Forum Activity for @ken-hulme

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
04/15/19 07:45:41AM
1,517 posts

Berea Traditional Dulcimer Gathering Update


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

You read here about our impromptu Gathering last year.  This year we're inviting every interested traditional player to have fun with us.  You can check out what we're doing this year at Berea College in Berea, KY May 16-19th at Dulcemore Dan Cox's website:


http://www.dulcimore.com/berea/berea_home.html


If you plan on attending, we need to know -- by April 30th -- how many are coming and how many are staying on-campus.  We have to give the College a head count on May 1st.   Go to the website and register ASAP, please.


updated by @ken-hulme: 04/15/19 07:46:17AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
04/15/19 07:04:45AM
1,517 posts

Dulcimer-Guitar Style Options?


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

A great many of the Seagull Martin instruments have had serious fret problems -- missing frets, grossly misplaced frets, etc.  They appear to be made 'offshore' by factory people who don't know and don't care.  The company apparently makes pretty good guitars, but their 'stick instruments are just not very good.  I've seen 3.  One only had 6 frets (!),  one had badly spced frets, and the third was just OK.

The sound was typical 'stick instrument, certainly not 'guitarish' like the OP is lookin for.


updated by @ken-hulme: 04/15/19 07:06:11AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
04/14/19 08:49:19AM
1,517 posts

Dulcimer-Guitar Style Options?


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

Bobby's Cittern has a diatonic fret scheme like the dulcimer.  American Cittern is a name that Bobby and I came up with for an instrument that he was designing and building.  He doesn't have anything on his site, but I'm sure he still has pictures of what he made.  Cittern is the name of an old Renaissance instrument with a diatonic neck that was not a proto-guitar, not a lute or any other instrument.  It has a nearly round body a couple inches deep and perhaps 14" in diameter.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
04/13/19 10:55:01PM
1,517 posts

Dulcimer-Guitar Style Options?


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

ANY dulcimer can be played "stand up".  Look at the videos of Robert Force,  the grandfather of modern dulcimer playing.  He and his partner Albert d'Ossche more or less invented 'stand up' dulcimer.

But if you absolutely need a necked instrument for ergonomic reasons and you want something that is less 'banjo-like' sound, that's a tough one. 

A.  Because if it has a neck it really is not a dulcimer any more -- it's a diatonically fretted stick thing. 
B.  Virtually ALL stick things have very little sound box, and it is the internal volume of a larger sound box that gives you the more mellow sound of a dulcimer rather than the tinny sound of a banjo or stick thing. 

One possible solution is an American Cittern built by Bobby Ratliff of Slate Creek Dulcimers.  It has a relatively large body (much bigger than the run-of-the-mill stick thing) that is a nearly round teardrop shape, with a diatonic fretted neck.   Contact Bobby here:

http://slatecreekdulcimers.blogspot.com/

or through his Slate Creek Dulcimer Facebook page.  Tell him I sent you, what you're looking for, and see if he's interested.  He built a couple of these a few years back.  

 

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
04/03/19 10:16:26PM
1,517 posts

looking for a new trad instrument


FOR SALE:instruments/music items/CDs/Wanted to Buy...

Another builder of traditional style dulcimers is Bobby Ratliff.  His aren't copies of historic dulcimers, but they are darn-fine instruments built for traditional style playing.  I own one of his and one of John Knopf's Uncle Ed replicas and both are exemplary.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
04/01/19 05:07:44PM
1,517 posts

Lullabies from Around the World -- Dusty's tab book available


FOR SALE:instruments/music items/CDs/Wanted to Buy...

Bravo, my friend!   Well, done.   And a subject that many, many dulcimer folks will enjoy.  Kudos on your YouTube "advert for the book".  Nicely played and presented.  Best wishes for lots of sales.  Spread the word!!!

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
03/31/19 11:59:01PM
1,517 posts

Buzzing middle & base string when fretted on 2nd fret


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

It's probably not the 2nd fret that's the problem.  Check the action height on the 3rd and 4th frets as well.   I suspect the 3rd or 4th fret has risen for some reason -- humidity usually.  Has the instrument had this buzz even when it was 5 strings?  

Contacting Mike is probably your best bet for speedy resolution, unless you have another pet luthier in your back yard!


Your terminology is a bit confusing -- dulcimers have a melody string and two drones - the middle drone and the bass drone.  So you've reduced the original 5 strings to equally spaced melody, middle drone and bass drone, correct?


updated by @ken-hulme: 04/01/19 12:00:04AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
03/26/19 10:14:31AM
1,517 posts

a discussion created by admin


Testing

That's GREAT Lisa!!  Has happened to me on numerous occasions.  Thanx!!

