Forum Activity for @wally-venable

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
07/24/22 12:03:36PM
26 posts

Best instruction material?


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

The lap dulcimer is a very simple musical instrument, but it is a musical instrument. I believe that there are a few people who do lack the requisite skills.

If you can't tell Go Tell Aunt Rhodie from Frere Jaques you will have challenges. Some sense of melody is required.

There are also folks with no real sense of rhythm - folks who will bring a drum to a jam session and just bang on it, missing the beat. Dulcimer tunes include a wide variety of note lengths (quarter, half, eighth, etc.) In our local group the comment, "Well, at least we all finished at the same time," is sometimes good for a laugh.

As a dulcimer player, I am a beginner, but I have been attending our local dulcimer group sessions for several years, sometimes playing ukulele or U-Bass. I've been watching how others learn and how and why others are challenged.

If you didn't have trouble in primary school music, and/or can comfortably sing along with hymns or patriotic songs at gatherings you should be OK.

Keep your initial sessions short. Few beginners can really stand a full-hour lesson. If you find yourself saying "I've got to get this right," you're pushing too hard. Learning curves are only steep if you try going too fast.
Wally Venable
@wally-venable
07/23/22 04:18:32PM
26 posts

Best instruction material?


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

There are a lot of "details" which are easily skipped over when learning on your own. Many of these have to do with getting comfortable. Many of them are treated trivially in books and videos and easily missed.

For me, and many others, chair height is an issue. I'm short, and modern chairs are made too high to be good. I use a 2 inch foam foot block to raise my knees so the dulcimer doesn't slide away. That beats toting a 1950s vintage chair which does fit me. Some folks use straps, mats, etc. to reduce slipping, but proper height  and angle can provide a serious advantage.

Almost everyone uses a chair without arms. When a gathering is being set up, this is usually a discussion topic.

Where are you going to put your book while playing? Traditional music stands are great if you are playing most orchestral instruments, but put the music too high if you are looking at both the paper and your frets. You probably want a table about 25 (not 30) inches high.

Since you will not be learning these things in a group, when you watch videos, study how the performers set up.

There is no one right way for everyone. 

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
07/23/22 12:21:57PM
26 posts

Best instruction material?


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

How well you can learn on your own depends on many factors.

What is your previous musical experience? Have you taken violin lessons or learned to play some other instrument by ear? Can you sing folk songs? How is your sense of rhythm? Any such experience can either help or hinder your learning.

As a starting point, you should be trying simple songs which you already know, and work from clearly printed TABS for those pieces.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
07/23/22 09:46:14AM
26 posts

Best instruction material?


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

I haven't found anything better than The Dulcimer Book. Ritchie's book will be a little challenging for some because of her suggestions on learning to tune. Some will be a bit put off by her early introduction of alternate tunings.

If possible, find a local group and learn "their way," at least that way you  you can ask questions and get demonstrations.

A lot of the YouTube stuff is posted by folks trying to sell you lessons.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
06/28/22 07:46:56AM
26 posts

Wire cutter recommendations for dulcimer strings


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I've used "dollar store" nail clippers. Hard to beat the price and they can get lost in a gig bag.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
06/07/22 06:25:50PM
26 posts

Table for Mt. Dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I have short lower legs (28 inch inseam), although I'm about 5' 6" in overall height. Chairs from the 1930-1950 period fit me fine, bur chairs have grown about 2" since about 1960.

I use a block of foam (firm urethane?) which is about 2" thick and about 10 by 12 inches on top as a foot rest. It is half of a piece of shipping foam from a computer or something. I ran a piece of paracord through a hole across one end. It's light, doesn't shed or need cleaning, and the cord makes it easy to carry.

The foot block sure beats carrying an old wooden folding chair.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
06/04/22 12:08:59PM
26 posts

Tull66


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

>>> get an electronic tuner.

I agree, although many now like to use a cell phone APP.

>>> Use the tuner to verify that the frets are properly placed.

Yes, if the tuner shows every not is "in the green" you don't have problems with fret placement. Using your method, if the strings are high, a tuner will "tell you" that the frets are misplaced.

If you have a good ear, simply playing the octave fret will tell you a whole lot about intonation. The error may be either bad fretting or string height.

And we have not touched on "buzzing" which may also require correction.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
06/04/22 09:28:11AM
26 posts

Tull66


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I would absolutely tell anyone with no dulcimer experience or first hand technical advisor NOT to buy a dulcimer kit from anyone.

If you don't really know what you are doing, shop in a face-to-face setting where you can try out the instrument and discuss it with the seller. Preferably the seller should demonstrate the instrument.

I suspect that the "unplayable" Applecreek dulcimers primarily need a proper setup. It is common in the music world for factory made instruments to be shipped with the expectation that the selling dealer will do a setup to meet the customer's needs. This is primarily adjusting string height, but also may involve other details. In the ukulele world, string heights are typically too high because lowering them is easy, but raising them isn't. This is probably true for most low priced fretted instruments. If you buy such an instrument, the retail dealer, not the manufacturer or wholesale distributor, is responsible for assuring that the instrument is ready for use.

