Warren May Hourdrop Question
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
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.
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
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
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 ;)
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!
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 ?
updated by @charlie-in-ky: 06/13/22 02:18:21PM
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.
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 !
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.
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.
updated by @charlie-in-ky: 06/12/22 05:10:18PM