Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions
I tend to up the string gauges for noter drone playing, particularly for the melody string (I like just one melody string). I like working a heavy melody string with a reasonably stiff pick. There is a volume difference from different string gauges - the key being to match the string gauge to the pitch used at an optimal tension for the string's performance - but that also has to match your playing style. In my opinion, dulcimer string gauges are generally too light. Early instruments would have typically had heavier strings and, when played in noter drone style, would have been quite loud instruments.
Hey Ken, What are the strings for your noter/drone. I just bought a used McSpadden and ordered strings from them. When I told them I would be switching from DAD to DAA, they sent me .022 Bass and middle and melody are .012. I'm not sure I really like the sound. This will be my noter/drone dulcimer. Dulcinina
Switch to a single melody string (0.012 or 0.013 for A), move the (now 3) drones closer together and be particular about your tuning accuracy. DAA A will work OK to start with. DAd A is good for tunes that emphasise the 4th, 2nd or 6th of the scale. EAA A is another great tuning (key of A). Record your playing and listen back to the sound - then think about adjusting the melody to drone balance (pitch and gauge) depending on what you hear in the recordings.