Forum Activity for @lisa-golladay

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
04/15/19 02:28:35PM
90 posts

Dulcimer-Guitar Style Options?


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

I've been dreaming of an Olympia Walkabout dulcimer for years, but I haven't sprung for one yet. https://olympiadulcimercompany.com/products/

Many "cigar box guitars" have 3 strings and a diatonic fret pattern.  The easiest ones to build have no frets at all and you play them with a slide.  Anything is possible!  http://cigarboxguitars.com/

There are a lot of decent and inexpensive baritone ukuleles on the market now.  I got a Kala "Makala" for 80 bucks at Sam Ash and it plays great.  Warm tone, nothing like a banjo-ish strumming stick.  Four strings, 19-20" VSL.  Normally tuned DGBE (like 2/3rds of a guitar) but the strings will take DGAD and (usually) DAAD tunings.  Or just remove the G string and tune it DAD.  Nylon strings instead of steel, which is a plus ergonomically. 

The chromatic fretboard is a dealbreaker for some folks, but creative use of masking tape can mark the frets to ignore (or the frets to use) and sometimes that works well enough.  I think it's worth a try, given that diatonic guitar-neck instruments with a rich sound are hard to find, while bari ukes are everywhere.

 

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
03/12/19 04:40:05PM
90 posts

Dad tuning


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

There are two ways to reach DAD from GDG. 

You can use heavier strings to go DOWN to standard DAd tuning.  A McSpadden Ginger has a 23 and 6/15" VSL.  With the recommended string sizes of .012, .016 and .026  it tunes very nicely to DAd in the same octave as a standard-sized dulcimer. 

Or you can go UP to the higher octave.  A Ron Ewing dulcimette has an 18" VSL.  With .010, .012 and .020 strings it can tune to DAD one octave above standard.  But that's high tension -- I usually tune my dulcimette down to C or Bb instead of D -- so I have doubts about taking a 22-inch VSL to the high octave unless you use very light strings (.009?).

At 22 and 1/8 inches, your backpacker can probably take Ginger strings and tuning.  I suppose I should ask the obvious questions: have you tried taking your current strings and tuning them down to DAd?  What happens?  Are they a little floppy or a total disaster?  Have you contacted Cedar Creek and asked them about strings for DAd?

ETA:  Folkcraft's FolkRoots Travel Dulcimer has a 22" VSL and uses .012, .015 and .024 for DAD in the standard octave.  There you go.


updated by @lisa-golladay: 03/12/19 04:47:11PM
Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
11/23/18 02:42:23PM
90 posts

Argh! Organizing your music!”$&?!!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

The plan:  Everything has been scanned and saved as a PDF.  Loaded into MobileSheets (Android) and the MobileSheets library has been backed up up to Dropbox.

The reality:  Some of it like that.  Some of it in 3-ring binders.  Some of it in books.  Some of it folded inside gig bags.  Some of it sitting in a pile to the left of this keyboard waiting to be scanned (where it has sat for several years).  Some of it just a browser bookmark.  Some of it heaven knows where.

The irony is, I mostly play MD by ear.  But the stuff I've been meaning to learn and the gigbooks I don't have time to memorize and the music for club meetings... well it does accumulate, doesn't it?

I need way more than 1200 pieces of music.  The uke club alone plays more than 1200 different songs in a year of weekly meetings.  And now here come the holidays!

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
11/20/18 03:05:54PM
90 posts

Capritaurus Dulcimer - Oh My!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Never hurts to ask.  Besides, won't mandolin players pay any price for an instrument?  Heheehee

That sure is a nice-looking dulcimer, though.  I wouldn't mind if a clerical error put it on my doorstep this Christmas.  I sometimes wonder if we MD players sell our instruments (and ourselves) short.  I know we're a smaller market, but asking $2 grand for a vintage handmade guitar or even an ukulele is not at all unusual.

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
11/12/18 03:11:05PM
90 posts

Need Chords For D-A-C Tuning!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Page 4 of this PDF has a chart showing all of the notes on all of the frets in DAC tuning.  Please note this is for some strumsticky thing so the positions of the bass vs melody string are reversed.  Still, it will show you where to find the notes to build chords up to the 11th fret:  https://www.harpkit.com/mm5/pdf/Strumbly-Chords.pdf

There are lots of DAC chords in this book, the one book that is always in my gig bag.  Don't leave home without it: https://www.melbay.com/Products/94662/dulcimer-chord-book.aspx

Or you can cheat like me.  I don't use a separate chart for DAC because I know the DAD chords pretty well.  The only difference between DAD and DAC is the melody string being tuned one step down.  Therefore, look at any DAD chord diagram, finger the bass and middle strings the same, and finger the melody string one fret higher.  Hope this helps.

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
11/03/18 09:12:34PM
90 posts

How does your pet react to your Dulcimer playing?


OFF TOPIC discussions

Do your pets (such as a sophisticated Vizsla -- which is a good title for a song) care about the mode you're in?  Seriously!

I had a small, loyal and intense tabby cat who would lie next to me in perfect contentment when I played dulcimer.  As long as it was Ionian or Mixolydian.  If I re-tuned to Aeolian or Dorian she would stiffen up, lay her ears back in fighting position, crouch there stubbornly for a few minutes waiting for me to reconsider the error of my ways, and eventually give up on me and leave the room in a snit.  No minor modes for her!

