Forum Activity for @ken-hulme

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/21/19 07:21:31PM
1,499 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
1,499 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
1,499 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
1,499 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
1,499 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
1,499 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
1,499 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
1,499 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
1,499 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
1,499 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
1,499 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
1,499 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
1,499 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
1,499 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
1,499 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
1,499 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
1,499 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.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/25/19 06:46:14AM
1,499 posts

9/8 travel hammered dulcimer beginning with the low D3


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

Talk to Jerry Read Smith at Song Of The Wood, in Black Mountain, NC.  I understand he has closed the downtown shop, but continues to work out of his home.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/24/19 10:00:42PM
1,499 posts

Top/Back Thickness and Sustain?


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

If you can find the old ED Discussions by Richard Troughear called An Interesting Dulcimer Experiment, he may have researched and reported on the phenomena.  I use 1/8" normally because I can readily get wood already thicknessed to that dimension.  Sanding doesn't take off much from that.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/21/19 07:53:07AM
1,499 posts

The Drifting Thread...


OFF TOPIC discussions

I was out watching at Midnight.  Fabulous.  Here in SW Florida it appeared so dark read that it almost disappeared from view...

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/17/19 03:52:05PM
1,499 posts

Jam chord progressions


Playing and jamming difficulties...HELP ME!

I'll bet those are the same chord progressions that guitar players use when playing accompaniment rather than melody.

Knowing those progressions would certainly save on the reams of paper that most people collect of jam tune tabs and carry around with them.  Save having to sight-read or memorize words and tunes as well.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/12/19 05:05:02PM
1,499 posts

My First String Change....Whew!!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Until you get a capo, you can use a short strip of blue painter's tape to hold the loop in place while you change a string.  Probably best not to remove ALL the strings at once.  Pull one, replace one... and repeat. If the bridge is not in a slot on top the fretboard, and you remove all the strings, getting the bridge back in the correct place to the nearest millimeter can be a major problem.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/09/19 06:50:21PM
1,499 posts

Zither pins


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

I re-tune my zither pin dulcimers and other instruments all the time.  As long as you don't pull/push the exposed part of the pin to the side (bending the exposed pin or putting excess pressure on the buried pin) -- and the pins are firmly embedded in a HARD hardwood like Walnut, Maple or harder, then you should have no problem retuning with some frequency.  

Still, if I were you, I would experiment with tunings on an instrument with geared tuners -- until you settle on 2 or 3 tunings that you find useful for most of the tunes you play


updated by @ken-hulme: 01/09/19 06:51:24PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/08/19 08:01:56PM
1,499 posts

Narrow waisted hourglass shape


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

Personally I'd regret not getting the Keith Young instrument.  I was considering having him build me on of his Virginia traditional dulcimer, when he up and passed away...

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/08/19 07:09:29AM
1,499 posts

Narrow waisted hourglass shape


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

If you have very sensitive acoustic recording gear like an oscilliscope, I believe that you can see the difference between an hourglass (especially a wasp-waisted design) and an hourglass -- the soundwaves would show two peaks -- one for each bout. If I remember, Richard Troughear, the scientific luthier down in Australia demonstrated this.  However I do not believe the human ear is capable of such discrimination.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/06/19 05:36:19PM
1,499 posts

Inexpensive short dulcimer


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

Lisa --  

Like many things dulcimer, it depends... on what you consider "short" and "inexpensive".  Personally I would not touch a First Act dulcimer.  We'd had far too many reports here and elsewhere about poor fret spacing and shoddy workmanship making them mostly unplayable.  Same thing with the Seagull Merlin stick instruments.  

We seldom even think of dulcimer in terms of their overall length. But a 30" overall dulcimer will probably have a VSL of under 24".  There are several that fit that size criteria including Dave Lynch's Travel Dulcimer at Sweetwoodsinstruments.com , David Beede's Eedy Beede model, and McSpadden's Ginger.  But they are not "inexpensive", with prices from $225 to over $500.

Inexpensive but not short are the cardboard dulcimers, from a couple different makers, with about 27" VSLs and corregated bodies.  Overall length perhaps 34".  Priced from $75 to $90.  They have superior fret spacing so you get good, clean notes, but are basically the same size as conventional dulcimers.

