Forum Activity for @black-dog-bess

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
03/25/20 11:07:03AM
20 posts

How is the COVID-19 coronavirus affecting you?


OFF TOPIC discussions

Church attendance had been a big part of my life and music but all physical churches are closed in Allegheny County PA (Pittsburgh). I went hunting and was delighted to find many churches have picked up the challenge and are worshipping digitally. I am Eastern Orthodox and found a local monastery of nuns (Transfiguration in Ellwood City PA) are You Tubing all their services, actually looks like they have been doing it for some time. What a blessing!

God bless you all and keep you safe,

Barb

 

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
03/25/20 10:56:48AM
20 posts

The Drifting Thread...


OFF TOPIC discussions

In Pittsburgh PA, we have the Dormont Corona Choir! You can enter Dormont Corona Choir in Google and read articles and hear them. A touch of genius is some are waving toilet paper flags! 

Barb, blackdogbess

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
02/21/20 11:25:06AM
20 posts

Any banjo players out there?


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

Wow! Thanks for the wonderful gourd banjo playing , Stumelia. I was fortunate enough to find a travel sized minstrel banjo who is patiently waiting for me learn how to play. Were you using minstrel style of play or clawhammer? I can manage an imitation of clawhammer and find myself using it on ukes as well as banjos and banjoleles. The non-steel strings definitely give the banjo another character. One of my favorite instruments is a baritone banjolele. I like it because it adds more of a percussive element and doesn't steal the show like a real banjo.

Barb

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
11/28/19 12:21:49PM
20 posts

Giving Thanks


OFF TOPIC discussions

The Crescent PA Turkeys have just dropped by (first time this year!) to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! Best wishes to you all.

Barb, Blackdogbess


Turkeys.jpg Turkeys.jpg - 507KB
Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
10/21/19 11:00:52AM
20 posts



Thanks Strumelia! You are a fabulous source of knowledge for many things!

blackdogbess, Barb

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
10/21/19 07:23:25AM
20 posts



Good advice! I lost my antivirus programs to Catalina. I could not open Webroot which was supplied with the new Mac I bought from Best Buy. I thought, oh well, back to Norton but Norton products are incompatible too! Thank goodness Clean My Mac has some protective features. I think what surprised me is that these programs are well known, how could Apple have gone ahead with it's upgrade without even thinking about compatibility with the rest of the world? 

Barb

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
02/28/19 10:38:36AM
20 posts

Concert Ukulele


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

Hi Colleen! This tip will help with volume. I understand about volume problems with banjo type instruments. I have a mandolin banjo that would drive both my husband and cat out of the room until I learned how to muzzle it! You have probably heard the phrase "Put a sock on it" and I have heard this came about due to uncontrollable banjos. Just take a sock, washcloth or something similar and put it between the rod and underside of the head. Presto, it is muted! This may give you a way to practice your strums without driving all those around you crazy. Gotta love the bratty little banjos!

Barb

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
02/05/19 08:37:03AM
20 posts

Shipping in the cold


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

Some instrument dealers actually put instruction stickers (I'm thinking Elderly and Sweetwater) on the shipping box imploring you not to open the box for several hours during cold weather. After seeing all the remarkable changes that can happen to wood even in a stable home environment, I've decided to believe them. It's tough not to let your curiosity get the best of you, but since your instrument may have traveled through so many different environments before it got to you, I think it's worth letting it adjust to it's new home.

Barb

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
11/30/18 11:12:00AM
20 posts

Bowed Psalteries


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

I have 3 bowed psalteries. The first is a used Unicorn Strings chromatic. I liked the idea of the plastic guide they use. It is just a piece of plastic with areas cut out at the top and bottom so the guide hooks around the top and bottom zither pin. Since I am dyslexic, I need all the help I can get to know where the notes are! For me color coding is just one more translation my brain has to make so give me the note names!

I also got 2 Rich Long diatonic in the key of D psalteries. He said that he had a friend who jammed with dulcimers and asked him to design a psaltery limited to the key of D that would be quicker to use with dulcimer jams. I also jam with dulcimers so not having to saw back and forth for the C# and F# really helps me. I made my own guide for the notes. I just found a report cover in the office supply section at Walmart (nothing but the best for my musical friends!) and cut it to shape. Probably sharpies would have worked to write the notes on the strip but I was wanted something looking more uniform. At Guitar Center they have strips called Guitar Buddies or something like that that have the names of the notes to help people learn the fretboard. Unfortunately, they are on a strip so you have to cut out the individual notes and stick them on the guide--I'm willing to do this for a more finished look. I sometimes use a small piece of gaffer's tape (supposed to be a tape with very little residue that is used to set up stuff for exhibitions) to stabilize my strip if it wants to wander around. I cannot say it will not mark your instrument. I only use them temporarily and have never had a problem. I store little strips of the tape on the handle of my tuning wrench.

