Does anyone know anything about Jim Hamilton Dulcijos?
Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions
I've heard very good things about Mike Clemmer's banjammer , but the Dulcijo looks pretty nice, too.
I've heard very good things about Mike Clemmer's banjammer , but the Dulcijo looks pretty nice, too.
I've got lots of interest, but not a lot of available cash. Looks like a beauty. Good luck!
When I don't have an answer I ask myself, "What would Groucho say?"
Not only for recordings like this, but for any kind of group play we don't have the luxury of varying tempo for expressiveness. Unless you have a conductor or other clear leader, you just have to find a tempo and stick with it. I am always humbled when I practice with a metronome. It is one thing to vary tempo on purpose, but too often I vary uknowingly, speeding up over easy sections and slower down over the harder ones. That's something I'd like to eliminate. I wasn't joking when I mentioned the frustration that comes with a metronome. I can only take it in small doses.
By the way, I first discovered the dulcimer about ten years ago and joined ED and FOTM around then, too. You were saying back then that you'd been playing the dulcimer for 40 years. Maybe the math needs to be updated. I'm not saying . . . I'm just saying.
I'm just catching up with the last two "Say at Home and Play Dulcimer" episodes. Thanks once more for making this great podcast!
Both Heidi and Stephen mention something that I've experienced as well. As sad and frustrating as it is to not be able to gather in person with our regular dulcimer friends, moving online has enabled us to connect with others we would not be able to share music with in person. I've picked up a couple of online students who live nowhere near me, and as my local dulcimer club moved online, we ceased to be local and picked up people from across the country. I dare say--and I think Stephen hinted at this--that going online has strengthened rather than weakened the dulcimer community. Even when my local dulcimer club can meet again in person, I hope to continue hosting a regular online jam. How else can people from Maine and Kentucky and Tennessee and Arizona and Oregon and California all share music together?
, take some time to explore this site a bit. In addition to the Forums, there are also Groups devoted to specific topics, including traditional noter/drone style, chord melody, fingerpicking, and so forth. Join a group and start perusing the past discussions.
, there are a couple of ways to interpret your question here, so forgive us if we offer answers that aren't exactly what you are looking for. Plenty of people play only in a drone style on the dulcimer. They never play chords but always allow the bass and middle strings to drone while they play the melody on the (you guessed it!) melody string.
Other people play chords but mix in drone stuff. Stephen Seifert is probably the best player in theis vein. You might hear a rendition of a tune in which he plays it drone style first, then he adds some "partial" chords so that there is always one open string, then he might do a verse truly chord melody in which every melody note is accompanied by a three-finger chord, and so forth. I sometimes play drone style in the way you are describing. For example, on the B part of Soldier's Joy, especially if playing up the fretboard, I often just play in a drone style because I find it too hard to play chords up there up to speed. But when I play across all the strings in the lower octave, I do indeed play chords because they are easier to reach. So my rendition of that song uses chords some of the time and drones some of the time.
And just because someone is playing with open strings does not mean those strings are drones. It is often possible to play full chords using open strings. If you are tuned DAA or DAd, any time the chord is a D you can play all open strings, yet those are not drones; they are chord tones.
And as explains, many of us do not always strum all the strings all the time. In any rendition of a song, I sometimes pluck single strings, sometimes play two strings, and sometimes play three strings (which may or may note be open strings). In a lot of my arrangements I play a chord on the first beat of a measure but then I just play melody notes until the next measure or the next chord change, whichever comes first.
And some players play in a flatpicking guitar style in which they rarely play more than one string at a time. Check out some of Larry Conger's playing for that style. They are playing chords, though, but as arpeggios or broken chords rather than block chords.
As says, there are no right or wrong ways to play this instrument. There are many possibilities out there and you should play in the style or styles which speak to you most saliently. If it sounds good to you, do it. If it doesn't, then try something else.
If they are decals, anyone could have put them on. If it's genuine inlay, you might contact @Howard-Rugg , who is a member here and who resurrected Capritaurus Dulcimers a couple of years ago.
