Forum Activity for @dusty-turtle

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
10/26/21 05:44:18PM
1,500 posts

The Drifting Thread...


OFF TOPIC discussions

This I learned from Ionesco.

A dulcimer is an instrument with four strings.  My ukulele is an instrument with four strings; therefore it is a dulcimer.

A dulcimer is limited to a diatonic scale.  My accordion is limited to a diatonic scale; therefore it is a dulcimer.

A dulcimer is a stringed instrument without a neck.  My autoharp is a stringed instrument without a neck; therefore it is a dulcimer.

A dulcimer is an instrument you play on your lap.  My dobro is an instrument you play on your lap; therefore it is a dulcimer.

How 'bout that logic!

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
10/26/21 04:00:24PM
1,500 posts

Cedar soundboards


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

P.S. I also have a 12-string guitar with a cedar top and it sounds great.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
10/26/21 03:59:02PM
1,500 posts

Cedar soundboards


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


Hey Paula.  Traditionally, dulcimers were usually made entirely of local hardwoods and there was no difference between the sides, bottom, and the top. A lot of people still prefer dulcimers made entirely of walnut or other woods.  But more modern makers began using soft tone woods such as spruce, cedar, and redwood on the top to produce a softer, more guitar-like sound.

Most guitars have a spruce top.  Spruce is a little harder than cedar and resists scratches and nicks a little better.  But cedar produces a similar sound and usually much quicker. What I mean by that is that it sometimes takes a while for spruce to fully open up, which is a main reason guitars getter better with age.  Cedar usually gets that sound much earlier in an instrument's life.

I have dulcimers with spruce, redwood, and cedar tops and they are all great.  The sound differences between them are due more to other aspects of instrument design.  Don't shy away from a cedar top if the rest of the dulcimer has what you're looking for. It's a highly respected tonewood.


updated by @dusty-turtle: 10/26/21 05:46:03PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
10/25/21 01:02:03AM
1,500 posts

What Are You Working On?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Sally is a tough one to get on diatonic fretboard. It's a haunting melody, though.

Some years ago I learned a version arranged by Steve Eulberg.  He uses a DAA tuning with a capo at 1, but the 8+ fret is still necessary. I couldn't even tell you if that was aeolian or dorian.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
10/11/21 11:49:59AM
1,500 posts

RIP Bill Taylor


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

At the last Quarantune 5 concert yesterday, there was a nice tribute to Bill.  Tull Glazener changed his avatar screen so it was a picture of Bill and then when the concerts were over Stephen Seifert led a short jam that centered on Bill's arrangement of Rock the Cradle Joe.

The Knoxville Area Dulcimer Club has a whole page dedicated to tab donated by Bill and his wife Barbara.  You can find it here .

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
10/09/21 03:54:04PM
1,500 posts

The Positive Thread...


OFF TOPIC discussions

Well you how they say if you give someone a hammer everything looks like a nail.  Dulcimer players want to tickle strings with their fingers.  Drummers want to hit stuff with sticks.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
10/09/21 02:23:45PM
1,500 posts

RIP Bill Taylor


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

That's so sad.  I know Bill was not only a great luthier but also an important part of the dulcimer scene in Tennessee and generously shared tablature arrangements.

I have a stunningly beautiful Bill Taylor dulcimer. It's not my main playing dulcimer, so I periodically think I should sell it. But then I take it out of the case and fall in love again.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
10/08/21 11:41:50AM
1,500 posts

The Positive Thread...


OFF TOPIC discussions


Positive?  Maybe not.  Mildly funny?  Perhaps.

I recently bought matching stands for my dulcimer and guitar.  The instructions for how to attach the base to the arm read:

"Do not overtighten.  You can crack the wood.  Maybe not a job for a drummer."

And similarly, the instructions for attaching the hanger to the arm read:

"Do not overtighten.  You can strip out the insert.  Keep the drummer away from this."