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
09/12/18 02:09:23PM
90 posts

Multiple weather events impacting the USA Sept 12 2018


OFF TOPIC discussions

Shelter from wind; run from water.  If you are in a place that may experience storm surge or flash flooding, please evacuate to higher ground. 

https://www.wunderground.com/prepare/storm-surge

That "keep an ax in the attic" advice is all well and good, but better you shouldn't need to use it!

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
08/25/18 05:52:30PM
90 posts

Play Music On the Porch Day 2018!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

This year I'm delegating to the next generation.  Our son's band is playing an outdoor festival this evening and we'll go to cheer him on (the fact that it is a Food Truck Festival and I'm getting hungry has absolutely nothing to do with this). 

spaghetti

Unfortunately, this means we're missing the block party here at home.  There's too much stuff happening in August!!  Last year the uke club declared our hangout's beer garden to be a "porch" and we played all afternoon.  But this year we played a gig Wednesday and there's a uke festival tomorrow so we were too overwhelmed to try anything today.

I may declare a local Play Music On The Porch Day in September.  I'll claim it has something to do with daylight savings time.  Come to think of it, maybe I should declare a Porch Music day every month as penance for abandoning the block party.  I feel guilty but I gotta run.  I'm gunning for a caprese grilled cheese with fresh basil, tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto mayo.  But Tamale Spaceship has confit-style duck with dried fruit mole and cranberries.  Too many events and too much food!!!  Did I mention I love August?

I hope everybody has a great Saturday night.  On the porch or elsewhere. :-)

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
08/14/18 09:48:09PM
90 posts

Somewhere over the rainbow


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

marg:

So even if you pay for the tab, if the song is copyrighted you can't play it?

BINGO!!! 

Buying the tab did NOT entitle you to performance rights.  Which is only important to you if you are giving "public performances" as defined by copyright law.  I Am Not A Lawyer and laws outside the US are different. What I can tell you is:

1)  If you are playing alone or for a small group of family or acquaintances, don't worry about it.

2)  If you are playing as part of a worship service that will not be broadcast, you probably don't have to worry (but ask the music director).

3)  If you are in a not-for-profit educational setting with one-on-one instruction, you don't have to worry.  I would think this exemption covers most dulcimer clubs and people giving private lessons.

4)  If you are performing in a club, bar or restaurant, ask whether the venue has (or is large enough to require) a license from ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and/or Pro Music Rights.  Even if you do not get paid for playing, the venue is making money selling food/beverages to people who came to hear music.  If the venue has a license, you don't need to worry.

5)  If you're playing in public settings that do not have a venue license, THEN you need to learn more about how and when to license the performance rights for any copyrighted music you intend to play. 

It may help to look at this from the songwriter's perspective: https://www.tunecore.com/blog/2010/09/your-public-performance-rights.html

Truth to tell, many musicians fly under the radar and get away with ignoring this.  Venues are more likely to get into trouble because that's where the money is.  Regardless, it is a good idea to comply with the law and ensure that the people who write music get paid their fair share.

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
07/28/18 05:16:51PM
90 posts

Extra Frets for CGG tuning (DAA)


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

Eric Barker:

Lisa, thank you. I was wondering about the fret issue and will have to think about the 4+ and 11+ or the 1+ and 8+ situation. Which gives you the dorian?

Oops, I answered off the top of my head.  It's true the 4+ is relatively the same fret as the 1+ for your tuning.  But I forgot about how the rest of the scale maps out.  Today I got out a dulcimer and studied the modal charts here.  Assuming my poor muddled brain has it right this time, if you want to play a Dorian scale starting at the 3rd fret you will need both a 4+ fret and an 8+ fret.   

Many tunes don't use the 7th note of the scale, and it's pretty easy to bend a note in the middle of the fretboard, so you could play a lot of Dorian tunes without the 8+ fret.  Still, the 4+ fret is not as magical for CGG tuning as the 1+ is for CGC.  I see several paths forward depending on where you want to go: 

1) You could order a dulcimer with 1+, 4+ and 8+ frets (6+ optional).  This dulcimer would be specialized for Ionian 1-5-5 tunings like CGG.  You might never be able to re-sell it, but it would be quite the conversation piece. 

2) You could get a dulcimer with 1+, 6+ and 8+ frets, which is not uncommon.  Play it in CGG and see what happens.  You'd always have the option to re-tune CGC.  It's not your favorite tuning, but CGC would give you Ionian (with 6+ fret), Mixolydian (no extra frets) and Dorian (with 1+ fret) ready to go.  Not Aeolian though: for that you'd also need... here it comes... the 4+ fret!

3) Get a chromatic fretboard.  Beyond a certain point it is easier to have all the frets and be done with it. 

4) Give up on extra frets and re-tune for Dorian mode (CGF). 

5) Experiment and see which extra frets work for you.  Straighten out a paper clip and use masking tape to hold it in place where the extra fret should be.  A total kludge, but it can be fun. 