You don't have to know what you're playing to play very well. But it makes it hard to communicate with others about music. If you want to ask questions or answer other people's questions, it helps to actually know the names of the notes and chords you're playing.
It is worth paying attention to the point your teacher was trying to make even if you don't always follow his or her advice. There is nothing wrong with playing a 3-1-0 G chord with your thumb on the bass string, and it might work great if your next chord position is a 4-0-1 or 4-2-1 A. However, if your next chord position is an A chord played as either 1-0-4 or 1-2-4, when you will need your thumb on the melody, then your whole hand has to change not only its position but its angle of attack. However, if you play 3-1-0 with your index finger on the bass, then your thumb is almost on that 4th fret on the melody string anyway, so you are already in position for that 1-0-4 chord.
My advice is to be as flexible as possible and not get locked into a single approach. Your thumb on the bass may be fine some of the time and also prove a barrier to smooth playing in other contexts. We all know that cliche to "go with the flow," and I would suggest that you want to adapt your playing to best capture the flow of the music.
, I personally never use my thumb on the bass string, but I know some superb players who do so a lot. I also have one student who does it even on some of my own arrangements. The short answer is if it works for you, then it works for you.
One big issue when it comes to left-hand fingering is how the dulcimer is positioned on your lap. People who use their thumb a lot will want the dulcimer to be angled so that the lower bout is tight against their right hip and the head is angled out over the left knee (assuming you are a righty). Watch some of Guy-Babusek's videos here to see a good demonstration of that kind of positioning. That angle makes it much more comfortable to use your thumb (but much harder to use your pinky). People who don't use their thumb as much and rely more on their pinky move the head of the dulcimer in more so that the dulcimer is closer to being perpendicular to their legs. That positioning facilitates the use of the pinky. Check out Aaron O'Rourke's videos for an example of that, and notice that he also lifts the bottom of the dulcimer off his lap and angles it away from his body, something else that would make it harder to use your thumb on the bass string (and maybe the reason I never do it).
Personally, I use both my thumb and my pinky, and I shift the dulcimer on my lap depending on the fingering for any given song.
I am not sure which G chord you are talking about. In DAd:
I play the 3-1-0 G chord with my index on the bass string and either my ring finger or my pinky on the middle string.
For the 0-1-3 chord I use my ring or middle finger on the middle and my thumb on the melody.
For the 3-3-5 chord, I use either index, middle, thumb or middle, ring, thumb.
For the 5-3-3, I use index, ring, and pinky.
For the 5-6-7 chord I use either ring, middle, thumb or middle, index, thumb.
For the 7-6-5 chord I use either index, middle, pinky or index, middle, ring.
I'm sure there are other ways to get these chords (in fact, I know both Stephen Seifert and Aaron O'Rourke barre two of the strings when they play the 3-3-5 and 5-3-3 chords) but those approaches work for me, and in cases when there are more than one possibility, the context of the notes before and after will dictate which I use.
My advice is to do what works, but be aware that it might not work all the time, so be prepared to try other possibilities as well.
Only in the last couple of weeks has toilet paper shown up regularly on supermarket shelves. But only in small packages of 4-8 rolls. And perhaps about a month ago eggs and meat became once again a regular find. It was certainly nerve wracking to walk through a supermarket and see so many empty ailes. Still hard to find Lysol or Chlorox wipes or rubbing alcohol, but hand sanitizers are available again.
The governor has lifted most restrictions here and left it up to county officials to determine what activities will be permitted. In the county where the music shop is where I teach, group gatherings are still forbidden, but private lessons are now allowed. I was relieved, though, to hear that none of my students feel comfortable returning to in-person lessons yet. The lesson room we use is tiny and does not have great ventilation. If we could meet outdoors, or in a larger space we would all feel more comfortable. One of my students has decided she actually prefers Zoom lessons, saying that not having to worry about gathering her stuff and drive to the music shop enables her to concentrate more just on the music. Interesting.