For the record, the assembly went very well.  Clearly dulcimer players are more gentle creatures than are percussionists.


updated by @dusty-turtle: 10/08/21 01:22:22PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
10/07/21 02:48:31PM
1,500 posts

Folkcraft kits


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

For what it's worth, @art-s, position dots are not really necessary on a diatonic fretboard.  The pattern of fat and skinny frets tells you everything you need to know. It's very different than a guitar or mandolin where all the frets look the same.

The Folkcraft kits are very good.  Even their cardboard kits make pretty darn good dulcimers.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
10/04/21 11:53:36AM
1,500 posts

Rosin the Beau and recycling melodies for new songs


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Thanks for those lyrics, John.  It's amazing to see how many songs have used that melody.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
10/04/21 12:43:51AM
1,500 posts

Rosin the Beau and recycling melodies for new songs


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I never heard of that tune, @john-gribble.  Interesting. It's another for the list, certainly.  Do you know where we might find some lyrics?

I am pretty sure, however, that George Washington was a drinker.  I had read somewhere that well into the revolutionary war he used to drink a toast to George III, and I don't really know if that's true or not, but when I looked into it I found a lot about old George's drinking habits.  Check out this website , which explains that he was partial to madeira wine and porter beer.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
09/29/21 11:35:54PM
1,500 posts

Responding to video comments


Site QUESTIONS ? How do I...?

Hey @celtic-cowboy, I see that you have in fact posted a "thanks" to people who commented on your East Virginia video, so clearly you know how to post.


There is no option called a "comment back" but there are two ways to accomplish the same thing.  This is how things work on a pc. It may be slightly different on a mobile device.


One is what I did above. I just wrote your username complete with the @ symbol, which does two things. One, it creates a hyperlink so anyone can click it and get to your homepage. Two, it sends you a notification that someone has mentioned you.  Of course, it also indicates clearly to whom you are responding.


The second way is to directly quote someone:


Celtic Cowboy: How do I respond to comments under my uploaded video? There is no "comment back" button under the comments.

To quote someone, hover your cursor over their comment and you will see an icon appear in the upper right of that box that looks like the speech bubble from a cartoon.  Click that and their entire comment will appear in quotation marks in a new comment box.  You rarely need to quote an entire post, so most of us then edit the quotation to include only what is necessary.


I hope that helps.  If you need further instruction, ask your limberjack. ROTFL


updated by @dusty-turtle: 09/29/21 11:36:08PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
09/28/21 08:07:33PM
1,500 posts

Warren May Mahogany Dulcimer need home


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

Here's one on Ebay with an asking price of $700 . Of course, that's just the asking price.  No one has bought it yet.


updated by @dusty-turtle: 09/28/21 08:08:31PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
09/26/21 12:13:23AM
1,500 posts

Why I generally play solo


Playing and jamming difficulties...HELP ME!

I would laugh at those "rules," but they hit a little too close to home.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
09/23/21 12:28:15AM
1,500 posts

What Are You Working On?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I am (very slowly) working on an arrangement of the Irish Gaelic air "Song of the Books" or " Amhrán na Leabha."  It's a haunting melody. I found some sheet music for the penny whistle, which provides the basic melody.  But I've been listening to this vocal version and altering the basic melody to capture a small fraction of the nuances of the singer's voice.  The big task will be deciding on the harmonic accompaniment. Lots of minor chords, obviously, but beyond that I've yet to figure it out.

Once I've tabbed out the melody and decided on the chording, then I'll have to actually sit down and play it a bunch to see how it all fits under the fingers. More revisions to follow then.

You can rest assured I'll be listening to this tune non-stop for many days to come.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
09/22/21 10:56:07PM
1,500 posts

FolkRoots Information


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

Hi Tom,

First, I took the liberty of moving your question to the Forum on specific luthiers, since it seemed more appropriate.

Second, I would guess from the model and serial number that the instrument was pre-Folkcraft, but to be sure, why not contact @howard-rugg directly?  He is a member here and usually has very good records about the instruments made by Capritaurus and FolkRoots.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
09/14/21 06:54:19PM
1,500 posts

Fret Markers?


