Boy that really is a beautiful dulcimer Atilwi! And thank you Terry for the info on the pickups! I appreciate it!
Ron Gibson Dulcimers
However. Concerning an internal pickup. I much prefer the pickup on a McSpadden to the Pizzo..that Ron installs. I may be misspelling Pizzo..but that's close. The Pizzo is way to sensitive, you have to be very careful not to bump the area where it's installed.
With that in mind, I use it every week, playing out, with the pickup. Which means it's still manageable. Matter of being aware.
To get back to the original question, I've played two Ron Gibson dulcimers and they were both very nice. The action is very low, making it easy on your left hand fingertips. The sound is beautiful. His standard 26" scale length is short enough for small hands but long enough for decent volume and sustain. One of the dulcimers I played was a baritone. The other was a standard-sized dulcimer and it must have been Kentucky model. It was for sale at a local music store and I didn't really need another dulcimer at the time, so I played it a bunch and left. I went back the next day to buy it because I liked it so much and it was already gone.
Ron's dulcimers are among the most affordable of the decent instruments out there, and honestly, other than a couple of student models, I would not recommend the dulcimers that you can find for less than what Ron charges. He's also a member here, so feel free to check out his profile page and contact him. I'm sure he'd be happy to make you a dulcimer without a pickup installed with the wood and soundhole design of your choice.
Dusty T., Northern California
As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Oh my goodness! That's hilarious! I started about 14 years ago, self taught also, & picked it up pretty quick ( I was 40 ) I was learning a song called " In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree " for my Father. He really loved that song...(think it's from the late 1800's maybe? ) Anyway, he fell ill with cancer & passed away before I could finish learning it because it was a bit difficult for me. I sat my dulcimer down & never picked it up again until about 4 months ago. I'm not back to the point of finger picking again yet but am determined to get there & to finish learning that song...now that I'm able to...but my dulcimer just isn't willing now since it's been neglected so long. And it would be nice to have a quieter dulcimer along with my Yocky. Don't get me wrong, I love my "Island" but would like to try out others. I've never played any others except a cheap model I bought on Ebay. Thanks for making me chuckle, I remember those days too & it seems like I'm repeatingit now! Lol
Too funny. I started playing at the age of about 56 -- not knowing what a "fret" was -- and I quickly broke strings because I tried to tune the bass string to a "D" about 2 (or 3!) octaves above where it was supposed to be. I got a book from the library with dulcimer tunes. I didn't know what "Aeolian" or "Dorian" or "Ionian" tuning meant so I ignored those words. Wow did some of those songs sound weird. "Stupid book is full of errors" I said. Thank goodness for the great kindness and expertise of dulcimer players on line and in person because things did get better!
Thank you so much Ellen for the video...very informative. I seem to be showing my ignorance once again... I guess if I'm going to play an instrument I need to understand the mechanics of it also...I won't be needing a pick up either, I plan on playing alone as I always have. Thanks again :)
Ellen's right. An Electric dulcimer is, like an electric guitar, a "solid-body_ -- a piece of fancy 2x6 or whatever with cavities cut into it to house the electronics.
The vast majority of dulcimers are Acoustic instruments -- hollow bodies in which the air vibrates to make the sound. Many makers (including Ron) offer an acoustic-electric option, which involves a pickup attached inside the body with a wire leading to a socket usually imbedded in the tailpiece.
I think there's some confusion here. There is a big difference between an electric guitar and an acoustic guitar. But Ron Gibson isn't making an "electric" dulcimer. His are acoustic instruments (ie., there is a back, a top and a hollow middle). He offers the option of having a "pick up" added. This is simply a wire that is inside the box that goes to a funky metal piece in the butt end of the dulcimer so it is easy to plug into a sound system (which one wants to do when playing an open mic or at a church). He also sells a mini-speaker that is easy to use too for a very affordable price. Mine has the "pick up" but about 95% of the time I am playing without a speaker. You can order a dulcimer from Ron without a pick up. Here's a youTube by Larry Conger on the topic that clarifies much more:Best of luck!