Warren May Hourdrop Question

Charlie in Ky
Charlie in Ky
@charlie-in-ky
2 weeks ago
20 posts

@ken-hulme, thanks ! After just a brief glance at it I see it will answer a lot of questions I have.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 weeks ago
1,939 posts

Charlie:

Here's a link to an essay I wrote a few years back called I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What? .  It's an illustrated glossary of dulcimer terms (so we all speak the same jargon) plus answers to many beginner questions about the tuning, playing, care and feeding of your new dulcimer.  Enjoy your dulcimer journey,,,

Ken Hulme's "I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What?" Article - Strumelia | fotmd.com

Charlie in Ky
Charlie in Ky
@charlie-in-ky
2 weeks ago
20 posts

@dusty-turtle, thanks for your thoughts on the strings and the fretboard. I assumed it was sound related but was guessing tone or sustain. Now I know, volume and response it is !

I'll go ahead and try a 26w and some heavier plains since I'll be building sets from a shop's singles bin.

Initially I'll tune them down a half step and see how it goes.

If I wind up experimenting with tunings with strings tuned above standard I'll just get a second instrument for that. Probably won't but either way I'll not risk damaging this May.

Charlie in Ky
Charlie in Ky
@charlie-in-ky
2 weeks ago
20 posts

@susie, thanks ! I did get a great deal on it. 

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 weeks ago
1,579 posts

A .024 wound bass string for a dulcimer of that scale length will not be a problem. You could probably even go to .026, but most people (other than myself) wouldn't do that.

As a general rule, I think hollow fretboards are preferred.  Since there is less wood against the soundboard, the sounboard is able to vibrate more freely, creating more volume.  And although it may not be of interest to noter players, hollow fretboards are also more responsive to your fingers, so left-hand techniques such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides are easier to perform, or rather are easier to perform without a significant loss of volume.

That looks like a beautiful instrument.  Congratulations!




--
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: 06/13/22 11:56:46PM
Susie
Susie
@susie
2 weeks ago
466 posts

That's a real beauty!  A deal too good to pass up. Enjoy!

Charlie in Ky
Charlie in Ky
@charlie-in-ky
2 weeks ago
20 posts

Thanks theresasc, I'm sure it will keep me content !

TheresaSC
TheresaSC
@theresasc
2 weeks ago
11 posts

Wow!  That is a beautiful instrument!  I think it should give you a lot of pleasure to play - congratulations!

Charlie in Ky
Charlie in Ky
@charlie-in-ky
2 weeks ago
20 posts

John and jost, thanks for the strings help and info. Also appreciate the book recommendations !

Charlie in Ky
Charlie in Ky
@charlie-in-ky
2 weeks ago
20 posts

A couple more..

Charlie in Ky
Charlie in Ky
@charlie-in-ky
2 weeks ago
20 posts

Thanks marg, it sure is a beautiful instrument.

jost
@jost
2 weeks ago
60 posts

Concerning the string gauge: Like John pointed out you should be fine. One caveat though: Depending on the strings gauge not every tuning will work because the strings will be too sloppy or break. In my opinion this is not a problem per se: New strings are cheap and you can only learn by experimenting. Just keep always some fresh strings and a string bender ready for quick replacement ;)

jost
@jost
2 weeks ago
60 posts

Jean Ritchies Dulcimer book is a good start for noter/drone play. Her book "Dulcimer people" (available used) is also a good one, it even includes instructions for chord play. 
Neal Hellmans Dulcimer Chord book is also a great start for beginners since it also has a lot of explainations for odd tunings/modes even If (like me) you never play chords at all.
I like Mark Nelsons "Favorite Old-Time American Songs for Dulcimer" too, it's a mix of chord and noter/drone style.

Have fun with your dulcimer!

marg
@marg
2 weeks ago
585 posts

Beautiful

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
2 weeks ago
309 posts

Usually going up or down a string gauge doesn't cause big problems on a dulcimer.  An .024" will give a little more bass sound than a .022".  It should be fine.

Charlie in Ky
Charlie in Ky
@charlie-in-ky
2 weeks ago
20 posts

These loop end strings I can't use are .012, .012, .014, .022w 

Is it ok to go with a .024w instead of the .022w ?

Also, would 80/20 or phosphor bronze be a good choice ? The shop has any type I'd want. Most any gauge singles.

I use heavy gauge strings on my acoustic guitars but I tune down a half step on those. (Easier on my voice and limited range)

Not sure about using heavier strings on a dulcimer tuned down 1/2 or a whole step. Anyone do it ?

Tia


updated by @charlie-in-ky: 06/13/22 02:18:21PM
Charlie in Ky
Charlie in Ky
@charlie-in-ky
2 weeks ago
20 posts

Thanks jost, the seller had it priced right imo. Low enough I didn't try to haggle with him. 

I just noticed the set of strings that came with it are loop in and I need ball end. None to be found in town but a local shop sells single strings so I'll go out there tomorrow and make my own set.

Tonight I'll peruse my copy of Jean Ritchie's The Dulcimer Book. I bought it probably 30 years ago and just remembered I had it.

jost
@jost
2 weeks ago
60 posts

Congratulations to your new dulcimer. Look like you found a real treasure and bargain

Charlie in Ky
Charlie in Ky
@charlie-in-ky
2 weeks ago
20 posts

I just met the seller and bought it. I don't like to describe pre owned instruments as mint but this one is certainly flawless.

All the "case candy" is there. COA, picks, one with Mr May's name on it, all of it. Original sales receipt. Even saved a trip to a music shop. New set of strings are in the case. In tune too.

And it looks better than the ad photos ! 

Charlie in Ky
Charlie in Ky
@charlie-in-ky
2 weeks ago
20 posts

Hi John, thanks for your thoughts on Mr May's work. Seems I can't go wrong with the one I'm considering. 

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
2 weeks ago
309 posts

You can't go wrong with a Warren May dulcimer unless it has been damaged.  He makes a world-class product.

Charlie in Ky
Charlie in Ky
@charlie-in-ky
2 weeks ago
20 posts

Good morning Ken, thanks for the info. The hollow fretboard isn't a concern. I just saw it mentioned on a UK seller's site. 

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 weeks ago
1,939 posts

The VSL (on dulcimers call it Vibrating String Length, not "scale") is easily measured from the inside edge of the nut to the inside edge of the bridge.  The VSL is only an issue if you have really small hands  -- 26-1/2" to 27" is fairly normal for VSL these days.  Whether or not the fretboard is hollowed is a very minor factor.   Neither thing you mention should be a deal-breakers in the purchase of one of Warren's dulcimers.

Charlie in Ky
Charlie in Ky
@charlie-in-ky
2 weeks ago
20 posts

Ok thanks Ken, I'll give him a call in the morning. I have the dulcimer # so he can easily check.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 weeks ago
1,939 posts

I'd say those are good specs.  You can always just try to call Warren and ask.  His shop downtown is closed but he still makes a few at home.  He's listed in the Berea phonebook I believe.

Charlie in Ky
Charlie in Ky
@charlie-in-ky
2 weeks ago
20 posts

Hi, I'm new to dulcimers but have done a little research and it appears that the wide Hummingbird Hourdrop models may all have hollow fretboards and 26 1/2" scale. But no specs are listed on Mr May's site. Is it safe to assume it will have those specs ?

The one I'm considering is a 2006 in like new condition with a case. It's cherry as well.

Tia


updated by @charlie-in-ky: 06/12/22 05:10:18PM