Forum Activity for @greg-gunner

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
01/18/19 09:46:27AM
48 posts

What's your favorite mournful, spooky, or lonesome song to play?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

The old ballads, despite being called "Love Songs", are rich with wonderful mournful melodies.  Although the old ballads are normally sung unaccompanied, one of my favorites on the mountain dulcimer is "Black Is the Color" in the Aeolian Mode with the dulcimer tuned D-A-C.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
01/09/19 04:34:10PM
48 posts

Do you have a pre 1989 FolkRoots or CapriTaurus dulcimer (made by Howard Rugg)?


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

Actually, my very first dulcimer was a Folkroots dulcimer.  I played it for several years.  In the early 2000s I started a dulcimer club where I taught, and I passed the Folkroots dulcimer on to a student that had joined the club.  I think she probably still owns it.  

Patricia's link didn't work, probably because it was inadvertently joined to a line of text in her post.  Howard Rugg's website is here: 

http://capritaurusdulcimers.com/


updated by @greg-gunner: 01/09/19 04:37:17PM
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
12/24/18 11:27:33PM
48 posts

Happy Christmas To All


OFF TOPIC discussions

Let me join Ken H. in wishing everyone a Merry Christmas from  cold, but snowless southeast Michigan.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
12/24/18 12:03:02PM
48 posts

McSpadden's Luthiers


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

Does anyone have a list of luthiers that have worked for McSpadden Dulcimers?  Of course, there is Lynn McSpadden, his brother, Larry McSpadden, and George Looney.  But who are the others?  Feel free to add to the list if you know the names of the others.

I've got a McSpadden made by a _________ Lang in 2016, but I can't make out his or her first name on the interior label.  Can anyone help me identify the McSpadden luthier who made this instrument?


updated by @greg-gunner: 12/24/18 12:19:36PM
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
12/01/18 05:45:35PM
48 posts



How did you decide to anchor the ball-end guitar strings?  With pins?  With small nails with the heads snipped off? By creating loops from the ball-end strings?  By drilling holes through the fretboard (like a guitar bridge) and anchoring with guitar bridge pins?  Some other method?  Inquiring minds want to know?

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
11/29/18 04:44:40PM
48 posts

John Jacob Niles's dulcimers and playing


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Try Googling "John Jacob Niles You-Tube".  There are a few selections from his recordings available there.  Be forewarned.  His singing will need to be listened to in small doses.  It's not for everybody.  

I sampled three or four of his songs and didn't hear much dulcimer playing.  Although the dulcimer may have not recorded well considering the emphasis was on his voice.

Personally, I couldn't take his singing, so there may be some dulcimer playing buried in the available recordings.  Good luck if you intend to listen to the recordings all the way through.  

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
11/24/18 07:57:34AM
48 posts



No problem, Ken.  I've benefited from many of your suggestions on noter-drone playing over the years, both on this forum and on the now defunct ED site.  Thank you for so willingly sharing your experience.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
11/23/18 08:34:28PM
48 posts



I think Ken meant the following for a left-handed player:

The tuning head is on your right, and the melody strings are closest to you.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
11/17/18 09:26:13AM
48 posts

What if you could only have one dulcimer?


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

If I could have only one mountain dulcimer, it would be my Blue Lion Jean Ritchie Model.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
11/13/18 06:21:52PM
48 posts

Need Chords For D-A-C Tuning!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Jimmy.

I took some time today to figure out the Chords for D Aeolian (D Minor) in D-A-C Tuning.  Left to right the numbers represent:

(Bass Sting-Middle String-Melody String)

i chord = D Minor (0-0-3, 4-3-3, 7-7-10, 11-10-10)

ii chord = E Diminished (3-4-6, 8-6-6, 10-11-13, 15-13-13)

III chord = F Major (6-0-3, 6-7-3, 13-14-10)

iv chord = G Minor (3-3-6, 7-6-6, 10-10-13, 14-13-13)

v chord = A Minor (1-0-0, 4-4-7, 6-4-5, 8-7-7, 11-11-14, 13-11-12, 15-14-14)

VI chord = Bb Major** (7-3-6, 14-10-13 Missing F Note) (0-0-3, 7-7-10 Missing the Bb Note)

VII chord = C major (3-4-0, 6-4-4, 6-6-9, 8-6-7, 13-11-11, 13-13-16, 15-13-14)