@CaonnorC, there are actually several variables to consider as you continue playing and thinking about what would be ideal for you. Obviously VSL is one, as is the width of the fretboard. Another is the distance between the strings. I find for flatpicking I want strings that are close together, with an inch or less separating the bass and melody strings. But for fingerpicking I don't mind a little more space in there so my chubby picking fingers have some room. The kind of fretwire you use is another issue. Some dulcimer players prefer jumbo wire so that you don't have to press the strings all the way to the wood of the fretboard. That allows a softer touch and faster playing. And some luthiers are starting to make radiused fretboards, mainly with the goal of increased comfort of the fretting hand. It's a lot to think about.
But for the moment, just keep doing what you're doing. Those stretches should get easier over time.
, a dulcimer with a 27" VSL should be fine for chording. In DAd tuning the 1-2-4 and 4-2-1 A chords are indeed the toughest to reach, but they can be done, and keep in mind that the muscles in your fingers will get stronger and will stretch a bit, so just keep at it. And yes, you will want to you use your pinky. Some dulcimer players don't use their thumbs and others don't use their pinkies, but I figure I need all the help I can get.
I still have and play dulcimers with 27" and 28" VSLs, but I have to admit that my main playing dulcimer has only a 25" VSL. The shorter scale length not only makes certain chords easier to finger, but makes it easier to play fast since my hand can stay in a relaxed position as I cover several frets.
Thought I'd resurrect this discussion thread. What are you guys working on? building a new instrument? learning a new tune? putting lyrics to a melody you wrote?
I was watching an episode of the BBC series Poldark the other night and heard a charming Irish jig called "Haste to the Wedding." I'm working on it now. Not quite up to speed, but we're getting there. I'm playing it on my Ron Ewing octave dulcimette, which is a 3/4-size instrument. The smaller frets and the proximity of the strings make it a bit easier to play faster tunes.
When you say "posts are not refreshing," do you mean recent posts are not showing up? When you refer to "the post section" do you mean the comment box or the existing posts?
Unfortunately, Strumelia may not be able to get on for several hours, and she would be the best one to troubleshoot this stuff.
On my MMD the bridge is definitely compensated:
I would suggest just contacting David. He'll know what to do.
I saw John McCutcheon perform a song once that started out funny and ended up hilarious. I can't remember the title, but the song was about some kid he grew up with in Wisconsin who would get his tongue stuck on the frozen metal swingset at school every winter. So he sange a verse or two, and then he asked the audience to sing along, but to do so as though our tongues were stuck on a swing set. So each chorus we did that, with everyone trying to sing with our tongues sticking out of our mouths. Perhaps the second or third chorus, he grabbed a camera and took a picture of us, all looking as foolish as we did.
He claimed afterwards that his kid told him no one would be willing to sing with their tongues sticking out, to which he replied, "I bet they will in California!" I'm sure he amends that line to refer to whatever state he's in.
You ask a good question. Herdim does not really publish the exact measurements of each corner, so it's hard to know if the different colored picks overlap or not.
When I first started on the dulcimer I bought a dozen of the yellow picks thinking that's what I was supposed to use. I found it too thin and too pointy and gave them all away.
Some people like them, but I prefer a traditionally shaped guitar pick and buy Dunlop Tortex picks by the dozen.
Well, if we're including interspecies animal romance, my vote is "The Owl and the Pussycat," especially the melody put to the Lears poem by Burl Ives .
I get teary-eyed singing the last lines: "And hand in hand at the edge of the sand/They danced by the light of the moon, the moon/They danced by the light of the moon."
One of my all time favorite pop love songs is Van Morrison's "Crazy Love." I've never played it on the dulcimer, but I don't see why you couldn't. I used to play it on the mandolin back in the day when I accompanied a guitarist who also sang and made all the ladies swoon.
Erin Mae is the best, isn't she? She's so sweet and encouraging and she can tear it up on the fretboard!
The song mentions, "Can't Help Falling in Love" is associated with Elvis and often played at weddings. But what I find funny is that, as many folks here know, the melody was taken from a French tune called "Plaisir d'amour." But the French lyrics are anything but romantic: "The pleasure of love lasts only a moment, but the pain from love lasts a lifetime."