I play using 2) and 3) and 4) above on different dulcimers, in different playing styles, as the mood strikes.


updated by @lisa-golladay: 07/28/18 05:19:09PM
Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
07/27/18 06:39:54PM
90 posts

Extra Frets for CGG tuning (DAA)


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

Short answer: The equivalent frets for CGG tuning would be 4+ and 11+.  However, depending on the scales and chords you want to play, you might prefer 1+ and 8+ anyway.

Long answer:  For people who play in DAD/CGC tuning, the scale starts at the open 0 fret.  Adding the 1+ fret gives them a flatted 3rd note.  That note is critical for playing minor scales and very handy if you are lazy like me and you don't want to re-tune or capo every time you want to play the blues.

In DAA/CGG tuning, your scale starts at the 3rd fret.  The 1+ and 8+ frets give you flatted 7th notes.  This lets you play a Mixolydian scale without re-tuning.  If you wanted a flatted 3rd note instead, you'd need the 4+ fret.

So... do you want to add a flat 3rd or a flat 7th?  Would you rather play Dorian and blues -- or Old Joe Clark?  The easier question is how often do you wish you had a fret at 8+?  Compared to how often you wish you had a fret at 4+?  If you've never wished you had either, maybe you don't need extra frets.  How often do you re-tune now, and why?

That was all about scales.  I can't help much with chords in CGG but you get these additional notes for building chords:

E-flat and B-flat with a 1+ fret

A-flat and E-flat with a 4+ fret

Another factor to consider is the 1+ and 8+ frets are fairly common now.  You can find tab and chord charts (though mostly in DAd) and it won't be hard to re-sell a dulcimer with those frets.  The 4+ fret is less common and it will be harder to find resources and harder to re-sell.

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
07/19/18 03:40:40PM
90 posts

Clarification needed on playing 4 equidistant strings


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

I play 4-equidistant DAdd. There are a lot of ways to use the extra "d" string.  Pick a fret from other chord voicings -- you could play a D-major chord:

2-0-0-0 or 2-0-0-2 or 2-3-0-4 or... you get the idea.

When in doubt, fret it the same as the bass string.  Or the melody string.

When really in doubt, like when there's a chord fingering you just can't reach, lean your left hand against the nearest string to mute it and play the other 3 strings.

Or if a beginner doesn't want to deal with this, and the bridge does not have extra notches, and if you don't want to carve more notches, you can remove the extra string.

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
07/13/18 07:08:06PM
90 posts

Somewhere over the rainbow


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

If you want to play the song like Bruddah Iz you do not need tab.  All you need is chords and lyrics: https://www.cowboylyrics.com/tabs/israel-iz-kamakawiwoole/somewhere-over-the-rainbow-for-ukulele-22815.html

That site has it in the key of C like the recording.  You can tune your dulcimer down to CGc, get a chord chart and play along.  Or you could transpose the chords to a more convenient key.  You can try the key of D, but if that's too high for you (it is for me and I'm a soprano!) give it a try in G.

But... what about melody tab?  Listen to Iz: he does not play melody.  He strums the chords and sings.  No instrumental riffs, no fancy chords, nothing complicated.  Among uke players this is considered an advanced-beginner song.  It is not hard on dulcimer... unless you insist on playing melody.  If you still want to attempt a chord/melody instrumental, you could start with Tull's arrangement.  Iz's chords and melody are not all that different from the version on Tull's site.  Iz forgot the words (because this is a demo that was recorded at 4 in the morning).  He simplified the chords and he adapted the melody to his vocal range.  I know from intense personal experience (35 uke players in one small room, also beer) that if you play Iz's chords and sing Judy Garland's melody it sounds perfectly fine.  If you learn to play Tull's version, you will be very close. 

The main difference between Iz and Judy's versions is the rhythm.  Iz had a unique strumming pattern -- or at least it was unique before every ukulele player on earth learned it from him.  If you're having trouble getting the strum, you can find a dozen Youtube tutorials for uke and you can apply the same strum on dulcimer (you may be strumming in-and-out instead of up-and-down).

I think it would be very difficult to maintain Iz's rhythmic strum while simultaneously playing melody.  But I could be totally wrong about that.  And even if it is hard, it's OK to try :-)    

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
07/11/18 01:45:37PM
90 posts

Techniques for accidentals


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

With a noter, the slant thing like John said.

Without a noter, I pinch the string between my thumb and forefinger in the place where I wish I had a fret.  This works well if you've got fingernails that are neither too long nor too short (experiment).

As Ken said, you can skip the note or substitute another.  Try a note that harmonizes with the missing accidental -- often two frets up or down.  Whatever sounds good is good.

When in doubt, strum the chord and sing.  Your voice is chromatic :-)

If your dulcimer has high-enough action, get a metal or glass slide and play without letting the strings touch the frets -- now it doesn't matter how many frets you've got! 

If you can set your dulcimer up with 4 equi-distant strings, you can try a chromatic tuning.  I use D-A-d-c#.  This works like a piano: the white keys are on the "d" string and the black keys on the "c#."  The disadvantage is you can no longer simply strum across all the strings.  My solution is to make the chromatic string the one closest to me, so I can mute it with the heel of my thumb while fretting the other strings.  Or fingerpick without touching the chromatic string except on the accidentals.  I have done this successfully, but it is a bother and my preferred solution is...

