Where are all the dulcimers by Gary Gallier, Bonnie Carol, Jerry Rockwell, David Beede, Dwain Wilder, . . .?

D. Chitwood
@d-chitwood
last year
145 posts

(edited, you're right, I HAVE..) It's showing $350, Phoenix, yes. Can't tell much about the shape though. Yes, I have a Starsong. Happened upon it at Unicoi last year. I play my Ron Gibson more than anything though, but everytime I pick it up I still say, "Wow...this is a beautiful instrument!"

 


updated by @d-chitwood: 08/27/16 08:39:12PM
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
last year
434 posts

I found a Modern Mountain for sale on Craigslist in Phoenix for $370...that the one?
Did you mean to say you HAVE a Starsong? Wow!




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Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
Site Moderator

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke
D. Chitwood
@d-chitwood
last year
145 posts

There's a MM for sale on craigslist in Arizona right now. Dusty, I thought you had a Gallier. Why did I think that? I have a starsong but I'm only 20 months in and not confident enough to show myself on here. 


updated by @d-chitwood: 08/27/16 08:38:25PM
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
last year
434 posts

Thanks, Dusty!  I should probably send Jim Fox a note and tell him how much I'm enjoying this Little Mule!  The first one I saw was at the Great American Dulcimer Convention at Pine Mtn. State Park in KY last September...Gary Sager was there and I think he sold all the ones he brought.  Either he didn't have one with a 1.5 fret or he did, but it was already promised to someone else, so I didn't get one then.  I had to think about it for about a year, trying them out whenever I saw one again at this festival or that.  But when I picked up THIS one, I couldn't resist, even though I certainly had NO intention of buying a dulcimer while at Dulcimer U this year (Craig came with me this year and was going to be bringing home the one he made from a McSpadden kit that week).  I'm glad you like the tune...it's nice to have some fun, lively ones in my repertoire!




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Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
Site Moderator

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
last year
921 posts

Over the last month I've seen dulcimers for sale by Dwain Wilder, Joellen Lapidus, and Rick Probst.  If only my bank account were as voluminous as my DAD.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

Ain't no money in poetry; that's what sets the poet free.
I've had all the freedom I can stand.
-- Guy Clark
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
last year
921 posts

Wow!  That's tremendous!  I love the tone of that dulcimer and I love your playing. Thanks so much for sharing, Jan.  That's absolutely great!




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

Ain't no money in poetry; that's what sets the poet free.
I've had all the freedom I can stand.
-- Guy Clark
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
last year
434 posts

Dusty, I finally got around to making another audio clip, and it just happens to be with the "Little Mule" soprano dulcimer made by Jim Fox that I bought from Gary Sager of Prussia Valley Dulcimers while at Dulcimer U this summer.  I really like the tone of this little guy (same model as Joy W's, above)...it has a bell-like quality that really resonates with me (ha ha!)

 http://fotmd.com/jan-potts/soundcloud/219/donkey-riding




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Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
Site Moderator

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke

updated by @jan-potts: 08/26/16 01:48:28AM
Sheryl St. Clare
@sheryl-st-clare
2 years ago
335 posts

Ken Hulme:
The problem I see with the d'Addario calculator is that it in the end presupposes you know what gauge or tension you want.  MOST dulcimer players, IMHO, don't know or care about string tension, and they want the calculator to tell them "If I tune this string to D or C, what gauge do I buy?"  Also most players don't know or care about string construction.   Personally I found the calculator difficult to use. Yes, the Strothers Calculator is a bit on the low side, recommendation-wise, but that's not bad a bad thing for the average player, especially since we invariably tell folks that it's a bit low and you can step up on or two gauges easily.

I gave up on the d'Addario calculator when I got to the part where I needed to enter tension. hairpull

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 years ago
921 posts

Thanks, Robin. Every now and then I see a Sunhearth for sale. I know they are very well respected dulcimers.  There was one I should have scooped up on Ebay, for it had a very low asking price, but the seller didn't know who the maker was.  In my dumb honesty, I sent him a message telling him in was a Sunhearth, and suddenly the asking price went way up, beyond my means at the time.

And a lot of people praise their Jerry Rockwell dulcimers. I wish I could hear one live.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

Ain't no money in poetry; that's what sets the poet free.
I've had all the freedom I can stand.
-- Guy Clark
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
2 years ago
904 posts

I have one of the late-Walt Martin's Sunhearth dulcimers-- a Lorraine Lee model-- and it's wonderful instrument.  The tone is lovely, it's easy to play, and the craftsmanship is impeccable.  