The melody does fit on the dulcimer fretboard really nicely, though, and even people who are not folk music fans recognize it, so it's a good one to have in your repertoire.
Something I learned recently is that the slot in the nut should not be flat. It should come to a little point, so the string sits in a single point rather than resting on a level surface. In other words, the slot looks like a V if you look at the nut from the string's point of view, but if you look at it along the nut itself, the slot inside should look like a ^ rather than be flat. If a string sits along a flat ledge inside the nut, it can move around and buzz.
I have a nice small dulcimer that had a buzz on only one string and it was driving me crazy, but as soon as he heard it, the repair guy at a music store diagnosed the problem. He took about ten minutes filing the slot to increase the point, and the problem was solved.
I'd be surprised, though, if McSpadden made that mistake in the original build.
And I should also say that I sometimes get a buzz on strings and I'll just change the strings and the buzz goes away. I can't explain why older strings would buzz, but it's such a simple fix I've never worried about it.
Your string gauges seem reasonable to me. I use 26", 16" and 13" on my 25" VSL dulcimer tuned DAd.
Cool topic, . Not long ago I started playing (but not singing) a Welsh love song from the 18th century, called "Bugeili'or Gwenith Gwyn," or "Watching the White Wheat." It tells the supposedly true story of Wil, a young farm laborer, and Ann, the daughter of a wealthy farming family. Her family did not consider Wil an appropriate spouse and arranged for her to marry another. Overcome with sadness, Wil left the village. After some time he had a dream of an impending death, so he returned, thinking Ann's husband was dying. Instead he found that it was Ann who was dying of a broken heart. Supposedly they are both now buried in that same village.
I posted an instrumental version of it about a year ago, and you can find both choral and harp versions on YouTube, but I love the Mary Hopkin version in Welsh . You can also see this funny Tom Jones version in English .
I think there are two points of confusion here. One is that dulcimers and guitars have traditionally had different construction. Whereas guitars clearly have both a bridge and a saddle, dulcimers sometimes have a saddle inserted directly in (or on, if it is floating) the extension of the fingerboard, and sometimes there is a single wooden piece (which may or may not be braced) with a broad bottom and a much narrower top, functioning as both a bridge and a saddle. And recently many dulcimer luthiers have indeed been opting for guitar-type construction with a clear bridge and saddle. Because of this variation, many people, myself included, almost never use the term "saddle" and just refer to the bridge regardless of whether we are referring to the part attached to the soundboard or the part with grooves through which the strings lay. But I've been corrected by more than a few professional luthiers when I've used the term "bridge" instead of the more precise "saddle."
As long as they understand what VSL I want and how far apart I want the strings, they can call it bubble gum and I don't care.
Interestingly, over the past 2 weeks I've had three people whom I had never met contact me to take online dulcimer lessons. None of them are within 2 hours of me, and one is in another state. Perhaps people are becoming more comfortable with distance technology or perhaps people are just deciding that they might as well learn an instrument while sheltering at home. I don't know the reasons, but it's nice to be able to share music at this time.
, we've been buying groceries for my mother-in-law, too. She tells us what she needs and we leave it outside her door. Once or twice, just to get out of the house, she has driven over to our place for the pickup, and yes, it is so hard not to hug her, but she is so vulnerable that I would never forgive myself if she got sick because we were careless in our contact with her. I want her to be around when we get a vaccine, or enough tests for everyone, or however this ends.
There are two different reasons for pick clack. One is the sound of the pick flipping as it strikes a string. That sound is much more pronounced with thinner picks than with heavier ones. And some pick material also makes less noise than others.
The other sound is the pick hitting the fretboard. But that is why people talk about technique. Your pick should not be going so deep into the strings that you hit the fretboard. Rather, you should be gliding along the top. Addiitonally, angling the pick so it is not parallel to the string but only hits it on the side (for righties, that means the left side going out and the right side coming in) also reduces the noise the pick makes and helps avoid getting in between the strings to hit the fretboard.
Personally, I enjoy heavy picks that allow for much greater timing accuracy, so I have little problem with that first sound. And when I record or perform I use a ridiculously expensive pick that someone gave me which produces almost no sound at all.
