Forum Activity for @majajog

majajog
@majajog
04/20/17 10:35:23PM
16 posts

Untabbed songs/tunes you'd like to learn


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I wold suggest Roseville Fair by Bill Staines, I think.  There is no dulcimer tab out there because is not in the public domain.  A lovely song and maybe folks would be interested in tabbing out a version.

majajog
@majajog
04/10/17 10:38:32AM
16 posts

Right thumb killing me


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

It sounds like you have the same problem I do.  If it is the same problem, you have arthritis in the joint at the base off the thumb.  Not curable.  Playing less helps but does not eliminate the problem. A thumb splint may help if you can find one that immobilizes the joint but still allows you to hold a pick.  There is a surgical procedure which might help but make sure you have a well qualified hand surgeon perform it. It consists of splitting tendon in your arm and bringing half of it down and packing it into the space at the base of  the thumb joint created by removing some one. Recovery is about six months and you will probably have less hand strength than before.

majajog
@majajog
03/22/17 08:55:39AM
16 posts

Fret Material


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

I agree that two fret dressings in five years sounds extreme which is why I started this discussion about fret materials.  I wasn't having trouble with buzzes.  I believe the issue was one of the technicianplayer at the dulcimer shop being concerned about wear and me, the non-musician saying sure, fix it.  You are right I don't probably need a dulcimer specialst and a capable guitar guy should be able to the job.  So thanks for that suggestion.

EVerybody has been great about this.  Thanks again

majajog
@majajog
03/21/17 12:51:18AM
16 posts

How does humidity affect a mahogany dulcimer?


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

We spend the winters in AZ where the humidity gets to 6%.  We keep what was sold to us as guitar humidifier in the case to keep the instrument from drying out too much.  Never had any problems but don't really know if the humidifier helped or not.  On the other hand we still had the humidifier is the case when we got to Arkansas and the humidity was 95%.  Opened the case one morning and two of the strings had broken in the case during the night.  Took it to the dulcimer shop and they said the strings had rusted through.  Apparently too much humidity!

Our neighbor also keeps a humidifier in her case in AZ and had three of her frets rise and the person that fixed them said it was due to too much humidity.

I guess I agree with Noah, that I worry about the instrument drying out too much when there is very low humidity.

majajog
@majajog
03/21/17 12:49:39AM
16 posts

How does humidity affect a mahogany dulcimer?


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

We spend the winters in AZ where the humidity gets to 6%.  We keep what was sold to us as guitar humidifier in the case to keep the instrument from drying out too much.  Never had any problems but don't really know if the humidifier helped or not.  On the other hand we still had the humidifier is the case when we got to Arkansas and the humidity was 95%.  Opened the case one morning and two of the strings had broken in the case during the night.  Took it to the dulcimer shop and they said the strings had rusted through.  Apparently too much humidity!

Our neighbor also keeps a humidifier in her case in AZ and had three of her frets rise and the person that fixed them said it was due to too much humidity.

I guess I agree with Noah, that I worry about the instrument drying out too much when there is very low humidity.

majajog
@majajog
03/20/17 10:44:24AM
16 posts

Fret Material


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

Robert/John, its was great to hear that you both have experience with the fret materials I was interested in.  Interesting to hear the problem with coiled EVO. That's an issue to think about.

i figured that stainless was a lot harder to work with. I've watched nickel silver frets being installed and my own frets being dressed.  The filing/planing looked fairly straightforward.  Doing that on a much harder material would not be as easy.

i had no idea that re-fretting could cost as much as an instrument.  Not sure I would be do it in that case unless it was a dire necessity.  Even then I might use order a new instrument. On a new instrument stainless adds about $70 and EVO something less to the total price.

In regard to hearing the differences with different fret materials I am sorry to say I can't take up the build two different instrument challenge.  I can barely nail two boards together and even then I am going to bend the nails.  I did not say they that there weren't tonal differences in different materials only that I may not be able to hear them or hear them differently.  I still sometimes have a hard time distinguishing two adjacent notes on the dulcimer or knowing which was higher in pitch. No musical ear at all. What I am doing trying to play an instrument is a mystery to me.

majajog
@majajog
03/20/17 01:31:59AM
16 posts

Fret Material


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

Ken, I agree that many people might not be able to hear the difference beteeen frets made of different materials.  A lot depends on the person, their physical abilities and experience.

When I was buying my dulcimer, they wanted to know what woods I wanted.  For a non-musician this was a challenging question.  However, they had a variety of combinations for me to listen to.  A lot of people I know have all walnut dulcimers saying they liked the mellow/bassy sound.  To me all walnut sounded sort o like lad or dead.  I finally settled on walnut and spruce because it sounded quite a bit brighter to me.  The question is whether this brighter sound appealed to me because it was better or because I have a high frequency hearing loss that began in the service and has not improved with age and the spruce helped compensate for the loss.  My wife has a similar issue and she ended up with cherry and redwood because it sounded better to her than an all cherry or all walnut dulcimer.

Knowing about the loss, would we be able to hear the differences due to fret materials?  I don't think we could.  However, we are getting pretty far afield from question about fret materials.  Thanks to everyone for your comments.

majajog
@majajog
03/19/17 04:35:41PM
16 posts

Fret Material


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

Dusty, thanks for the suggestion to check the action but I don't think that is the problem since there isn't very much room to lower the action on the nut end where most of the wear is taking place.  I will have it checked out but I was sort of under the impression that McSpaddens don't usually have this problem and are known for their playability. But, it could be an issue and I will have it looked at.