The Bb and F notes in D-A-C Tuning can be found only on the melody string.  This limits where full three-note chords can be played.  The Bb Major chord requires both the Bb note and the F note.  Since both are found only on the melody string in D-A-C tuning, it is impossible to play both at the same time.  **Therefore, the fret numbers listed for the Bb major chord are for two-note, partial chords.  One set of numbers is missing the F note.  The other set of numbers is missing the Bb note.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
11/12/18 02:43:46PM
48 posts

Need Chords For D-A-C Tuning!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Please be aware.  In my previous post providing a link to Kevin Roth's chord charts for various modal tunings, I neglected to mention that the standard tuning at the time was for the various Keys of C.  Since your question asked about D-A-C tuning specifically (which is the tuning for D Aeolian), you will need to change  "C" to "D", "D" to "E", etc. for all the chords.  The chord positions on the chart do not need to be changed, but C Minor chords on the PDF will be D Minor chords if played in D-A-C tuning, and G Major chords on the PDF will be G Major chords if played in D-A-C tuning, etc.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
11/12/18 02:25:11PM
48 posts

Need Chords For D-A-C Tuning!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

The only thing I could find that had chord charts was the following from a booklet included with a Folkways dulcimer instruction album by Kevin Roth. There's a PDF of the booklet available at:

https://folkways-media.si.edu/liner_notes/folkways/FWCRB20.pdf

Download the booklet and scroll down to page 43 or so where the Aeolian chord charts start.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
10/30/18 07:04:03AM
48 posts

Keith Young Dulcimer


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

The notches on the nut are for setting the dulcimer up in one of two ways: 1st way - four equidistant string set-up or 2nd way - bass, middle, and double melody string set-up.

Keith put the wooden bead fine tuners on all of the strings.

A standard set of dulcimer strings should work just fine.  Bass string .020-.022, Middle string .012-.014, and Melody strings .010-.012.

Once you have located the correct position for the bridge utilizing the method give by Ken Hulme, you can mark the correct position on the fret board so it can easily be relocated if it shifts position.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
08/23/18 06:27:57PM
48 posts

Clemmer Ban-Jammer Serial #5075


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

This is actually my second Clemmer Ban-Jammer.  I bought and sold the first one a few years back, and I have wanted another ever since.

I prefer fingerpicking the ban-jammer, as I'm not a fan of strumming across all the strings of banjo-type instruments.  So I guess you'd say I play in a single-string style (melody notes and fill notes).  The used instrument purchase included the DVD by Stephen Seifert that accompanies new ban-jammers purchased directly from Mike Clemmer.  I think Stephen's style is more flat-picking, so I may give that a try going forward.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
08/23/18 09:59:51AM
48 posts

Clemmer Ban-Jammer Serial #5075


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

Mike Clemmer just answered my question.  Ban-Jammer #5075 was made in 2006

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
08/22/18 06:54:37PM
48 posts

Clemmer Ban-Jammer Serial #5075


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

I just purchased a used Clemmer Ban-Jammer (Serial #5075) on E-Bay.  Is there any way to tell when the instrument was made?  Could 5075 possible mean May 7, 2005?  Or does the number just indicate the instruments position in the sequence of all Clemmer instruments?

I have tried contacting Mike Clemmer through the contact page on his website, but he doesn't seem to respond to messages sent through his website contact page.

Also in what year did Mike Clemmer start to make the Ban-Jammer?

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
07/28/18 09:42:43AM
48 posts

Intermediates


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

If we're talking about dulcimer workshop levels (and it sounds like we are), the solution is to have a short description of what will be taught.  Then the attendees can decide if they are ready to learn that particular skill.

For example:

"This workshop will teach the three basic chords in D-A-A tuning and some basic rhythm strums."

"In this workshop you will learn hammer-ons and pull-offs and how to apply them in the songs you already know."

"This workshop will teach you how to retune to the four most common modal tunings."

"Dulcimer Duos.  This workshop will teach you how to play with another dulcimer player.  One will play play the melody and one will play back up chords."

The best workshops I've ever attended were taught by Stephen Seifert, who took a single tune and presented it in stages.  In essence, he taught those attending how to begin with a simple melody and gradually add different techniques to make it a more advanced arrangement.    

