-gnomes?
MaryB -- not sure what your question has to do with the Chat Room, but there isn't even an Undergraduate program for Mountain Dulcimer in regular colleges, that I know of, let alone online, not to mention a Masters program!! There are some "courses" of various descriptions by folks like Steve Eulberg, Stephen Seifert and others, but no formal program.
If you ask this question by itself in the General Discussion area, instead of here under an announcement about the Chat Room, you may get others chiming in with course suggestions.
Simply put, you "determine(s) whether you choose to chord or not". This is a major factor in creating your own personal style of play. Just as choosing to sing or not sing along when you play, how you strum or pick or otherwise make the strings sing, and whether you sit, stand, hold the instrument flat or vertical or somewhere in between, define you as a dulcimer player.
The quintessential "rule" of dulcimer playing is: There Is No Right Way, Or Wrong Way To Play The Dulcimer -- only The Way that works for you. Never let anyone tell you that you must play in a given way.
I'm self taught too -- 40 years ago when there was only one book! I tell people that "one of these days I'll get it right." Actually I have -- gotten it right for me. I don't play chords at all. I play the full melody all the time in Noter & Drone style, with a variety of full and partial strums, primarily out-strums. I strum to the rhythm of the words, not a mechanical tick-tock. I almost never tune to DAd -- I change tunings readily, depending on the song -- DAA, Ddd, DAC, DAG and in the keys of C and E and G as well. I play sitting, with the instrument flat in my lap, or standing, with the dulcimer flat on a tall stand. I don't sing along as I play, rather I use the old technique of "play a verse then sing a verse".
No sense in keeping something you're not happy with. IIWM, I'd talk to Mike and see what I can do for a trade-in.
Yep mahogany; perhaps ply which was common, or a mix of ply and plank. J. Titus, builder. Sort of "in the style" of Hughes Co. dulcimers out of Denver back in those days.
I'm not a Chord-Melody player. But the first rule of playing dulcimer (having done it for 40+ years) is this:
There Is NO right way, or wrong way to play the dulcimer -- there is only The Way that works for you.
Others may not like or approve of how you do play, but that's their problem. Let no one dictate to you. Just because someone is a teacher does not make them right -- for you.
Yeah... unless you've made nuts/bridges from scratch, this is not a good time to start learning
MMD can probably just send you a couple Of blanks with appropriate grooves already in place. Then all you'd have to do is use a piece of 100 grit sandpaper to sand the bottoms off a bit to get the action height adjusted to what you want.
The Nickel & Dime action is a good place to start. That's dead easy and we can walk you through it when you're ready. Could even set up a zoom session if you need some virtual hands-on.
Basically you just change the nut and bridge to ones designed for right-handed stringing. Simpler to change them than muck about filing slots...
Not a clue of maker. Nice workmanship. Interesting design take on the modern, not traditional dulcimer design. Not having a 6+ fret doesn't make it an older build. There's a guitar builder guy turned dulcimer maker, on one of the FB groups recently, who was all upset when I suggested his $800 new-made dulcimers would more likely sell of they included the 6+ fret and did not include French polished finish. He had no clue what the 6+ fret was -- he'd followed one of the old building booksbooks.
Obviously this instrument is only good for ball-end strings, with those tail pockets. The tuners are pretty common covered singles still made today. The head and tail aren't carved, just bandsawed to shape with the edges rounded over.
Depends on the kind of dulcimer you're interested. Generally speaking Folkcraft and McSpadden kits are very good. There are a few custom builders like Bobby Ratliff who produce a kit, but they are generally for more specific and specialized kinds of dulcemores.
Yep -- ken's right. i joined Everything Dulcimer on the Ides of March 2002. Wow! Eighteen years ago...
Rangers are really nice boats. I spent six weeks tripping parts of the Caribbean in a Ranger 41 as Chef for the owner. wife and adult daughter. Nice blue water boat.
A song by one of my best friends, guitarist Jim Visone, who lived down the dock from me here, called I Don't Have The Words. Other than that, the Robert Burns song called Green Grow The Rashes, O which is a sort of love song celebrating all women.
This is absolutely the most difficult problem a player and a builder can have. Frustrating is too mild a word!!
A sometimes buzz can sometimes be traced to "pilot error".
