Gold Tone Dulciborn - thoughts, reviews?

Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
4 years ago
421 posts

[quote="marg"]

I went through Gold Tone in buying mine. I think if they spent a bit more time on fixing their design they would have a great instrument but it seems to be a hit & miss still.

[/quote

For whatever reason (time, money, ego issues, whatever), I think you're correct that consistency just isn't there.  I know that my supplier does not have the instruments shipped to him; he personally goes to the factory and hand selects the ones that he will take home and work on and get ready to sell.  I guess they need to have someone like him on staff--someone who knows how a dulcimer player, who buys this, is going to want it set up.  As far as looks go, they sell themselves.  And if you just strum it a few times you may think WOW, this is for me!  I know not everyone can sit and play an instrument for several hours (I played this one throughout the entire vendor set up hours at DulcimerU), but take as much time as you can to decide if an instrument is really for you when buying at a show or a store.  Of course if the instrument changes considerably after you've brought it home....ACK!  No one seems to have the answer for everyone about how--or whether--to display or store dulcimers...I think it depends on the humidity and temperature changes at each location.  That being said, I have some I always store in cases and some I never put in a case!




--
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
marg
@marg
4 years ago
538 posts

I don't have a  'scalloped fretboard' 

My dulciborn was part of the new models they were hoping was going to fix some of their earlier problems.

    My only issue was the action & that was corrected. I went through Gold Tone in buying mine. I think if they spent a bit more time on fixing their design they would have a great instrument but it seems to be a hit & miss still. I do like mine & have had it about 2.5 years now. It is much easier to play if it is out on a stand and not in it's case, I wonder if location has something to do with leaving them out or putting the back in their case. It is a very nice case, one of the nicest cases I have for any of my dulcimers.

alan kolman
alan kolman
@alan-kolman
4 years ago
5 posts

hi marg - yes, it's one of the scalloped fretboards, and it warped into bumps and valleys. the factory did an excellent job fixing the problem; however, their customer service skills were not as well honed. i now leave the dulciborn in its case when not being played, and throw in a moist sponge inside a two piece soap dish w/the top perforated. seems to work well.

as a postscript to dusty's welcome share about frets, i need to add that mike clemmer was nice enough to work on my bridge  to improve the intonation on this dulciborn a great deal, which further illustrates the need for an excellent luthiers help to make this a truly playable instrument.

marg
@marg
4 years ago
538 posts

alan,

( keep it hydrated and cased)  

What happen to your fretboard & is your dulciborn one with the scallop fretboard (like in the videos below) or one that fits flat to the body, a newer model? 


updated by @marg: 02/16/17 11:27:45PM
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
4 years ago
1,455 posts

I think Alan touches on a couple of critical issues here.  The first is that nearly all of these instruments need some kind of work on the fretboard to make them playable.  Why is that?  A weissenborn guitar does not have frets.  You don't play it like a guitar. You play it like a dobro, meaning the strings are lifted up above the fretboard and you use a slide--or tone bar--in the left hand to create the notes on the strings.  So when modifying this design for a dulcimer, we have a big problem, don't we?  We have to add frets to be able to fret the strings with a finger or noter, which mandates carefully plotting the frets on the fretboard and also getting the action right so that it will both be comfortable and also have correct intonation.  This makes a hybrid weissenborn/dulcimer different than those banjo/dulcimer or ukulele/dulcimer hybrids since those other instruments also have frets and are therefore build with appropriate action.

I personally love the sound of the dulciborn, but I think that's because I grew up on guitars rather than dulcimers, so I am still attracted to that deep, rich, round tone rather than the traditional high silvery tone of dulcimers.  And people like FOTMD's own Christine Shoemaker demonstrate clearly what this instrument has to offer.  However, I think Gold Tone dropped the ball by launching the sale of these instruments before fixing the action/intonation problem.  I would encourage anyone buying one (even used) to contact Gold Tone and have them fix the instrument rather than paying someone at your local guitar shop.

In terms of organology, we have always been taught that instruments in the zither family are strung across the box, whereas instruments in the lute family are strung along a neck. That is what Matt Berg refers to below.  But the weissenborn itself is already a hybrid between the two because the neck is hollow, and therefore a continuation of the box, allowing the sound to vibrate within. So it is already a hybrid zither/lute.  Removing some of the frets for a diatonic fretboard is a minor change to what is already a mutt of an instrument.

