Forum Activity for @dusty-turtle

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
08/01/21 01:25:27PM
1,471 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
1,471 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
1,471 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
1,471 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
1,471 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
1,471 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
1,471 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
1,471 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
1,471 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
1,471 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
1,471 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.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
07/24/21 10:13:53AM
1,471 posts

Introduce Yourself!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

@sunvalleylaw, the article is in a link in the very first post.  Follow Ken's link and then scroll to the bottom where you can find that first post.  You'll find the article there.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
07/18/21 06:58:40PM
1,471 posts

The Positive Thread...


OFF TOPIC discussions

What a sweet story, @ken-longfield.  It shows how strong the student/teacher bond can be and also how dulcimers bring people together in so many ways.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
07/05/21 12:42:33PM
1,471 posts

Introduce Yourself!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Good luck with your build, @glp1958. Make sure you join the Dulcimer Making Group , for folks there will have lots of advice for every stage of the project.  Some of that advice might even be helpful! winky

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
07/03/21 11:52:03AM
1,471 posts

The Positive Thread...


OFF TOPIC discussions

I put new strings on the Guild 6-string last night, all in preparation for today's Pick - N - Jam, an annual party in which people pick wild berries (mostly blackberries this time of year) and then gather at an old farmhouse to make jam. While the jam is cooking, we take out our instruments and pick and jam some more.  I'll be bringing my dulcimer and my guitar.  This event was canceled last summer, but this year anyone vaccinated was invited to come.  So grab your dulcimer and your copy of Rise Up Singing and come on down!jive

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
06/29/21 04:38:43PM
1,471 posts

Death of John Shaw, UK mountain dulcimer giant


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

That's sad news, Geoff.  John used to be pretty active here online, although not so much in recent years.

He once posted a version of the old country blues Leaving Home that showed me the range of material that could be played on the dulcimer.

Please share our condolences with Angela and make sure she knows that even those of us who never met John in person thought very highly of him as well.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
06/25/21 01:14:47PM
1,471 posts

Mountain Dulcimer Tablature Book


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

Janene Millen: Dusty, now I've had a taste of what labor is truly involved

Yeah, it starts out as a labor of love and soon becomes a labor of I-wanna-get-this-s@#$-finished-already!

But you're done, and the final product is wonderful.  There is so much there, not merely the melodies of these songs, but different kinds of chordal arrangements and information on vocals, adding embellishments, and more.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
06/24/21 08:57:30PM
1,471 posts

Identification dulcimer bought in Nebraska


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

This image purports to show a Geoffrey Johnson of Hughes Dulcimer Company in 1974.  Not sure if it's the same Geoffrey Johnson.  I'm sure @ken-hulme can tell us about Hughes.


updated by @dusty-turtle: 06/24/21 08:58:38PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
06/24/21 04:00:13PM
1,471 posts

Mountain Dulcimer Tablature Book


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


Congratulations, Janene! flower  I'm so glad you completed this project. I am one of many people who have loved listening to your tasteful and inventive arrangements over the years and am glad there's finally a collection where we can learn the tunes!

I'm going to get my copy ASAP! joyjoy


updated by @dusty-turtle: 06/24/21 04:00:36PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
06/24/21 12:31:24PM
1,471 posts

50th anniversary of Joni Mitchell's "Blue"


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Thanks for sharing that, @robin-thompson.  I certainly believe the match between the personal expressiveness of Joni's songs on Blue and the minimalist approach of her dulcimer is what defines the album.

It's nice to see Joellen getting some publicity.  I wish she still sold her dulcimers for $200!

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
06/20/21 02:50:34PM
1,471 posts

50th anniversary of Joni Mitchell's "Blue"


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Thanks for that link, Strumelia. I read that article this morning. I have to admit I never thought to connect Joni's Blue with Miles's Kind of Blue , though I've loved both albums for years.

There's also a piece in the NY Times today: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/06/20/arts/music/joni-mitchell-blue.html?searchResultPosition=1 .

Both articles are worth exploring on a screen bigger than a phone since there's lots of pictures and interactive content.

