Forum Activity for @william-mann

William Mann
@william-mann
03/19/18 05:11:25PM
22 posts

Stanley Hicks / David Love dulcimer


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

Help me out, historians and collectors.  I just acquired a Watauga Co. NC dulcimer with the labels of two known craftsmen: Stanley Hicks and David Love.  The Hicks label was centered in a soundhole where you would expect to see a Hicks label, but the Love label was almost hidden toward the center of the back. 

Hicks I know, as does every Foxfire fan, but Love was a new one.  I've only found one other dulcimer with his name in it, and it did not have the Hicks label.  Love was a woodcarver, and the stylized eagle effigy pegbox was one of his hallmarks.  

My hypothesis on this dulcimer, which has Love's eagle peghead and a body that just screams Hicks: the instrument was a collaborative effort between the two craftsmen.  The two lived in the same general area--Watauga Co.--and Love's sister Dovie was married to a Hicks; so a sharing of ideas and even efforts would be easy to imagine.  Either Love supplied the pegbox and Hicks built the dulcimer, or Hicks made the component parts and Love assembled them using his pegbox.

Historians, collectors, and Watauga Co. music aficionados: can you confirm a hypothesis or share something I don't know?  (This is my first venture into the rich musical heritage of Watauga Co., so there's a LOT of stuff I don't know!)  Do you know more about Love, or about collaborations or any other professional or social relationship between Love and Hicks?

Thanks in advance!


IMG_0471.JPG IMG_0471.JPG - 80KB

updated by @william-mann: 03/19/18 05:37:19PM
William Mann
@william-mann
06/07/17 04:57:26PM
22 posts

New Bill Berg dulcimer


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

Know it's been a while, but just noticed a post on Berg's.  I bought my first on Ebay in 2013, and they have been my primary concert instruments ever since.  Just bought my fifth Berg earlier today.  Of over 50 dulcimers in the 26 years I've played, McSpadden is the only brand I've bought more of, and that's just because there are more of them out there.

 

Bill makes great instruments: even the student models sound better than a lot of "upgrade" instruments on the market.  Action tended to come a little high on most of his instruments I've owned or handled, and could cause intonation to pitch slightly sharp in the upper register; lower the strings just a touch and it's right on the money.  

Because he doesn't have the name recognition of McSpadden or Folkcraft, used instruments usually fetch less than half their original new price, even in top condition; making second-hand Bergs possibly the best value in the dulcimer world.

William Mann
@william-mann
09/27/16 12:03:30AM
22 posts

Strings for Modern Mountain Dulcimer


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

 I use 14s with a 22 phosphor bronze bass for DAA tuning as my standard (experimenting with .01-at-a-time tweaks ups and down to optimize each instrument) on all dulcimers between 27 and 28 vsl, and I purchase my strings in bulk by diameter (much cheaper than prepackaged sets).  I'm really just curious about Dave's defaults.  I acquired my MMD second hand, and doubt that the strings are original as it is several years old.  Jan, I will try to contact the representative, and I appreciate the willingness of all to respond.

William Mann
@william-mann
09/25/16 03:09:30PM
22 posts

Strings for Modern Mountain Dulcimer


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

Can someone tell me the standard string diameters/"gauges" for Dave McKinney's Modern Mountain Dulcimers?  I have tried to contact MMD for info, but have gotten no response.

William Mann
@william-mann
09/02/16 06:33:12PM
22 posts

Russell "Russ" Green


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

Anyone familiar with builder/player Russell "Russ" Green.  He worked in Detroit, apparently built dulcimers in his basement, and continued to build after he retired to Hartselle Alabama.  He passed away in 2000.  I'm from Alabama and am interested in makers from the state, but had never heard of Mr. Green until I came into possession of two of his instruments earlier today.  They are simple but quite well-crafted dulcimers: internal bracing, full kerfing, good intonation, clean seams and joints, etc.  They have skinny fretboards for 4-stringers (around 1.25"), but they still play nicely and have good tone with OLD strings.  Can't wait to clean them up and see what they can do.  Does anyone else here have a Russ Green dulcimer, or did anyone know him?  If he is a largely unknown maker, it is truly a shame.

William Mann
@william-mann
10/28/15 08:10:54PM
22 posts

Tell us about your VERY FIRST dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

McSpadden FM-12s, purchased new in 1991: walnut, with the tightest grained spruce soundboard I have ever seen.

