What if you could only have one dulcimer?

D. chitwood
D. chitwood
@d-chitwood
3 weeks ago
142 posts

Definitely the one I just bought. The tone is so beautiful it made me cry the first time I heard it. I can't imagine owning another one that sounded better and also had a 25.5 VSL so that my fingers don't hurt. Love my Tony Vines Bella Dulcimer.

Gale A Barr
Gale A Barr
@gale-a-barr
3 weeks ago
46 posts

Enjoying the responses and photos for this question. My new "favorite" that I likely would grab in the zombie apocalypse would be the chromatic McCafferty that I received this summer. Terry kindly customized the inlay pattern on the fretboard, which I LOVE and it has that loud, nice tone that Dusty described below. But I like my all-walnut Folkcraft for it's warm, full tone and I like my cherry/redwood McSpadden for it's happy sound, etc., so it would be a hard choice. 

McCafferty .jpg


updated by @gale-a-barr: 11/23/18 10:30:31AM
John Keane
John Keane
@john-keane
3 weeks ago
209 posts

Like so many others on this thread I am blessed to already own the dulcimer that I would choose...Bigfoot!  It is a Folkroots model by Folkcraft with a pick-up and a Galax back making it ready for any situation.  I have literally played hundreds of dulcimers from dozens of makers and have never loved the sound or feel of another dulcimer like I do this one.  Bigfoot is also very stunning in a visual sense with the zebrawood and ebony/sugar maple inlay work.  I am often asked about the inspiration behind the design.  The concept is a nod to the Rugg brothers (Howard and Mike) of early CapriTaurus and Folkroots fame.  They still own the original building in California where those early instruments were made as far back as the sixties, but it is now the Bigfoot Discovery Museum where Mike Rugg serves as the curator.  

HeartsBigfoot.jpg

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 weeks ago
1,830 posts

Dusty said " it seems reasonable to ask what someone likes about the one dulcimer they identified in response to this forum question."

'Way back at the beginning of this thread I said I like the "high silvery' sound that many traditional dulcimers give.  Like my John Knopf-made Uncle Ed Thomas replica, my Bobby Ratliff Sow model Virginia Hogfiddle, and the Ozark Walking Stick that I built a couple years back.  All of these are narrow (less than 6") and shallow (under 1.5" deep) with tall fretboards for playing Noter & Drone.

Shape doesn't mean anything -- the three mentioned above are all different shapes.  I honestly couldn't pick one except in a "moment of truth" with my boat sinking and my arms full of survival supplies.  Then it's whichever one I can reach fastest/easiest just before I roll over the railing into my dinghy.  Any one of those could be my "one" dulcimer...

 

 

Susie
Susie
@susie
4 weeks ago
291 posts

Great information, Dusty, thanks for sharing. I don't think this has moved us away from the topic of this thread. I appreciate the details about your McCafferty. I hope to be able to try one out at a festival, where he or Steven attends.

 Yours is gorgeous! thumbsup

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
4 weeks ago
1,066 posts

Susie:

Dusty,

I need another dulcimer/instrument, like I need a hole in my head. That said (haha), I've told myself, if I were to get one, it would be a McCafferty. I'm happy to see your response, that that would be your choice. Can you post a pic of yours? He makes beautiful dulcimers! 

Susie, if someone asks how many dulcimers you need, the right answer is "one more."

I don't want to go too far astray from the original goal of this thread, but it seems reasonable to ask what someone likes about the one dulcimer they identified in response to this forum question.

I bought my McCafferty before he was making radiused fretboards, so I can't speak about that attribute.  Terry's dulcimers all have a loud, round, well-balanced tone.  The tone resembles a guitar more than the high silvery sound of a traditional dulcimer.  The action is excellent and the intonation is superb.  One feature of McCafferty dulcimers that I love is the extended strum hollow.  Most of us end up strumming over the upper end of the fretboard, and that extended strum hollow allows us to pick and strum there without clacking against the fretboard. Terry uses K & K Sound twin spot pickups inside, and although I don't have too much experience with this stuff, I find them to be phenomenal pickups that provide plenty of amplification without distorting the acoustic tone of the instrument.