Of course, I use the term "mutt" in an endearing way, as my own little furry guy knows. toivo




--
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
alan kolman
alan kolman
@alan-kolman
4 years ago
5 posts

hi - i also play a dulciborn because i enjoy it's richer tones and sustain. bought it from john hawk 3 years ago and play it every day. before it was a year old it needed to have the fretboard re-engineered by the goldtone factory; there are several different editions w/attempts to fix this nearly-universal problem; all w/limited success. if you can find a good used dulciborn, keep it hydrated and cased, once you get used to its larger body i think you'll come to appreciate this sweet instrument, whatever people want to call it.    

alan 

marg
@marg
4 years ago
538 posts

Christine Shoemaker  dulciborn: :

 &

Frank Ledgerwood or flwoods1 playing his dulciborn:

 &

 John Hawk  dulciborn: :

    There are many more videos of the dulciborn, each piece played sounds so different. The players above are or were members here on FOTMD. The range of sounds you can get with the dulciborn is what let me to getting one. I usually just play mine at home on my patio over looking a small lake, it is heavy to carry but have taken it out. One of the players in the group I play with will use hers to lead us into a song. 

    Best would be if you could play one before buying to check it out and see if it's what you want. I got mine from Gold Tone & told them I wanted a low action but still it came high, so I needed to set it up before I could play. I sometimes wonder if they were set up more for a guy's hands, ones having more strength. The bridge is bone so sanding it down took some time but it is easy to play now & I enjoy having it. 

Good luck

 

Paula Brawdy
Paula Brawdy
@paula-brawdy
4 years ago
49 posts

One additional note to Gale is to purchase one you can see and play... or buy it from someone who sets them up right before selling them... The strings are usually a little high on the original set up and they lower the action if that is the case... I don't know John Hawk who sold one to Jan in the note below, but he may be a possibility for you if you decide to purchase.    You get a lot for your money in this instrument.  Including a nice hard case, a pickup,  etc.

Paula Brawdy
Paula Brawdy
@paula-brawdy
4 years ago
49 posts

Jan Potts:

Paula, yes, I'm playing with just one melody string, having removed one of the 2 it came with.  That's the way I usually play (thanks to Don Pedi who first encouraged me 5 years ago to take one off!).  Mine does have a pick up, but I didn't want to go looking for cords and amp, etc., so I just recorded the audio clip using the Voice Recorder on my laptop.

I purchased my Dulciborn from John Hawk, who works really hard at getting the set up just as perfect as possible before bringing them to a venue for sale.  Mine didn't need any extra work when I bought it 3 1/2 years ago.  But I hadn't played it in awhile when I got it out yesterday, and the action did seem higher than what my Gallier has.  When I made the recording I had been noodling around on it for several hours and had gotten "used to it" again.  I know when I bought it back in 2013, I sat and played it for 2 or 3 hrs before deciding to purchase it.  Mine also has a 1.5 fret--which is something I like to have on ALL my dulcimers! 

I am going to remove my one melody string.  I can hear when you play the melody string ring out crisp which I like.    Mine also has the 1.5 fret as well, and I like that too.      Paula

 

 

Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
4 years ago
421 posts

Paula, yes, I'm playing with just one melody string, having removed one of the 2 it came with.  That's the way I usually play (thanks to Don Pedi who first encouraged me 5 years ago to take one off!).  Mine does have a pick up, but I didn't want to go looking for cords and amp, etc., so I just recorded the audio clip using the Voice Recorder on my laptop.

I purchased my Dulciborn from John Hawk, who works really hard at getting the set up just as perfect as possible before bringing them to a venue for sale.  Mine didn't need any extra work when I bought it 3 1/2 years ago.  But I hadn't played it in awhile when I got it out yesterday, and the action did seem higher than what my Gallier has.  When I made the recording I had been noodling around on it for several hours and had gotten "used to it" again.  I know when I bought it back in 2013, I sat and played it for 2 or 3 hrs before deciding to purchase it.  Mine also has a 1.5 fret--which is something I like to have on ALL my dulcimers! 




