thanks, Ken, for your info and encouragement !! I will be sending Robert Force a note about other players .
Can I lessen a pluckier tone
You'll really like that Pritchard! FWIW, there is a hotbed of mountain dulcimer in western WA. Dulcimer godfather Robert Force lives in Port Townsend. Although as the osprey flies it's close, I know it's not easy to get from Camano Island to Port Townsend -- probably faster by boat than car. But if you get in touch with him (through his website www.robertforce.com, he can certainly connect you to other players in the area.
Actually, Ken, I wanted mellow for hymns and slower songs, but ringing strings and noter squeeks are also fine with me. My fingers on the left hand have some problems, so noter playing is great. Having had years of piano and autoharp, singing duets at church, loving many types of music, I drive myself crazy going around singing and whistling constantly. The dulcimer is a sanity saver. I think I've picked up enough in the past couple of months to graduate to a real instrument, so I've asked Kevin Messenger to build me a Pritchard which should be on it's way in a month or so. I hope to "grow into" this instrument as I continue to play. This website is so motivating.
There is very little dulcimer activity in this area (Western Washington State) so internet is the best I've got for now. And I've found quite a bit of info, fascinating stuff!!
Hi betm -- welcome! You're right that those of us who write about dulcimer regularly, may not have mentioned the "strumming up the fretboard rather than in the strum hollow" effect very much; it's one of those things that folks mostly discover for themselves as part of learning about their instrument. I'd guess most people strum up around fret 12-14.
As you can see from this discussion, there are other techniques for getting a "mellow" sound, by changing the kind of pick. When you're ready to step up to a wooden dulcimer, one of the factors you want to look at is the volume of the sound box -- more volume equals more mellow. Two dulcimers with the same top shape and dimensions - the one with the deeper side will sound more mellow. Just something to watch for.
I used to like mellow 'baritone-ish sounding dulcimers, but over the years have come to appreciate more the "high-silvery" soundof the narrow/shallow traditional instruments. Each to his/er own!
Hi All, Totally new here...but I was looking for info on mellow strumming. Actually I have found by experimenting that if you strum on the fingerboard and not in the strum hollow, the sound is vastly different. I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere but I haven't listened to or read everything yet! So now I have two sounds on my cardboard beginner's unit - dulcimer and mellow dulcimer. Makes my practicing even more fun !
A very bad photo of the 2-Tone Picks - sorry, some are on the leather side & some are on the reg. pick side. You can see once I got started I did several.
Ken, I did have some felt uke picks & I ended up putting leather on one side of them also. Taking just the picks I have collected but don't use for one reason or another and adding leather to one side.
I ended up finding some scrap leather in a bag at Hobby Lobby, several different types & had a coupon so the whole bag only cost about $3-$4. I was curious if the different leathers would also make a difference & I think they do depending on if they were thin or thicker, rough or smooth.
I haven't seen any other 2- sided picks so wonder why non of the pick companies have come up with something like this. Anyway, having just gotten my new for me dulcimer and not liking the tone, led me to a very interesting creative way of taking care of the problem. It is interesting where changing the strings up or down a bit doesn't make much difference & yes I could change the tunings but wanted it in DAd for a performance coming up - trying different picks make a big noticeable difference. I would say, the leather does mellow out the sound so if you like a very bright sound a leather pick may not be for you, but then you have the other side also and can have bright on one side & mellow on the other.
Always an adventure, always glad when we are on it together.
WOW, what a difference a leather pick makes with toning down the plucky tone
Interesting a 2 tone pick: I took a pick I didn't like and glued a thin piece of a leather belt on one side, cutting to fit. Love the sound but on some of the picks I made, they sound better on the other side than the leather side.
Has anyone ever thought of a 2 tone pick, bright on one side & mellow on the other side?
Not sure on how the sound matches, But I will say it has such an easy action for hammer on's, better than my other dulcimers. Or it's just louder & brighter so I can here when I put my fingers down up the fretboard, even when not trying a hammer in. As in ' Shoilder's Joy' 4242, etc. when I hit the 4, I hear it before I strum, interesting.
Marg, I did change the strings and I don't think I knew about the "string calculator" at the time. The Heatherwood was the first "good" dulcimer I purchased (off ebay.) It has a standard d'Addario dulcimer set on it right now. Here's a video I did with it:
You can compare the sound to yours
Thanks, I had it with me at our group practice today. I had taken off one of the melody strings, it was plenty loud enough without it. One member tuned it to DGd and really liked it, another put it back to DAd and played it the whole practice. We talked about maybe making it into a bass but they all thought it was nice as it was. Also going to heavier strings for a bass would need to address the slots for the wider strings to sit in.
