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OFF TOPIC discussions
I'm seeing some fingerboards stop slightly south of the last fret and a saddle or bridge like that of a violin actually afixed to the body of the dulcimer. Matter of fact, I have come to believe that only imagination limits the styles and or structure of our beloved instruments ... and that's ok. If we accrue knowledge of the instrument and it's many variations, we will pick up sufficient terminology to understand what most folks are talking about. If we don't understand, I've yet to see a builder or musician that would not take a moment to explain.
Miss Strumelia, you are absolutely radient!
Feet as music: I remember well an appearance by Doug Kershaw on the Ed Sullivan show. He sang, played fiddle and kept time nearly in a full clog. I feel that that added so much to his performance.
What a marvelous discussion. It touches on my dilemma as well. With all types of learning it has always been more difficult for me to 'unlearn' something than learn it so I've been hesitant to stray from DAA. I want to, probably need to but don't have the required gray matter to cope with a bad decision. This discussion is very encouraging. By the way, my dulicmer and I have an understanding ... mutual respect and I continue to gather kindling from outdoors.
This is an issue with me. At the old place ... mom's old piano is just sitting there. It's been years. The keys now stick and it's out of tune. I've tried so hard to find it a home. I've offered it for free so many times and in so many places. It's very old now and shows it. Not that beat up, just old.
I've often thought of dismantling it and salvaging the wood. It's very expensive to get it milled though. I can buy dulcimer supplies much cheaper.
So unless there is sentimental value, I don't think many old family pianos will be recycled. It's a shame too. I'm sure that many have beautiful wood in them.
Thanks for the kind comment and the link Strumelia. Bees are such fascinating little buggers! My garden project is coming along. I have some stone terraces and beds built, some seeded already. I have my buckwheat seed ready to sow. The project will focus on honeybees, Monarchs and hummer. Many, many flowers, herbs and shrubs to go!
Shawn, we're getting a sever cold blast here which is forecast to last over the next several days at least. I hope your stand can 'buzz up' enough heat to keep from freezing.
Bob, I did tell him about this site and how it's grown and that it is the friendliest site on the net (besides mine :) ). He sounded very interested. I was telling him about Strumelia's wonderful tutorials, which actually gave me my start at playing, and it sounded like he still has an interest in learning. I'm hoping to meet Jim and his son soon.
Welp ... just got off the phone with Jim. He's the gentleman that purchased the dulcimer I saw in the restaurant. Jim doesn't have any info other than he purchased the instrument in North Carolina some years back. He actually bought two with plans of taking lessons being offered near his home at the time in North Carolina. He didn't take the lessons and hasn't pursued the dulcimer. He thinks the one I saw may have been made in the 70's but isn't sure. He does not know who built it or where for sure. I asked if he'd looked inside through the sound holes, he has not but will and agreed to let me know if he finds a builder label in either of the instruments.
The owner of the restaurant will gladly let me look closer at the one there and photograph it as long as he is present. His father owns them both and lives next door. If the father is home, I will be able to look at the second dulcimer as well. I think it will be well worth the price of a GREAT dinner to get a chance to look at the instruments, so, that's my plan, to call ahead and get a time that both men can be present and that I can see and photograph both dulcimers.
Sorry all, spent the day at the old place at Brooks yesterday, very poor cell signal so I didn't even try to call the number I was given. I'm at the house in town today to attend grandson's Christmas program, I'll try to call today and see if I can learn any more.
I've heard back from the owner of the restaurant and the dulcimer. He has another next door at the inn he operates. I haven't seen it. He didn't have much info but told me that his dad might have more. His dad is the purchaser of one of the dulcimers, I'm not sure which. The owner very graciously gave me his dad's name and number. I'll try to call him today and see if he has any further details about the dulcimer or it's builder. Here's part of the owners message back to me.
"We have 2 one was build in Boone North Carollina 30+ years ago the other is local but I don't have any info on it. My dad may he was teh one who bought it".
Want to thank everyone sooooo much for the input and info. I love old handcrafted dulcimers and I don't get to see that many right in my own back door, so to speak. I'm going to try to arrange a visit to the restaurant when the manager is there.