Play a chromatically-fretted dulcimer.  Not the cheapest option and maybe not possible for you right now, but long-term it SOLVES the problem while all these other techniques are just work-arounds.  If your favorite music includes a lot of accidentals, it makes sense to use the right tool for the job.

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
06/22/18 08:44:10PM
90 posts

Do you play any popular songs on your dulcimer?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I took a dulcimer to Uke Club last week.  It was one of our 3-chord-song nights... although we are fast and loose with the number 3.  The songs were in several keys.  I tuned Ginger to D-A-d-d (it would have worked just as well with a three-string setup) and made extensive use of the 1.5 fret. 

I played every chord in every song with no capo and no retuning.  With one exception.  I could not find a true G-minor chord (no B-flat in this tuning) so I substituted a G power chord barring the 3rd fret.  Since this was a proof of concept, I made extensive notes.  The setlist (in alphabetical order from the song packet, although we did not play them in this order):

All Shook Up (key of A)
Big Yellow Taxi (C)
Brown-Eyed Girl (G)
Chapel of Love (D)
Feeling Alright (D)

Get Back (A) -- try these barre chords...
                       4th fret for 8 counts (Jojo was a man who thought he was a loner...)
                       0 (open) for 4 counts (but he knew it couldn't...)
                       4th fret for 2 counts (last...)
                       3rd fret for 1 count
                       2nd fret for 1 count

Hound Dog (D)
Jambalaya (G)
The Lion Sleeps Tonight (C)
Love Me Do (G)

Memphis (A) -- A chord 101 and walk the bass string 1-2-3-2-1
                       E7 chord 111 and walk the middle string 1-2-3-2-1

Moonlight Bay (C)
Old Time Rock and Roll (C)
On Top of Spaghetti (G)
Pink Cadillac (G) -- Play G 013 and walk the bass between 0 and 1.5 frets
Spooky (Gm) -- Cheat the Gm as 333, play Am 446 and C-diminished is 656
Takin' Care of Business (A)
Twenty Flight Rock (A)
When Will I Be Loved? (D)
You Are My Sunshine (C)
The uke club theme song is basically Movin' On Over (G)

I did put in a few hours' practice on the days before the club meeting.  I consulted two chord books (Neal Hellman's little one and the gigantic Mel Bay spiral-bound one).  And I very deliberately chose a night when the setlist was manageable.  Tin pan alley night would require a chromatic fretboard... or the patience of a saint.

Sandi, under the circumstances, I don't have any business judging you too harshly!  howdybiglaugh

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
06/02/18 03:14:24PM
90 posts

Call 'em Ukes, Ukuleles, but never Ukeleles!


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

Heeheehee... us profezional editers love it anytime we can solve a problem by proofreading!  It happens so seldom... joyjoy

As Ken mentioned, the Hawaiian pronunciation is different from what we typically say on the mainland.  Ooo-koo-lay-lay (like the cow says "Moo").  If you pronounce it like a Hawaiian it's easier to spell.  This is a good place for me to admit I typed "pronounciation" and would not have noticed except for the spellcheck squiggly line ;-) 

I've been on the UU forum so long, I don't remember whether it was hard for me to get approved.  "Junior Member" merely means you haven't posted much yet.  Beware UAS (ukulele acquisition syndrome) -- there are a lot of enablers on that site. 

Lyon & Healy marketed a "tenor ukulele" in 1923.  No baritone is documented before 1948, though you could plausibly argue about tiples and taro-patch guitars.  The classic 1920s sound is a soprano uke with re-entrant tuning gCEA or aDF#B.  Any uke would pass for most audiences.  I've pulled off some ren faire living history with my MD that only looks like a scheitholt if you're not a scheitholt expert -- because the only scheitholt experts I've ever met are MD players who would never out one of their own!  I have to assume there are very few people who would notice a bari uke is out of period -- and they are probably fellow travelers.

Don't worry about matching your singing voice to the uke.  If anything, contrast is good.  I sing soprano and prefer a uke that can fill in my missing low-end resonance, like a concert Fluke or a warm mahogany tenor.  My alto-singing friends often prefer a bright soprano/concert uke that adds some ringing high tones. 

Please keep us in the loop about your prohibition storytelling.  That sounds like a blast!  You know... you could add a character who makes moonshine in Kentucky, fends off the revenuers and plays... a mountain dulcimer!

I could swear we've been talking about ukuleles recently on FOTMD, maybe off in a group discussion that not everybody sees.  There are a bunch of uke players around here.  Welcome to the underground.

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
04/30/18 01:42:08PM
90 posts

Group sync


Playing and jamming difficulties...HELP ME!

Somebody leads.  Different people can lead different songs if you like, but figure it out before the gig.  There's nothing worse than a bunch of musicians looking at each other like deer in the headlights, waiting for somebody, anybody to count them in.  Do not ask me how I know this!  I got so fed up with one group that I made buttons saying:

I'M THE ONE WHO CAN COUNT TO 4

and handed one out before every gig.  The leader must be fearless, ready to jump in and count the beats and name the chords like Dusty says.  "Back to the A part, three, four, here we go..."  Leading a group is a skill that takes practice, like any other skill.  Following a leader is also a skill to practice.  This could be a goal for club meetings.