Ha, maybe it's me. I like mellow better than bright & not as loud. All in growing and learning in this dulcimer adventure. I will say sitting across from it I like it better than when I am holding it & strumming. Maybe ken has something with making a recording.
I will continue to play with it until I can settle on it's voice.
I don't think changing the string[s] a few .001's is going to make much of a difference in the sound, you're still at the same frequency. I suggest you consider trying strings/tuning it as a bass or baritone if the sound really bothers you. Playing a tune using the bass string or the middle string for the melody may give you some indication of what the sound could become.
thanks but I have now (I tuned it for DAdd, .11 for melody, .14 for A & the bass has either a 22w or 24w but I'm not caring for the sound.)
I was wondering if as Cedar Creek says (Standard "G" tuning: .10 for melody & middle strings & .18 for the bass, giving it the pluckier tone.) if rob had changed his strings if he is in DAd & what he has on his now.
I am not sure how you could use just .10 for all 3 strings in "G" tuning, unless I am reading the string calculator wrong
For a 26.5" VSL and DAd tuning, the Strothers calculator calls for 10 gauge melody string(s), 13 gauge middle drone strings, and a 20w for the bass. You can easily go one or more gauges higher, as the Strothers' calculator is notedly "light". Try 11 or 12 for the Melody, 14 for the Middle and 22w or 24w for the bass.
( I have kept it in DAd, but I'm thinking about making it my DAA instrument. It needs restringing anyway so heavier strings might be in order. )
Did your dulcimer come with strings (.010 for melody and middle strings and .018 for the bass.)
and how does this work for DAd, or do you have other sizes on now?
It may be that there is a LOT of soundhole and you're hearing the dulcimer more. Make a recording and play it back and see what you think. You can also try muffling the near side sound holes temporarily by taping a piece of cloth or soft foam over them and see what that sounds like.
My understanding of Heatherwood was that it was 2 people (maybe a couple) who had worked for the Ford's at Cripple Creek. They left them and started Heatherwood. I'm not sure if they died or just quit. There were still some phone listings on-line for them a few years ago. I like the gap between the end of the fingerboard and the bridge. Nothing to get in the way if I use a pick or strum violently with my fingers. I have kept it in DAd, but I'm thinking about making it my DAA instrument. It needs restringing anyway so heavier strings might be in order. However, that will be after my diatonic year with no extra frets. ROFL
What do you think about the fret board stopping and having a floating bridge hanging out in the open?
Strange but when played with my fingers or slowing with the pick on one note at a time, sounds very nice but when I strum across all the strings I hear strings not the notes.
What do you have yours tune to?
Nice. Marg. I have a Heatherwood with the same appointments, schooner medallion, gull soundholes. Mine is different wood tho'. I like the sound of it even tho' I don't play it a lot. It's got nothing in common with a banjo even tho' it's tone is a little higher than my Rockwell.
pluckier - loud, bright, metal ring tone.
Hard to say but not mellow which I was hoping changing the strings & tuning from "G" to DAdd would do but it just doesn't help the sound. Sounds more like it's out of tune but isn't. Maybe I just don't like a tone of a banjo on a dulcimer.
It would help to the VSL (vibrating string length) of the dulcimer. Measure it from the inside of the nut (fretboard side) to the inside of the bridge. Also, I have not idea what a "pluckier" sound is. Is it high pitched? bright? shrill?
"The dulcimer sings a sweet song.
A 4-String dulcimer that looks and plays like a dulcimer, but has the pluckier loud tone of a banjo!
I just picked up a Heatherwood dulcimer, James Cryer invented this style and sold it under his own label in the Cedar Creek store years ago.
Suggested - Standard "G" tuning: .10 for melody & middle strings & .18 for the bass, giving it the pluckier tone.
I tuned it for DAdd, .11 for melody, .14 for A & the bass has either a 22w or 24w but I'm not caring for the sound. Is there a way to make it a bit less pluckier or is the "G" the best tuning for itthis dulcimer
Does anyone have this dulcimer? Image not mine but looks just like this one
updated by @marg: 07/09/18 03:52:59PM