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
03/23/19 10:11:04PM
1,517 posts

Tiny mahogany dulcimer thingy just made


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

Dang John, that's just cuter than a bug's ear!  And I love the built-in tuning key storage.


updated by @ken-hulme: 03/23/19 10:12:25PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
03/21/19 12:54:35PM
1,517 posts

Slight bow in back of dulcimer.


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

Some builders actually build-in a bowed back -- the idea that the curve acts as a kind of projector for the sound.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
03/19/19 01:37:41PM
1,517 posts

Wanted: Ken Bloom Octave Bowed Dulcimer


FOR SALE:instruments/music items/CDs/Wanted to Buy...

Well, the simple thing to do is send a Question to the Seller.  He certainly seems to be well informed, and owns at least two other Ken Bloom masterpieces.   If by "octave" dulcimer you mean it is set up "higher in pitch than an regular Bowed Dulcimer",  I doubt it very much.  

The other option is to drop Ken himself a note.  I'm pretty sure he knows each instrument that he's built like mother's know their children...

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
03/19/19 06:53:54AM
1,517 posts

Wanted: Ken Bloom Octave Bowed Dulcimer


FOR SALE:instruments/music items/CDs/Wanted to Buy...

I don't think I've ever seen one of Ken's Bowed Dulcimers for sale by owner... All manner of other $1000+ dulcimers for sale, but not one of Ken's


updated by @ken-hulme: 03/19/19 06:56:44AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
03/18/19 06:59:53AM
1,517 posts

New player / New purchase


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

There are photos of two different instruments there... one with a walnut back, one showing a maple back with a thin walnut 'racing stripe'.  One with a maple fretboard, the other with a walnut fretboard.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
03/18/19 06:54:03AM
1,517 posts

Hammers for the MD?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Interesting marketing, that's for sure.  Personally, on the rare occasion that I hammer my MD I just use a wooden chopstick...

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
03/17/19 09:46:32PM
1,517 posts

New player / New purchase


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Outstanding!  I'd say you stole it!  Congratulations.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
03/15/19 09:45:17PM
1,517 posts

New player / New purchase


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Welcome to our musical family.  Great purchase as a first instrument.  Here's  link to an article I wrote several years back for folks in your position

https://fotmd.com/strumelia/group_discuss/2316/ken-hulmes-i-just-got-a-dulcimer-now-what-article

The article is called I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What?  It's an illustrated glossary of dulcimer terms, so we all talk the same jargon, plus answers to many beginner questions about tuning, playing, care and feeding of your new best friend.

Enjoy your journey -- you're in for a fabulous ride!

 

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
03/10/19 08:02:51PM
1,517 posts

Playing dulcimers with different VSL


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I don't see why it would.  The difference of distances between frets is pretty small.  So finger placement even with a 3" difference in VSL isn't  that critical, IMHO.  This table compares the distance between frets on 25" VSL with 28" VSL, and there seldom more than .2 difference in fret spacing between 25" and 28" VSLs.  

Scale Length: 25.00

 

Fret Dist. from Fret

1.    2.73

2.    2.43

3.    1.11

4.    2.04

5.    1.82

6.    0.83

7.    1.53

8.    1.36

9.    1.21

10.   0.56

11.   1.02

12.   0.91

13.   0.42

14.   0.77

15.   0.68

Scale Length: 28.00 

 

Fret Dist. from Fret

1.    3.05

2.    2.72

3.    1.25

4.    2.29

5.    2.04

6.    0.93

7.    1.71

8.    1.53

9.    1.36

10.  0.62

11.  1.14

12.  1.02

13.  0.47

14.  0.86

15.  0.76

 

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
03/09/19 04:53:22PM
1,517 posts

Dad tuning


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I saw a 16" VSL instrument tuned DAd once, but the strings were monsterously thick! Almost like an autoharp.   Not fun to play.


updated by @ken-hulme: 03/09/19 04:53:57PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
03/07/19 10:33:06PM
1,517 posts

How do you Practice?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I don't consciously "practice".  I just play, stream-of-conscious from the bank of songs and tunes stuck in my head.  No set number of times through.  I'll go back and re-run a sticky bit perhaps.  But I just play.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
03/02/19 10:59:26PM
1,517 posts

Playing again after losing all my dulcimers


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Jeannie -- so happy to hear from you again after such a long time, an such trauma!  Heal with your music!

 

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/28/19 10:27:41PM
1,517 posts

Introduce Yourself!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Welcome Barlow45 to our happy little corner of Musical Paradise!  We'll gladly give you lots of advice on getting your wife started on this musical journey.  I might suggest that you start a new topic here in the General Mountain Dulcimer forum as more folks will see your query there than in this Introduction thread, and later folks will find our answers to your questions more readily.  