One of the people in our dulcimer group brought in a dulcimer and said she was having problems playing it.  It was sort of a souvenir dulcimer she had bought in Branson.  It had a very high action and very small gauge strings.  You could almost cut off your fingertips trying to play it.  I suggested having a luthier lower the action or buy a new dulcimer.  She had the same problems finding a luthier as I did and bought a different dulcimer.

majajog
@majajog
03/19/17 11:59:08AM
16 posts

Fret Material


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

Thanks for the comment Matt.  I guess I assumed a fret was a fret was a fret and the only difference the material made was in how long the fret would last.  I never thought the material would affect the sound.  I really like the sound of my instrument and would hesitate to do anything that might change it.  I will check into the issue further but may just end up re-fretting with the original material.

As for the nut and saddle (bridge) they are both ebony.  

Are there lots and lots of good luthiers?  I would have no idea of how to check whether one good versus mediocre.  The only person I know who has had work done on his instruments sent them to Folkcraft for it even though they weren't Folkcraft instruments.

majajog
@majajog
03/19/17 12:35:50AM
16 posts

Fret Material


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

I try to practice a lot since I am not a very good player. Still improving but it is very slow going.

i will look around for a luthier.  I only mentioned McSpadden because we spend 4 to 6 weeks in Mountain View AR listening to and playing music.  Figured that Jim Wood could re-fret my dulcimer while I was there because his name is in the instrument  But, he doesn't do stainless.

I know of only one luthier in the Phoenix area and it is a long haul for me.  Don't know of any in central WI.  Couldn't  even find any dulcimer players there.  Anyway, thanks for the comments. I was sort of hoping this was a relatively common problem but from the reactions of a couple of professional players I figured it was idiosyncratic to me.  I will find someone to re-fret for me and in the meantime will try to chord lightly and vertically.

majajog
@majajog
03/18/17 05:48:10PM
16 posts

Fret Material


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

Thanks Ken.  I guess I do press hard, will try to lighten up.  Play an Hour or two a day, 4-6 days a week.  I am thinking to have the frets, replaced just wish McSpadden would do stainless.  ugh.

majajog
@majajog
03/18/17 04:18:08PM
16 posts

Fret Material


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

My dulcimer is 5 years old and I have had to have the frets dressed the last two years.  I am guessing that I am a sloppy chorder, pushing the chord down and sideways rather than just down.  I am trying to correct this but not sure how much success I am achieving.

It might be easier to replace the frets with a harder material.  McSpadden uses German Silver but also offers EVO which is 25% harder.  EVO is sort of gold colored which I am not sure i like but could accept if I wanted to change to it.

Blue Lion offers stainless steel frets which are 50% harder than German Silver.  McSpadden does not offer stainless steel.  Does anyone have any comments, suggestions or preferences about fret materials or suggestions about how to reduce the wear and tear on the frets?

majajog
@majajog
03/12/17 11:53:36PM
16 posts

Which bridge compensation for A ginger


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Gingers tuned to DAdd work great for beginners just starting out.  Same tuning as most other players and most of the tab.  My spouse who plays the ginger also had the 1.5 fret added fairly recently to accommodate some of the finger picked tunes she is playing.  We are also fortunate that her ginger sounds great when played with my standard.

majajog
@majajog
03/06/17 03:52:51PM
16 posts

Recommendations for new strings and new a bridge?


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

I am not going to be much help since I'm not really a musician.  But, I will note that all the 4 string McSpaddens I own or have seen have 3 different size strings.  So I am not sure that having 4 different string sizes they are the wrong strings.

majajog
@majajog
03/06/17 01:16:38AM
16 posts

Tell us about your VERY FIRST dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Our first dulcimers were a ginger for my spouse and a standard for me, both bought from McSpadden.  We sort ended up in Mountain View five years ago, basically by accident.  We had a good time listening to the music and eventually went to McSpaddens to see the dulcimers we fell in love with 40 years earlier.  Thought they were beautiful but knew neither of us had any talent at all so we looked around and left.  Went back a couple of days later for a last look before heading home.  The door to the shop has a sign that says "if you can to 10, you can play."  We both laughed at it, knowing that neither of us could ever play an instrument.  

This time, after looking around for awhile, a salesperson talked me into sitting down and holding a dulcimer.  I thought that was pretty cool but, I knew I could never play and I said so and besides I was left handed anyway.  She took the dulcimer away and laid a left handed dulcimer on my lap and said "here, play it."  I said "huh, I don't know how and don't have any talent anyway". She said you don't need talent just a desire and some tab.  I said "what's tab?"  She showed me some tab, explained the numbers and told me to try and play.  I got through the first 2 measures and could tell it more or less sounded like "Ode To Joy". Couldn't believe it.

My spouse then went through the same thing with the same outcome.  We promptly said we'll take two.  Spent the next couple of hours deciding on size, shape, woods etc., gave them a credit card and told them ship them to us when they were done.  Best thing we ever did.

They turned out great, at least to us, sound great and we play almost everyday.  Started our own little group that meets every week to practice, learn new stuff and play old favorites.  Unbelievably, my spouse and I even played at a nursing home with some members of our group.  The people there seemed to enjoy it so we were pretty excited.

We still don't have any talent, we will never be very good players but we have fun practicing and have met some wonderful people and hear music all the time now.  Best money we ever spent.

majajog
@majajog
02/21/17 11:13:48PM
16 posts

Single or Double Melody Strings?


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

Played with double melody strings for 4 years.  Changed recently to single string which I find considerably easier for finger picking, hammer ons and pull offs.  My wife changed to single string for the same reason especially because she is really into finger picking.