NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
3 weeks ago
48 posts

Is it accurate to say that you can make generalizations about an instruments tone based on materials, depth, and bridge placement?

For example it has always been my experience that a harder wood without any large knots will sound brighter than a softer wood of the same thickness which also does not have any large knots.
Also, dulcimers with taller sides seem to give more bass response than shallower ones.
Finally a bridge placed near the very edge of the soundbox to me sounds twangier than a bridge that is more centered over the box.

These generalizations have seemed consistently accurate to me. What do you guys think?

I have noticed that every dulcimer has a different tone and you never really know for sure what it will sound like til you hear it, but maybe at the very least one can identify characteristics that will ensure their dulcimer's tone is not too terribly far from what one desires.

I'd love input from others as I am still very much a beginner!

-Nate

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
3 weeks ago
237 posts

I took 12 dulcimers that I built exactly alike. Only difference was the mixture of woods. Each one had its own distinct tone. As it should be. But all sounded good. Every piece of wood even from the same stock will have different densities and different vibration characteristics. larger or deeper body's don't necessarily sound better or louder. Nice thing about guitars is that you can go to any music store and compare, unfortunately that doesn't work for dulcimers. Buy from a reputable builder and stay away from the very low priced imports... Robert.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 weeks ago
1,738 posts

As Dusty said, you can't really compare recordings of Brands of instruments on the internet -- too many variables.  The only reasonable comparison you can make is to listen live (by phone or in person) to two specific instruments being played.  Even then, as James said -- there can be a huge number of variables that cause individual instrument to have a specific sound. 

James Phillips
James Phillips
@james-phillips
3 weeks ago
78 posts

The other thing is that tone is very subjective.  Even in the same wood species, it can very.  As well, tuning can be a factor as well.  I have a dulcimer in Bagpipe tuning that is walnut and sycamore top and to me, it sounds bright and cheerful like what you expect from an all cherry.  Just my own 2 cents to add to the discussion.

traildad
@traildad
3 weeks ago
21 posts
I was thinking that a different tuning was involved, which is why I asked. Thanks.
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
3 weeks ago
1,291 posts

Two things to keep in mind, @traildad.  First, when you are listening to audio or video on the internet, the quality of the original recording and the quality of the speakers or headphones you are listening on will make a huge difference.  So you can't really compare the audio files from the McSpadden site with Jessica's videos below.  Secondly, from what I can tell, Jessica is tuned down to C, whereas the standard tuning for a dulcimer is D.  Jessica's recordings may sound richer than those on the McSpadden site only because she is in a lower tonal range.

@jessica-comeau is a member here at FOTMD.  In addition to being a wonderfully expressive player, she is also really friendly. You might ask her what she likes about McSpadden dulcimers or how she achieves the sound she does.




--
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
traildad
@traildad
3 weeks ago
21 posts

I am a newbie looking to get my first dulcimer. I have made a point to listen to some differrent recordings to get a  better understanding of different qualities and tones. Being inexperienced i can't be sure if all the differences i hear are related to the dulcimer or maybe to the tuning etc. I am comparing a audio file posted on this site of a McSpadden for sale with two YouTube videos. I am hoping to get opinions on what to attribute the differences between them too. The dulcimer,  the tuning, the key, the notes played etc. Thanks for the input. 

https://fotmd.com/forums/forum/38171/mcspadden-dulcimer-with-1-and-8-frets


updated by @traildad: 08/26/20 03:11:43PM