Mine is the shortest of the three options Terry offers.  The body of all his instruments are the same size, but he makes three different VSLs: 28", 26.5", and 25".   I think it is inevitable that you lose a little sustain with a shorter VSL, and were I to buy the instrument now, I might get a 26.5" model. On the other hand, I've already gotten use the shorter VSL and have arranged a few tunes that require stretches I wouldn't be able to make on longer fretboards.

I did have to make one adjustment to the instrument before I felt comfortable flatpicking.  The strings are pretty far apart. that works well for fingerpicking and for playing slow tunes, but I found it difficult to flatpick with any speed.  I use a single melody string, and the first thing I did was to move that single string to the inside groove on the nut.  I then made an extra groove for the bass string that was the same distance away from the middle string.  My bass and melody strings are now about 1" apart.  I have thought of making a new nut and bridge with grooves that are even closer than that, but for the moment I am doing OK with that distance.  

If you go to my video page, you'll see that five of my last six videos were made with my McCafferty dulcimer.  And here's a picture of the top. The back and sides are figured cherry and the top is redwood.  The inlay is a wolf in front of a full moon with little stars for position dots.

DSC_0003edit cropped.jpg




--
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: 11/19/18 11:03:49PM
Susie
Susie
@susie
4 weeks ago
291 posts

Dusty Turtle:

I have several wonderful dulcimers, and they serve different purposes. A tune that shines on one does not necessarily work so well on another.  However, at any given time I usually consider one of them my "numero uno."  Right now that would be my cherry/redwood McCafferty with a 25" VSL.  It works equally well for fingerpicking and flatpicking.  But ask me in a few months and my answer will be different.

Playing only one dulcimer is like drinking only one kind of wine.

Dusty,

I need another dulcimer/instrument, like I need a hole in my head. That said (haha), I've told myself, if I were to get one, it would be a McCafferty. I'm happy to see your response, that that would be your choice. Can you post a pic of yours? He makes beautiful dulcimers!

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
4 weeks ago
1,066 posts

I'm glad this is only a hypothetical discussion. hamster Yesterday alone I played three different dulcimers and two different guitars. 




--
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
Richard Streib
Richard Streib
@richard-streib
4 weeks ago
124 posts

What if?? That requires considerable consideration. Like Dusty stated one does not always shine on every song--thus the justification for having more than one.

However IF I had to have just one, it would be the Leonard Glenn reproduction Kevin Messenger made for me.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
4 weeks ago
1,066 posts

I have several wonderful dulcimers, and they serve different purposes. A tune that shines on one does not necessarily work so well on another.  However, at any given time I usually consider one of them my "numero uno."  Right now that would be my cherry/redwood McCafferty with a 25" VSL.  It works equally well for fingerpicking and flatpicking.  But ask me in a few months and my answer will be different.

Playing only one dulcimer is like drinking only one kind of wine.




--
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
Susie
Susie
@susie
4 weeks ago
291 posts

There's no way I can choose one. I have to choose two. My Doug Berch is my go to dulcimer for plugging in, and my Folkcraft Custom with a galax back is my go to dulcimer for when I'm unplugged (generally speaking). It's like having to choose your favorite child. shrugger


updated by @susie: 11/18/18 10:55:06AM
Jimmy Lamar
Jimmy Lamar
@jimmy-lamar
4 weeks ago
30 posts
Probably the one I’m building now, because it’s being built the way I want: Spruce top, black walnut bottom and sides, 2”-2 1/4” deep, with a VSL between 26”-27”, and geared tuners.

