Forum Activity for @ken-hulme

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/18/24 08:49:23AM
2,103 posts

Bodhran (Irish Drum)


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

Nice Marsha!  Decades ago I played bass drum with Scottish Pipe Bands.  Then a couple years before Covid I occasionally played dulcimer along with friends in a group called Pine island Sound. The I built the  laptop Cajon below  --  a Brazilian hand beaten box drum -- that I played with them until  Covid sort of busted things up.  I more or less "tuned" the Cajon to sound good around the key of D.  It can be played soft or loud as well.  

12"x18" x 2.75"  The top is a fabulous piece of Oregon Myrtle, the sides maple and the back 'piano' Port Orford Cedar.

Can't find the pix I had of me with  the group...  



Cajon front.jpg Cajon front.jpg - 110KB

updated by @ken-hulme: 02/18/24 08:52:47AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/07/24 09:55:34PM
2,103 posts

Reasons NOT To Get a Chromatic


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

@ocean-daughter.  If you tune a Bagpipe tuning:  Ddd or Ccc for example, you can play both Ionian/Mixolydian and Aeolian/Dorian modal scales *without* having to have a 6+ fret!    

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/07/24 09:51:29PM
2,103 posts

Richard Krueger Psaltery


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

That's a Bowed Psaltery, not a plucked psaltery.  And a very nice BP it is too! 

The BP was supposed developed in post-WWII Germany by a violin teacher trying to get his students to bow correctly.  Whatever the truth, they are nice instruments, and you don't need a full sized bow to play them.  A simple 18" or so bow will work jut fine.  Several years ago I was gifted a BP and made some simple bows to play it with, using all sorts to waxed string other than horsehair/

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/07/24 09:42:50PM
2,103 posts

general instrument question


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

The song dates back to the 1930s at least, and does not appear to be copyright protected. No dulcimer tab I could find.  Best to sing/hum/whistle the tune until you KNOW it, then sit down and pick it out on youe melody tring and write the tab as you go...


updated by @ken-hulme: 02/07/24 09:44:27PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/03/24 07:10:07AM
2,103 posts

How precisely do you tune up?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Since I seldom play with others and I'm not haunted by perfect pitch or ADHD, as long as nothing is too sharp or flat, "in the vicinity of..." work for me. 

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
02/01/24 10:39:12AM
2,103 posts

general instrument question


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Like John I've not heard of Stephens Lutherie.  And I also agree with John that there is no one Perfect Dulcimer, ... there is only what YOU find best for your playing style  Having just googled Stephens, I see a guitar luthier trying to improve the mountain dulcimer... 

The "floating fretboard" you see isn't that.  That's a "discontinuous" fretboard.  99% of dulcimer have a fretboard that runs all the way from the head to the tail.  The fretboard you see is 'guitar-like' -- it stops after the last fret, then there is nothing until a block for holding the bridge in its proper location and height.   

Some people will try to tell you that having the fretboard stop short will increase the tops' ability to flex and produce better sound. Truth is such an arrangement requires a lot of extra bracing under the top to prevent string pressure from warping the top downward.  That bracing does more to dampen sound than improve it and negates almost any advantage you might gain.

  Unlike the guitar, the dulcimer simply does not have enough top area available for such a scheme to work well.  I build a number of similar dulcimers 30 or more years ago, but discontinued the process because it was a lot more labor intensive for very little, if any measurable improvement in the sound quality.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/31/24 07:15:05AM
2,103 posts

Just For Fun - sayings regarding the dulcimer or music


OFF TOPIC discussions

@shanonmilan --the vast majority of us (traditionalists and moderns) play dulcimer horizontally -- "string side up" on our laps or on a table or stand.  There are a few who play it more vertically -- like a guitar...


updated by @ken-hulme: 01/31/24 07:16:18AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/30/24 09:54:34PM
2,103 posts

1970 M12R Signed by L. Mcspadden


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

The signature by L McSpadden really doesn't mean much.  It is known that the building team took turns signing batches of labels that got stock 'wherever', not that Larry made this instrument himself...

Redwood wasn't particularly rare back in the day. It is more so now tho.

The books are worth altogether about $20 tops.

Yes the instrument is in excellent condition.

Yes the case is typical of a John Maxwell quality case.  

Still, I just don't see $2000 here.  There are, as you said, equivalent McSpadden dulcimers, brand new for about $600.  Add a $200 or more for that case, and $20  for the books.  It may be 50 years old, but that of itself, really isn't worth $1000.

Just my opinion, of course.  Any dulcimer is worth only what someone will pay for it.


Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/30/24 09:38:18PM
2,103 posts

Vintage dulcimer information sought


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

*  I'm not sure either of those bridges is 'real'  -- they are both far too long and extend way past the sides of the fretboard, making it difficult to play without snagging yourself on the,
* If that first dark "bridge" is set into the fretboard I agree that is most likely the actual bridge; a simple test will prove it.
*  As Strumelia says, the top & back being wider than the sides is called a "fiddle edge" and is a common feature especially on older dulcimers.
*   The Wide and Narrow (not Tall and Short) fret spacing is a true Diatonic fret layout.  It's your dulcimer, you can of course add a 6+ fret..  But Why would you want to?  This dulcimer was obviously designed to be played in a traditional manner, not modern Chord-Melody style.  Why not appreciate it for what it is?


updated by @ken-hulme: 01/30/24 09:40:06PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/30/24 06:37:07AM
2,103 posts

Reasons NOT To Get a Chromatic


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

If it has more than diatonic frets, or more than 3 courses of strings, technically an instrument is no longer a dulcimer, it is a Fretted Zither.  "Tomay-to tomaatoe", but diatonic fret spacing is part of what defines a dulcimer.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/29/24 08:18:05AM
2,103 posts

New instruments that I have no clue about!


Site QUESTIONS ? How do I...?

Here's my take.  The triangle is, as John sez, a Russian balalaiki.  The light topped round body is a bouzouki (either Greek or Irish).  The light rectangle is a "cigar box" style guitar.  The two hourglass instrument are indeed variations on the epinette/Applachian dulcimer. The two electric instruments are a bouzouki and a mandolin (short neck).

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/28/24 04:57:17PM
2,103 posts

John Molineux box dulcimer


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

Beautiful playing.  The instrument doesn't look like the 1880 patent, but I think it may embody the same concept -- an "extended" fretboard that allows notes below the "low do" of the normal fretboard...   

An old dulcimer building friend once built an instrument with 4 frets below the low-do on a single fretboard.  You tuned it by capoing at the 4th fret from the nut and then tuning to DAA or DAd...You then removed the capo to play.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/25/24 12:26:19PM
2,103 posts

Dulcimer Bag Lady Dulcimer Bags


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Great heavy duty construction.  I had one of her double bags, and used it steadily for close to 20 years before the zipper wore out and the inner lining got a couple of tears.  Repairing it would have cost as much as a new bag, and I couldn't afford either at the time.  Can't recommend them highly enough..

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/25/24 07:47:14AM
2,103 posts

beginner strumming


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Basic rule of dulcimer -- There is No Right Way or Wrong Way to Play the Dulcimer -- there is only what works best for You.
Never let anyone -- teacher or friend -- tell you that you MUST play a given way.

I spent decades strumming "outie only".  Then one day, for some unknown reason, I back-strummed.  And it didn't sound bad. So I did it again,  And again.  And suddenly I was strumming both ways.  Today I still tend to be an out-strummer, especially on slow songs.  But I also strum both ways.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/24/24 12:53:19PM
2,103 posts

Looking for tabs/books devoted to old style drone & noter playing


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

Frank --  in The Dulcimer Book, if I remember right, Jean notates the tunings in reverse order -- Melody, Middle, Bass... not the way we name them today -- Bass, Middle, Melody. She recalls her father's tuning the same way -- bim, bim, BOM...

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/24/24 07:35:03AM
2,103 posts

Looking For Tuner Recommendations


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

Because I make and play a variety of instruments, I prefer a  chromatic electronic tuner which shows me not just the Note but the Octave that that note is in. 

These  days there are several that fit that bill, but I still love my Seiko SAT501 handheld.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/23/24 08:41:49AM
2,103 posts

Hughes Style Mountain Dulcimer Hand Crafted & signed '93


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

No 6+ fret, so this instrument would be a good choice for someone who wants to play Noter & Drone style or learn to quickly re-tune between the common Modal tunings.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/19/24 06:43:32PM
2,103 posts

Traditional role of the mountain dulcimer.


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

There have never been any 'classical works' written for the Appalachian dulcimer either.  Leonard Bernstein has been bust with other projects.   IMHO "lower class peasant instrument" is a bit harsh.  No, they were not instruments of the major cities -- Vienna, Paris, Milan -- nor were they "favored" by the hoi polloi of those cities and cultures.  But that doesn't make them 'lower class peasant instruments'.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/15/24 08:53:11AM
2,103 posts

Installing built-in pick up for 2004 dulcimer?


