Double fretboard & 6 guitar strings
I do wonder how the middle strings tuned to open D guitar tuning or DADF#AD would sound as a backing drone. (added benefit of replacing strings with no hassle or fuss since you can buy em all in a single pack from any music shop, just make sure the guitar strings are light gauge with that long of a VSL) I would imagine very nice but I really have no clue. Thanks for sharing!
updated by @nate: 10/04/20 11:14:23AM
I was able to figure out how to balance the dulcimer & overhang on my lap, that took care of the height and distance problem I was having with it on it's stand.
( Maybe a bass, arpeggio & strum across all of the bass strings to finish.) Now that it's on my lap, I was having fun playing around, picking out notes across the fret boards & harp strings
Fun new adventure,
Sounds good to me, the second piece especially. I think sometime is the better choice. Maybe a bass [one note on each beat?] arpeggio on some of the longer notes, or strum across all of the bass strings to finish. I also feel you will get much better at figuring out what works as you become more familiar with the instrument. You could also switch fretboards [octaves] for repeats or play octaves across 2 fretboards. Instrumental falsetto?
updated by @skip: 09/22/20 11:39:10PM
Double Dulcimer Harp:
Thought I would let you hear how I have set up the double dulcimer with the harp strings. there is no pickup, it's all just the dulcimer!
Demo: DAd with 3 drone strings as a Bass - the 3 extra strings - A' below c, D & melody d
Demo (Amazing Grace) : DAA with Baritone - but D instead of E
Reaching over to the far fretboard is throwing me off (seems like I'm digging into the strings as I strum) but gives you an idea of the DAA & baritone tone. Distance is a problem, or just me - At the moment the dulcimer is on a stand and I am standing or with a high stool, I find it difficult to play with height & reach. I have not tried on my lap yet but will and hope that will help.
skip: ( overkill) you maybe right. Seems I need to learn how to play it now, I'm like a beginner - strum the drones - always - sometimes - ?? any suggestions will be helpful
( accent to your dulcimer playing) I think that is the purpose of the design but since I don't play the guitar I set it up hopefully for dulcimer playing. With both fret boards set to D and the strings in the middle set as a drone & divided, I can dragged over the heavy middle strings adding a deep full tone for the dulcimer.
Question: How easy or difficult is it to reach over and play the fret board that is away from me - hand position or fingerings change? Or is it fine on my lap and only changes if on a stand & I am standing over it?
Since you won't be able to play the "guitar" in the middle like a guitar since it has no frets or a dobro since the bridge is curved, I would suggest you just set the six "guitar" strings as low bass notes to add an occasional accent to your dulcimer playing. If the two dulcimers are going to be tuned to D (DAA and DAd), I would use pretty heavy strings on the guitar to get low notes of D, E, F#, G, A, and B, which would correspond to the tonics of the three main chords in D and their relative minors: D, Em, F#m, G, A, and Bm.
That's just an idea. I really can't imagine what the original intent was of this instrument, though it looks super cool.
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
OK: With the string gages I had on hand, I restrung the 2 dulcimers.
The one away from me DAA and the first 3 strings in the middle to (a baritone like) tuning but AdA - the first A to a very low A the other two to regular d & A. I had hear Joseph Ruback do a demo of 'fourth string equidistant tuning' with a low A below D and I thought it sounded so full and rich.
The second dulcimer fret board closest to me DAdd and the 3 other strings in the middle to Bass DAD. The very low D - I'm not sure I like yet but it's a start.
I tried it out and it sounds so full. I didn't play any songs yet, just played around. It's like equidistant spacing with 3 drones. I will need to wait to try other keys, because I may need different size strings but I wanted to thank you for your thoughts and ideas.
Always an adventure,
I suppose you could use just about any D guitar tuning, or maybe the D pentatonic scale would work [DEF#AB]. There's a lot of room to experiment. Currently I can't see the center section being used with the 2 outer sections without a lot of playing around for awhile, probably finger/flat picking.
For string selection. You could go a couple of sizes larger since this tools recommendations are a bit light.
Not sure who the builder was, someone in the Houston area (K. May, maybe)
The furniture stand, the dulcimer sits on has a trap door to allow more sound to amp out besides the cane openings in the front. Attaching 2 photos so you can see the door
In the idea of the middle 6 strings, lets say for now I keep things in the key of D - what could I tune the 6 to or 3 & 3 and what size strings?
The curved nut/bridge could be replaced with straight ones if the wide fretboard is flat. Then you could do both a base and baritone or ???. I don't think using those as drones will work too good unless the MD sets are both in the same key. Even then it may be overkill.
The wide fretboard is basically a blank canvas that you could use to create something unique. Maybe a combined MD tuning like DADADA or DADDAA or???.
Spacing between the middle strings is 1/2" each all the way across and sightly bowed.
I changed the strings on the 2 dulcimers fret boards and tuned different - the middle strings (playing around with them) make a great deep open drone.
Question: lets forget about setting up as guitar strings and think of dulcimer - Bass or Baritone or both - 3 each - OR - What could make an open tone to go with the dulcimer parts? I would need string size and tuning (maybe think about zithers and open strings that go with fretted dulcimer) And again thinking 3 for top fret board & 3 for bottom fret board but could go together, if all are strummed.
Again thoughts and Thanks
updated by @marg: 08/22/20 12:35:48PM
It looks to me like it is made to support a fretless bass guitar [or dobro?] and two different MD tunings. Bing Futch plays a double MD tuned that way. I would think any 2 tunings would work, although I would use a standard and a bass.
A quad MD! The 6 string fretboard could, possibly, be set up as 2 more, fretless [think chromatic], MD tunings. It looks like the spacing between the middle strings is a bit wider than the others.
The 6 guitar strings are different thickness - the lightness is thicker then my dulcimer bass string and the lowest string is very thick - thinking it must be like bass guitar gauge strings.
The two fret boards are tuned differently, they both can be set with 3 or 4 strings. I have only lower the action & changed the strings closest to me so far and I have it set to DAdd. I was thinking setting the other to either DAA or DGdd or maybe 4 equal strings would be an interesting idea. The VSL is very long 29+"
The question I have is setting up the middle 6 guitar strings:
Could I maybe set them like a Baritone or Bass dulcimer?
Or, if keeping with the idea of a guitar harp - seems Bass guitar string gauges are too low and also harder to pluck while trying to strum the dulcimer frets. If I would go with guitar setting would a much light set of strings and a regular guitar tuning be better?
Someone who won this dulcimer gave it to me and I am trying to set it up to work for a dulcimer player - no matter why it was designed the way it was, just trying to go from here.
Again thoughts on best way to set up to work along with the dulcimer fret boards
Marg, I can't tell from the photos. Are all six guitar strings the same gauge (thickness)? I am guess that the tuners for those strings have the tuning knobs below the peg head. It looks to me like there are two sets of three strings down the center. I am puzzled as to why the two dulcimer fret boards face in the same direction. Are both tuned the same? Is one equal string spacing and the other with a double melody string? I am having trouble understanding the purpose of this design.
"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."
I am trying to set up this double fretboard with 6 guitar strings in the middle (it was made with the idea of a guitar harp in mind) - not by me
The 6 guitar strings on it now are heavy & not sure what to tune them to - or should I replace with a standard guitar Size strings and tune to a standard guitar tuning and what would that be?
OR: split the strings half & half, 3 very heaver & low to the other 3 strings lighter & higher
updated by @marg: 10/04/20 11:12:28AM