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
07/10/18 05:57:27PM
48 posts

June Apple Dulcimer tone/sound


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Richard, I'm glad you are happy with the sound of your June Apple model dulcimer.  Mine is similar to the one you have with the following exceptions: Mine has traditional heart-shaped soundholes and only three planetary pegs at my request.  Carl and his staff are great.  They are very accommodating in meeting requests for minor changes like number of strings and soundhole design.  I haven't checked the website lately, but their prices are a bargain compared to many new dulcimers out there.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
06/06/18 01:41:08PM
48 posts

What's your favorite soundhole shape?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

For a traditional dulcimer the classic Dutch Heart soundhole is my favorite, but as others have already said the choice really has to please only one person.  In a way it's kind of like choosing a tattoo. Some prefer no tattoo at all.  Others prefer to have their whole body covered in tattoos.

One consideration is whether or not you ever intend to resell the dulcimer.  Dulcimers with standard heart-shaped soundholes and/or circles will probably have more resale value.  A personalized soundhole will only appeal to someone who can appreciate the choice you have made.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
05/01/18 07:29:00AM
48 posts

Blue Lion Dulcimers !!


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

Jill, good luck in your search for a Jean Ritchie model Blue Lion.  I presently own two Blue Lion dulcimers, a Jean Ritchie model and an Acoustic Jam Baritone model, both were customized to have a single melody string and only three strings total.  I had to wait several months until my name came up on the build list, but they are exceptional instruments and well-worth the wait.  Blue Lion dulcimers are greatly valued by their owners and are seldom available as used instruments.  If you find one available used, don't hesitate in purchasing it.  It won't be for sale for long.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
04/28/18 06:39:39AM
48 posts

bagpipe drone.


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I'm with Skip on this one.  Strings are inexpensive and easily replaced.  Replace the .014 gauge with a .012 gauge.   

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
04/12/18 08:52:15AM
48 posts

In a jam about a jam session with ukuleles, guitars & banjos


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

The original post concerned playing along in a jam session with other stringed instruments in multiple keys.  In that situation, retuning is rarely an option due to the noise and speed at which one tune flows into the next.  In the quiet of one's own home, learning how to retune to play in different keys on a single dulcimer is an excellent skill to have.  Using Dusty Turtle's chart, you will be relying primarily on the I, IV, and V chords.

In a jam session, however, the other musicians are not going to remain quiet and wait while you retune.  You have to adjust to fit in with the other instruments.  Utilizing a second dulcimer and a capo allows you to play in four different keys: D, G, C, and F.  With the 6 1/2 fret, the Key of A is also possible.

D-A-A Tuning allows one to play in the Key of D from the nut, the Key of G from the capo at the 3rd fret, and the Key of A with the capo at the 4th fret and utilizing the 6 1/2 fret instead of the 6 fret.

C-G-G Tuning allows one to play in the Key of C from the nut, the Key of F from the capo at the 3rd fret, and the Key of G with the capo at the 4th fret and utilizing the 6 1/2 fret instead of the 6 fret.

  

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
04/11/18 07:07:16PM
48 posts

In a jam about a jam session with ukuleles, guitars & banjos


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I will give you a simple way to play in 4 different keys with two dulcimers and a capo.

First, tune the first dulcimer to D-A-A.  Your basic chords in the Key of D are:

I Chord = D, 2-0-3 (where 2 represents the bass string fingered at 2nd fret, 0 represents the middle string left open, and 3 represents the melody strings fingered at 3rd fret)

IV Chord = G, 3-1-3 (where 3 represents the bass string fingered at the 3rd fret, 1 represents middle string fingered at the 1st fret, and the final 3 represents the melody strings fingered at the 3rd fret)

V Chord = A, 1-0-2 (where 1 represents the bass string fingered at the 1st fret, the 0 represents the middle string left open, and the 2 represents the melody strings fingered at the 2nd fret)

You can transpose the whole thing up to the Key of G by capoing at the 3rd fret and thinking of the capo as the new nut.

I Chord = G, 2-0-3 from capo (the actual frets fingered are 5-0-6)

IV Chord = C, 3-1-3 from capo (the actual frets fingered are 6-4-6)

V Chord = D, 1-0-2 from capo (the actual frets fingered are 4-0-5)

Second , tune the second dulcimer to C-G-G.  The basic chords in the Key of C are:

I Chord = C

IV Chord = F

V Chord = G

The chord shapes remain the same as before: 2-0-3, 3-1-3, and 1-0-2.

