Paul Certo
Paul Certo
@paul-certo
8 years ago
242 posts

Unless you need both the 6 and 6+ frets in the same song. Then you could find the two notes far enough apart to be cumbersome, in some songs. Over The Waterfall uses both, but not close together. The A part uses one, the B part uses the other.

Paul Certo
Paul Certo
@paul-certo
8 years ago
242 posts

The 6+ fret is not for DAA tuning, rather it is to get the DAA notes while tuned to DAD. The 6+ is almost never used in a tuning such as DAA. It helps you to njot retune as much. But the same thing can be accomplished by retuning, or by playing  the melody on the middle string when tuned to DAD. Tougher to do for noter players, easier for fingerdancers.

marg
@marg
8 years ago
616 posts

   Practicing 'Ave Maria' there are a few 6+ needed and I am doing a bit of it all. There is one point on the middle string where I slide from 4 to 5 to 9 back down to 5 than 4 than 1 to 2. Beautiful, another point I can do a chord and one point I leave alone and just let the last note ring. All going nice, so when I get the little dulcimer with no 6.5, I will be ready and yes, happy with however I play it.

Thanks so much, you guys are great

m.

Guy Babusek
Guy Babusek
@guy-babusek
8 years ago
96 posts

Just make it sound nice, and I'm happy with however you play it.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty
8 years ago
1,724 posts

Rob N Lackey:  6 1/2 on the melody is 9 on the middle so there's not a lot of jumping around.  


I was going to make the same point.  There are many ways to work around a melody for which the dulcimer does not contain a note.  You can skip the note, you can play an alternative note such a harmony note, you can play a chord instead, etc. But there are also ways of finding notes other than those that the frets themselves provide.


With a noter, there is a method of getting any note you want, as Robin Clark demonstrates in this video .  What he calls his "angle noter technique" allows you to get a note in between frets.  And if you play with your fingers, you can bend strings, thus also getting notes in between the frets.  Both of those techniques take some practice, but they open up a whole range of melodic and harmonic possibilities.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
8 years ago
420 posts

Yes, Marg, you can do that.  When I was talking about going all over the fingerboard it was more because I don't use the 1 1/2 fret.   6 1/2 on the melody is 9 on the middle so there's not a lot of jumping around.

 

marg
@marg
8 years ago
616 posts

Without the 6+ in DAd, instead of jumping all over the fretboard finding a note to replace the 6.5, could I play cords for a measure or 2 and get by not having the 6+ that way or do something like a silent strum (if it sounds alright that way)?

Guy Babusek
Guy Babusek
@guy-babusek
8 years ago
96 posts

john p:
Guy Babusek: ... those extra frets also create a chromatic slide which sounds really bad on other tunes, so it really depends on what you are playing as to whether you want extra frets or not ...
This is my only real objection to extra frets, can't get used to it no matter how much I try, too many years playing by ear I guess. Otherwise very useful. The 6.5 allows you to move the root position UP a fifth (Ionian played from the Mixalydian position for example) The 1.5 allows you to move the root position DOWN a fifth (Dorian from the Mixalydian position for example)

Yeah, sometimes those chromatic slides are very out of place. Often when I'm playing an instrument with a lot of extra frets I tend to play across the strings more in order to avoid that.... it really depends on the tune and what I'm going for.

Guy Babusek
Guy Babusek
@guy-babusek
8 years ago
96 posts

Rob N Lackey:
Yeah, Guy, but it sure is "cool" to play all over the fretboard.  In 2014 I was playing with some folks (fiddle, bass, autoharp) at the local farmer's market. The fiddler called out "Over the Waterfall," one that I use the 6th fret on the bass string to get the C natural in the A part.  After we were finished I heard someone say, "boy, they ran that guy with the dulcimer all over that thing."  It was  pretty nice that they noticed.

Very true, Rob!  It's fun to play all over the board like that! As in everything, it really all depends on the tune, and the sound you are going for!

marg
@marg
8 years ago
616 posts

 ken & dusty, thanks for the articles. Seems I read some of your discussions awhile back but made more sense this time around. May still take time on understanding the modes.

I do like the 6+ for DAd but any more frets I don't want, They get in my way. But to have a dulcimer with a beautiful tone that's great for DAA  would also be nice to have the 6.5 for DAd - a great go to for me.

Thanks everyone for lots of good comments, all very helpful. 

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty
8 years ago
1,724 posts

 Marg, a while back I posted a discussion entitled " What are 1/2 frets and do I need any ." Although you've clearly gotten very good advice here, you might find that post helpful.  My thoghts on this topic can be found there, so I won't repeat myself.