Unfortunately, after a comment by Roseanne Cash about the "weird sound" of James Taylor's guitar, the editors inserted an audio excerpt of Joni's dulcimer.  D'oh!

There's also an NPR "listening party" on YouTube on June 22 .  Not sure what that will be like. Thousands of people listening to the album and chatting about it?

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
06/18/21 07:15:36PM
1,471 posts

50th anniversary of Joni Mitchell's "Blue"


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

@robin-thompson, is that the collection that has Joni's first four Reprise albums?  It looks interesting, but since I already have all of those CDs, I'm not sure what I'd gain from "newly remastered" versions.

Every time I listen to Blue carefully, I notice something new.  For example, I had long thought that "A Case of You" was just a love song, but now I rethink the lines "I could drink a case of you and still be on my feet" to mean that she can't be swept off her feet by anyone. I hear it now more as a statement of her own independence. And that website I link to below explains that "Little Green" is about her giving up a baby for adoption.  Now I understand the words and just find it heartbreaking.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
06/18/21 04:48:20PM
1,471 posts

Name that tune.


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions


Bonaparte's Retreat, methinks.

Edit: Today people usually play Bonaparte's Retreat with three parts.  The version in the documentary only has two of them.  The missing part is what defines the tune to us as mixolydian since it relies on the lowered 7th. If you skip that part, you can probably play it in either ionian or mixolydian.


updated by @dusty-turtle: 06/18/21 04:55:16PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
06/18/21 11:24:35AM
1,471 posts

50th anniversary of Joni Mitchell's "Blue"


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions


Joni Mitchell's Blue album, which introduced the dulcimer to millions of pop music fans, is 50 years old.  Check out CBC Radio's celebration of the album , which includes commentary and artwork inspired by the music.  The importance of the dulcimer is highlighted clearly:

The album’s distinctive sound comes from the dulcimer, which is the main instrument on four of Blue‘s songs. “I took off to Europe carrying a flute and this dulcimer because it was very light for backpacking around Europe,” [Joni] said. “I wrote most of Blue  on it.”

I don't have to tell you what a phenomenal combination of vulnerability and strength Joni's songs embody. And no one has ever matched the melodic playfulness of her soprano vocals.


updated by @dusty-turtle: 06/18/21 11:26:32AM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
06/13/21 07:16:26PM
1,471 posts

What's the exact difference between a dulcimore and dulcimer


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

In the folk tradition, we generally agree that isolating "who" originally did something is pretty tough indeed.  Instead we talk about different regional traditions that developed over time. As @dan and @ken-hulme have explained, today, people sometimes use the term "dulcimore" to refer to traditional, pre-revival (1940s) instruments or replicas of those instruments.

Just for kicks, a few years ago I collected the attached list of the various names that have been given to our beloved instrument.


a dulcimer by any other name.pdf - 44KB

updated by @dusty-turtle: 06/13/21 10:36:40PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
06/12/21 01:29:29PM
1,471 posts

How is the COVID-19 coronavirus affecting you?


OFF TOPIC discussions

The return to gatherings with family and friends is so wonderful. Scrabble, Banagrams, or just sharing a bottle of wine.

I just booked tickets for the family to visit my folks, whom we haven't seen in nearly two years, since the summer before the pandemic.  And we're attending a neighborhood party this evening, when we've all pitched in to hire a pizza truck, two guys with a wood-fired oven that they tow around from their van.  All the adults and kids over 12 in the neighborhood have been vaccinated, and we'll be outdoors anyway.  It will be so nice to hang out with people again.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
06/11/21 02:26:08PM
1,471 posts

How is the COVID-19 coronavirus affecting you?


OFF TOPIC discussions

I'm sitting with my daughter in the outdoor patio of a neighborhood café.  It feels so strange to be in public with no mask on.  Here in California, where the state is approaching that magical 70 percent vaccination rate, the pandemic restrictions are going to be lifted in about a week.  This café is even hosting its first ever open mic night a few days after the state re-opens.  A return to normal?  I wonder how long it will be before I'm comfortable with no mask on.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
06/11/21 01:51:34AM
1,471 posts

Awarding the "giveaway dulcimore" in Berea!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Congratulations to Diane.  And what a nice gesture on your part, John.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
06/08/21 03:15:17PM
1,471 posts

How do I create a new forum discussion?