Once again transpose up, by placing the capo at the 3rd fret.  You can now play in the Key of F with the same chord shapes:

I Chord = F

IV chord = Bb

V Chord = C

In conclusion, the three chord shapes remain the same for all four keys: I chord = 2-0-3, IV Chord = 3-1-3, and V Chord = 1-0-2.

The capo is nothing more than a temporary nut.  If you had a chromatic dulcimer you could capo at every fret on the dulcimer.  Since most dulcimers do not have chromatic fretting, you just need to be sure that you have a comparable spacing of frets.  Without the capo you have a large space, large space, and short space to the right of the nut.  If you capo at the 3rd fret, you once again have a large space, large space, and small space to the right of the capo (temporary nut).

Finally, if you have a 6 1/2 fret you can place the capo at the 4th fret and in D-A-A tuning play in the Key of A.  However, you must ignore the 6th fret when playing.  You will have a large space from fret 4 to fret 5, a large space from fret 5 to fret 6 1/2, and a small space from fret 6 1/2 to fret 7.

I Chord = A

IV Chord = D

V Chord = E

Likewise, you can place the capo at the 4th fret in C-C-G tuning and play in the Key of G.  Remember to ignore the 6th fret and use the 6 1/2 fret instead.

I Chord = G

IV Chord = C

V Chord = D

The easy part is that the basic chord shapes remain the same (2-0-3, 3-1-3, and 1-0-2) for all of the above.  Just think of the capo as a movable nut that allows you to move the chord shapes up the fretboard to play in different keys.

So with two dulcimers, one tuned D-A-A and the other tuned C-G-G, you can play chords (or melodies for that matter) in five different keys: D, G, C, F, and A.  These keys will handle nearly every key you will face on a regular basis.  

 

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
04/10/18 01:31:51PM
48 posts

Tell us about your VERY FIRST dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Robin, 

There was a connection between Morris Jethro Amburgey and the Logan, Ohio area.  Here's the rest of the December 17, 1975 article from the Logan Daily News:

"Hide-A-Way Hills Man Creates Appalachian Music Instruments

By SUE CHENOWETH Daily News Staff Writer

Morris Amburgey thoroughly modern man. He’s the city engineer for Lancaster and flies his own Cessna 180 airplane. He and wife Gertrude frequently go camping in their recreational vehicle Their residence on Cardinal Lane in Hide-A-Way Hills is admirable for its beauty and originality. But Amburgey is also a Kentuckian from Hindman in Knott County, where the hills are so steep there’s no bottom land and no farms, just gardens. And remembering his mountain heritage and the songs he heard played on the dulcimer, Amburgey now makes the unique Appalachian instrument from an old pattern passed on to him by his father, Jethro Amburgey. “We try to make them with as few mechanical tools as possible,” Amburgey says. “We whittle and cut and chisel a lot of things out.” Among favorite tunes for the dulcimer are “Jackerow,” “Barbara Allen” or “Turkish Lady,” — heartbroken songs, Amburgey calls them. “If we lose our heritage of music like that, we’ll never regain it,” he says. To help keep the dulcimer and its music alive, Amburgey works about 40 hours making one dulcimer, which he’ll sell for about $50, only $10 above the costs of the materials. Amburgey’s dulcimer pattern came originally from Eddridge Thomas of Hindman, who taught Jethro how to make them. Jethro made 1,389 dulcimers, several of which are in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. Morris says his father was one of only two or three people who could make dulcimers in the decades from 1930 to 1950. Morris follows his father’s habit of distinguishing each dulcimer by etching his name, date and place completed, and number made. Since Morris owns a log cabin in Hindman, he puts that place name on the instruments. As long as Jethro lived, Morris didn’t make dulcimers, but after his father died in 1972, Morris picked up the tradition. He made his first one in 1973; the first five dulcimers were to finish his father’s orders. He has subsequently made about 40 of the instruments from either cherry or walnut. Amburgey explains that solid wood like his father used splits. His home workshop is well equipped, but Morris Amburgey carves, whittles and cuts in an old-time tradition to make the mountain dulcimer, a musical instrument native to the southern Appalachians. Amburgey makes his instruments in the same style as his late father, Jethro Amburgey. Morris’ 22-year-old son, Kenny, also is learning the techniques. (Daily News photo by Sue Chenoweth)"

