If I Had a Hammer (dulcimer) but no left-hand
Adventures with 'other' instruments...
The ugly reality for me is that I have to practice my weakest areas obsessively. I’ve never tried the hammered dulcimer though.
Steven - cajon means "box" so technically they are all cajons, but the three small horizontal ones are divided into two chambers and held between the legs or in the lap. So most people would call them bongos. The vertical ones are sat on while playing and would be what most people think of when they think "canon."
My wife has a 7-key bass model built by Cloud Nine. I was shocked at how easy it was to tune. I realize that bass notes are less critical (she has no "Bb" key and the standard advice is, "Just use B"!!). But I clipped my Snark electronic tuner on the edge of the sound hole, loosened a screw and slid the key. Took about 5 minutes and is good until the weather changes drastically (like winter > summer). If she was a professional she'd probably tune it before every performance but for playing around home 2-3 times a year is fine. In the picture our cat is going up close and personal to validate the tuning.
They are also called marimbulas, m'rimbulas, etc. No one seems to spell it the same way. The large ones that I have seen have had a lot less "keys" and were in the bass range. The smaller ones are usually called kalimbas and come in a variety of ranges. This is certainly an Olympic class version. And you are correct, I would hate to fall on it.
I have retuned to DAa. Trying that out.
OK, got my dulcimer. Rearranged the strings because the prior owner had gotten them switched up. Tuned it DAd. I'm leaning towards noter and a pick, versus chording, at first.
I don't have a noter, but I can make one. Could one or more of you lay a favorite noter next to a 12 inch ruler and post a picture? I've got lots of wood.
I started noting with a 4 inch by 0.375 inch dowel and learned that it is really easy to make unwanted glissando effects. Is there a trick to avoid that?
Saw the info for the gathering in Berea, it seems DAd is not allowed? Should I learn DAa instead? How often do you all retune? Between songs in a set?
I will switch the strings. The story I heard is that an old man bought it, never played it, and died. My wife and sister-in-law bought it for far less than the internet price. The first owner apparently got the strings switched.
So you fret the bass and A strings? I always thought only the two melody strings got fretted.
Your blog looks like a great resource!
Dulcimer is flat on my lap. Tuners to my left. The farthest string from me is not the bass string. It appears to be the same diameter as the two melody strings which are closest to me. The fat bass string is in between. I tuned it A3, D3 (lower than A3) and then, nearest me, d4. Fattest string is lowest .
Now my tenor banjo is tuned (to my memory, it is not with me) D3 G3 B3 E4. The fourth string is nearest my nose and is D3. So my melody strings are not exactly the same as my tenor banjo D, but they are never the less open D. So all my Irish tunes in the key of D pretty much come naturally.
But my point was American folk. So please feel free to convince me that Some other tuning is better.
Whoa! I'm tuned DAd. Just realized that the melody strings are the same note (d) as the fourth string of my Chicago tuned tenor banjo. After playing Oh Susanna I entertained my wife with Raglan Road. Strings (far to near) are tuned A3, D3, D4, D4. Like I said the thick string is in the middle.
Using my index finger and a pick but I plan to make a noter from a dowel.
By the way it has 19 frets, not counting the zero fret. 1-10 are labeled and there is an unlabeled 6-1/2 fret. After 10 you tell me. I'll figure them out with an electronic tuner.
The middle string is wound, the two coursed strings and the far string seem to be the same size. When I get home I can measure the diameters.
A few months ago I joined this site. My wife and her sister had bought me a dulcimer for Christmas. I just got it. It is a Cedar Creek, plywood top, looks undamaged and very serviceable. I'll state here that I play ukulele, tenor banjo, bodhrán, and harmonica. So I understand instruments but have never tried a dulcimer. I've built a few ukuleles, two cigar box and two with actual bodies from bent wood.
I plan to play old time folk tunes and Christmas carols. I'm pretty excited to finally have a real Appalachian instrument, since I love old time American music. Playing it on the uke is fun but a bit out of the proper era. I'd like to try it on the dulcimer!
I'm open to tuning suggestions- it has four strings, two are in a single course, the double course is near me when the tuners are to the left. One thing I've learned from years of ukulele - telling a newcomer that, "You can tune it any way you want" is theoretically true but not much help. I'd like suggestions for a tuning that fits American folk tunes and has plentiful teaching resources. I'm ok if I get conflicting advice! Hand in hand I'd love suggestions for learning resources- free is awesome but I'm not too cheap to buy a book.
I use two. Both free. MetroTimer and Pro Metronome. Why two? Because I am lazy. The MetroTimer is always left in 4/4, Pro Metronome is always left in 6/8. I play a lot of Irish music but it takes several keystrokes to convert either metronome from 4/4 to 6/8. If you really want to use just one Pro Metronome seems easier to adjust and set up. I often convert it to 9/8 for slip jigs and hop jigs. I may simply think it is easier because I change it more. MetroTimer has been in 4/4 from day one.
MertoTimer has an easier timing function, if you want to set it for two minutes or three minutes or whatever. That might be more useful for a drummer. Pro Metronome does have a timer and it works, it simply takes a couple more keystrokes to invoke it.
So these are cigar box ukuleles. Both boxes are more than 40 years old. All wood was cut in America (I cannot vouch for the boxes). The larger one has homemade maple tuning pegs, the smaller one has professionally made tuners.
The walnut on the smaller one was harvested by my father. The maple for the tuning pegs on the larger one came from the flooring of a 1900-ish house. Trying to reproduce what a kid in the 1920's might have made, if he had time, tools and skill but no money.
Hi, I've played the harmonica for 45 years or so, the ukulele for twelve, and the bodhrán for three. I've actually taken lessons for three years on the bodhrán. Anyway I want to play an old time American instrument and my wife is funding a mountain dulcimer for Christmas. So I'll soon be trying my hand on that. I like pretty much all music, but I'm looking forward to old time folk tunes and Christmas songs on my dulcimer.