Also, I have a cool little instrument-- a small Kentucky hourglass with a diatonic fretboard-- built by Jerry Rockwell.  The noter sounds so fine on this small-waisted instrument.  




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Neil W. Millard
@neil-w-millard
2 years ago
4 posts

Ken,

Just about every dulcimer purchased today gives the gauge of the string that is on the dulcimer.  The d'addario  calculator is much closer to what comes on the dulcimer today.  I tested it on McSpadden, Blue Lion, Folkcraft and Modern Mountain.  So if a player gets a dulcimer used and isn't privy to what came on the instrument from the manufacturer, they can measure bridge to nut and input that into the calculator and get the gauge that will be very close to what the builder intended.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 years ago
1,530 posts

The problem I see with the d'Addario calculator is that it in the end presupposes you know what gauge or tension you want.  MOST dulcimer players, IMHO, don't know or care about string tension, and they want the calculator to tell them "If I tune this string to D or C, what gauge do I buy?"  Also most players don't know or care about string construction.   Personally I found the calculator difficult to use.

Yes, the Strothers Calculator is a bit on the low side, recommendation-wise, but that's not bad a bad thing for the average player, especially since we invariably tell folks that it's a bit low and you can step up on or two gauges easily.


updated by @ken-hulme: 10/28/15 07:47:14PM
Neil W. Millard
@neil-w-millard
2 years ago
4 posts

I found this string calculator at d'addario strings

http://stringtensionpro.com/SelectInstruments

on the select instrument page select Other, scroll to dulcimer and select the size of the fretboard.  A medium comes up with 27" vsl but you can adjust the length as you wish.

You can select by means of gauge or tension.

I find the Strothers site to have too low a tension as a means of calculation.  I think tensions on strings should be in the 20.5 pounds/force realm for a 27"

The gauges the Strothers site kicks out are too low in my opinion.

My Modern Mountain Dulcimers come 12, 14, 26.  I have thought since getting them that the A string was a bit lower tension than the others. by going to a 16 gauge string it would bring all tensions into the 20.5 lbs/force range.

 

Just my two cents.

 

 

Strumelia
@strumelia
2 years ago
1,838 posts

Tom Strothers has now fixed the online string calculator...yay!  It's working again at:

http://strothers.com/string_choice.htm




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
2 years ago
251 posts

I'll be stringing up a new 30 " tomorrow with those string gauges...Robert.

robert schuler
@robert-schuler
2 years ago
251 posts

Just tried the calculator too. Did not work for me either. I thought it was just my computer. Anyway on a 30" scale you need a .009 or .010 for the D .014 for middle A string and a wound .018 for the low D... Robert.

Strumelia
@strumelia
2 years ago
1,838 posts

Ozark i just tried the strothers calculator and I believe it's currently not functioning.  I sent them a message about that.  Please see my recommendation for you in the beginners group where you asked this.  smile




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
ozarklady
@ozarklady
2 years ago
25 posts

I just got on the strothers website to get string calculations on my dulcimer, it is 30" on the VSL but don't understand what all the AAA stuff is. I play in DAA or DAD No I'm not real familiar with the sharps and stuff, so can't read music but I can read the dulcimer notes and love to play. What are the other things on the calculator I need to know?

Susie
@susie
2 years ago
258 posts

My avatar is a custom dulcimer made by Doug Berch in 2014. He makes beautiful dulcimers that have wonderful tone. Mine is curly sassafras over figured walnut. Not only does Doug make very fine dulcimers, he's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. Not to mention, he's the only person to ever win the MD and HD Championship in Winfield in the same year.....quite a musician.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 years ago
1,530 posts

The Bonnie Carol instruments I've seen certainly had actions lower than "nickel & dime" -- very suitable for Chord-Melody (which is what Bonnie habitually plays).

Neil W. Millard
@neil-w-millard
2 years ago
4 posts

Dusty, interesting that you say that about the action on the MMDs.  My first was the cherry and it has what you would say a very low action and a wider fretboard than my poplar one.  It also has a floating bridge.  The poplar one has a higher action and a fixed bridge with a little bit narrower fret board.  I think David wanted to use a piece of Osage Orange wood for the fret and that was the width he had.  That being said the Cherry's strings are farther apart than the Poplar's.  So with out even knowing it, I may have one that is good for flatpicking and one for fingerpicking.  My wife will be very happy if I can cover all playing styles with two dulcimer!