 

Ken and I are clearly opposites here. He plays  strictly noter/drone on a true diatonic fretboard.  I play across all the strings on dulcimers with one and increasingly two extra frets.  However, we agree on one thing: if you have an older instrument without the 6+ fret, keep it as is in its traditional form rather than butcher it for modern usage.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Salt Springs
Salt Springs
@salt-springs
8 years ago
207 posts

Ken Hulme:
Read my article on Modes and Modal Tunings called The Uncontrite Modal Folker, here:  http://fotmd.com/forums/forum/dulcimer-resourcestabs-books-websites-dvds/15050/the-uncontrite-modal-folker There are seven Modes and Modal tunings, each of which has a traditional Keynote associated with it.  The Keynote is the note to which the bass string is tuned: Mode...........Keynote.............TuningAeolian..............A...................traditional tuning AEGLocrian..............B...................typical tuning Bb F GIonian................C....................traditional tuning CGGDorian...............D...................traditional tuning DAGPhrygian............E...................typical dulcimer tuning E Bb GLydian...............F....................typical dulcimer tuning F E BbMixolydian........G...................traditional tuning GDg Other common (but not Modal) tunings are Bagpipe (1-8-8, such as Ddd), Galax (8-8-8, such as ddd) and Merv Rowley's 1-3-5 tuning.  


 This is a great post Ken................thinking about changing my user name to the Impolite Bi-folkaled Moder, in your honor............

Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
8 years ago
420 posts

Yeah, Guy, but it sure is "cool" to play all over the fretboard.  In 2014 I was playing with some folks (fiddle, bass, autoharp) at the local farmer's market. The fiddler called out "Over the Waterfall," one that I use the 6th fret on the bass string to get the C natural in the A part.  After we were finished I heard someone say, "boy, they ran that guy with the dulcimer all over that thing."  It was  pretty nice that they noticed.

john p
john p
@john-p
8 years ago
173 posts

Guy Babusek:
 ... those extra frets also create a chromatic slide which sounds really bad on other tunes, so it really depends on what you are playing as to whether you want extra frets or not ...

This is my only real objection to extra frets, can't get used to it no matter how much I try, too many years playing by ear I guess. Otherwise very useful.

The 6.5 allows you to move the root position UP a fifth (Ionian played from the Mixalydian position for example)

The 1.5 allows you to move the root position DOWN a fifth (Dorian from the Mixalydian position for example)

Guy Babusek
Guy Babusek
@guy-babusek
8 years ago
96 posts

Interestingly enough, in order to play many of tunes that are in Mixolydian mode (especially if you play melody/chord), the so-called "Mixolydian tuning" doesn't work too well, unless you have the 1.5 fret.  I find that the 1-4-8 (C-F-C) tuning works better for those tunes if I'm not using the 1.5 fret. Otherwise you have to jump up to the bass string 6th fret to get the flat 7 on the melody if it dips below the tonic, which most of them do.


updated by @guy-babusek: 01/06/16 10:46:10AM
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
8 years ago
2,120 posts

Read my article on Modes and Modal Tunings called The Uncontrite Modal Folker , here: 

http://fotmd.com/forums/forum/dulcimer-resourcestabs-books-websites-dvds/15050/the-uncontrite-modal-folker

There are seven Modes and Modal tunings, each of which has a traditional Keynote associated with it.  The Keynote is the note to which the bass string is tuned:

Mode...........Keynote.............Tuning
Aeolian..............A...................traditional tuning AEG

Locrian..............B...................typical tuning Bb F G
Ionian................C....................traditional tuning CGG
Dorian...............D...................traditional tuning DAG
Phrygian............E...................typical dulcimer tuning E Bb G
Lydian...............F....................typical dulcimer tuning F E Bb
Mixolydian........G...................traditional tuning GDg

Other common (but not Modal) tunings are Bagpipe (1-8-8, such as Ddd), Galax (8-8-8, such as ddd) and Merv Rowley's 1-3-5 tuning.

 


updated by @ken-hulme: 01/06/16 07:37:17AM
marg
@marg
8 years ago
616 posts

Thank you guys, John, Rob, Ken & Guy.

    Your answers was why I placed the question since I feel a good instrument shouldn't be messed with. I am looking at a '81 W. May, you are right on that ken one of Warren's older ones. I was thinking, I wouldn't think twice on a knock around dulcimer to add a fret but one that is well made by good luthier who knows how to make good dulcimers shouldn't be touched. Not for resale but for the value of his art and the dulcimer he made.

   I like the term 'grasshopper' since I may end of becoming one, if I want to play some tunes needing a 6.5. I guess my next question would be, how many traditional tunings are there and what are they?

Thanks again guys,

marg.

Guy Babusek
Guy Babusek
@guy-babusek
8 years ago
96 posts

It's great to have several dulcimers: A diatonic, one with the 6.5 and 13.5, one with the 1.5 and 8.5, one chromatic, a baritone, a soprano... one dulcimer doesn't always fit all!