Hope this helps, I think many more psalteries would be out of their cases making music if the notes were marked.

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
10/17/18 08:13:09AM
20 posts

String gauge tolerance(s)


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

I used to be mystified about string gauges until I found the Strothers string guide online. Just go to strothers.com and choose string gauge calculator under the dulcimer tab. You just plug in the note you want and the VSL and bang! it gives you a gauge. I think the general feeling is that the gauge suggestions are a little light but this is something that varies from player to player. At least it gives you a place to start. I have also found that through experience, I can judge by feel when I am pushing my luck with a string. As you tune up, just press on the string to feel how much give there is. If it's starting to feel tight, you would be wise to back off.

Hope this helps, Barb

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
07/02/18 04:24:19PM
20 posts

Loran Harmon dulcimer


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


Hi everyone! I recently found a little dulcimer on Reverb for $55 that I intended to use as a beater for kids to try at demos. It has arrived and it is far better than I thought it would be. It needs a clean up and new strings (the ones on it look like they date from 1981, the date written inside!) but has a nice sound despite it's small size due to it's surprizing depth (2.5") and it can be standardly tuned. The label inside says Loran Harmon, Pensacola, FL    848 B   12/81. I googled him and I guess he sold at the Gulf Coast Arts Festivals. He is now deceased.

Please let me know if you are familiar with his work, I enjoy having stories to tell about my instruments.

Barb

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
06/16/18 06:08:23PM
20 posts

Show Us Your Pets!


OFF TOPIC discussions

What a cute puppy! Congratulations!

Barb

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
06/16/18 05:59:21PM
20 posts

fret markers.


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I have used the same inlay stickers that Dusty did. I got impatient with diatonic tuning on my Merlin and had it fully chromaticized but missed the ease of only having to figure out diatonic frets. In addition to fret markers, Jockomo also makes strip stickers so I placed one across each diatonic fret. I am dyslexic so I need more visual cues than the average dulcimer player but that really helped. I have also found that giving yourself cues when you are beginning is not a barrier to learning. As you learn you will find yourself not paying attention to the markers when you no longer need them. I recently decided to switch one of the strips that had been on about a year. I expected to have to do a lot of cleaning but it came off with no residue and stuck back on to it's new location. I think they recommend 6 months but my experience was pretty good. 

Barb

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
05/22/18 11:06:54PM
20 posts

Kennedy Barn String Band


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Congratulations, what a great looking group!

Barb

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
03/30/18 09:43:39PM
20 posts

Advice on crack repair


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

Thanks for bringing up this topic. This winter in Western Pennsylvania has been a tough one on wooden instruments. One inexpensive little guitar with a very thin top developed 3 cracks and the whole top started to sink. I thought it was toast but my guitar tech just laughed and advised me to aggressively hydrate it and then glue the remaining cracks. I was dubious but it is actually working and I haven't even glued them yet!

Moral of this story is believe what they all say about hydrating your instruments and never give up without giving it a try. As my tech says, "The trees just want to go back to the forest!"

Barb

 

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
07/20/17 01:07:39PM
20 posts

Concert Ukulele


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

Colleen, I understand how you feel about friction tuners. My Gretsch banjolele came with them. My fondness for the instrument (it was so darn cute!) made me play it a lot and I got used to the tuners. Now they are still not my first choice but I am OK with them. 

If you think ukes are fun, banjoleles are even better. The folks I jam with like having another instrument voice. Like all banjos, they are finicky little instruments so if you don't like to fiddle with your instruments, banjoleles are not for you. I also recommend getting a good set up initially.  

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
07/19/17 04:13:32PM
20 posts

Concert Ukulele


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

It gets worse. I started with a no name soprano uke a year and a half ago. I had given up guitar 20-30 years ago due to fibromyalgia hand problems but wondered if a tiny little instrument might work. Well it did but I now have a virtual petting zoo of stringed instruments.

The ukes will always have a special place in my heart. They can be toys, nothing wrong with that! but you can also play some of them like little classical guitars and on some instruments achieve some really nice sounds.