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 years ago
921 posts

Neil W. Millard:
I have two Modern Mountain Dulcimers,  probably not high end as far as price but I like their sound better than the two Blue Lions that friends have.  One is cherry top and sides with a western red cedar bottom with a resonator board. The other is a poplar  bottom and sides with a paulownia sound board no resonator it has a very well rounded sound and unbelievable sustain.  Sill too new a player to do either justice.  Just my two cents.

Neil, I also have a MMD and a Blue Lion as well.  The MMD is made entirely of lacewood and has a false or galax back.  It is my favorite dulcimer for flatpicking. The action is so low that my fingers barely have to touch the strings, so it's really conducive to playing fast.  But I don't like it for fingerpicking. The action is too low for my picking fingers to get ahold of the strings unless I pick right in the strum hollow.  The strings are also close together, which facilitates fast play with a flatpick, but my fat picking fingers have trouble.  The Blue Lion, however, sings when it is played with fingers (no surprise, since Janita Baker mainly fingerpicks).  I realized a long time ago that that instrument sounded good with a flatpick but great with bare fingers.  And the strings are further apart, which caused me trouble when I was trying to flatpick on it but works well with my chubby little digits.

Both of those dulcimers produce big, round, bassy sounds.  Most of the time that's wonderful for the style of music I play. But I do have a couple of songs that require more balance.  That's what my Rick Probst dulcimer is for! It is also loud and round but the middle and melody strings hold their own better against the bass string.

I used to think that someday I would find the single instrument that would be my favorite for everything I do. But to the detriment of my checking account, I now see that different styles of music lead me to different instrument designs.  




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

Ain't no money in poetry; that's what sets the poet free.
I've had all the freedom I can stand.
-- Guy Clark
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 years ago
921 posts

Ken Hulme:
I've played several Bonnie Carol dulcimers.  Even a couple actually made by Bonnie rather than her "team".  They have a beautifully mellow-sweet sound, if you like that sort of thing.  I like the 'high-silvery' sound myself.

Ken, I think your comment gets to the general point that there is no "best" dulcimer out there.  Having played the guitar for 40 years, I do indeed like a mellow-sweet sound.  And in fact, I have a Blue Lion precisely because a noter/drone player found that the big bass drowned out the melody, so she sold it to me. What didn't work for her is exactly what I love about the instrument.  Obviously, different styles of music and different styles of playing lead to different styles of instruments.

 

What was the action like on the Bonnie Carol dulcimers you've played? I know playing with a noter means the action isn't as big a deal as it is for those of us who torture our fingertips, but I'm sure you have a sense of how low the action was.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

Ain't no money in poetry; that's what sets the poet free.
I've had all the freedom I can stand.
-- Guy Clark
Neil W. Millard
@neil-w-millard
2 years ago
4 posts

I have two Modern Mountain Dulcimers,  probably not high end as far as price but I like their sound better than the two Blue Lions that friends have.  One is cherry top and sides with a western red cedar bottom with a resonator board. The other is a poplar  bottom and sides with a paulownia sound board no resonator it has a very well rounded sound and unbelievable sustain.  Sill too new a player to do either justice.  Just my two cents.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 years ago
1,530 posts

I've played several Bonnie Carol dulcimers.  Even a couple actually made by Bonnie rather than her "team".  They have a beautifully mellow-sweet sound, if you like that sort of thing.  I like the 'high-silvery' sound myself.

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

Dusty, The one on the cover of David's "Learning the Mt Dulcimer" DVD was made by the deceased TN luthier.  I believe it was Koa as well.   About 2 years ago it's "twin" was up on Ebay.  Way out of my price range, but I sure did have lust in my heart for it. 

On David's album "Appalachian Dulcimer & Mandolin" he plays a Jerry Rockwell large hourglass set up as a baritone on one cut.

 


updated by @rob-n-lackey: 10/25/15 06:14:44PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 years ago
921 posts

Thanks, Rob. You sure went into the archives for that one.  I now see that Bonnie Carol with the scalloped fretboard in a lot of photos of David. Somewhere I read something about a Nashville Luthier who passed away, and perhaps that confused me.