One option is to get a bass player... or a drummer (one drummer)... to keep the tempo.  You need an instrument with a sound that stands out from the rest of the group so everyone can hear it.  A banjo (or a dulci-banjo) might do the trick.  If all else fails, sit someone down in the middle of the group with a 5-gallon plastic bucket and pound the beat.  Then the problem is to find the right bass/drum/banjo player.  I've been stuck with bassists who can't keep a steady rhythm and bassists who play the wrong rhythm (this is a waltz, you idiot).  If the bass has the wrong tempo there's nothing anyone else can do to save the tune because in a group with 3 dulcimers and one bass, the bass wins. 

Once you get more than 6 MD players, as Bill describes, I think you've reached the point where somebody has to conduct.  If one side is getting ahead of the other, that means they can't all hear each other.  Which means they need a visual indication -- tapping foot, waving hand.  I think pulling out a conductor's baton would be a funny bit of shtick for the audience. 

I have played gigs where we had to watch each others' strumming hands because nobody could hear the beat.  That doesn't work so well for beginners who still need to look at their fretboards, and it's hard to manage if people are using tab.  At least be sure you're sitting close together and in a semi-circle so you can all see each other.

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
04/19/18 03:13:44PM
90 posts

Bonnie Carrol dulcimers vs Ron Gibson dulcimers?


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

There's a huge factor in the sound of a dulcimer that often gets overlooked: the PLAYER!  I'm not talking about skill level here (although we all know somebody who can take a $50 toy guitar and make it sound better than most people playing a Martin).  I'm talking about the wonderful variety of playing styles that make each of us unique.

Do you fret with a noter or your fingers?  Strum with a quill or a pick?  Flatpicking?  Fingerpicking?  Fingernails or pads?  At what angle does your pick/quill/finger strike the strings?  Do you have a light touch or are you digging in?  Do you play at a consistent volume or do you want a wide dynamic range?

Drones? Chords? Up the fretboard in the 2nd octave? Scale boxes across all the strings? Old time? Jazz?   

If we took one dulcimer and passed it around, each of us would make that dulcimer sound different.  Plus we all have different taste (and different ears).  Sometimes at a festival I'll play two dulcimers and hear a whole world of difference between them, while my poor husband (who does not play dulcimer) does not discern any difference at all (and hence does not understand the objective fact that I need to buy just one more).

I am sure there are people who think a Carol sounds 4X better than a Gibson... maybe 100X better... and people who think the Gibson sounds better. Depending on how you play and what you're listening for, there might not be any significant difference between them.

The often-inconvenient truth is that nobody else can tell you what a dulcimer sounds like.  You have to play it and hear it for yourself. 

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
02/14/18 04:17:36PM
90 posts

I may be confused about traditional sounding dulcimers


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I bet "DAA is really Mixolydian" was a typo and they meant to say DAD.   

As for SOUND, I don't get why people think DAd sounds fundamentally different from DAA.  Think about it.  The drones are D and A no matter which tuning you've got.  The melody, which you're playing in the key of D, has the SAME notes.  You find the notes on different frets, but a C# is a C#.

In DAA you start the scale fretting the melody string at the 3rd fret; you are playing the notes D, A and d (one octave up from the bass string).  Now tune the dulcimer to DAd.  The scale starts at the open fret and once again you are playing the notes D, A and d.  The only reasons why DAA and DAd might sound different are:

1) the melody string tension is tighter when tuned up to d (if you use a different string gauge this becomes less of an issue)

2) a fretted note sounds different from an open one (particularly when using the noter to slide up into the note)

3) some dulcimers have intonation problems between open and fretted notes (fix the dulcimer)

4) the melody dips down onto the middle string more often in DAd than DAA

So OK, it sounds a little different, but not much.  I don't believe most listeners could tell the difference between DAA and DAd.  If anybody tried to tell me DAd "sounds" more traditional, I would call hogwash. 

It's worth noting that someone who's been building dulcimers for 30 years started in 1988.  They don't necessarily know beans about tradition.  Laugh

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
12/18/17 02:45:50PM
90 posts

Play with ukulele and guitar


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

What Dusty said.  Blend in, have fun, join the songs you can play and sit out the songs you can't. 

Since you know your jam partners, it should be easy to ask them what songs they like to play and what keys they play most often :-)  Pick a few songs and practice them before the jam.  If you can only play along on one or two songs the first time you sit in, that's still a good start!

How are the ukuleles tuned?  If they're in GCEA, chances are they're playing most songs in the keys of C and G.  Those are the keys a beginner learns first.  The key of D is only a little harder; beginners won't be happy if you keep calling songs in D but intermediate players should be able to cope.

My solution for playing with ukes is to bring one dulcimer tuned GDG for the key of G and capo at the 3rd fret for the key of C.  If I didn't have a dulcimer that tunes easily to GDG, then I would tune a standard dulcimer down to CGC and capo on the 4th fret for the key of G. 

If the song's not in C or G, I'd sit it out ;-)  Or pick up a uke.  You know those ukes are going to suck you in eventually banjo

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
12/13/17 03:58:53PM
90 posts

Bridge for key change?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Maybe this helps?  http://www.secretsofsongwriting.com/2010/05/18/3-smooth-ways-to-change-key/

What I'm getting from it, essentially, is the chord sequence C  G  Am  C7  F

Although to my ears it sounds fine to play the tune in C, strum the C chord for a measure, strum an F chord for a measure, and then start playing the tune in F.  The C and F chords are common to both keys.