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


My first dulcimer had no fret markers, and I managed fine. The diatonic fretboard IS your fret marker. The first skinny fret is 3. The last fat fret before the three skinnies (assuming you have a 6+) is 5. The last of the three skinnies is 7.

Since then I've bought instruments that have fret markers, and you do get accustomed to them. But unlike the banjo, the dulcimer does not need them.

I think now the main reasons to mark at 3, 5, and 7--even if you don't play only on the melody string--is because that's standard and you want to get used to the way most dulcimers are designed so you won't get confused if you switch dulcimers. And yes, those fret mark stickers look great and come off very easily.


updated by @dusty-turtle: 09/14/21 06:55:00PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
09/10/21 01:48:07AM
1,500 posts

Can you tell me about Curt Mangan FusionMatched strings?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Unless it specifically says "loop end," the strings will be ball end since that is the standard for guitars.  (Notice their mandolin sets specify "loop end.")  But they sell single loop-end strings, so it seems that would be the way to go.  A single phosphor bronze loop-end string only costs a couple of bucks.  Why not buy one and check it out?

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
09/05/21 07:52:43PM
1,500 posts

Ways to play in other keys


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Hey @carolynf,

The easiest way to play in G might be to tune the middle string to G so you would be in DGd.  Then the drones would be "right" but "reversed," meaning the root or key tone would be on the middle string and the 5th would be on the bass string. Your home base on the melody string would no longer be the open D, but the G on the third fret.

If you don't want to retune, you could put a capo at the third fret.  If you are tuned DAd and capo at 3, your notes would now be GDg, so you could play in G exactly the same way you were playing in D before.

You can play in G without using either of those methods, but as you have discovered, you can't rely on the open strings as much. You would also likely have to move up the fretboard to get the C natural that falls on the 6th fret of the bass and middle strings.  (In fact, I've been working on a series of intermediate-level arrangements of tunes played first in D and then in G, all out of the DAd tuning. The challenge for the G parts though, is that we move up the fretboard where we are often less comfortable and have to use more fingers to play chords.)

EDIT: Woops! I see @ken-longfield is a faster typist than I am and offered the same advice already.


updated by @dusty-turtle: 09/05/21 07:53:44PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
09/03/21 08:19:24PM
1,500 posts

The Positive Thread...


OFF TOPIC discussions

I put new strings on my dulcimer today, and she loves me again. love

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
09/02/21 11:30:44AM
1,500 posts

Varying VSL


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I often play dulcimers with radically different VSLs, ranging from a tiny octave dulcimer to standard dulcimers of 25" and 27" and a baritone of 28".  I suppose I have to look more regularly at the fretboard until I get situated, but only once that I remember was I playing a tune I had arranged on one dulcimer and ran into difficulty playing it on a different one. The fingering had to change slightly and I was caught off guard. 

I used to switch between guitar and mandolin, too.  We humans are adaptable creatures.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
08/30/21 11:57:34AM
1,500 posts

worldwide Play Music on the Porch Day


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

It's so nice to see and hear about folks playing music outdoors.  Thanks for sharing, everyone!

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
08/28/21 10:31:52PM
1,500 posts

worldwide Play Music on the Porch Day


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I shared music with others in my monthly dulcimer club on zoom today (mostly English country dances), but nothing outdoors.  The smoke from the wildfires up the Sierras has blown down into the valley and the air quality is unhealthy.  No outdoor music today or outdoor anything for me.  I put on an N95 respirator mask just to turn on the sprinklers.