If you have relatively simple woodworking skills you can build a simple box dulcimer with any VSL you want for about $50 in materials  -- two sides, two ends, top & bottom, staple frets and autoharp tuning pins.  Although technically a zither, not a dulcimer, I am just about to start building one similar to the attached photo.  It's going to be 24" overall, 4" wide, and about 1" deep, with a 20-22" VSL.  I'm building it specifically to fit in a suitcase for upcoming trips to England and Scotland, where I've been asked to play and there are no available loner dulcimers.

 


Scheitholt.jpg Scheitholt.jpg - 12KB
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/06/19 09:29:34AM
1,499 posts

Newbie questions - noter size, string gauges, Berea tunings


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Irene -- sounds like your friend got a great dulcimer, and maybe not such good advice from her local club.  You should encourage her to set the dulcimer back up as a 6 string; and encourage her to learn to play in other tunings beside DAd.  Playing noter & drone style in DAd on a dulcimer with a 6+ fret does not give the player the same advantage as it does chord-melody players, plain and simple.   I played noter & drone on a six string (no 6+ fret) for a number of years, and it gives you a GREAT sound (but needs a bit more care because you have to fret two strings not just one).

String gauges -- as Ken Longfield says -- you MUST know the VSL to get the right string gauges.  Then use  the Strothers String Calculator.  Packages of strings are sometimes labelled -- DAA or DAd -- and they'll be close for most VSLs between 25 and 27", but not necessarily right.   If she buys packages of strings, she should get 2 packages and replace ALL the strings (one at a time -- never take off all the strings at once).

Send your friend a copy of my I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What? article.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/06/19 09:17:35AM
1,499 posts

Newbie questions - noter size, string gauges, Berea tunings


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Pondoro -- As Ken Longfield said, you can play noter & drone in any tuning with any dulcimer.  But the vast majority of tunes out there in Dulcimer Land do not require the flatted 7th note which is what distinguishes DAd from other tunings.  DAd tuning with a 6+ fret does not give a noter & drone player any advantage the way it does modern chord-melody players.

If you're serious about wanting to learn to play Noter & Drone style,  the Berea Traditional Dulcimer Gathering is just what the dulcimer doctor ordered!  The Gathering focusses only on traditional dulcimers and dulcimer playing -- noter & drone or fingerdancing.  As we say --  "no chord playing allowed" -- and 99% of the people who tune DAd play chord-melody style which is not traditional.  Most traditional dulcimers were set up to play in DAA, Ddd or ddd -- or their other key equivalents.  So, we are gently "discouraging" people who habitually tune DAd because the focus is going to be completely on Traditional dulcimers and dulcimer playing.   

As a noter & drone player you're going to want to learn to play in ALL the common Modes (Ionian, Dorian, Aeolian & Mixolydian) and Modal Tunings; and maybe other as well.  N&D players re-tune frequently (it's only 1 string that is re-tuned after all; and only takes seconds).  Many of us play a set of tunes in a given tuning, then switch and play a set in another tuning.

As far as noters -- I recommend to my students that they use a hard wood stick (not a hardware store dowel) about the same diameter as their Index finger -- 3/8" to 1/2" or a bit more.  I make a lot of noters from "pen blanks" that I buy online, and they are 4-5" long -- a comfortable grip for most hands.  The harder the wood, the better.  River cane Bamboo makes great noters.  Here's a link to my Noter & Drone article/booklet called Get Noterized.

https://fotmd.com/strumelia/group_discuss/2317/ken-hulmes-get-noterized-article

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/05/19 02:54:54PM
1,499 posts

Introduce Yourself!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Strings are strings -- as long as the gauge is right.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/05/19 08:03:03AM
1,499 posts

Introduce Yourself!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Lisa -- secret to not breaking strings when tuning is to always tune a "singing" string.  Hold the tuner knob you think is the right one.  Pluck the string and turn it 1/4 turn.  If the singing string does not change pitch -- STOP -- you have the wrong tuner.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/04/19 07:59:05AM
1,499 posts

Introduce Yourself!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Hi Lisa;  Welcome to the wacky world of dulcimers.  I think you're going to fit right in!  A Cardboard dulcimer is a good, inexpensive place to start -- the frets are accurately place which means the notes are true.  Later, if you like, you can have a wooden body made (or make it yourself) and put the fretboard from your cardboard dulcimer on new body.  I did that recently for a student of mine, and it was pretty inexpensive to do.  