--
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
@dusty-turtle
4 years ago
1,455 posts

 There have been more than one discussion about the dulciborn here on FOTMD.  The instrument has a deep and rich sound, more similar to guitar than a dulcimer.  But several people bought the instrument and found the action too high to be played comfortably.  Many of those people who have found success with it had to have serious work done on the fretboard to make it playable. If I can find those older conversations I'll edit this post and provide links.

Edit:

Dulciborn




--
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

updated by @dusty-turtle: 02/14/17 06:32:52PM
Paula Brawdy
Paula Brawdy
@paula-brawdy
4 years ago
49 posts

Jan Potts:


I have one, love it, but find I don't take it many places because it is so much larger and heavier (in its special case) than the small Gallier A-frame I usually use.  Because you lay it on your lap like a dulcimer and play it from above, you avoid the need to wrap your hand around the head of the instrument, as you would do with a guitar.  When you have arthritis, this may be a movement your hand can no longer do--such was the case for me.  I like that it sounds like a guitar, and I like that I can do fingerpicking on it so easily and I could never do fingerpicking on a guitar!  Yes, it's a hybrid--but so's my Prius! As far as I'm concerned, it combines good things from both instruments.  Here's a rough recording of Loch Lomond showing how it sounds.




sounds fabulous!!!   Did you have it hooked up to an amp?   Second question, did you take one of the melody strings off?   I can only hear one...I am debating on taking one of mine off as I usually only have one melody string!   Nice job playing this song!!   

Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
4 years ago
421 posts

I have one, love it, but find I don't take it many places because it is so much larger and heavier (in its special case) than the small Gallier A-frame I usually use.  Because you lay it on your lap like a dulcimer and play it from above, you avoid the need to wrap your hand around the head of the instrument, as you would do with a guitar.  When you have arthritis, this may be a movement your hand can no longer do--such was the case for me.  I like that it sounds like a guitar, and I like that I can do fingerpicking on it so easily and I could never do fingerpicking on a guitar!  Yes, it's a hybrid--but so's my Prius! As far as I'm concerned, it combines good things from both instruments.  Here's a rough recording of Loch Lomond showing how it sounds.

m4a
Loch Lomond.m4a  •  2.7MB




--
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
Paula Brawdy
Paula Brawdy
@paula-brawdy
4 years ago
49 posts

I have one.   I love it...  It does have the 1 1/2 fret added, and was set up by a luthier to make the action at the right height.  They have a very full sound.  They also have a pickup (at least mine does) and so you can plug it into an amp as well.     They are much larger on your lap than a regular dulcimer.  OVerall, fun to play.   I nice addition to your collection, (if you don't have one, you probably will have a collection!)

Dan Goad
Dan Goad
@dan-goad
4 years ago
156 posts

Gale, you may want to check fellow member, Christine Shoemaker's page.  She has posted numerous videos with her Gold Tone.  In fact, it may have been Chris that you saw at Evert.

Matt Berg
Matt Berg
@matt-berg
4 years ago
75 posts

Gale,

Please keep in mind that, just because an instrument has a diatonic fretboard, it does not automatically become a dulcimer.  The dulciborn is really an instrument called a Weissenborn to which a diatonic fretboard has been added and two strings removed.  The Weissenborn and dulciborn are very solidly in the guitar family.  The main difference is that, being in the zither family, the dulcimer has its strings all the way across the soundbox.  A Weissenborn/Dulciborn, being in the guitar family, has the string attached to the soundboard and does not stretch across the entire soundbox.

Musicians who can play the dulcimer will find the transition to a dulciborn easier.  However, as with those who play the Gallier "dulcimer" (actually a three course lap guitar), you will find that your instrument sounds like a guitar, even when playing dulcimer songs.

As most of our ear are very used to hearing a guitar, this instrument may sound more familiar to your ears.  Instrument sound is a choice a musician makes.  If you like the sound, play it.

Matt

Gale A Barr
Gale A Barr
@gale-a-barr
4 years ago
55 posts

Hi -

  Just looking for some reviews, thoughts, etc of the Gold Tone Dulciborn. I heard a women at the Evart Funfest last year play one and thought it was pretty neat. She did say she purchased it used and had to have some adjustments done due to some warping of the fretboard( I believe). Volume was impressive. Any Dulciborn owners out there that could share their experience with this instrument? Thanks!

 

Gold Tone Dulciborn