Some tunes really do need extra frets no matter how you try to figure out the tuning; but those extra frets also create a chromatic slide which sounds really bad on other tunes, so it really depends on what you are playing as to whether you want extra frets or not.

I like the 1.5 on a lot of my mixolydian tunes. True, I also play them on the diatonic tuned to 1-4-8, but the voicings aren't always to my liking... so I always have to let my ear be the judge, not my sense of "tradition," whatever that means.


updated by @guy-babusek: 01/03/16 11:31:06AM
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
8 years ago
2,120 posts

As mentioned above, you don't "need" a 6+ fret.  It may be handy, but you don't NEED it, and some of the best players ever do not use it.  NO traditional tuning requires a 6+ fret (1-3-5 or other modern tunings may, but I don't know them well enough to say so).  The dulcimer, without any additional frets, works just fine as long as you are willing to accept it for what it is, and not try to make a guitar out of it.

If you are buying older instruments by "name" builders, you are probably best off not adding a 6+ fret (or doing any other tweaking of the fretboard, as doing so can seriously affect the resale value of the instrument, no matter who installs the fret.  If you have a Warren May instrument that does not have a 6+ fret and you just can't do without one, even having Warren install the fret will affect the resale value if someone is looking for "style X" and finds it but with a 6+ fret that should not be there...  If you want a Warren May with a 6+ fret, buy one of his newer ones with that fret, don't mess with an older one.

You asked "How hard is it to find another note, like middle 9 in place of the 6.5 when playing in DAA? Where else would I find the note to replace the 6.5 in other tunings?"  That is your challenge, should you choose to accept it, Grasshopper.


updated by @ken-hulme: 01/03/16 10:59:22AM
Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
8 years ago
420 posts

Well, Marg, this question usually opens up quite  a can of worms!  1st.  Do you "need" a 6 1/2 fret?  No, you don't "need" it.  Listen to Robert Force and the late Roger Nicholson, neither of which ever had one on their instruments.  Is it a convenience?  Absolutely!  Tunings really aren't the issue here since Force uses DAd without the 6 1/2 fret.  Michael Rugg told me in an email last year that he still prefers an instrument without one and he's a DAd player as well.  2nd. Looking for the "right" note on a "pure" diatonic fretboard is (to me) part of the fun of playing the dulcimer.  [I use the term "pure" before the word diatonic solely to indicate there are NO extra frets on the fretboard.  I do NOT intend to imply it's in some way better.]  4th.  I would not add a fret to any instrument but neither would I take one out of an instrument which had one.   3rd.  (yes, I know I went out of order.)  Any good luthier (instrument maker/repairman) should be able to add one if that's what you decide to do.  However, if there was a good dulcimer maker, whose work I trusted to be "right on" as far as intonation is concerned, I would use him. 

One of the reason I have several dulcimers is that some of them are diatonic, some have a 6 1/2 fret.  I enjoy playing on both and keep several of them tuned differently for quick change in jam sessions with fiddlers.  You'll see me with 3 and maybe 4, usually 2 without 1/2 frets, and 2 with 6 1/2 frets, all at the ready so if the fiddler says June Apple, I have one tuned to A or which can go to A with the adjustment of only one string.  You can't have enough dulcimers. 

John Gribble
John Gribble
@john-gribble
8 years ago
124 posts

You ask interesting questions. None of the "traditional" tunings, that is, tunings used to play in the various modes, "need" the 6.5 fret, assuming you're not trying to chord much

I play mainly in DAA, but use the 6.5 to play harmonizing lines on the low string. I also like playing in DAG because the 6.5 give me a really nice blues third.

Adding a fret shouldn't be particularly difficult to a knowledgeable guitar tech, but it is easier to do as part of the original build.

How old is "older"? Pre-1970? If you're talking about a vintage handmade instrument or one built by a noted maker no longer living or active, I wouldn't do it. Otherwise, I don't think it matters much. 

I hope someone more experienced than me chimes in. 

marg
@marg
8 years ago
616 posts

With older dulcimers, many do not come with the 6.5 fret.  There is the choice of adding one or leaving as is.

Questions:

Are there any other tunings besides DAA that don't need the 6.5 fret? 

How hard is it to find another note, like middle 9 in place of the 6.5 when playing in DAd? Where else would I find the note to replace the 6.5 in other tunings? 

Can a guitar builder or repair person put a fret in or just better to have a dulcimer maker do it?

Is it better to keep the older dulcimer in it's traditional state and just have another newer dulcimer for playing tunings like DAD needing a 6.5 fret?

 


updated by @marg: 06/08/16 09:24:05PM