It looks like Morris and his family lived on Cardinal Lane in Hide-A-Way Hills, but maintained ownership of a cabin in Hindman, Kentucky.  Are Cardinal Lane and Hide-A-Way Hills near Logan, Ohio?  There are a couple more interesting facts in the article. First, Morris's 22-year old son, Kenny Amburgey, was learning the techniques of dulcimer making from his father.  And second, Morris refers to Ed Thomas as the man who taught his father the craft of dulcimer-making, but calls him "Edridge Thomas".  It is not clear whether or not Kenny Amburgey followed through and made any dulcimers on his own, but he'd be about 65 years old now if he's still living in the Logan area.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
04/10/18 11:55:29AM
48 posts

Tell us about your VERY FIRST dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

From the December 17, 1975 Edition of the Logan Daily News – Logan, Ohio

“Dec 17, 1975 - As long as Jethro lived, Morris didn't make dulcimers, but after his father died in 1972,Morris picked up the tradition. He made his first one in 1973; the first five dulcimers were to finish his father's orders. He has subsequently made about 40 of the instruments from either cherry or walnut…”

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
04/10/18 09:29:44AM
48 posts

Tell us about your VERY FIRST dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Jethro's son was named Morris Jethro Amburgey so the "M.J. Amburgey" signature on this dulcimer is most likely that of Jethro's son.    

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
11/15/17 07:55:12PM
48 posts

June Apple Dulcimer tone/sound


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Here's a link to June Apple Dulcimer.  The smaller model is the June Apple Model.  The larger model is the Poplar Hill Model.

https://www.juneappledulcimers.com/collections/mountain-dulcimers

 

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
11/15/17 07:51:48PM
48 posts

June Apple Dulcimer tone/sound


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I have a June Apple dulcimer.  It doesn't have the light silvery sound of the J.E. Thomas  reproductions that I own.  Nor does it have the resonant sound of the larger bodied dulcimers.  The sound falls somewhere in between.  You could probably describe it as a balance between the two.  Keep in mind that Carl and his staff at June Apple Dulcimers manufacture several different models of dulcimers and dulcimer ancestors.  The June Apple model has a somewhat smaller size than other models made by June Apple, so it's not surprising that the sound is somewhat closer to traditional than it is to guitar-like.  June Apple also makes a larger-bodied dulcimer.  I don't have personal experience with the larger model, but I would assume that its sound is more resonant and similar to other dulcimers with wider, deeper soundboxes.  In short, the difference in sound is more  a combination of volume and resonance.  Everything else being equal, smaller-bodied dulcimers have less volume and less resonance.  Larger-bodied dulcimers have more volume and more resonance.  Other factors to consider are the type of wood used, particularly the soundboard (top), and the thickness of the top, back, and sides.  I'm not a builder.  A builder would be more qualified than I to describe the various factors affecting the sound of any given dulcimer.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
06/21/17 03:12:21PM
48 posts

Almeda Riddle


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Here’s what I could find on the internet with a quick search.  The links below all seem to point to the same Starr Mitchell you see on the Almeda Riddle You-Tube Video.  You may have to copy and paste these links into your browser to get them to work.

 

A1997 letter to the editor of Dulcimer Players Newsletter :

https://issuu.com/dulcimerplayersnewsinc/docs/120823175704-df406671dca8494abca0a058a469091b/4

A 2001 CD titled Arkansas Original, Tune # 6 “Lark in the Morning” with Starr Mitchell Playing Hammered dulcimer

https://www.discogs.com/Various-Arkansas-Original/release/1943150

Starr Mitchell’s Linked-In Page.  She’s the Education Director of the Historic Arkansas Museum. 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/starr-mitchell-43baa124/

Starr Mitchell’s Facebook Page.

https://www.facebook.com/starr.mitchell.1


updated by @greg-gunner: 06/21/17 09:20:39PM
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
04/12/17 04:50:34PM
48 posts

Noter/drone duet books?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

There's no reason one player couldn't use a noter and play the melody only (no drones) while the second player accompanied them with chords.  I used to do this with a friend.  He would play the melody only and I would accompany with chords, sometimes strumming across all strings for the full chord sound and sometimes breaking the chord up into an arpeggio (finger-picking single strings while holding the full chord).  This worked really well with dulcimer and banjammer playing together.  If you try this, have one player play their part higher up the neck and the other player play their part lower on the neck. The individual parts will resonate clearer this way.  In case you're interested, my playing partner knew very little about chord playing.  He was a self-taught single-string melody player.  When his melody playing was harmonized with my chords, we both noticed an improvement in our music.