Here's a link to an article I wrote several years ago, 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.  Good reading while you wait for your dulcimer to arrive...
https://fotmd.com/strumelia/group_discuss/2316/ken-hulmes-i-just-got-a-dulcimer-now-what-article 


Body for CB Dulcimer.JPG Body for CB Dulcimer.JPG - 770KB
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/31/18 07:02:51AM
1,499 posts

Dulcimers in books & films


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Several episodes of the TV series Daniel Boone, where Fess Parker actually played (rather than just faking) a dulcimer for his wife.

Several music related TV programs where Cyndi Lauper plays her dulcimer.  Taught by David Schnauffer.  She composes all her tunes on dulcimer. 


updated by @ken-hulme: 12/31/18 07:06:47AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/25/18 05:31:30PM
1,499 posts

Need Advice--Buying a New Dulcimer


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

Mark -- first thing you'll learn in the dulcimer world is that there is not such thing as "best".  The 'best' anything is what works for you... not someone else.

With 40 years experience as a dulcimer builder and player, my advice is to start with a "Student" model dulcimer such as the one made by Dave "Harpmaker" at www.sweetwoodsinstruments.com His student model is an excellent starting place without being terribly expensive.  There are two or three other student models out there.  I own one of Dave's and use it as a loaner. 

If money is a real issue, start with one of the cardboard dulcimers for about $75.  The fretboard is the important part of the instrument, and those fretboards are spot on.  When you decide you like the dulcimer, you -- or someone you know -- can make you a nice wooden body, to which you transfer the fretboard from your cardboard starter.   I did that recently for one of my students...

Builders like Dave will play their instruments for you over the phone, but generally don't have other builder's instruments to compare.  Without much knowledge of dulcimers, listening to "the sound" isn't that useful because instruments in different tunings will sound different and you won't recognize the difference.

Where are you in "the Northeast"?  We might be able to point you to someone.  Chances are you'll not find dulcimers walking into music stores unless they specialize in acoustic music, and then you'll probably only find one "brand".  A dulcimer Festival is the best place to check out lots of different dulcimers, but it will be a couple months before 'festival season' kicks in.

There is a ton of information here at FOTMD; start reading. As Lisa suggests, join the Beginner Group and start looking there.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/25/18 07:52:00AM
1,499 posts

Got my dulcimer!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Pondoro -- did I give you copies of my articles for newcomers? I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What?  is an illustrated glossary of dulcimer terms so we all speak the same jargon, plus andswers to many beginner questions about tuning, playing,care and feeding of your new instrument.  Here they are 


Get Noterized.pdf - 87KB
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/24/18 10:24:32PM
1,499 posts

Happy Christmas To All


OFF TOPIC discussions

From sunny and getting warm again Southwest Florida!


updated by @ken-hulme: 01/13/19 05:09:18PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/24/18 04:21:32PM
1,499 posts

McSpadden's Luthiers


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

I'm not sure that any single person actually makes any one McSpad.  I understood that the group collectively makes the parts and performs the assemblies and at the appropriate time maker's labels with different names are applied to each instrument.   

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/16/18 07:45:35PM
1,499 posts

McSpadden Friction peg replacement


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

If really want to replace the pegs not just tighten them, Gotoh, Five Star and Schaller are well known brands of tuning machine makers.  Stewart-MacDonald (stewmac) has quite a variety for sale at a range of prices.  Don't look just for Dulcimer tuning machines, individual guitar tuners (either open geared or closed) work just fine.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/15/18 11:18:03PM
1,499 posts

Are McCafferty dulcimers worth the very high price?


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

As Dusty says, there's no way to answer that question.  Too many variables, not the least of which are YOUR eyes and ears, not Dusty's, not mine …. yours.

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