Anyone else have a Bonnie Carol? How does it sound in the hands of a mortal?




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

Ain't no money in poetry; that's what sets the poet free.
I've had all the freedom I can stand.
-- Guy Clark
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
2 years ago
453 posts

From the Winter 1989 DPN interview with David Schnaufer:

"What Kinds of dulcimers do you play?

   My main one that I've played since 1978 is a Bonnie Carol; it's all koa wood and four-stringed.  I also use a Blue Lion.... The other one I use is a Capritaurus dulcimer also from California made by Micheal Rugg.

How did they come to play in the recording of the album?

   I used the Bonnie Carol on everything but 'Mr Snow;' 'Steel Guitar Rag' and 'Blue Moon of Kentucky."

This would be the "Dulcimer Deluxe" album which was the only one he'd recorded at the time except for his parts on both Alan Freeman's albums "Out of the Cold" (which is Jew's harp only) and "Hogfiddler's Fancy" which they do dulcimer duets.  Not sure about what he would have used, but based on the DPN interview one has to assume it's the Bonnie Carol he used on it as well.

 

joe sanguinette
@joe-sanguinette
2 years ago
95 posts

David's dulcimer could have been one of Bonnie's or.....perhaps one made by several in the Pacific Rim group in the 60's.  it was made

of KOA and had fantastic tone. 

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 years ago
921 posts

Well, Bob, a really bad musician won't sound good no matter what they play. And a really good one will sound great on a great instrument and OK on a bad one.

But I hear a lot of musicians all the time and yet there are many dulcimers by famous luthiers that I have never heard. I know what a McSpadden sounds like. I have no idea what a Bonnie Carol sounds like.

I also know that I sound better on my Blue Lion than I do on that unknown dulcimer I bought for $10 at the flea market that I am tempted to use as kindling.  And when you have really nice instruments that sound great, all you have to do is strum a chord or play a pretty melody.  I've spent a lot of time in recent years learning how to simplify my playing, how to stop trying to impress with a fancy lick but instead how to find the essence of a pretty song and play it on a nice-sounding instrument while I stay out of the way.

I am lucky enough to have accumulated a few of those nice sounding instruments but I know there are others out there and I'd love to hear people playing them.

 




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

Ain't no money in poetry; that's what sets the poet free.
I've had all the freedom I can stand.
-- Guy Clark
Bob Reinsel
@bob-reinsel
2 years ago
102 posts

Dusty, what's more important, the instrument, or the musician?




--
Bob
Site Moderator

The greatest music is made for love, not for money -- Greg Lake
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 years ago
921 posts

Rob, I'll have to give that album another listen.  The videos of Schnauffer always have him playing that unique dulcimer by the now deceased Nashville luthier.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

Ain't no money in poetry; that's what sets the poet free.
I've had all the freedom I can stand.
-- Guy Clark
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
2 years ago
453 posts

Dusty, If you've heard David Schnauffer's Dulcimer Player Deluxe cd, I believe he plays a Bonnie Carol on some of that.  I'll see if I can find out which cuts.

 

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 years ago
921 posts

Bill Davenport:
Thanks Dusty...but...oooo, that hurt. A 10 year old can do it. That's funny! I'll try. Thanks again.

Bill, when you do make a video, please don't make one of Monster High dolls riding stuffed animals to the land of unicorns. I've seen enough of those.blinders




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

Ain't no money in poetry; that's what sets the poet free.
I've had all the freedom I can stand.
-- Guy Clark
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 years ago
921 posts

I would love to hear some of those dulcimers. I've heard one Jerry Rockwell that Stephen Seifert was playing for a while, but he has such sophisticated microphones and all that everything he plays sounds great. I did find one of Rob's videos of a Rockwell as well.  To my knowledge, I've never heard a Bonnie Carol dulcimer, but they sure look beautiful.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

Ain't no money in poetry; that's what sets the poet free.
I've had all the freedom I can stand.
-- Guy Clark

updated by @dusty-turtle: 10/24/15 05:52:21PM
Kristi Keller
@kristi-keller
2 years ago
96 posts

My collection includes 5 Jerry Rockwells, 2 Bonnie Carols (one of which is size of Eedy Beede and more or less is baby version of full size), Beede bass, and assorted others. Each one can provide differing bliss. Will be happy when my left arm and hand heal and I can start playing again. Realized I can still play uke for a while since the neck is mighty familiar after 64 years.

john p
@john-p
2 years ago
212 posts

Never under estimate a 10 year old.

