Newbie questions - noter size, string gauges, Berea tunings

Pondoro
Pondoro
@pondoro
2 weeks ago
16 posts

I have retuned to DAa. Trying that out.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 weeks ago
1,542 posts

We can continue discussing these current thread questions here in this thread (post on!), but I'd like to suggest that if anyone has additional NEW questions, that they create a new discussion in our Beginner Group with their new question in the title... if it's not directly related to the questions we're already discussing in this thread.  I try to encourage folks to create a new thread if they have a question with entirely new subject matter.  That way other folks can find the helpful info in the future if they do a site search for those terms.  Thanks and carry on!  dancetomato




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 weeks ago
1,542 posts

Ken Hulme:

If you're serious about wanting to learn to play Noter & Drone style,  the Berea Traditional Dulcimer Gathering is just what the dulcimer doctor ordered!  The Gathering focusses only on traditional dulcimers and dulcimer playing -- noter & drone or fingerdancing.  As we say --  "no chord playing allowed" -- and 99% of the people who tune DAd play chord-melody style which is not traditional.  Most traditional dulcimers were set up to play in DAA, Ddd or ddd -- or their other key equivalents.  So, we are gently "discouraging" people who habitually tune DAd because the focus is going to be completely on Traditional dulcimers and dulcimer playing.

@ken-hulme , if you want to "gently discourage" someone, I suggest you try maybe using a slightly smaller sledgehammer.  wondering

@pondoro asks: "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?"   Pondoro, I think it's not so much that DAd is 'not allowed' at Berea.  It's more that by being in DAA for noter style you'll be starting out in synch with almost all the other players there, you'll be able to follow the same TABS if tabs are used at all, and most importantly that DAA (1-5-5) tuning in noter style will give you more of the typical needed notes on your melody string to play the majority of simple traditional tunes likely to be played at that gathering.  It'll make things way easier for you to pick up playing the tunes along with the other folks there. And since you will not be chording at Berea anyway, in switching from DAd to DAA you won't need to learn a new bunch of 'chord fingerings' anyhow.  It'll be pretty easy, especially if you learn two or three super 'easy-peazy' noter style tunes in DAA before going there... like Go Tell Aunt Rhody. Try tuning to DAA and playing the TAB for Rhody HERE.  Here's another very simple beginner DAA tab for a real fun traditional song to play and sing: "Single Girl, Married Girl". 
Working through those two tabs alone in DAA will really get you your sea legs for Berea, Pondoro.  dulcimer
And HERE is a very simple explanation as to why DAA tuning may be actually easier than DAd when playing in noter style.

Lastly, don't worry nobody's going to want to retune after every other song at Berea.  That'd be too much work and nobody's getting any younger...hahahah! Seriously though- most likely they'll play a whole bunch of tunes in DAA before making a switch to perhaps DAC to play a bunch of lonesome sounding tunes for a while. Everyone there will help and encourage you, and it'll be easier and more fun than you might think!

DAd tuning Bonus:  Here's a traditional song with TAB and fun lyrics that is in mixolydian mode (so it uses the 6 fret and not the 6.5 fret), so if you want you can play it noter style in DAd tuning with the 'home' note on the open string. Here I tabbed it in a reverse tuning in the key of G, but my TAB numbers will work just exactly the same and you'll have all the notes you need right on the melody string if played in DAd tuning: Oh My Little Darlin'

Hope this helps!




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 01/06/19 01:30:00PM
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 weeks ago
1,542 posts

Looking at dowel selections at HomeDepot, Lowe's, and my local True Value hardware stores, I see of dowels made variously from oak, maple, and poplar. All those are considered hardwoods. Lots of folks don't want softwood dowels for their fine wood projects. Sometimes there are pine dowels offered too, but those are softwood and not what you'd want for a noter.  If you're not sure you can ask the sales person to make sure the dowel is from hardwood, but most decent sized hardware stores do carry some hardwood dowels. In a pinch, people sometimes even use popsicle sticks, which are made from birch (another hardwood, but it's cut thin so may not last very long).  nod




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 01/06/19 12:32:49PM
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 weeks ago
1,484 posts

Irene -- sounds like your friend got a great dulcimer, and maybe not such good advice from her local club.  You should encourage her to set the dulcimer back up as a 6 string; and encourage her to learn to play in other tunings beside DAd.  Playing noter & drone style in DAd on a dulcimer with a 6+ fret does not give the player the same advantage as it does chord-melody players, plain and simple.   I played noter & drone on a six string (no 6+ fret) for a number of years, and it gives you a GREAT sound (but needs a bit more care because you have to fret two strings not just one).