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
10/19/17 06:34:39PM
90 posts

Concert Ukulele


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

Colleen Hailey:

 

 

Will taking a screwdriver to them make the tuners actually turn without bouncing back?  

Yes.  It sounds like your tuners need tightening.  Tighten the screw a quarter-turn, tune up the string, and see if it holds.  If not, try another quarter-turn.  If you've tightened it too much and the tuner becomes hard for you to turn, loosen it again just a bit.  I've met loose friction tuners that needed a 360-degree turn or more to get them working right.

Properly-adjusted friction tuners should hold tune just as well as geared tuners do.  They'll need tightening once or twice a year.  Sometimes loosening, too, if the humidity changes.  I have a little blade/phillips screwdriver on my keychain and it goes everywhere with me.  If I'm going to play a gig and I won't be able to tune between songs then I'll give the tuners an extra twist just for insurance.

If the tuners are really old and corroded or the screw is stripped, then they'll need replacing.  If the wood in the head stock is damaged, that's a whole different can of worms.  Know that the folks at the Magic Fluke company stand by their products and will do repairs, usually free, even if you bought it used.

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
08/20/17 10:09:19AM
90 posts

The Drifting Thread...


OFF TOPIC discussions

I'm so sorry, Gail.  May his memory be a blessing and may you find peace in music.

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
07/25/17 02:16:57PM
90 posts

Are you playing on your porch today? -Aug 26, 2017


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Google just told me this:

Play Music on the Porch Day 2017 will be at 4:00 AM on
Saturday, August 26
All times are in Central Time.
4 am !?  The neighbors will kill me!  Better make lots of coffee.   pimentodulcimerearplug


updated by @lisa-golladay: 07/25/17 02:19:52PM
Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
07/24/17 02:58:47PM
90 posts

bridge compensation


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

It determines where McSpadden glues the bridge. Read this page:  https://www.mcspaddendulcimers.com/kb_results.asp?ID=6

As a practical matter, compensation is more of a concern when:

1.  You have a short-scaled instrument (like a 23" Ginger)

2.  You are playing higher up the fretboard (in the second octave)

3.  You are fretting more than one string (noter/drone don't care unless the intonation is way off)

4.  You have a sensitive ear and notice when strings aren't quite in tune with each other

FWIW, my Ginger was compensated for GDG.  When I string her DAD the intonation's OK for me in the first octave but I notice it's off in the 2nd octave.  I know someone who tunes his Ginger DAA but had her compensated for that.

If you're ordering a standard 28" McSpadden and you retune between DAD and DAA often, I wouldn't worry about it.  If you tend to play drones in DAA and chords in DAD, then compensate for DAD.

I've heard enough arguments about "bridge" vs "saddle" to leave me totally confused.  According to Frets.com, no wonder: http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Musician/Guitar/Setup/Saddle/saddle01.html

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
07/20/17 02:34:35PM
90 posts

Concert Ukulele


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

I think uke is a perfect 2nd instrument for MD players.  Most of us start MD playing melody on traditional modal tunes.  While a uke is just begging you to strum chords and sing Leon Redbone songs.  Or maybe that's just me.  Anyway, uke makes us approach music from a new perspective.  That can't help but make us smarter all around. 

I used to worry about balancing time between instruments, but I finally realized they do not care (unlike my family, friends, coworkers and cats).  So I play what I'm in the mood to play. 

Colleen, my Fluke has friction tuners and they give me no problems.  Have you taken a screwdriver to the screws at the ends of the tuning pegs?  Mine need adjusting once or twice a year.  Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.  It does take patience to get used to the tiny movements (like a few ticks of a clock) necessary to get friction pegs in tune.  OTOH, when you change strings it's a whole lot faster!  Magic Fluke sells Peghead geared tuners, but they are not cheap.  Some people attach ordinary cheap geared tuners, but those are heavy and put the uke out of balance IMHO.  Search the Ukulele Underground forums and you'll find lots of tips for modifying Flukes. 

(Public Service Announcement: Do NOT look at the Ukulele Marketplace forum.)  nono

If you put a strap button on the bottom, the Fluke will no longer be able to stand up by itself.  Magic Fluke sells a velcro strap; I haven't tried it but I assume it works.  Try fluorocarbon strings on the Fluke.  I'm currently in love with a set of Oasis Warm strings, but if you like the bright ring of a spruce top then you might prefer Oasis Bright or Martin M600. 

Speaking of cats (I was a minute ago, wasn't I?) my avatar Nick was born in the household of someone I met at uke club.  As far as Nick knows, all human females play ukulele.  I would hate for him to learn otherwise.

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
07/19/17 06:20:11PM
90 posts

Concert Ukulele


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

Black Dog Bess:

It gets worse... I started exploring them at my local Guitar Center. My favorite lower priced brand is Cordoba, higher priced is Kala.