Site QUESTIONS ? How do I...?

@joseph-besse, you just added a comment to a discussion about how to start a new discussion.  Perhaps you can go to the beginning of the thread to learn how to start a new discussion about any in-person festivals coming up.

I would also point you to the Dulcimer Players News Festival Directory , which lists upcoming events, some of which are virtual, some in-person, and some hybrid.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
06/01/21 02:56:59PM
1,471 posts

The Positive Thread...


OFF TOPIC discussions

Dr. Sanjay Gupta on how music is good for your brain.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
06/01/21 02:21:17AM
1,471 posts

The Positive Thread...


OFF TOPIC discussions

I found the 6-String Soldiers on Memorial Day.  This is good sh . . . stuff.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
05/29/21 02:33:34AM
1,471 posts

Need advice on Schaller planetary tuners tension


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

The first thing to try would be that screw on the end of the button.  It probably won't take much. 

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
05/27/21 06:14:32PM
1,471 posts

Leonard Bernstein explaining the mixolydian mode


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions


Check out this video of Leonard Bernstein explaining the mixolydian mode to some young folk.  What a great teacher!

https://youtu.be/x0rUDj1UrO8?t=72


updated by @dusty-turtle: 05/27/21 06:17:47PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
05/21/21 03:57:31PM
1,471 posts

Bass dulcimer strings


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


For reference purposes: Blue Lion's bass dulcimer has a 27.5" scale length and they use .052w for the bass, .032w for the middle, and .024w for the melody.

More and more luthiers are making dulcimers with shorter scale lengths, even for baritone and bass dulcimers.  New Harmony is now making baritone and bass models with 25" and 26" scale lengths. You might contact Rick there and see what they use for string gauges.  To really get a bass sound I think you need pretty heavy strings.  Those recommendations Ken got from the String Calculator--always the place to start--are pretty close to what I use on my 27" Probst strung as a baritone. (34, 24, 16).


updated by @dusty-turtle: 05/21/21 03:58:25PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
05/19/21 05:17:18PM
1,471 posts

Rosin the Beau and recycling melodies for new songs


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Hi @lois-sprengnether-keel.  Well you've demonstrate how you can do good history lesson using folks music.

The words we know to Old Rosin the Beau certainly makes it a drinking song, but I wonder if the song was not originally an instrumental simply called Rosin the Bow, and someone put some tongue-in-cheek lyrics to it, creating a song better known than the original.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
05/19/21 10:51:28AM
1,471 posts

Rosin the Beau and recycling melodies for new songs


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Thanks, @ken-longfield and @ken-hulme. I should have know you two would be the first to join the conversation!

Having grown up in Boston, I've know the Charlie and the MTA song about as long as I've known the Longfellow poem about Paul Revere ("Listen my children and you shall hear . . . ").  Both were required material in elementary schools.

There are lots of one-offs, I assume.  I heard an old Scottish tune called "The Bold Princess Royal" that must have been the source of the melody for Sweet Betsy from Pike.

But so far you guys have confirmed my sense that Rosin the Beau has been used more than any other melody.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
05/17/21 11:43:47AM
1,471 posts

Edit audio descriptions without spamming the Home site


Site QUESTIONS ? How do I...?

Hey @jost.  Well first of all, the people who worry about dominating the activity feed are never the ones who need to worry about dominating the activity feed, so think no more about that. The Moderators do have the ability to delete an item from the Activity Feed, and sometimes we do that when one person uploads several audio and video files and then edits them all, but in your case, a few items in that feed is nothing to worry about.  

We have discussed getting rid of some of those boxes that show up when you upload an audio text since they are not displayed publicly.  I suppose we could also find a way for them to be shown, but since so few people use that feature it has never been an issue.  In the meantime, you have two choices if you want to share lyrics. One is to put them in the description.  That will display, but will require significant scrolling on the part of the viewer.  The second is just to add another comment in which you put the lyrics.

Don't be ashamed. Just the fact that you posted your concern here shows you to be a good dulci-citizen. thumbsup

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