String gauges -- as Ken Longfield says -- you MUST know the VSL to get the right string gauges.  Then use  the Strothers String Calculator.  Packages of strings are sometimes labelled -- DAA or DAd -- and they'll be close for most VSLs between 25 and 27", but not necessarily right.   If she buys packages of strings, she should get 2 packages and replace ALL the strings (one at a time -- never take off all the strings at once).

Send your friend a copy of my I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What? article.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 weeks ago
1,484 posts

Pondoro -- As Ken Longfield said, you can play noter & drone in any tuning with any dulcimer.  But the vast majority of tunes out there in Dulcimer Land do not require the flatted 7th note which is what distinguishes DAd from other tunings.  DAd tuning with a 6+ fret does not give a noter & drone player any advantage the way it does modern chord-melody players.

If you're serious about wanting to learn to play Noter & Drone style,  the Berea Traditional Dulcimer Gathering is just what the dulcimer doctor ordered!  The Gathering focusses only on traditional dulcimers and dulcimer playing -- noter & drone or fingerdancing.  As we say --  "no chord playing allowed" -- and 99% of the people who tune DAd play chord-melody style which is not traditional.  Most traditional dulcimers were set up to play in DAA, Ddd or ddd -- or their other key equivalents.  So, we are gently "discouraging" people who habitually tune DAd because the focus is going to be completely on Traditional dulcimers and dulcimer playing.   

As a noter & drone player you're going to want to learn to play in ALL the common Modes (Ionian, Dorian, Aeolian & Mixolydian) and Modal Tunings; and maybe other as well.  N&D players re-tune frequently (it's only 1 string that is re-tuned after all; and only takes seconds).  Many of us play a set of tunes in a given tuning, then switch and play a set in another tuning.

As far as noters -- I recommend to my students that they use a hard wood stick (not a hardware store dowel) about the same diameter as their Index finger -- 3/8" to 1/2" or a bit more.  I make a lot of noters from "pen blanks" that I buy online, and they are 4-5" long -- a comfortable grip for most hands.  The harder the wood, the better.  River cane Bamboo makes great noters.  Here's a link to my Noter & Drone article/booklet called Get Noterized.

https://fotmd.com/strumelia/group_discuss/2317/ken-hulmes-get-noterized-article

IRENE
IRENE
@irene
2 weeks ago
89 posts

When Susan got this beautiful dulcimer, her son found it at an Estate Sale, it was sooooooooo beautiful and made with great care.   SUCH A DEAL....$150.00.  I estimate it's worth to be about $600.00 plus.  She had the right strings on it then.  She moved to Arkansas and got in with a group (a great group, I'm sure) that only did DAD tuning.  She was told to take off a string on each set, and she learned the chords and can keep up with the group....but when she played at home, didn't like the sound 1/2 as much.  I think she didn't get the right set of strings when she replaced the strings.   They were not an octave apart as suggested Ken...So I'll text her and ask the VSL and then she should be able to string it up.   Her sweet husband strung it last.  What I was wondering also would be if anyone knew of any dulcimer club there in San Antonio and via that...............someone could give her advice and or sting it up right with the right set of strings.  I bet if she went to a music store there, she'd get some help as well.  I'll get back with you on the VSL.   thanks soooooooooo very much, aloha, irene

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 weeks ago
539 posts

Irene, before recommending string gauges, we should know the vibrating string length of the dulcimer and whether the strings are in unison pairs or octave pairs. your friend could also use the Strother's string gauge calculator to determine what strings she needs. http://www.strothers.com/string_choice.html

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

IRENE
IRENE
@irene
2 weeks ago
89 posts

I have a "fairly newbie" QUESTION for my newbie friend that took her dulcimer to San Antonio and wants to know if there are any dulcimer folks there?   She will be there for one week, and her dulcimer needs the right gage of strings.  She has a 6 string one and loves to play noter drone style.  I told her tonight that I'll post this question to my friends here.  I check daily sometimes twice daily, so I'll be a looking.   THANKS.  aloha, irene

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 weeks ago
539 posts

I just checked the notice for the Berea gathering. While DAd is not mentioned as tuning, some folks use it even for noter playing. One of the reasons that it is not used much is because you often need to go over to the middle string to get some of the notes for the melody which can be awkward. It is much easier to use a 1 - 5 - 5 tuning as you seldom have to go over to the center string for melody.

Now to answer your question about noter length. When I first started playing I used a noter about 2 1/2 to 3 inches long. Now I tend to use ones from 4 to 5 inches and 3/8th to a half inch thick.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Pondoro
Pondoro
@pondoro
2 weeks ago
16 posts

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? 

 

Thanks!!


updated by @pondoro: 01/05/19 09:32:34PM