I hope others have been able to share music with their communities.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
08/26/21 08:38:52PM
1,500 posts

Joni Mitchell and Mountain Dulcimers


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

It's a nice read, Ken, and mostly accurate. Thanks for sharing.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
08/16/21 03:15:46AM
1,500 posts

Help with info on a Flat Creek Box Dulcimer


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

Hey @illmade2, it may be that there is little information on that particular maker, but as far as "common tuning," there is no reason to think your dulcimer is any different than others.  That instrument has three courses, with the melody course doubled.   The most common tunings would be DAAA and DAdd. The Get Tuned website can help.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
08/05/21 11:47:16AM
1,500 posts

New Harmony Dulcimer


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

I know a few people who have bought New Harmony dulcimers over the past year or two.  They rave about the big, full sound.  I haven't played one myself, but hope to soon.  I met Rick (the luthier, not the business/PR guy) in Zoom when New Harmony was a vendor at the virtual Berkeley Dulcimer Gathering.  He seemed to know most of the other dulcimer makers in the country and was familiar with the variations in their designs. I'm not ready to buy another dulcimer right now, but we discussed my personal preferences, and he was certainly willing to build a dulcimer to please me.

Several luthiers offer a three-string option, and a few (like Modern Mountain Dulcimers) only make dulcimers with three strings.  That approach may be in the minority, but it is not unheard of.

As @gail-webber explains, the accutune bridge is a way of adjusting the compensation for each string individually, providing greater accuracy in intonation depending on tuning and string gauge. 

Perhaps just as importantly, the New Harmony design does not really use an end block.  Instead the strings latch onto an undercut bridge with several inches to spare before the end of the top. That design allows the sound board to resonate a lot more than it does on a standard dulcimer. The resulting sound resembles not the traditional, high silvery sound of older dulcimers but the warmer, round sound of a guitar.

As for the hole in the head, I assumed it was simply so that the instrument would be easy to hang on a wall on a simple peg, like those traditional Shaker chairs.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
08/04/21 12:43:18AM
1,500 posts

Choosing Your String Gauge


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

Lighter strings will be looser.  Heavier strings will be tighter.

If you're playing by yourself, though, and don't need to be in a specific key, I would suggest tuning higher for tighter strings and lower for looser strings.  That's a lot easier than changing strings.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
08/01/21 01:25:27PM
1,500 posts

fingerstyle playing on a budget


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

Hey, @johnpat27.  I have  a few thoughts here.

Consider starting with three strings, especially if you want to fingerpick.  Just remove the doubled strings.  You can always add them back later on.  I was given this advice when I first started and out of nothing but hubris, I resisted it, thinking that since I play 12-string guitar and mandolin the extra strings wouldn't bother me.  But eventually (like 2 years later) I strung up my instrument with three single strings and loved the clarity of the sound.  Some techniques (like hammer-ons and pull-offs) are easier with single strings and some (like bending) are virtually impossible with double strings.

Second, there are two resources for drone players close by: Strumelia's Mountain Dulcimer Noter and Drone Blog (which others have mentioned but not provided a link for) and the Old Style Noter and Drone Players Group here at FOTMD.  You have to join the group to see all the posts, but you'll find lots of information and camaraderie there. 

Third, have fun. Put the the instrument on your lap, find a melody that you like, and let your instrument ring!

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
07/31/21 02:33:08AM
1,500 posts

Who's dulcimer kit?


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

Yes, of course you can sand the bridge. Be careful, though, and go little by little. When you were working on the nut you really couldn't mess up since the zero fret was going to set the height of the strings down on that end of the dulcimer. You don't have that safety net when you work on the bridge.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
07/31/21 01:57:30AM
1,500 posts

Who's dulcimer kit?


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

Marg, if the strings are really sitting on the zero fret so that the strings are vibrating between the zero fret and the bridge, the nut will have no effect on the action.  You might consider sanding down the bridge, however.  

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
07/30/21 12:50:24PM
1,500 posts

Got myself a book to start out with


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

@sunvalleylaw, don't feel you have to abandon techniques you developed playing the guitar. I also came to the dulcimer from the guitar, and when I bought my first dulcimer I got a 12-pack of those pointy, triangular, Herdim picks.  I never took to them, gave them away at a festival, and went back to the same Tortex picks you use.  I tend to use the green .88 ones when there is a little more slack in the strings and the blue 1.0 ones when the strings are nice and tight.  If you are only strumming across all the strings, those big, pointy, floppy picks are fine.  But if you want to flatpick and play long single-note runs, you need a bit more control.