Kala makes some really nice ukes.  I have a mahogany-laminate bari with a fine deep voice and I've been sorely tempted by their cedar/acacia models which are lovely for fingerpicking.  Ohana, Pono and Mainland are other good mid-priced brands.  As if we needed more ukes!?  But above any of those, I firmly believe every uke player needs and deserves a Fluke.  USA-made, nearly indestructible and astonishing tone for the price.

Alas, I made the mistake of joining a uke club full of enablers who play high-end ukes and allow me to try them out.  Mostly I can resist but sometimes...  Well, let's just say I love my Blackbird Clara, I got her used, and she was totally worth it. 

But in my heart of hearts, I love my 17-year-old Fluke the best.

We're lucky we don't like guitars! bigsmile

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
07/19/17 03:08:45PM
90 posts

Concert Ukulele


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

Colleen Hailey:

Apparently Ukulele Acquisition Disorder is as much of a thing as DAD. 

(nods sadly in agreement, looks at credit card statement, crawls under desk to hide)

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
06/08/17 04:33:59PM
90 posts

Chromatic fret spacing on drone strings


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

There's a few on this page: http://www.davidbeede.com/octavedulcimers.htm

Take a look at the center dulcimer in that picture at the top right.  It looks like a royal pain to build and I see that David stopped offering that option.  If memory serves, he used to call it an "evil half-breed" fretboard.  I would love to have one just to see how people react!

I think the idea is that you can play the melody string without speed bumps, while accidentals are available on other strings if you need them.  In DAA (or any 1-5-5 tuning) it would make perfect sense to a piano player: white keys on the near string, both white and black keys on the middle string.  In DAd (1-5-1) you'd find the black keys shifted up a little higher on the fretboard but still the same idea.

Come to think of it, that fretboard looks a lot like a piano keyboard.  Short frets are the black keys.  It strikes me as a perfectly logical layout for someone who wants all the notes but isn't comfortable looking at (or sliding a noter across) a fully chromatic fretboard.

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
04/22/17 12:34:05AM
90 posts

Noter/drone duet books?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Annie Deeley:

... Our long range goal is to play 2 parts of Dona Nobis Pacem and sing the third at the same time! If we ever do this, you can bet there will be a video!

That will be awesome!

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
04/20/17 02:29:50PM
90 posts

Roland, MICRO CUBE GX


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

A musician friend of mine just got back from a week in New Orleans.  He says all the street musicians are using "those little Roland Cube amps."  This guy knows his stuff and he's been nagging me (gently) about the Cubes for a while now.

If all you need is a single input for your dulcimer, I bet the Micro Cube will make you very happy.  If you ever intend to sing or play harmonica, consider the Cube Street which has dual inputs for both an instrument and a mic. 

Let's all get Cubes and go to NOLA!  See you in Jackson Square...

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
04/20/17 02:02:53PM
90 posts

Untabbed songs/tunes you'd like to learn


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Jan, do you need sheet music to work from? 

Here's a lead sheet and guitar tab for "The Lakes of Pontchartrain."  I arranged this for the ukulele club last month (gotta love Irish songs with alligators).  I think this could be worked into a gorgeous dulcimer arrangement, but I haven't had time to play with it.  While the arrangement is copyrighted, the song is, I think, in public domain and that should make it ok to post MD tab.  How nice of Paul Brady to share his arrangement!

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
04/12/17 12:44:20PM
90 posts

Noter/drone duet books?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I remember an old trick for playing a counter-melody in DAA tuning.  Fret the middle string two frets down from the melody string.  No reason this wouldn't work with two players, one playing the melody tab and the other playing the same tab but two frets lower.  Listen while you do this, because sometimes that counter-melody doesn't sound good and then you can try sliding up or down a fret until it sounds better. 

When all else fails, there are lots of rounds.  Frere Jacques, Oh How Lovely is the Evening, Come Follow Me, Dona Nobis Pacem...  You can probably find tab for these and they are automatically duet arrangements!  Trios and quartets, too!

There's also what the Internet has just told me are called "partner songs."  Like when you play "All Night, All Day" while I play "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."  This page says "Cindy" and "Liza Jane" play together.  How about "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" with "Go Tell Aunt Rhody"?

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
03/26/17 03:10:58PM
90 posts

Bar chords


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I was lucky enough to attend a class where Stephen Seifert taught us how versatile bar chords are in a 1-5-8 tuning like DAd.  When you play a bar in this tuning, you're playing the root and 5th notes of the chord.  Since it's the 3rd interval that determines whether a chord is major or minor, you simply don't have to worry about that.  The other instruments will fill in the missing notes. 

If the chord is D (or Dm or D7 or D13...) strum the open strings.

If the chord is E (or Em or E7 or E9sus4...) strum a bar on the 1st fret.

If the chord is F (or Fm or F6 or...) strum a bar on the 1.5 fret (if you've got it)

And so on up the fretboard.  The only outliers are diminished chords (fret the middle string one half-step down because in a diminished chord the 5th is flat) and augmented chords (fret the middle string one half-step up).  If you don't have a half-fret where you need it, you can play the root strings and mute the middle string.

This was a class about chromatic dulcimer, and I got positively gleeful when Steve started calling out obscure random chords (G#13!  F-minor 9th!  E-flat augmented!) and we all responded by playing the appropriate chord.  Now I know ALL THE CHORDS.  Which for an MD player is quite a rush.