Wooden instruments can, or will, change between the time they are built and the time the first owner begins to play them. Woods bend, and exposure to string tension can also alter them. No builder can predict the changes.

Generally speaking, if you are ordering an instrument costing $500 or so directly from a well established builder, it will probably be checked and setup before shipping. This is partly because the builder's reputation is at stake and partly because the builder is doing retail business.

For those with a good musical ear, I suspect that if the heights are just a bit high a dulcimer set up with (common) 0.012 strings and which plays "OK" in DAA tuning might be irritating if tuned to DAD, but OK in DAD if restrung with 0.010 melody strings. Correcting that sort of thing is "setup." My opinion on that is based on 70+ years of playing string instruments, training in physics, and amateur building of a variety of fretted instruments. It's not "Rocket Science," but it is precision technology.

I have seen dulcimers from semi-pro builders which were NOT properly set up. Knowing wood working isn't the same are knowing lutherie.

With regard to natural wood versus cardboard versus laminated construction, you should not generalize. All need setup, whether by the builder, retailer, or buyer.

Our local dulcimer group instructor bought a batch of cardboard dulcimers for loan to students. They have served us well for a decade or so, but this is because her guitar player husband spent hours doing the setup, as well as some assembly. She also purchased a group of Applecreek instruments, but again they got an adequate checkout.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
06/04/22 09:18:17AM
26 posts

Tull66


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

... Or to be lent to a complete stranger with no experience who wants to explore playing music.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
06/02/22 08:51:46AM
26 posts

Tull66


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

That has not been my experience.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
05/31/22 08:10:17AM
26 posts

Tull66


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

If the cardboard dulcimer kits were less than $50, I'd support the suggestion that they are a good first instrument. My wife started on a borrowed one.

Given price realities, I'd strongly recommend the small Applecreek dulcimer. Musician's Friend sells it for about $90 including shipping.It is also available elsewhere, including local music stores, for about $130.

https://www.musiciansfriend.com/folk-traditional-instruments/apple-creek-dulcimer/510985000000000?cntry=US&cur=USD&utm_content=510985000000000--Apple+Creek+Dulcimer&source=3WWRWXGS&gclid=Cj0KCQjw-daUBhCIARIsALbkjSYEltKaS7Fs8hL-W8oj-b52fwkpBeVI-o4TqblScoCbR7xYsnzMqiMaAlBiEALw_wcB

It has a nice sound. It's built in an ISO 9001 certified musical instrument factory in Romania from the same woods that the company uses to produce violins, guitars, etc.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
03/30/22 08:40:26AM
26 posts

Looking for a Small Dulcimer


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

Thanks for pointing out the CAPRITAURUS DULCIMER. At over $600, it is well above my friend's price range.

After my telling her about the available options she has decided to buy her own new small Apple Creek instrument. They are readily available for under $150 with case.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
03/26/22 10:20:26AM
26 posts

HELP- Broken tuner peg


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

On reflection, a screw driver bit on a 1/4" socket wrench would allow greater downward pressure and torque than any regular screw driver. An extension would help, too.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
03/26/22 08:59:44AM
26 posts

HELP- Broken tuner peg


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

It looks to me that the string hole is now more-or-less a slot. First, I'd try using a screw driver, but not really expecting that to work.

My second try would be to deepen the slot with a saw and files. This would require removing other strings and maybe some pins. I think that would require less skill than drilling for a screw extractor.

It also looks to me like the string hole in the broken pin might have been off-center. I would also be concerned about the variation between notes in the string windings.

If the pin holes do not go all the way through the wood, some may have bottomed out. The pins may not have been backed out enough before winding on the new strings.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
03/08/22 04:58:39PM
26 posts

Looking for a Small Dulcimer


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

Oops. I thought I had indicated that our local group is tuned DAA. I guess I assumed that mentioning the Apple Creek dulcimer and posting here had covered it. Sorry.

I'm collecting the suggestions.

As Susie noted, things like the Little Dulcimers List tend to drift out of date. There isn't a strong sustained demand for 24 VSL instruments. I've built several, but don't add my name to the list, 'cause I build straight sided things for personal use. I could use my home-built band saw to do a sawn frame build, but I won't.

Looking for the McSpadden Ginger has an interesting result. When you Google it the page says " 26" Fret Scale Dulcimer ". You have to click on a particular Ginger model to get the "23 3/16" fretboard" and "Optional setups are ... and D-A-AA" information. I'm sure it would be a good choice, but, at $500+ without case, I don't know if it is within her price range.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
03/07/22 04:00:13PM
26 posts

Looking for a Small Dulcimer


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


We have a friend who is looking for a small dulcimer. She is currently playing a borrowed small Apple Creek instrument. She has tried "full size" instruments and is uncomfortable with them.