Since noter/drone players can handle higher action than those of us who fret with our fingers, a lot of dulcimers are made with higher action.  By all means, do what you can to get the action as low as possible without causing any strings to buzz.

It seems you are well on your way to ensuring you are comfortable playing your instrument.  That will certainly allow you to progress quickly.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
07/29/21 12:26:50AM
1,500 posts

Who's dulcimer kit?


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

Nate asks all the right questions here.  You might try simply removing the nut and allowing the zero fret to do what it's supposed to do.  Then you could check the intonation and the action.  If the dulcimer functions correctly, you can feel comfortable sanding the nut way down, since, as Nate says, it's only purpose is to space the strings correctly.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
07/28/21 06:40:07PM
1,500 posts

Got myself a book to start out with


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

That video is super clear, isn't it?  By the way, that practice of using the same chord shape and moving it around the fretboard is what Joellen calls "parallel" chords. It is an easy approach to learn (well, the left hand is, anyway), since the fingers stay in the same shape and you just have to move them up and down the fretboard.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
07/27/21 09:23:56AM
1,500 posts

Who's dulcimer kit?


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

Ken Longfield: On that particular dulcimer, the nut is installed backwards.

Nice catch, @ken-longfield! I guess they don't call you "eagle eyes" for nothing!

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
07/26/21 08:02:56PM
1,500 posts

Who's dulcimer kit?


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

marg: Would I slit the nut or sand the bottom to lower it so the strings touch the 0 fret? I'm better at sanding some off the bottom, don't that.

Marg, I'll let the builders answer that question.  I would think that if the distance between the 0 fret and all the strings were the same, you might consider sanding the bottom of the nut.  But if that distance varies, you might also need to deepen the slits.

The good news is that you don't have to be so precise to the left of the 0 fret. If the frets (including the 0) are set up correctly, they should come off the 0 fret and the action and intonation should be good.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
07/26/21 07:30:44PM
1,500 posts

Who's dulcimer kit?


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

I can't help identify the maker of the kit, but I would bet those little nails by the nut are to help space the strings appropriately, since the can come in at any number of angles off the tuners.

Yes, the strings should touch the 0 fret.  The strings should vibrating between the 0 fret and the bridge.  There should be no space between the strings and the 0 fret.

I've seen those leaves and hummingbirds on several dulcimers, not just Cedar Creek.  It looks nice in general.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
07/24/21 01:19:42PM
1,500 posts

Introduce Yourself!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

If you were really dense, @sunvalleylaw, you wouldn't apologize.  And there's nothing to apologize for anyway.  Unlike Facebook, which has the endless scroll that keeps moving, we try to maintain discussions and forums so they can be searched and used later on.

A couple of posts earlier, @ken-hulme posted a link to an article he wrote: Ken Hulme's "I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What?" Article - Strumelia | fotmd.com .  The link is actually to a discussion about that article, but the first post in the discussion by our fearless leader @strumelia has a link to a pdf of the article.  Just follow the link above, scroll to the bottom of the discussion to find the first post, and you'll see that pdf link.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
07/24/21 10:22:53AM
1,500 posts

Got myself a book to start out with


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

@sunvalleylaw, that book is by Joellen Lapidus, who was a pioneering dulcimer player and maker several decades ago and is still active and influential today.  Her book is one of the few that mixes stuff for beginners with very advanced material on rhythmic strumming and chords and stuff.  It will serve you very well.  Joellen still plays both traditional songs in a drone style and other jazzy stuff with chords.  She also experiments with different tunings, more than most people, I think.  I'm sure you'll learn a lot there, although you should keep your eyes open for other instructional material that might be free online. And of course, when you're ready, you can contact Joellen directly or find her at a dulcimer festival.

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