A separate book or tab was not needed, because most tab includes chord names above the tablature these days.


updated by @greg-gunner: 04/12/17 04:52:18PM
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
04/09/17 03:18:02PM
48 posts

Capo positions, tunings, chords and other wonderful things


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

 Bing Futch also has a short you-tube video on using a capo to change keys.  

 

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
04/09/17 03:07:26PM
48 posts

Capo positions, tunings, chords and other wonderful things


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Joe Collins has the following handout available for free online.  It may help you in understanding which keys are available with a capo.  I hope it is helpful.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
04/04/17 01:17:19PM
48 posts

Three or Doubled Melody Dulcimer?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I agree with Lisa with one exception.  If you are playing a dulcimer that has staple-style frets, you will want to keep the string that is most centered over the frets.  These partial frets have a tendency to let the string slide right off the fret.  Not a problem with full-width frets, but annoying when playing over partial frets.  That being said, most reproductions utilizing staple-style frets or partial frets are built with only three strings, so what to do with the extra melody string is not an issue.


updated by @greg-gunner: 04/04/17 01:18:40PM
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
03/05/17 04:36:37AM
48 posts

Tell us about your VERY FIRST dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

My first dulcimer was an hourglass Folk Roots dulcimer purchased in about 1985 or 1986 from Elderly Instruments.  While visiting one of the Toledo Metroparks I stopped to listen to a lady playing a dulcimer at a very small gathering organized by one of the park rangers.  I ordered my first dulcimer from Elderly Instruments shortly thereafter.  About three or four years later I organized a dulcimer club for students at the local elementary school.  By then I owned three or four dulcimers, so I sold my Folk Roots model to one of the students at a fraction of its value to help them obtain their own instrument.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
03/02/17 01:02:10PM
48 posts

Fine Tuner Beads -- a Primer Needed!


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

I don't have any experience with round beads, but I would assume they would not work as well because only a small amount of the underside of the bead would be in contact with the fretboard, so the bead would be more likely to slip.  As far as the length of the string between bridge and tailpiece, one-inch seems kind of short for effective use of tuning-beads.  The only way to know for sure is to give it a try.  Round and oval beads are inexpensive and you are not making any irreversible changes to your dulcimer by trying.  Try it on one string to see what happens.  If the bead holds and it can be wedged toward the tailpiece to make small changes in tuning, that's all you need.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
03/02/17 11:20:04AM
48 posts

Fine Tuner Beads -- a Primer Needed!


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

Actually, most fine-tuning beads are simply very small blocks of wood with a hole drilled through the center.  They are placed on the string between the bridge and the tailpiece and require a string that angles downward slightly from the bridge to the tailpiece.  The tuning bead slides up and down the string.  The main idea is to wedge the tuning bead between the string and the fretboard as the angle of the string takes it closer to the fretboard.  As the tuning bridge is wedged between string and fretboard it increases the tension on the string slightly allowing one to fine-tune the string.  Tuning beads are normally associated with instruments utilizing wooden friction pegs, which can be difficult for beginners to tune.  Guitar-style geared tuning pegs and planetary pegs do not need tuning beads.  If you want to see examples of wooden tuning beads, try googling an image of a Keith young dulcimer.  Tuning beads were a standard feature of Keith's mountain dulcimers.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
02/10/17 03:10:48PM
48 posts

What Are You Working On?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Think of it as free-form.  These ballads are often sung unaccompanied, so like Strumelia has pointed out, the form is not a fixed rhythm or timing.  The singers are free to stretch out notes or cut them short as they see fit.  When written out, this music often has multiple time signatures indicated within the musical transcription in an attempt to record how the singer actually sang the song.

I suspect this is a remnant of the old unaccompanied airs sung in the British Isles.  Ireland, especially, has many of these unaccompanied  airs.  On a related note, uilleann bagpipe players frequently play the music to these old Irish airs (minus the singing).  The vibrating reed in the bagpipe imitates the voice, extending notes as the musician sees fit.  

In both Appalachian ballad singing and the singing of Irish airs, the free-form allows a degree of expression and emotion not found in music that adheres to a strict rhythm or timing.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
02/08/17 03:27:46PM
48 posts

Tips sought for dulcimer and (clawhammer) banjo together


Playing and jamming difficulties...HELP ME!