I found myself one evening in April 1991 sitting on the edge of a stage in Kenner LA (suburb of New Orleans), literally at the feet of contemporary Christian artist Rich Mullins as he was killing time waiting for the concert to start.  He was known mainly as a hammered dulcimer player, but he also played the MD.  After watching him pass the time for a few minutes on a McSpadden T34w, I thought, "I could do that."  Two friends of mine ran a music store in Birmingham AL, and were McSpadden dealers; so I drove from NO to Bham the next weekend and spent an entire Saturday morning playing every dulcimer in their shop.  This one just spoke to me clearer and louder than any other there, so it came home with me.

After 24 years of buying, selling, and trading dulcimers, I still have it.  It has been glued back together after accidents twice now, and serves limited road duty today.  It is still the Grande Dame of the collection, though, and will be buried with me unless my kids decide to take it up.  Either way, it will never belong to anyone outside my family.

William Mann
@william-mann
08/24/15 03:38:03AM
22 posts

Possum Boards Revisited


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I put three feet (They're small dowel caps from Hobby Lobby) on the backs of my dulcimers, then I put three fittings on the possum board with sockets in them that match up to the feet on the dulcimer.This allows me a positive hardwood-to-hardwood contact between the instrument and board with no actual contact to the instrument back.  Also, with the feet sitting in sockets, the instrument does not slide around on the board.

The downside to this approach is that, since my dulcimers are different shapes and sizes, each has to have its own board.  I make my own boards in a backyard workshop, though, so they're cheap.

William Mann
@william-mann
08/24/15 03:12:15AM
22 posts



I've also used the D'Addario Micro with great success.  The Pitchlab app on my phone is extremely accurate, fully chromatic, and works on everything from my bass guitar to my violin; and it was free.

William Mann
@william-mann
08/24/15 02:58:24AM
22 posts

Please Don't Pick on Me. *tee hee!*


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I have tried a bunch of stuff, from typical teardrops and rounded triangles brought over from my guitar, elongated teardrops from my mandolin, thumbpicks from my banjo, V-picks, and I still have an original first-generation tri-gauge Herdim (when they were white).  I've even cut them from credit cards.  Ultimately I came back to the classic 355-style (large triangle) celluloid picks from Fender and D'Andrea that almost every dulcimer maker at one time threw in with instrument purchases. 

I buy 355s in medium and heavy gauges, usually in bulk.  Some of these I cut in half to produce elongated picks that are great for flatpicking, as well as brushing strum styles (a little reminiscent of the sound of quill plectrums); the uncut full picks produce volume.  I have recently begun gluing grip tape (usually used for tennis and raquetball raquet handles) to contact points on both sides.  With that, I can keep control of the picks with a fairly relaxed grip.  I've tried matte delrin picks and nylon picks with molded texturing, but the grip tape works better with less effort on my part.

William Mann
@william-mann
08/24/15 02:03:37AM
22 posts

Tunings you like to use on your dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I play mostly in DAA or another 155 tuning, adjusting pitch now and then to sing something.  I like having those notes below the scale on the melody string, and I like the way it chords.  If you really enjoy chording, it's also great for minor key songs without having to retune.

Occasional adventures outside include DAd, DAG, DAc, and Aaa.  I also enjoy creating a modal minor scale using a capo on the first fret in DAA.

William Mann
@william-mann
08/24/15 01:23:01AM
22 posts

Tuning question difference between DAg and DAc


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

In DAG tuning, the scale starts on the 4th fret; in DAc it starts on the 1st fret.  It's like the relationship of DAA and DAd. 

If you're looking for a B-flat, there's one in DAc (6th fret); but there's not one in DAG, unless your dulcimer has a 1+ or 8+ fret.

William Mann
@william-mann
08/05/15 04:06:13AM
22 posts

Carts for hauling your stuff around at a workshop


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

Second the Office Depot folding cart, though I got mine at Office Max (same company now).  A lot of plastic, so I'm concerned about the long-term durability, but it has served me well so far.  Carries two dulcimers in form-fit cases (not the big hardshells), plus my Microcube amp with its attendant cords/cables, and a ring binder.  Pull it up on stage and unload, turn it around backside to the audience, collapse the extendable handle, hang my group's custom banner from the handle, place a light plywood board (which also fits in the cart) across the top, and it's a music stand!  It has milk crate-style sides; I can even leave the amp inside and reach through to turn it on and adjust volume.

William Mann
@william-mann
07/14/15 07:49:12PM
22 posts



Dalton, it's Craig from Blountsville.  I do a little noter playing, and I should be at the next jam (will try to.come early).  I can walk you through what these folks are explaining.  

