noter/drone 6 string dulcimer players?

vtpiecer
@vtpiecer
7 months ago
2 posts
Thank you, Ken.
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
7 months ago
1,522 posts

What Folkcraft says about their six-string is:

"When we string up six-string instruments here in the shop, we use two .011 strings for the melody course, two .013 strings for the middle course, and one .011 and one .024W string for the bass course". 

"The melody strings are tuned in unison, the middle strings are tuned in unison, and the bass strings are tuned one-high (same as the melody string) and one-low (one octave below the melody string)."

vtpiecer
@vtpiecer
7 months ago
2 posts

I have acquired a 6-string FolkCraft (David Marks) and need to replace the strings.  Then I can start experimenting a little more with playing.  What gauge should I use for each bass string?  It looks like they are different gauges, but both are wound. Thanks.

Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
last year
81 posts

I've played n/d on 3, 4 and 5 string dulcimers and I've borrowed a 6-string once in a while.  I haven't felt the need to adapt my strumming except for one thing: how the number of strings (and how they're tuned) affects the sound balance between melody vs drones. 

If you're used to a typical 4-string setup (with a doubled melody course) then you're used to hearing 2 melody strings and 2 drones.  If you try a typical 6-string with three doubled courses, you'll have 2 melody strings and 4 drones.  Which might seem like too many drones. If the drones are (ahem) droning out the melody then you'll want to adjust your strum.  Angle the pick so you're strumming the melody string(s) harder than the drones.  Don't feel compelled to strum across all the strings at every strum, either.

If you're used to a 3-string, then maybe a 6-string won't be a big change.  There are a lot of possible 6-string setups and tunings.  I guess the only real answer is listen while you strum and adapt as you like. 

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
last year
1,522 posts

Not currently, but my second dulcimer, back in the Dark Ages, was a six string.  Strumming takes a bit more 'work', but you can also get some subtle "brush strumming" using the pick on the first few strings and the edge of your little finger on the mid- bass drones as the hand rotates for the strum.

In general with doubled melody strings you have to make sure the noter is coming down dead-flat so that both melody strings are fretted equally rather than one fretted hard and the other one not so much.  That leads to buzzy notes.

Dan
@dan
last year
78 posts

Don't have a six, but I do have a five. Yes there is a little difference in technique with a dual melody string, how you adapt is personal. Just go for it James, you'll feel and hear the difference, not really better, just different!

James Phillips
@james-phillips
last year
95 posts

Have a question and wasn't sure where to post this, so thought this would be a good as place as any to post it.  Any noter/drone 6 string dulcimer players among us?  Did you have to adapt your strumming techniques?  Any insights would be appreciated.