I would describe her desires as follows:

24 inch VSL
Hourglass body
Geared tuners
6 1/2 fret
Holes you can't drop a pick in
Good sound
Not looking for a specific wood
New or used OK
Moderate price

Any suggestions?

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
03/06/22 08:58:30AM
26 posts

Fret necessary?


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

Don't reject an instrument because it has a 6 1/2 fret!

I'm playing one which doesn't have one, but I would prefer to have one. Our group (tuned in DAA) plays occasional tunes which require it.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
10/24/21 11:06:18AM
26 posts

Jaromin dulcimer kit from Annalisa's Crafts


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

>>> Did your wife get her dulcimer kit constructed?

Yes. It looks great, and I have lots of pictures for an article I will write. What I don't have yet is a good video of it playing.

I plan to post both in advance of the 2022 Berea Gathering.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
10/23/21 11:21:58AM
26 posts

Jaromin dulcimer kit from Annalisa's Crafts


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

'Nother thought on body length.

Laser cutters vary in size. A common home sized unit is 65x50 cm, or not capable of cutting something over 25.6 inches long.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
10/23/21 08:19:44AM
26 posts

Jaromin dulcimer kit from Annalisa's Crafts


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

Ken said "It looks like he/she choose to copy the fret board of cardboard dulcimer manufacturers rather than go the extra step of having the fretboard end at the body of the dulcimer which would require extending the body of the dulcimer and repositioning the string anchors."

Having made a couple of "copies of cardboard dulcimers" using craft plywood, I'd say the body length was determined by wanting to cut one-piece sides from a 12 by 24 inch sheet.

You are then faced with a choice between a shorter VSL or overhang. For a shorter VSL you need to establish a new fret spacing which can be done easily with calculations, but requires more than woodworking expertise. The neck vs. fretboard issue is indicative that the kit maker is more woodworker than dulcimerian.

Looks like a good design to me, even if non-traditional.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
09/14/20 10:19:08AM
26 posts

Does anyone know what kind of pick this is?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

The shape looks like the large triangle pick sold by Fender and D'Andrea.

Pick Punch sells a make-your-own-picks punch in that #355 shape. It is very possible that you have a "home made" pick.

For the punch, see

https://www.pickpunch.com/355-large-triangle-pick-punch-quotdorito-chipq355.html

Pick Punch sells several other shapes. Locally we have a couple of #351 punches. They are good tools.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
09/02/20 05:24:10PM
26 posts

Choice of Wood: Pertinent or Purism?


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

Look at the violin world. The majority of violins are copied from a very few models, and most use the same few woods. Despite that, there is a difference between a $40 one and a $10,000 one.

My guess is that the Chinese factories sort bodies at each step of production, routing the best to their best finishers, with all starting from the same wood and basic pattern cut and carving. Actual testing and sorting is the key.

To get the best FOR YOU from any builder, you should visit the shop and try individual instruments.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
08/30/20 12:04:35PM
26 posts

Choice of Wood: Pertinent or Purism?


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

Also note that many dulcimers are sold in craft shops (not music stores) to and by people who do not play them. Exotic woods, fancy grains, etc. can play an important role in that process.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
02/14/20 03:33:33PM
26 posts

Epinette


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

I found some information suggesting that the Epinette evolved from the Scheitholt in France about the same time the Fretted (or Mountain) Dulcimer was evolving in the US from similar sources. That would make it a cousin, rather than an ancestor.

There is an interesting discussion of the épinette des Vosges on the web page of a Musical Instrument Museum in Belgium.
http://www.mim.be/epinette-des-vosges?from_i_m=1

There are additional references to FEUILLEE DOROTHEE VAL D'AJOL VOSGES on a French auction website
https://www.musicantic.eu/plucked-strings-instrument/zither/epinette-des-vosges-la-feuillee-dorothee_4022_uk_D.html

Jean Ritchie and her husband successfully tracked down a couple of the instruments in France about 1960.

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
02/14/20 02:43:36PM
26 posts

Epinette


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

It is a beautiful instrument. It would be nice to have a sound file posted.

Is there a reason why you call it an EPINETTE rather than a SCHEITHOLT ?  Are the plans from a French source rather than an American-German one?

Wally Venable
@wally-venable
02/18/19 02:20:19PM
26 posts

Playing dulcimer with a ukelele


Playing and jamming difficulties...HELP ME!

If you study ukes in their broader aspects, you will find the "D tuning" isn't anything strange.

Generally speaking, British and Canadian players tune A-D-F#-B, and according to some sources, it was popular in Hawaii at one time. It was pretty much standard before WW-II in the USA. Because of that you can readily purchase string sets intended for the higher tuning. Many small tuners even give you a choice between U-C and U-D setups.

I have several "learn ukulele" books, and probably the best of the bunch is Roy Smeck's classic, which is all in D tuning.  See https://www.amazon.com/Mel-Bay-Ukulele-Method-Smeck/dp/0871664836 for details.

I keep one (cheap) tenor tuned each way.