William Mann
@william-mann
06/27/15 03:41:23PM
22 posts

Do You Have A 'Go To' or Favorite Dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Goes to every concert and jam:  the 2013 Berg cherry 5-string that appears in most of my videos, acquired in part through the generosity of a dear friend and fellow dulcimerist.

But...

Will be buried with me:  my very first dulcimer, a McSpadden FM12s that was purchased brand new in 1998 for $180, with an apology from the salesman for having to charge so much!

Seems all of my favorite instruments, dulcimer or otherwise, have stories.

William Mann
@william-mann
04/04/15 07:21:08PM
22 posts

Celtic Tunes Commonly Played on the Dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Ken,as two songs (different in lyrics and tune) in the Irish folk canon are routinely called "Banks of the Bann," I prefer "Be Thou My Vision" tospecify the tune commonly called"Slane."

Ken Hulme said:

William -- Be Thou My Vision is the "churchified" version of the old Irish tune called Banks of the Bann. Be Thou is much slower and the emphasis is completely different, although the notes are the same.

William Mann
@william-mann
04/02/15 11:25:00AM
22 posts

Celtic Tunes Commonly Played on the Dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Consider:

Scotland the Brave, The Minstrel Boy, The Green Hills of Tyroll (The Scottish Soldier), The Battle's O'er

All of the above are commonly played on the bagpipes and are fairly simple dulcimer pieces.

Not common bagpipe tunes, and a little more complex:

Mo Guile Mear, Be Thou My Vision, McLeod's Reel, Annie Laurie, Endearing Young Charms

William Mann
@william-mann
03/29/15 04:55:43PM
22 posts

.024-.016-.014--- Sounds good but too heavy?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

What is the vibrating string length of your dulcimer? I useheavier strings on my shorter dulcimers, because they tune up to pitch at lower tension.Ibuy strings in bulk and experiment, but my usualsfor DAA these days:

25.5" VSL -- .024/.014/.014

27.5" VSL -- .022/.013/.013

28.5" VSL -- .020/.012/.012

William Mann
@william-mann
10/15/14 05:29:49PM
22 posts

What's your favorite mournful, spooky, or lonesome song to play?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Under "plaintive" more than the other choices: two hymns (I think both are from the shaped-note tradition) chorded in B minor in DAA tuning: "Wayfaring Stranger" and "What Wondrous Love Is This."

Minor keys have an unfinished quality about them, with something in them begging to be resolved. This is a perfect match to "Wayfaring Stranger," a story of a spiritual pilgrim waiting for his unsatisfying and unfinished life to be resolved by entrance into the heavenly Kingdom. "Wondrous Love," likewise, presents an unfinished story. It is a Lenten hymn which reflects upon what Christ's love for us cost Him, while awaiting the not-yet-achieved joy of Easter. These two songs, with their anxious, "not-quite-yet" quality, illustrate why people started composing in minor keys in the first place.

William Mann
@william-mann
10/15/14 04:44:48PM
22 posts

Frame Drums


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

That is a very nice, rusticlooking drum. Good choice on the synthetic head; purists will whine about it, but most purists would not be playing their goatskin drums more than five minutes outdoors where I'm from. On a side note you'll appreciate, I build tackhead minstrel banjos using 12-14" Remo drums similar to this for the body:sturdy little drums that last, look authentic, have pre-attached non-stretching heads, and save a heck of a lot of production time in the wood shop.

Add cross braces to the inside of this drum, and it becomes a bodhran (though the notch would be unusual). Irish drums are usually a little deeper, but not necessarily so. As withmost folk instruments, depth and width are "eye-of-the-beholder" issues; and I prefer them somewhat shallow. I haveconsidered playingunbraced drums before, but prefer the bodhran because of the bracing. It allows you to insert your holding hand in the back of the drum, where it can strike, muffle, or tension the head. And the bodhran does not require a tipper; while it is true that most players use them, you will find some very traditional native Irish performers playing bare-handed.

Good luck, and have fun!

William Mann
@william-mann
12/05/13 01:26:31AM
22 posts



I sing and play clawhammer & minstrel banjo, fingerstyle guitar, upright bass & bass guitar, piano, violin (just a little), mandolin, various ethnic flutes and whistles, and various small drums. And when I really want to annoy folks at bluegrass jams, I break out the bones I keep in my banjo case.

I had the joy, for six years, to be the resident music specialist at a local history museum in Alabama. It was actually part of my job (!) to research any instrument with even a passing connection to 19th or early 20th century American music history, acquire one, learn to play at least one song on it, and demonstrate it for visitors. There is such a thing as a dream job!