Very cool. It sure does look old. It has a lovely shape to it, and the top end of the box is very interesting... not like most I have ever seen. The heart cut-outs are so lovely and scream "folk art". Hopefuly you can get more info on it! Love to see more details (particularly the peg box!).
Thanks for sharing this. (What State are you in?)
Bob I did try to get a more detail shot of the tuning head. It was dark up in that corner and if I used flash that close it just burned it out. Still hoping to get more details and more photos. Thanks for your response.
I'm in Southern WV. The restaurant is near Pipestem State Park.
... yesterday evening hanging on the wall in a restaurant. Oldest son and his fiancee took us out to dinner for our 40th wedding anniversary and this was on the wall over our booth. The dulcimer is a 4 string and appears to have a pretty long VSL. I would LOVE to get it off the wall and look at it. The manager wasn't there so I didn't even ask our waitress.
The wood looks like oak, but it was pretty dark in the place and I couldn't get as close as I wanted. I did see some cracks in the top, I think, could have been grain in the wood. This dulcimer appears to be hand crafted and very well made. It has a carved 'fiddle head' tuning head with carved friction tuners. The sound holes seem huge to me. I'd love to hear this grand lady hum!
eeeeeEEEEEEEEEEE doggies! Y'all done fixed a problem I didn't know I had ! Once this discussion called my attention to it, I do recall having to reposition my pick quite often. I'll be trying these remedies. Thanks everyone.
Personally, I believe that yes, instruments with wooden sound boxes will tend to sound better, more resonant if they are played a lot, as opposed to new or long stored instruments. The amount of change would naturally be quite varied....from almost nothing to something pretty noticeable...and depending on the listeners sensitivity as well.
I think the term myth implies that it is incorrect, whereas theory implies it's something that has yet to be proved right or wrong. So in this case I'd refer to it as a theory rather than a myth.
I agree that myth is probably not the best choice of words here. They don't call it 'tone' wood for nothing. I've had subtle but noticeable changes in tone from an instrument as it ages and the wood settles into its new configuration.
In my experience, which is somewhat limited, a dulcimer's 'voice' DOES seem to change. I'm speaking from a new build standpoint, but I think it would apply to a newly purchased, new manufacture dulcimer as well. It may not always be fuller, but I do seem to detect a change in almost every one I build. Some do sound fuller. There is also the factor of your ear developing a tolerance for the new sound.
All that being said, I think several factors change the sound of our dulcimers. New strings, different gauge strings, a different key or even something as subtle as a change in humidity could make a difference.
I also seem to notice a difference when I play with fingers or a noter.
A good question and I'm sure there will be some fascinating discussion on it.
Tender mercies to John's family and friends.
Over the years I've seen this discussion come up a couple of times. The views are always split. In each instance, as this one, I seek out some videos before posting. I followed your link this time ... thanks that made it easy. The dulcimer in the video link sounded pretty darn good to me. As in other videos, it played well. I truly hope that yours is even exceptional. Though I haven't seen these dulcimers other than photos and videos, they appear to be put together pretty good. Hope you have years of happy strumming with your new instrument.
Jan said - "But nearly everyone has tunes that they hum or whistle....tunes they never set out to memorize. I have never, yet, observed a person start to whistle and then stop and look up the music for whatever it was they were going to whistle..........."
I have a peculiar problem probably associated with the early stages (or maybe not so early) of dementia. Many times I can't remember the name of a VERY well known song or hymn (Amazing Grace for example). Then sometimes I cannot remember a single note of that song, no matter how many times I've heard it or even played the melody on a dulcimer. Sometimes I'll strum across the strings while going up and down the fretboard with my noter. Sometimes I hit it or it comes to me and sometimes it doesn't ... at all, for some period of time (minutes, days etc.). I also forget which way to move the noter to go up or down in pitch. It's maddening. I can never play a song all the way through anymore. Happens with whistling too and I've whistled since I was a little feller.
Jan, sadly one game changer for you has become a crutch for me. The thin pick. I do not play well and I've resorted to a thin pick because it does not make my mistakes at loud :( I haven't developed any confidence in my playing. I still make the same mistakes I did in my first month with a dulcimer. I'll never play well, I've accepted that, but I can get some of the melody, some of the time ... and that's enough.