There are literally more than a hundred possibility solutions to your basic question.   In general we recommend avoiding "mass manufacturers" who in other countries, who sell "deals" on Ebay and such.  Brands like First Act come to mind.  

Most of us recommend you start with "Student" model -- dulcimers made specifically to play well and sound good, but which don't have some of the 'bells and whistles' of more expensive dulcimers.  You can find two or three builders of Student models who sell their works for $100 to $175. 

Another option is a cardboard dulcimer.  Yep -- cardboard.  The body anyway.  The critical part of any dulcimer is the fretboard and the accuracy with which the frets are spaced and installed.  Without a good fretboard all you have is what we call a Dulcimer Shaped Object -- suitable only for wall-hanging.  There are, I think, 3 makers of cardboard dulcimers, all of whom make really good fretboards, which can -- after she really loves the instrument -- be installed on a wooden body.  

We can, and will certainly help her learn to play as well.  There are thousands of written and video lessons, song books, audio files and much much more.

Several years ago I wrote an article for beginners called I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What? which is an illustrated glossary of dulcimer terms (so we all talk the same jargon) plus answers to many beginner questions about tuning, playing, care and feeding of their new instrument.  You can find an electronic copy here:

https://fotmd.com/strumelia/group_discuss/2316/ken-hulmes-i-just-got-a-dulcimer-now-what-article

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/21/19 07:21:31PM
1,517 posts

What's your favorite mournful, spooky, or lonesome song to play?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Lois -- check out the olde version of Shady Grove, called Little Musgrave.  No spooky or lonesome but a great "origin story".  I often perform Musgrave and then explain how lyrics and tunes change over hundreds of years.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/19/19 09:32:10PM
1,517 posts

Five strings?


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

The vast majority of the revival and pre-Revival instruments had only 3 courses of single strings -- melody, middle drone and bass.  But pre-Revival luthiers experimented will all sorts of numbers of strings. 

The 4 string, doubled melody course was popularized in the Revival as a way to get more melody volume compared to the mid and bass drones.  

The 5 string, with two doubled course pretty much came from the same era.  They are not common in the dulcimer world today, but not unknown, either.   The idea that all dulcimers must have 5 strings is ludicrous at best.

6 strings -- all courses doubled -- were known a "church"  dulcimers.  The idea being that they had enough volume to be the instrument for services in one-room, backwoods, churches.

Scheitholtz and similar fretted zithers of early America and Europe had as many 16 strings arranged in double, triple and quadruple string courses, as can be seen in the University of Leipzig Instrument collection on-line.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/16/19 08:08:09AM
1,517 posts

To hollow or not to hollow that is the question?


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

I would hollow.  Or even make the fretboard from three pieces of 1/4" wood in an open box shape.  The fretboard is a massive brace running lengthwise and anything you can do to lighten it up will improve not necessarily volume, but overall sound quality, because more things can vibrate.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/15/19 05:22:30PM
1,517 posts

Your Three Favorite Songs


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Only 3???

Lay The Bend To The Bonnie Broom -- an early version of Child Ballad #1 Riddles Wisely Expounded, which we know as The Riddle Song

Massacre At Glencoe -- Scottish 'dirge'. "Cruel is the snow that sweeps Glencoe and cover the grave of o' Donald..."

Hughie The Graeme -- Scottish Border Ballad which mentions my clan Hume

Three "moderns":

Don't Let Us Get Sick by Warren Zevon, the theme song for those of us over 60

Last Farewell by Roger Whittaker, in the great ballad tradition

Suzanne by Leonard Cohen

 


updated by @ken-hulme: 02/15/19 09:15:42PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/14/19 03:33:39PM
1,517 posts

Buying in Europe


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

Hommel, Hummel, or Humle are also names for Dutch and other Western European versions of the American Dulcimer, and are played the same way.  When you google-search you may also want to include "folk instrument".  It's possible you may find a Hommel maker in the Netherlands even.

http://www.essentialvermeer.com/folk_music/hommel.html

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/10/19 08:02:56PM
1,517 posts

In What Key is The CC-A-D Tuning?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Jimmy -- you're sorta writing that tuning 'backwards'.  Most people today write a tuning starting with the Bass string, not the melody strings.   That helps you know what key the tuning is in.  Also, most folks today do not write the doubled melody strings as 2 letters unless the string are tuned to different notes.    What you have is Aeolian Mode, DAC; the key of Dminor.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/09/19 06:57:58PM
1,517 posts

Synthetic fretboard


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

Personally I would NOT store a dulcimer in a hot car in a parking lot!!  Corian would probably hold up, but would be almighty HEAVY!   As Banjimer says, store your dulcimer alongside your desk in the office, then take it to the park, rather than storing it in the care.  Everything expands and shrinks with heat and cold -- wood, metal, plastic, Corian.  The trick is finding the material with the smallest expansion.