Joy W.
@joy-w
2 years ago
20 posts

I watched the David's video of the Eedy Beede. It, too, is a beautiful instrument with a very lovely sound! Thank you for sharing it.

Bill Davenport
@bill-davenport
2 years ago
81 posts

Thanks Dusty...but...oooo, that hurt. A 10 year old can do it. That's funny! I'll try. Thanks again.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 years ago
921 posts

That looks beautiful, Joy. I have two small dulcimers, the baritone dulcimette I refer to above which I tune to G or A above a standard dulcimer and an octave dulcimer by David Beede (the model he calls the Eedy Beede). Here is a video he made of it before he sent it to me: https://youtu.be/iUW62doRDcc




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

Ain't no money in poetry; that's what sets the poet free.
I've had all the freedom I can stand.
-- Guy Clark
Joy W.
@joy-w
2 years ago
20 posts

Dusty, I call this dulcimer my "Itty Bitty" because it is only 25 inches long. The VSL is 18 inches. I was surprised when I first played it, just how much I liked it. It was a spur-of-the-moment purchase from Gary Sager at Prussia Valley Dulcimers in late August and I've not had a moment's regret since.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 years ago
921 posts

Thanks, folks, for chiming in.  

Rob, I'll have to look at some of your videos. It was actually a comment by Jerry Rockwell that although he had been dealing with some family stuff recently he was going to get back to building which set off this whole thing. I had been considering investing in a really nice dulcimer now that I've managed to pay off some bills, and I realized that I've almost never heard dulcimer by him or Gary Gallier or any of other folk I list above.  I've heard Aaron O'Rourke and Erin Rogers play in person, so I've heard the David Beede dulcimers, but they all seem pretty rare in video.

Joy, I'd love to see and hear that Jim Fox dulcimer.  How short is the scale?  Just today I began re-acquainting myself with my baritone dulcimette by Ron Ewing.  I wrote a cute tune for it, so once I brush the dust off my technique I'll be posting something soon.

Bill, it should be pretty easy to make a video with your iPad.  My 10-year-old daughter does it all the time!




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

Ain't no money in poetry; that's what sets the poet free.
I've had all the freedom I can stand.
-- Guy Clark

updated by @dusty-turtle: 11/28/15 02:44:32AM
Bill Davenport
@bill-davenport
2 years ago
81 posts

I guess I should say. I don't use a laptop anymore. I'm an iPad man. I've got an older canon digital camera that records video. And although I spent a major portion of my telephone career getting data from point A to B I don't know hardware. 

Bill Davenport
@bill-davenport
2 years ago
81 posts

I need to research how to do this. I have two Walter Lay Dulcimers I really love playing. I don't know how to record myself. I'll research but help is appreciated. 

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

I've posted a few with my Jerry Rockwell large hourglass.  It's my absolute favorite dulcimer though I do play others.

Joy W.
@joy-w
2 years ago
20 posts

I haven't one of those that you mentioned, but in addition to my beloved McSpaddens, I have a "Mule" that was built by Jim Fox. It has the best tone I've ever heard from a short scale dulcimer. It's a little hard to pick up in the video that Christine Shoemaker recently posted ("Little Lydia") but I'll try to post a video in the future to showcase the sound. I'll also try to take a photo and post it this weekend. Along with the fabulous tone, it is one of the cutest dulcimers I've ever seen. :-)

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 years ago
921 posts

We know there are lots of fine luthiers out there making high-end dulcimers.  And some of them have long waiting lists, so there must be lots of people buying their dulcimers. Where are they?

 

I would love to see folks playing the fine dulcimers by the luthiers I mention above (and several others as well) but it seems all we can find is another McSpadden or Folkcraft. Those are both wonderful dulcimers, but I wish there were a greater variety of dulcimers in the videos we post.

 

If any of you have a fine, high-end dulcimer, please record yourself playing so we can all enjoy the fine music these wonderful machines make.

 

And if you have one of these high-end dulcimers and are not playing it, please consider putting it on the market so someone else can find it and let it sing to the world!




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

Ain't no money in poetry; that's what sets the poet free.
I've had all the freedom I can stand.
-- Guy Clark

updated by @dusty-turtle: 06/08/16 09:24:05PM