I like the one I bought a couple of months ago. It was built by a local guy, and it’s the one I’m teaching myself on. Hey, it’s nice to have at least two, right?
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
4 weeks ago
1,900 posts

Hmmm, that's a real hard one.  I have two wonderful mountain dulcimers and two wonderful little epinettes (which i kinda think of as small scale dulcimers)

I've often thought of getting another dulcimer, and have been sorely tempted a few times but somehow I resisted. So... because i don't actually know what it'd be like to have other dulcimers, I'm going to choose one of those four I already have and am familiar with playing.

Of the four instruments above, if I could only keep ONE (oh what a terrible choice!)... I'd probably choose my sweet mahogany epinette that @john-henry Crocker made and sent to me as an amazing surprise gift the Christmas of 2011.  It's got a beautiful voice and it's so precious to my heart... two of the best reasons to choose it!  inlove




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Kusani
Kusani
@kusani
4 weeks ago
253 posts

Thank you all re the burl maple. I've built quite a few from that tree; as well as a variety of other products. The one in the photo is one of a set of two.


updated by @kusani: 11/17/18 12:29:03PM
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
4 weeks ago
1,066 posts

@Kusani, the burl maple top on that dulcimer is astounding!




--
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: 11/17/18 12:04:44PM
David Bennett
David Bennett
@david-bennett
4 weeks ago
66 posts

If I can only have one it would be one of my Uncle Ed Thomas reproductions.

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
4 weeks ago
1,014 posts

Wow, @Kusani !  That wood is stunningly beautiful!  

I feel lucky to have several wonderful dulcimers!  If I could keep just one-- I've referred to it before as my nursing home dulcimer because I'd have to choose one when I go into nusing home someday-- it'd be my Blue Lion Jean Ritchie model. 




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Kusani
Kusani
@kusani
4 weeks ago
253 posts

I believe I would chose one of my own builds, #7. It has a burl maple top, walnut/maple back, and walnut sides. The wood is from trees I cut several years ago. 

01.jpg

Banjimer
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
4 weeks ago
63 posts

If I could have only one mountain dulcimer, it would be my Blue Lion Jean Ritchie Model.

Dan
Dan
@dan
4 weeks ago
114 posts

My purple 28 inch ultra-lite. It is what I'd describe as the most traditional....

DAN

www.dulcimore.com

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updated by @dan: 11/17/18 09:24:44AM
Skip
Skip
@skip
4 months ago
251 posts

I have a Folkcraft resonator with a pickup. It has a 23.5" VSL , double back, and a reversible nut [raise/lower action and multi string layout], can be setup as a bass, standard, or baritone. I would have the same thing in a chromatic. Then I could play in any style, including dobro style, or most any genre, as my interests change. I play chord/melody primarily. 

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 months ago
1,830 posts

Yeah, the subject comes up periodically.  And the answers are as varied as the kinds of music people enjoy playing, and the way they play -- Chord Melody, Fingerdancing, or Noter & Drone.

I, for example, am a hardcore Noter & Drone player of 15th century to 19th century Anglo-Scottish Border Ballads and their descendants as played in this country.  I want a dulcimer not more than about 6" wide, not more than 1-1/4" or so deep, with a 1" tall fretboard, staple frets, and Just Intonation.  Those traditional instruments have what I call a "high silvery" sound.  John Knopf, Bobby Ratliff, Dan Cox and Kevin Messenger all make dulcimers of that Traditional type which I would be proud and happy to own.  And I do own dulcimers by John and Bobby.

The kind of dulcimer I prefer has changed wildly over the last 40 years.  Originally I liked, and built, deep, wide dulcimers with much more baritone/bass response.

Geckostar97
Geckostar97
@geckostar97
4 months ago
16 posts

Hi everyone. During a break at work today, I wondered what I would do if I was told I could only have one dulcimer BUT it could be any dulcimer I wanted.  I have thought about that a lot today and have come up with a few different answers.  So I am curious, if you could only have one dulcimer but it could be whichever one you wanted, which would you choose and why? 

I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I apologize if this topic has been covered before, I am relatively new and haven't seen this before.  Thanks all!


updated by @geckostar97: 11/23/18 07:11:52AM