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

Age of the instrument doesn't mean  thing when it comes to installing an after-market "built-in" mic.   Not anything you want to DIY for the first time.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/09/24 04:24:43PM
2,103 posts

Richard Krueger Psaltery


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

Yep,  build and play psalteries of several kinds.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/09/24 08:44:48AM
2,103 posts

Dulcimer maker unknown


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

Cardboard dulcimers have been around close to 20 years, I'd guess.  They sound remarkably good and are a great inexpensive choice as an entry level dulcimer for folks who aren't sure whether the dulcimer is right for them...  The important thing is that the frets are set true, the body material is of secondary consideration.  In fact the fretboards can be easily transferred to an 'after-market' wooden body which almost anyone can easily construct.   I've played plexiglass and Lego(tm) dulcimers that sound good as well.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/09/24 08:37:14AM
2,103 posts

Just For Fun - sayings regarding the dulcimer or music


OFF TOPIC discussions

How do you play the dulcimer?   String side up.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/08/24 10:47:00PM
2,103 posts

Dulcimer maker unknown


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

Yep pretty basic instrument. Builder was probably one of the hundreds who were gonna make it big building dulcimers in the Dulcimer Revival... but didn't. No Internet footprint for Danmont Dulcimers.  Trapezoid shape was fairly popular 20+ years ago.  Nothing special.  Sort of a wooden version of today's cardboard dulcimer. No frills, no "modern" 6+ fret, plywood top has a  tear-outs on edges, straight stick fretboard/tuner head.  At least the action doesn't look too high!.  Nice beginner instrument for someone who wants to play Noter & drone style.  Twenty years ago it would have sold for maybe $100-$150.  If you can get $50 today that would be good, IMHO and buyer would have a wooden, not cardboard body dulcimer..

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/08/24 07:38:13AM
2,103 posts

String suggestions


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

JAndy -- I avoid squeaking strings by using plain steel bass strings of a slightly smaller gauge than the recommended wound steel.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/07/24 03:20:39PM
2,103 posts

String suggestions


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

If you want the exact gauges that Warren specifies for his instruments, as others have said go to Juststrings.com and order a 12 pack of each of the gauges:
Plain Steel Bulk Guitar Strings (juststrings.com)



At about $3 a dozen you'll have several years worth of strings for about $10...


updated by @ken-hulme: 01/07/24 03:24:05PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/03/24 06:49:59PM
2,103 posts

Robert N. Lackey, rest in peace


OFF TOPIC discussions

Soooo sorry to hear this.  !sadsmile

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/03/24 08:09:06AM
2,103 posts

Traditional role of the mountain dulcimer.


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Nate said  "I assume the original developers of dulcimers were very innovative folks who were applying the concepts of older zithers to the materials they had in the Appalachians. This makes it hard for me to tell the difference between deliberate choices made by the 'masters of old' and choices made purely out of necessity. It's hard for me to imagine that they would have used staple frets if they had access to fretwire." 

You have to remember that those "innovative folks...applying the concepts of older zithers...":  were not consciously doing anything. 

They were random, scattered individuals who heard and/or saw an instrument someone had -- who in turn had seen/heard someone else's instrument... back through time to the zitters which came over in the late 1500s/early 1600s.  There probably were no Euro-trained luthiers among the Moravians, the builders to follow were trying to replicate instruments that had come from the old country. -- out of necessity.  Staple frets of the early 19th century were the high-tech of the time. prior to that there were wood/bone/ivory inlaid frets or the tied gut frets of Lutes.  Mushroom frets weren't invented until the mid 1800s in Europe.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/02/24 10:13:50PM
2,103 posts

Beginner questions about dulcimer care


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

If you're lucky there is a dust/pressure/scratch some sort of mark on the surface of the fretboard.  Otherwise measure from the inside edge of the nut to the top of the 7th fret and double that from the inside edge of the nut to the inside edge of where the nut is a good place to put the bridge to start.  Position may need a bit of tweaking from there...


updated by @ken-hulme: 01/02/24 10:34:56PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/02/24 03:58:18PM
2,103 posts

Beginner questions about dulcimer care


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

Welcome!  Warren  is a great resource and still building a few instruments a year at his home shop.  He'll happily answer your questions.  

I would leave his instrument tuned DAA or Ddd, and have your other instrument with the 6+ tunned to DAd since it was probably built with that tuning in mind.  

A wipe down with a damp rag is the perfect cleaning process.

