Dusty I watched the video by David Beede. He is a fret board resonator believer which affects the soundboard so is probably in agreement with Doug Berch. His plastic card affects the soundboard not the bottom board otherwise there would be no difference, so it seems to prove that the top / fret board is more the resonator than the bottom.
If this is true the Piezo goes on the bottom?
Thanks. The contention that the discussion is having, is that there is nothing resonating from the fret board or the top. All resonance comes from the bottom, as some believe. However, if that were true, I would think concentration would go into the bottom for better sound tone woods, and not the top, plus film piezo's when installed would be placed attached to the bottom and not the top. Obviously the entire unit vibrates, top bottom sides, but the sound board I would think is what makes the difference. Size of the sound box and type of sound tone wood on the top.Doug Berch designs his units with the fretboard in mind, believing the sound transmits from the fret board primarily. Even if so, it would enter the top before the bottom, so no contention. I did play with the pickup on the gibson and found that no quality came (dull) out of the side, or bottom but I found a spot on the sound board beside the bridge and slightly down from the sound hole that was the best. I also ordered another Ksime to use on the McSpadden, as the Schaller was too powerful for the small sound board. It was picking up everything and then some even from the next room. I know there are a lot of theories and each promotes their dulcimer designs the best. It becomes very confusing. I know woods, I know what to expect and what they can do, but my training seems to be put to the test, with unusual theories and ideas that I know cannot be good dynamically or acoustically.
Nathina, if you play the dulcimer in a traditional style, meaning it sits on your lap, the back cannot vibrate much at all. That is one of the main reasons dulcimers have so much less volume than guitars. The other reason is that the fingerboard traditionally lays right across the top, so the top can't vibrate much at all. One reason some people get dulcimers with a false or galaz bottom is to allow the bottom to vibrate more, getting more volume.
But I don't see this as a choice. Both the top and the bottom vibrate, but both are limited by the structure of the dulcimer. If you want some proof that the top vibrates, check out this video by David Beede demonstrating his decoupled tailpiece . Basically the more restrained the top, the brighter the sound, the less restrained the top, the louder and more mellow is the sound. If you want proof that the bottom vibrates, put it on your lap and strum a chord, then while the chord is sounding, lift the dulcimer up. You will get a burst of volume as the bottom is allowed to vibrate.
I have one dulcimer with a pickup on the bottom and I don't like it very much. To get a decent sound I need to play with an equalizer to get decent separation. The internal pickup I like the best is in my McCafferty dulcimer. It's a K & K Sound twin spot piezo, so there are actually two different spots transmitting sound. Unfortunately, I don't know where those spots are, although I have to correspond with him on something else and I'll try to remember to ask.
If I am not mistaken, you have a pickup that attaches to the outside of the dulcimer. Play around with that, putting it in different places. I think you'll discover a lot about where the most resonant places on your dulcimer are.
Dusty T., Northern California
As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Both of my dulcimers which have built in pickups have the pickup under the saddle/bridge. They are cut in to a slot in the fret board. I'll see if I can get a good photo of this tomorrow and post it here. Here is the one I put in my Folkcraft dulcimer. https://www.folkcraft.com/products/baggs-dulcimer-pickup-2851700
"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."
Reading Ron Gibson notes, he believes that the soundboard (top) is the vibrating resonator. Doug Berch believes it is the fret board, which is ok since the fret board will resonate and the top soundboard will pick it. Obviously others believe it is the bottom of the dulcimer that resonates. Yet the supports which I will call stays, are glued to the bottom and I have also read that up to five stays can be used. Those opposed to extra supports say that it dulls the sound. Have I fallen into a can of worms of opposing ideas from different luthiers?
Additionally all the piezos I have seen used are placed either as stick ons on the top, or film under the top and not on the bottom. This is more than confusing.
updated by @nathina: 11/15/20 07:46:38PM
I guess it is different than an HD. Thus even more important is two nicely matched boards or a solid one for the back. So then tops outside of being pretty are insignificant since the back is what resonates. Didn't know that according to Benjamin Collie Seymour. And we should be placing piezos on the bottom then?