But I still sometimes get sloppy with my picking and hit the fretboard, especially if I get to playing pretty fast. That's one reason I like my McCafferty with the extended strum hollow since I don't have to worry about my less-than-perfect strumming technique.
There's nothing wrong with adding some percussive sounds as we play, but it ought to be on purpose, and as Irene says, we might not want it on every song we play.
Terry McCafferty makes what he calls an "extended" strumhollow. Bascically he cuts off the fretboard a few frets early to creater a longer and more usable strumhollow. How many of us actually fret those little tiny frets above 14 anyway? Take a look at his instruments and you'll see what I'm talking about. I love playing with the extra long strumhollow.
I've been concentrating recently not on a single song but a whole bunch of songs from the American west around the mid-19th century: Strawberry Roan, Lorena, Billy the Kid, Green Grow the Lilacs, and The Maid of Monterey.
, I don't know where I heard this, but supposedly the "Buffalo" in "Buffalo Gals" was originally whatever town the band was playing in, so it might be "Albany Gals" or "Charlotte Gals" or "Montpelier Gals" or whatever. The song was often sung as the last song of the night and was an invitation to the ladies in the audience to hang out with the band after the show.
It's crazy that parents would let their kids run around with other kids, as though there were no social consquences to those kinds of interactions. Some people just don't get it. I've been going for a short (and slow) 3-mile jog with my daughter most days. We jog to a large park and in the park do indeed see other people out and about. But for the most part people are respectful about keeping their distances. When other joggers approach from different directions they both move off to the side to ensure sufficient distance between them.
On Sunday my neighbors invited me to play music with them in their front yard. I brought my own chair and my own water. We sat about 10 feet apart and even wore masks. We did talk about the fact that since we were far enough apart the masks weren't necessary, but we wanted to model behavior for our kids. It was fun, and my first real (in-person) interactions with non family members, although it was hard to hear the vocals underneath the masks. We did a few John Prine songs for obvious reasons, an old Ray Price tune to which Ian & Sylvia Tyson added some French lyrics, and one of my favorite Iris DeMent tunes, "Sweet is the Melody." It was fun, but also sad. Barbeque season is starting and we won't be able to have those neighborhood parties with people grilling food, kids running around, people grabbing ice-cold beer out of coolers, a handful of musicians keeping the melodies floating around, horseshoes, water balloons, and watermelon seed spitting contests. Now I'm getting nostalgic for the innocent pre-virus days. It's hard to hug people when you meet in Zoom. In fact, that last sentiment is a line in the DeMent tune I just mentioned: "An arm's just an arm 'til it's wrapped 'round a shoulder."
I joined initially mainly out of curiosity, but have not been too active there. I miss the old site, but just because this place has the same name and basic organization of content doesn't mean it's the same. What made the old site was the people there, not the name of the site. And most of the more active people there are interacting here. I do think it matters that the administrator is anonymous, especially when he/she participates in discussions (which is often). I also have mixed feelings about his (or her) having just appropriated the domain name instead of coming up with something new.
Jan, I'm glad your test came back negative. At least there's that. It really seems like your friend is in a tough spot. As for cards, I honestly find it so time-consuming to pick out a pre-written card that's right (male cousin, mother-in-law, step-grandson, ARGH!, then Valentine's Day, Birthday, Get Well, Condolances, ARGH!) that I just have a collection of cards with pretty phogrphas (close-ups of flowers, a peacock's feathers, autumn leaves reflecting on a lake, etc) and nothing written inside. I prefer those to the pre-printed ones that try to idenitfiy the event and the relationship of the recipient.
Funny song, Lois!
Amidst all the horrific news of increasing infections and increasing mortality, it is indeed heartwarming everyday to see people looking out for one another, a testament to the caring nature of the human spirit.
I braved the grocery store today for the first time in a couple of weeks and was so glad to see the shelves filled with eggs, meat, and bread. Those three items had been hard to get for about a month, so maybe the panicked buying (that was causing me to panic) has subsided.