I started exploring them at my local Guitar Center. My favorite lower priced brand is Cordoba, higher priced is Kala. You may be able to try some out at the store. On line, Guitar Center has a large selection of new and used ukes and other stuff. One advantage is you can return them to the store and get a refund if you are not happy. Another advantage is you can flip your instruments if you find you really like ukes and want to upgrade. 

To learn uke, there are lots of You Tube videos. Marcy Marxer is good and you can get more complete lessions on True Fire if you decide you like her style.

Sorry, probably more than you wanted to know!

Barb

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
11/26/16 09:46:27AM
20 posts

Remember Our Friend Oliver Ogden.


OFF TOPIC discussions

The dulcimer world is a little less colorful without Oliver. I met him at the Spring Wartz and All gathering. It was the first dulcimer event I ever attended and knew almost nothing about the instrument. I spent the evening before the gathering with Oliver and Sharon and got my first real introduction to the dulcimer from them. Oliver had such varied interests and talents that he continued to pursue despite the restrictions of his physical condition. He is an inspiration to us all. Sharon also deserves our thanks for helping Oliver attend Wartz gatherings and sharing him with us. Rest and peace to you both as I keep you in my prayers. 

Barb

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
09/02/16 04:04:53PM
20 posts

Back up rhythm devices


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

This is more expensive but leave it to the cigar box guitarists to come up with something interesting! On the C.B. Gitty site there is info and a You Tube video of  their spokesman stomping it out.https://www.cbgitty.com/cigar-box-guitars/shane-speal-foot-stomper-active-foot-percussion-instrument-standard-model-1/

If nothing else, it may serve as inspiration. Barb

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
08/02/16 04:59:27PM
20 posts



I am not an expert on noter and drone but I do what Robert first recommended. Just briefly tuck the noter under your ring and little finger and poke at the other strings with the other fingers. I use this frequently with my little dulcimers tuned Dad because Daa gets kind of sqeaky at the upper reaches.

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
06/19/16 08:15:07PM
20 posts

The "I have small hands" idea


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

Thanks for bringing up the topic of small hands, big VSLs. I was about ready to start a topic on the beginners forum entitled "Read this before you throw your dulcimer out the window"! I measure up at 6 3/4 inches with degenerative arthritis of both thumbs. I played guitar a zillion years ago but had to give it up with increasing joint pain. But curiosity never dies. At the start of the year, i saw ukuleles and wondered if I could maybe start again with stringed instruments. And I did.

One thing led to another and I discovered dulcimers and decided to dive in--how hard could they be? I got an Apple Creek cheapee with 24" VSL and a used Mc Spadden just because I had heard the brand was great. Well, the 28" VSL was a surprise to me. I only saw stringed instruments in terms of chording, I had been a rhythm guitar player. And I had to finally admit, there was no way I was going to be chording much on a 28" McSpadden, heck I couldn't do many chords  on the Apple Creek. I had to leave my comfort zone, but in a mental way, not physical. I realized I was trying to make the dulcimer a guitar because that was what I was comfortable with. So I hit the Internet to learn about dulcimers. When I finally learned about earlier uses of the instrument with the noter and drone (thanks Strumelia), the huge VSLs finally made sense to me. I also scoped out smaller instruments, learned about chromatic vs diatonic layouts so I was able to find a couple little guys that I could chord on and not continually hurt myself. I also learned about other tunings like 1-3-5 that also had potential to allow me to start chording with the hands I have now.

So have I given up--NO!!!! But sometimes you have to set a goal and slowly work toward it using the resources you have at the time as you develop and find new ones. If I had not gone hunting I would not have discovered other zither-like instruments like the epinette des Vosges and scheitholt that also allow you to play modal music with melody and more drones. So do not allow your initial frustrations with the dulcimer limit your ambitions. You just may need to adapt and tackle your goals step by step.  Barb 

Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
05/31/16 07:09:43PM
20 posts

Opinion on the best beginner books to start with


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

I can respond to this as I just spend some of the holiday weekend binge reading Strumelia's (member of FOTMD) blog from the very beginning. I have only had dulcimers for about 2 months and have had difficulty because I have small hands that do not do the chord stretches. Strumelia managed to make modes, different tunings, and different styles of play make sense to this bewildered beginner. What is really unique is her insight and comparison of noter style and chord style of play and the reasons for choosing DAA and DAD tunings. Add to this her excellent You Tube videos and you have a wonderful resource.

Thank you, Strumelia!    Barb