Nothing wrong with an all wood dulcimer; you just need the patience to spend a minute or two checking your tuning when you get to the park.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/09/19 08:42:21AM
1,517 posts

Oddball double fretboard dulcimer


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

There's a classic photo of an older woman bowing a regular dulcimer.  She sits back from the edge of a table with the tail of the dulcimer in her lap and the body leaned up against the edge of the table directly away from her.  This instrument could certainly be bowed that way.  But who knows!  Maybe it was a John Jacob Niles experiment!!

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/08/19 10:22:16PM
1,517 posts

Oddball double fretboard dulcimer


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

Bowed instruments are not played with the bow string parallel to the soundboard.  The bow string runs diagonally from the center of the strings to just above the edge of the instrument, on both sides:    /__\

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/08/19 07:21:17PM
1,517 posts

Joseph Atwell Suddreth 1981 dulcimer for sale


FOR SALE:instruments/music items/CDs/Wanted to Buy...

Yes -- Til was one of my dulcimer building mentors, and he let me build things in his shop.  We were great friends for several years before his death.   Interesting that one of his has come up for sale -- you don't often see them.    Your Suddreth is a nice looking instrument, that's for sure.  So many small, local builders who only really come to light after they've passed away.  I wouldn't call the instrument particularly 'traditional' though, with the 6+ and 13+ frets and geared tuners.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/08/19 07:12:16PM
1,517 posts

Oddball double fretboard dulcimer


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

The fretboard is set up so that you have both diatonic and chromatic frets.  Diatonic under all 7 strings, and chromatic only under the first three strings. 

HUGE amount of soundhole area -- far more than is needed. 

The way the fretboard is "radiused" with a ridge rather than a curve (never seen anything quite like that), plus the narrowness of the bouts makes me wonder if it wasn't intended to be a bowed instrument.


updated by @ken-hulme: 02/08/19 07:12:53PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/08/19 07:13:47AM
1,517 posts

Joseph Atwell Suddreth 1981 dulcimer for sale


FOR SALE:instruments/music items/CDs/Wanted to Buy...

I don't think anyone here has heard of this maker.  Not the best set of photos to show off the instrument.  Better perhaps to show it more traditionally -- on a flat surface, neutral background, instrument sitting upright.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/07/19 07:15:45AM
1,517 posts

No Strum hollow


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

A great many of the olde dulcimers from the 1800s had no strum hollow.  In part the function of the hollow is to reduce the weight of that massive brace that runs from end to end which we call a fretboard.  If you have decent strum technique you won't hit the fretboard, regardless of a strum hollow or not.  

The "mathematically correct" place to strum is half way between the fret being pressed and the bridge; which of course changes with each note.  Most of us find ourselves strumming somewhere up around fret 12-14.  Changing the location of the strum can be used to good effect depending on the song.  

As Dusty says, learning to strum both ways is good (it took me 15 years to 'get it').  Learning to strum 'up and out' and 'in and down' will help emphasize the melody string sounds, not lose them in the hum of the drones.   

Enjoy the journey!

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/29/19 07:19:39AM
1,517 posts

Removing grease spot


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

You might try ironing out any remaining cheesiness...  put down a soft cloth or even a double layer of paper towel.  Place it over the spot and iron on medium heat.  that should make any grease rise into the cloth or paper towel.  After that, then tung oil should be the perfect finish.  I finish almost all my instruments with tung oil; I like the satin finish you get after about 4 coats.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/28/19 10:16:15PM
1,517 posts

Removing grease spot


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

How big is the speck? 

What kind of 'kitchen grease" (bacon fat, vegetable oil, butter or margarine, etc)? 

How do you intend to finish the fretboard when you're done -- varnish, tung oil, urethane, boiled linseed oil, etc??

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/26/19 10:28:38PM
1,517 posts

Partial Frets


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

Dan's video is "da bomb".  Yes, we use tiny drill bits and sometimes tiny hand drills, but they are readily available and inexpensive.  You have to pre-drill the holes for the staple legs, then bend the staples, and finally tap them into place.  It is simple, but a somewhat lost art, and does take a little practice to get it perfect.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/26/19 09:07:14AM
1,517 posts

Jam chord progressions


Playing and jamming difficulties...HELP ME!

Don -- look on the Strothers Chord Finder __http://strothers.com/chords.html  or one of the dozens of dulcimer chord finder charts available to download.

 /