In most ensembles it sounds good to reinforce the root and 5th, which is what you're contributing by playing those bar chords.  Rock players call it a "power chord." 

Ken, thanks for reminding me about the Ebony Hillbillies.  I would love the chance to hear Norris Bennett in person.  I found this video where he's playing without a noter and without bar chords, but inspirational nonetheless!  (Memo to self: get a really great ring to wear on my fretting hand.  Also practice.  Very, very much practice.) 

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
03/12/17 06:42:51PM
90 posts

Which bridge compensation for A ginger


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I think Ginger plays great in DAdd using the strings McSpadden recommends for that tuning.  I like the heavy strings and really enjoy playing it chord/melody style, mainly on the lower octave and not so much up the fretboard where the strings get really short.  I wouldn't pick Ginger as my favorite for DAA noter/drone style, but I have a friend who does exactly that and is very happy.  He even special-ordered a Ginger without the 6-1/2 fret.

Adding a possum board makes a big difference on these little dulcimers.    

My Ginger was originally set up and compensated for Gdgg.  I changed to DAdd for a workshop and never went back.  If I try really hard I can notice the intonation is slightly off, but only up past the 7th fret.  And I'm picky about intonation.  I think you could safely order your Ginger compensated for DAdd and still experiment with Gdgg at a later time. 

At the risk of igniting a fret war, I'll suggest if you're at all interested, add the 1-1/2 fret.  This is because Ginger is short enough already.  If you retune to DAcc or capo on the first fret, you're making the scale that much shorter.  With the 1-1/2 fret, you can play both major and minor tunes in DAdd without a capo, giving you the use of the entire fretboard and two entire octaves (starting on the bass string) before you venture above the 7th fret.  

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
02/02/17 07:18:57PM
90 posts

What songs were you taught in kindergarten/grade school?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

The first songs I remember learning were in Sunday school.  They came with choreography!  I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery... even as a preschooler I wondered why we're pretending to fire a rifle in church when Jesus says to love one another.  But I loved "This Little Light of Mine."  Then and now, forever.

In 1st Grade they taught us "The Star Spangled Banner."  In 3rd Grade Mrs. Coolidge had us sing "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" every morning.  We learned "If You Dance Then You Must Have Boots of Shining Leather" in music class and it was not an easy song to sing.  But the songs that really counted were the songs we sang on the school bus.  I lived outside North Canton, Ohio (not Canton, not even North Canton...) and Grades 1-12 rode the same bus to the same huge consolidated school.  Given the range in ages, the playlist was, um, interesting:

B.I.N.G.O.
There she was, just a walkin' down the street, singing doo-wa-diddy, diddy-dum diddy-doo
I Wanna Hold Your Hand
Rat Fink (to the tune of Rag Mop)
The Name Game
It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To

There was an ongoing argument among the older girls about whether The Beatles or The Dave Clark Five was a better band. 

4th Grade is somewhat too old for this discussion, but I must share the following, which I remember almost verbatim from our long-suffering music teacher (this was Cumberland, MD by now):  "The words are 'her green beret has met his FATE.'  That's FATE, not FACE.  He didn't meet his FACE, that doesn't make any sense.  How could somebody meet his own FACE?  He met his FATE which means he DIED.  Now let's try it again."

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
01/04/17 04:58:44PM
90 posts

5 string dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

More often than not, I can't find a .09 string when I need it! 

Old strings can get floppy even if they were the right size back in the day.  I can relate ;-)

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
01/04/17 04:26:50PM
90 posts

5 string dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I have a Bill Berg 5-string hourglass that measures 27-1/2" from nut to bridge.  Bill recommended these string sizes:

.24-.09-.13-.11-.11

The wound bass string is on the outside.  For the inner string on the bass course I often use a .10 instead of a .09 and it works fine.  You can try .11 if you want, but I don't think string size is your problem.  Bill knows how to set up a dulcimer and I am certain your MD did not leave his workshop with string interference.

Ken's right that changing strings is the first thing to try, since it's easy.  But I'm wondering: does your MD have the original nut and bridge?  Have they been damaged?  If somebody took a file to the bass slots (perhaps to install a second wound string instead of a thin octave string) then they could have messed up the string spacing.  The .09 string should fit snugly in its slot.  If you can, post a close-up photo of the nut and bridge.

Rarely do I pass up an opportunity to suggest that people learn how to strum with a lighter touch, but unless you're strumming like a gorilla that isn't your problem; it's the dulcimer's problem. :-)

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
12/20/16 02:04:25PM
90 posts

Christmas songs for seniors?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Oh no!  I'm so glad you're feeling better.  Good on ya for knowing enough to go to the hospital when you needed it.  I know people who were too stubborn and almost missed the boat.  Now I'm wishing you good luck and a great time on Tuesday!

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
12/07/16 02:54:07PM
90 posts

Christmas songs for seniors?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

How delightful!  If your little vocalist doesn't have experience using a microphone (don't you love kids today?) be sure to spend a minute or two beforehand testing where he should hold it and work out a couple of hand signals for you or Dad to give him during the songs: closer and farther away.  Just a few inches can make the difference between hearing him, not hearing him, and summoning banshees :-) 

Have a great time.  I'm looking forward to the video!

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