Magnetic pickup vs Piezo vs Mic pointed at dulcimer

Bill Robison
Bill Robison
@bill-robison
2 days ago
31 posts

I tried the magnetic pickup route several years ago. The only drawback was the dulcimer sounded more like a guitar than a dulcimer since it only response to the vibrating string and loses a lot of the traditional  sound of a dulcimer

Butch Ross
Butch Ross
@butch-ross
one month ago
21 posts

I wrote an article about it in 2007. You can read that here  (on page 6)
Dan Evans wrote one more recently. That's  on his website.

Dan and I have different views on under saddle piezo pickups but we both use them the most.

One thing that has changed since these articles were written is that both Folkcraft and Robert Stephens have been working with magnetic pickups (and Jerry Rockwell has been using them for years). With attention finally being given to using them with dulcimers, they begun to sound really good. Folkcraft in particular has a great sounding, small sized magnetic pickup that they wind themselves, they may be willing to sell one to you.

Cindy Stammich
Cindy Stammich
@cindy-stammich
2 months ago
63 posts

This may be off-discussion slightly, but I wanted to add my 2 cents (or maybe only a penny nod )

I have an old acoustic mic (sorry I have had it for years and don't even know the brand).  It used to have a nice clip on it - but that is broken.  The mic is on a bendable wire and fits nicely into almost all of the sound holes on my dulcimers.  My issue was that if you moved or bumped the mic or cord while playing - it of course would amplify the bang.  I was looking and recently found that Scotch Tape makes a wall-safe tape.  It worked wonders - I put the mic in a sound hole and then used the wall-safe tape to secure it.  Voila!  It holds good and the best part is - no residue!

As I said - this may be off-topic a bit, but maybe it would help somebody out there!

Keep strummin' and smilin'!

Cindy

Tilmen
Tilmen
@tilmen
2 months ago
2 posts

I hope I can still find something reasonable on the Internet. Once I saw a man playing with a similar system. I wish I had asked him where he had bought it. Anyway, I hope I can still find and buy it. Actually, it will still be earlier to find this thing than the coolest guitar accessories for my kid. I mean, he plays guitar very well. I bought him an amp a few months ago and sent him to the garage to play. But he never likes the accessories I buy for him. I guess I’d better take him out to the guitar store next time. Anyway, guys, I’d highly appreciate your advice on that system. Can I still find it somewhere?


updated by @tilmen: 09/23/22 06:47:34AM
banjelele
@banjelele
2 years ago
2 posts

I saw a fellow on YouTube playing with a system that clamps on the neck just ahead of the strum hollow and I’m sure he was using a Lawrence acoustic guitar sound hole pickup with the sound hole spring clamp removed. In this application the pickup is inverted over the strings. I have one of those pickups and also a Dean Markley pickup that fits in the sound hole. When I got my copy made I realized that the Bill Lawrence one wouldn’t work unless I removed that clip and I wasn’t willing to do so. I guess I should have built the mount a bit wider. The Dean Markley pickup works fine but has a more compressed sound than the Lawrence. Either way I can now make enough volume to play with guitar players and actually be heard and I don’t have to alter my dulcimer in any way.

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
2 years ago
326 posts

Something useful might be found on the CBGitty website.  They have 3- and 4-pole pickups and flat humbuckers as well.

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 years ago
920 posts

I have two dulcimers with built in piezo under saddle pickups. I think both do a very good job of reproducing the acoustic sound of the instruments. I used stick-on piezo pickups for a long time, but they not only amplified the sound of the strings, but also amplified pick noise and any touching of the dulcimer. Using a microphone can be tricky in that you need to find the proper placement for it. One reason I stopped using a microphone is a sound tech at a festival I was playing at insisted that the mic be suspended over the dulcimer. Well, when the mic slipped out of the holder and fell on top of the dulcimer, that was it for me. I went to direct plug-in.

As to magnetic pickups, I have no experience with them on a dulcimer. I know Folkcraft is now offering them on some models. I am not aware of anyone selling magnetic pickups for dulcimers, but maybe you do.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
2 years ago
419 posts

Since no one has yet answered, I'll give my 2 centavos.  I use a Schatten Dualie stick-on piezo I've had for at least 20 years.  I bought it to amplify nylon string guitars to get that "Willie" sound.  That being said, I also run it through a Boss GE-7 equalizer which has a small preamp built in. Like with the guitar, I run it into whatever amp I have available.  I was given a Roland Microcube this year and I love it. I was using the Squire version of a Frontman 15, which for what it is, a cheap amp, isn't bad at all. For larger gigs I have a Fender Acoustisonic 150. I haven't yet used a magnetic pickup on a dulcimer, however I'm thinking about building a strictly electric instrument with both a piezo and a magnetic.  If you want some input on magnetic pickups, contact Jerry Rockwell.  He also has a unique mounting system he invented to move magnetic pickups from dulcimer to dulcimer.  Think the old Rickenbacker horseshoe in reverse.  

 

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
2 years ago
76 posts

Hello all! With lockdown finally dialing back I have been offered a gig at an antique mall, a barber shop, and a juice bar. Given that I build my own dulcimers I have been faced with the decision of how to amplify my sound so that it can span these venues.

It would be ideal to be able to street perform and make a living off dulcimer in the future, so I'd like to build one that has a beautiful tone that translates well when amplified with a speaker.

For starters a pickup seems to not be affected very much by the tone of the dulcimer itself, as electric dulcimers have much less dynamic tonality than acoustic dulcimers I have heard.
I have been told that the only difference among magnetic pickup dulcimers comes from the pickup chosen (I would appreciate input on which pickups are good for dulcimers) and how much the 'soundboard that the pickup is anchored to' is vibrating matters very little.

I have been told that piezos limit the fidelity of the audio and will leave the instrument sounding duller than if it were an acoustic performance

I have noticed that the vast majority of stage performances with a dulcimer rely on electric pickups to convey the sound, whereas coffee shop performances with a physical microphone pointed at the dulcimer seem to provide much more expression of the instrument itself.

How does it all fit together? For gigging at small venues what is ideal?