One thing to note is that when changing strings we almost never recommend stripping the instrument 'bare' as you called it.  The reason is that if the instrument has no mark or slot where the bridge is supposed to go, it can be a real pain to get it back in the proper place so the instrument sounds correct -- the distance between nut and fret is critical to within a millimeter or so....   Better just to get in the habit of removing and replacing one string at a time.


updated by @ken-hulme: 01/02/24 04:00:00PM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/02/24 08:58:46AM
2,103 posts

Dulcimer maker unknown


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

Haven't heard of the maker, but a photo or two would help us ID the instrument.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
01/01/24 01:38:06PM
2,103 posts

6 1/2 in ionian mode


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Tony -- Dusty's given you the straight stuff.  If you want to know more about Modes and  Modal tunings, I can email you a booklet/essay I wrote several years ago called The Uncontrite Modal Folker, which goes into all the nitty gritty... Sendme your email addy in a PM...

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/25/23 08:14:52AM
2,103 posts

Introduce Yourself!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Jeannie who?   Just kidding!  Of course I remember you!  As we're still (more than a year later) recovering a bit from Hurricane Ian last year, I'm all too familiar with the PTSD attached to natural disasters.  Ian brought back some of mine from 'Nam... 

Hope to see you here more often!!

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/24/23 08:24:14AM
2,103 posts

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL FOMTD MEMBERS!


OFF TOPIC discussions

Happy Holidays -- whatever End Of Year holidays you celebrate wherever you are!

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/20/23 10:57:26PM
2,103 posts

What Are You Working On?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Robin!   So good to see you here again!!  Have missed your posts.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/19/23 08:41:10AM
2,103 posts

The Positive Thread...


OFF TOPIC discussions

Quiet home Christmas mostly.  Sally's daughter is coming down from Baltimore so 4 of us for the traditional English Christmas Dinner. 

Later this week we're going with some friends on a 1/8 scale mini-train Night ride around our favorite walking park -- Lakes Park -- where we volunteer with the bird patrol and trash pickup.  The train museum goes all out decorating with lights and such long the several miles of track through the park.  

We're also hosting our annual friend party to watch the classic Denholm Elliot version of Dylan Thomas'  A Child's Christmas In Wales.  I'm making mince tarts and apple biscotti for both events, with Apple Cider and non-alcoholic Wassail Punch.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/19/23 08:27:00AM
2,103 posts

What Are You Working On?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Sounds like a great time!  Now that you have  Mari Lwyd, you can add the others by dressing up as Punch & Judy, Merryman and Sargeant.

You'll enjoy your new 'friend", I'm sure.


updated by @ken-hulme: 12/19/23 08:27:45AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/16/23 12:26:40PM
2,103 posts

How do I create a new forum discussion?


Site QUESTIONS ? How do I...?

Always best to use the Search function first before creating anything new -- someone else over the years may have already answered the question your have, or experienced what you have etc.

Forums are major categories of Discussions -- General Dulcimer/Music, Instruments, Resources
Groups are specialized subject areas -- Beginner Questions, Music Theory, History, playing styles etc.
Discussions are specific subjects/questions/observations which you create within a Discussion or Group -- What do you use to make your dulcimer shiny?  Where can I find a dulcimer from a certain maker?, Which strings should I use?

If you are asking a new question, start a new Discussion in a Forum or Group rather than add it to an existing discussion -- others may want to know the answer to your question but won't be able to see/find those answers easily if they are buried in a non specific discussion.

In a Forum Or Group Discussion, near the top you will find a white square button with a black + sign.  Click the button to name and create your new discussion question/observation/subject.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12/05/23 11:50:16AM
2,103 posts

Traditional role of the mountain dulcimer.


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

The role of the dulcimer, and probably its predecessors as well, was to play what I call "personal" music or in small (3-4) person music group, for listening enjoyment within say 20 feet -- porch or small room in a home. It never was intended as a 'performance' instrument with the player standing/sitting in front of an audience.  It never was intended to be used with any electric/electronic amplification -- at best a 'possum board' or double-back amplification. 

The dulcimer played instrumentals or accompanied the singer/player in the religious and secular music of the local community (folk music) -- not a part in orchestral compositions.  Here in the States that was what we today call "Appalachian" music  (the precursor to Bluegrass, the repertoire varying from region to region, with some songs common across all regions, with variations.  Much of that music was based on English, Scottish and Irish tunes and lyrics which came to America with settlers from those countries  -- although there never was an Anglo-Celtic predecessor instrument. 

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/29/23 07:38:54AM
2,103 posts

Left handed playing


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Few of the lefties I know string their dulcimers the other way around.  If your dominant hand is doing the complicated task of fretting, and your off hand is doing the simpler task of strumming, that's a good thing.

1