I had a similar incident to investigate recently for another luthier friend. A client bought a dulcimer and loved it but had issues with random buzzings. The instrument was shipped back and forth a couple times halfway across the country with no satisfaction. The luthier contacted me because I live relatively close to his client, and asked that I basic do a complete checkout and re-setup the dulcimer. I did so, with the owner watching like a hawk. Then when she would try it, yes, once in awhile there was a random buzz. I kept watching her play, and realized that she would get those sounds because she was not consistent in how she picked the strings. Occasionally she was picking up, not across, and it was just enough to unseat a string in. its notch, which would buzz a split second later as it was plucked again and returned to its proper place in the slot
EVERY good boat should have wirecutters in the basic tool box! The jewelers screwdriver for tightening tuners is a good idea.
When I lived aboard full time, as well as living on a small island in the Pacific, keeping strings "good" was the hardest thing, after the first couple days while an instrument stabilized to the higher humidity.
Do Not store the instrument(s) in cases -- hang them from the bulkheads or lay them on a spare berth or banquet where they can get plenty of air circulation. Stored cases or tucked away in lockers they will definitely have humidity/mildew issues.
To store your spare strings and not have them turn black from salt air, store them in a zip-top bag along with a couple of those de-humidifier 'pellets' or 'packets' or whatever they're called.
For your 'on instrument' strings, light coat of molybdenum lubricant or even wiping them down with WD40 after you play, or at the end of the day, will help keep them corrosion-less.
I was on ED the week that the site opened to the public. There were a couple of 'bots that Bruce used for testing, and two or three humans other than Bruce. But, I don't recall any Jason or mention of Bruce taking over from anyone.
Don't forget your tuner.... and spare batteries for your tuner.
I made shrimp and salmon and veg Cornish Pasties for Mothers Day dinner for 3. The Pasties were dinner plate sized pastry circles filled and folded in half! For dessert I made a Goat Cheese and Skyr yogurt cheesecake on a gingersnap crust, topped with blackberries and mango
Not exactly the same as the old ED. But the new, anonymous Admin copied the old discussion structure pretty closely, Not much traffic yet. But it took more than a year to get decent discussions rolling on the original ED, so there may be hope.
Well, the Big Sandy and Little Sandy rivers of Kentucky are tributaries of the Ohio River, and there have been steamboat routes up and down them since the early 1850s. There have been any number of steamboats called the Sandy River Belle, and I've seen photographs of at least one of them from about the time of the Civil War.
There is a moderately believable story, naming names of the people involved, who say that the fiddle tune Sandy River Belle was wordless until 1927 when a record was cut of the tune. Apparently the producer wanted some words, and one of the band folk cobbled together a sort of chorus, not really lyrics, that was sung in place of some of the original instrumental breaks.
Well, I spoiled lady Sally and her Mum for Mothers Day yesterday. Made Salmon and Shrimp Cornish Pasties with a Great British Bakeoff crust recipe that was fabulous. And for dessert I made a Goat Cheese Cake with Mango & Blackberry topping -- half creamy goat cheese/half Icelandic Skyr yogurt for the cheesecake part, with a ground gingersnap crust.
I made Irish Soda Bread last week, too. During lockdown I've been making home made bread of one kind or another about every week -- Irish or Scottish Soda Breads, Fast - one rise Yeasted Bread, simple Focaccia, Rye Bread, etc.
OK. I'm wrong. 40+ years of being a dulcimer person and not carrying about other instruments.
Still doesn't change the fact that the dulcimer world calls the thing with notches the Bridge, and the distance between the nut and bridge the VSL not the 'scale'.
Dulcimers are NOT guitars and should be discussed in dulcimer terms not guitar or lute or piano terms.
I have a minor quibble with Matt Berg's definition of Bridge and Saddle. From the Wikipedia Bridge (Instrument) discussion:
A bridge is a device that supports the strings on a stringed musical instrument and transmits the vibration of those strings to another structural component of the instrument—typically a soundboard , such as the top of a guitar or violin—which transfers the sound to the surrounding air.... Bridges may consist of a single piece of material, most commonly wood for violins and acoustic guitars, that fits between the strings and the resonant surface. Alternatively, a bridge may consist of multiple parts. One common form is a bridge with a separate bearing surface, called a saddle
So, the Bridge is a vertical bit which holds the string up. Dulcimers only have a Bridge. Guitars and such have a vertical piece called a Bridge and a baseplate called a Saddle.