I'd begin by finding a Key that fits both instruments well.  The banjo is frequently played in the Key of G (Open G Tuning), so a good tuning for a dulcimer playing with clawhammer banjo would be  Reverse Ionian Tuning D-G-D, which has the G major scale beginning at the 3rd fret.  The dulcimer player could play background chords to accompany the banjo's melody line. or the dulcimer player could play the melody line accompanied by the banjo's rhythmic playing of chords.    To hear both instruments distinctly, the two instruments can play an octave apart.

Two dulcimers playing together can utilize the same techniques as suggested above, one playing melody and the other playing chords.  In a local dulcimer club, I used to use a "banjimer" (dulcimer with a banjo head) to back up a friend playing the melody line on the melody string.  He flatpicked the melody strings avoiding the drone strings, and I added rhythm and chords with the "banjimer".  It was simple yet very effective due to the percussive nature of the "banjimer".

The banjo or banjimer can be overwhelming and drown out the melody, so care must be taken to allow both instruments to be heard.

Of course, the two instruments can also alternate parts with one taking the lead while the other accompanies.  Then switching parts the second or third time through the song.

You have the option of not playing the drone strings when playing with an accompanying musician.  Let your partner carry the rhythm and harmony while you focus on the melody line.

Finally, listen to Don Pedi.  He has several recordings where he plays with fiddlers and banjo players.  David Schnauffer also had a recording where he played dulcimer accompanied by mandolin.  I think Butch Baldasarri (sp?) was the mandolin player.

Banjimer
@greg-gunner
12/25/16 10:44:54AM
48 posts

June Apple Dulcimers - Carl Gotzmer


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

I got the urge to buy a new mountain dulcimer three or four weeks ago. After scouring the internet, I decided on one of Carl Gotzmer’s June Apple Dulcimers. Carl has a website through which he sells several models of dulcimers and dulcimer antecedents. I settled on the June Apple Model, which has a base price of $295.00. The following options were added: heart-shaped soundholes, a wenge fretboard overlay, additional frets at 1 ½ and 8 ½, a single melody string, abalone position dots, an upgrade to planetary tuners, and a padded case. With all the options I added, the June Apple dulcimer was still priced at just $425.00. At this point, you might be thinking “But what about quality? How does a June Apple dulcimer compare to Brand X or Brand Y? Surely, a June Apple can’t be of the same quality as a mountain dulcimer selling for two or three times as much?”

I have owned mountain dulcimers made by many of today’s finest mountain dulcimer builders. My June Apple Model dulcimer compares very favorably with the best of them. From physical beauty to ear-pleasing tone, the June Apple is a top-notch instrument. Carl book-matches both the top and bottom of his instruments. The grain of the western red cedar top is beautiful to behold. However, it is equaled or exceed by the beauty of the book-matched walnut back. The wenge fretboard overlay has subtle streaks of brown which bring out the beauty of the wenge. I originally asked Carl for an ebony overlay, but he said he no longer uses ebony because the quality of available ebony has deteriorated, and it is hard to find ebony that has been properly aged so that it won’t crack. Now that I can see the finished instrument, I am glad I went with the wenge. The physical beauty of the finished instrument is equaled by the tone. Initially, the dulcimer was strung with heavier gauge strings than I am used to using, so I replaced the original strings with slightly lighter gauge strings to get the same flexibility I am used to when fingering the melody string. The result was a pure, sweet, mellow tone with just the right amount of sustain. It is perfect for both finger-picking and strumming.

So how does the June Apple dulcimer compare to the more expensive popular dulcimers? I compared it to Brand X and Brand Y, two of the most popular dulcimer brands. 

Price – June Apple Base Price = $295.00
Appearance – June Apple = A+, Brand X = A+, Brand Y = B
Tone – June Apple = A+, Brand X = A+, Brand Y = A+
Willingness to Customize – June Apple = A+, Brand X = A+, Brand Y = C

While any of the three dulcimers above would be an excellent choice, the June Apple is the real bargain. It compares favorably with Brand X, one of the most well-respected dulcimer makers in the country at less than half the cost. It also compares favorably with Brand Y, which is less willing to customize changes from their basic design.

Should you be considering the purchase of a mountain dulcimer, I would like to highly recommend one of Carl Gotzmer’s June Apple dulcimers. Carl offers quality at a fair price. By the way, I have no financial interests in Carl's business. I'm just a satisfied customer.


updated by @greg-gunner: 07/09/18 03:18:52PM
 / 2