Anchor location matters. Remember that dulcimers do not produce their sound the way guitars do. On guitars the top is so important to the creation of sound that it is called the soundboard. On the dulcimer, the top is a minor aspect of sound creation because it is so small an area, and it is blocked from transmitting vibration by the massive longitudinal brace we call the fretboard. As mentioned, most dulcimers anchor the strings away from the soundboard/top. Most guitars anchor the strings on the Saddle which is attached to the soundboard. Strings anchored on the soundboard must supply some vibration directly to the top. Strings anchored off the top can only transmit vibration to the top via the bridge
IIRC lutes have such steep angled heads because the strings are gut, not metal, and that supposedly aids in keeping the string in tune.
The string break angle that I learned from my building mentor was 14 degrees. Where these numbers come from is a mystery.
Your observations on rounded vs angled string breaks, particularly at the nut end are very interesting and validate the Zero Fret with a string guide as perhaps a better way to create the VSL.
You won't got wrong. I have one of John's Thomas replicas and really love it. Both Dan and Booby make fabulous traditional dulcemores as well, in other styles.
You don't seem to be talking about adding additional strings, just about changing the same six strings to different tunings. Two different things.
FWIW -- mostly we refer to tunings from the bass string to the melody, not melody to bass the way you write them... Tunings are usually written DAA, DAd, etc, where the lower case letters show a note an octave higher -- d versus D
Remember, the dulcimer is a 3 course instrument -- melody, middle drone, bass drone -- not a 6 course instrument like a guitar. Any course can have 1, 2 or even 3 strings, but we still retain the concept of melody, middle drone and bass drone strings. MOST dulcimer tunings involve the bass and middle drones being tuned a fifth apart, with the melody string(s) tuned to create different "scales" as the guitarists call them. D-A or C-G or G-D are fifths apart 1-5. Tuning the melody strings to different notes gives us scales-- 1-5-5. 1-5-7, 1-5-8, 1-5-4 etc. -- which start at different frets.
If you think strumming a 3-course dulcimer with 2 strings per course (total 6 strings) is "very cumbersome to get used to fretting..." and you're not getting "all that much fuller of a sound" -- them you're really in trouble if you try to strum a 6-course doubled string instrument like a 12 string guitar.
A 3-courses double strung (6 string dulcimer) tuned with some octave pairs and other combinations are not uncommon. Bass courses strung and tuned Dd are very common. So are melody course tuned Ad. Thus you have Dd-AA-Ad. Once in awhile you'll find someone experimenting with octave tuned middle drones Aa and you could have Dd- Aa-Ad. Any of these octave tuned couplets would need something other than the ordinary set of dulcimer string, of course.
I think you're tilting at windmills here.
Dishing out between frets to make 'strum-able' spaces has been tried; and not very successfully. The lengths of the spaces are too small and it's too hard to stay in that space as you strum. Hardly anyone keeps their strums within a one inch zone!
If it were worth the time and effort, you'd see all kinds of builders using the idea in their builds.
IMHO it's also gonna be ugly. Also, to me, it's too much work for virtually no gain. "..consistent sound quality with less effort and technique... would maybe reduce the damage" Consistent sound quality is the result of good strumming technique. Sloppy technique results in damaged fretboards and tops. Learning how to hold the pick and strum with it is the second most important skill to learn with the dulcimer, or other stringed instruments. First skill is learning to fret the string(s) cleanly. No facet of instrument design can truly compensate for poor playing techniques.
Irene - to play with a pick and not get flap, you have to slide the pic across the strings at an angle in each direction, not hold the pick rigidly vertical at right angles to the plane of the strings. On the outstroke the angle is like this / but a shallower angle. On the instroke the angle is opposite \ again again even more shallow. if you keep the pick vertical | you get a distinct 'click' as the pick releases each string in turn. But if you angle the pick it just slides from string to string. The trick is learning to turn the wrist and forearm as you strum. That's how I learned from Robert Force anyway...
That's an interesting design, Clive. Wouldn't work for every design, certainly, but if it works for you, that's what matters.