Lorilee
Lorilee
@lorilee
3 months ago
12 posts

Thanks, Matt. I'll do that. My instructor has a teardrop bass, and she wants me to try it before I jump at anything so I can make the right decision as to what I want. 

Matt Berg
Matt Berg
@matt-berg
3 months ago
89 posts

Lorilee,

The "common wisdom" in dulcimers is that there is no tone difference between hourglass and teardrop.  Although probably true for standard dulcimers, many luthiers who build bass dulcimer believe they get a better bass sound from a teardrop shape.  They still make hourglass bass dulcimers because they sell better.  If you are interested in a better bass sound, at least compare the sound of a teardrop with an hourglass for the better bass sound.

Matt

Lorilee
Lorilee
@lorilee
3 months ago
12 posts

Thank you for all of your replies. They do give me a lot to think about. I'm really considering getting a bass, maybe from Blue Lion? My instructor has a bass that I'm going to "fiddle" with, but it's a teardrop which is not what I'm looking for. so I don't know... so I'll see what I think about hers, and knowing me, I'll soon be looking for one! nod

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
3 months ago
254 posts

I built a 30" scale dulcimer  2 inch deep with the duel purpose of tuning for bass or baritone. It sounded quite nice as a bass but I keep it tuned baritone. Having a bass in your stable can come in very handy if your going to play with others. If I build another I'll probably go to 2.5 or 3 inch deep. But I'll definitely keep the 30" scale. ..Robert

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
3 months ago
1,616 posts

I'm happy to have Matt's respect and also to be corrected.  Just don't tell my wife I was wrong. winky

Of course one can play chords on a bass dulcimer, just as one can play chords on a bass guitar. But generally, the purpose of a bass is to, well, play the bass part.  The fiddle weaves the melody, the guitar provides the chords, and the bass plays the bass lines.  I certainly don't want anyone to be locked into those small roles, but it does seem that most of the time, that is what we'll be doing.  It is more important to be comfortable playing chords on a standard dulcimer than a on bass dulcimer, but of course you can do it on both.

And by the way, if you really want to prove me wrong, send me a bass dulcimer.  I promise to play lots of melody and lots of chords on it.  I'll gladly admit to having been mistaken. grin




--
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
Matt Berg
Matt Berg
@matt-berg
3 months ago
89 posts

With all due respect to Dusty Turtle (I play his lullaby book and enjoy it), there are many places where a bass dulcimer is great with chords.  I teach a 3/4 workshop and emphasize the bass players keeping the beat by playing the chords at the start of each measure.  Really adds depth to the music.

If you flat pick, the bass dulcimer can be a strong player in the melody.  In Eulberg's new 50 First Songs, Proud Mary and Sitting on the Dock of the Bay are great when played on a bass dulcimer.

I prefer the 26" VSL with a bass.  The heavier strings do make it more difficult to fret and the shorter scale makes it modestly easier.  Yes, a bigger body gives you better projection.

Absolutely get a bass dulcimer and go crazy.  Don't let people slot you into playing only the 1-3 beat.

Skip
Skip
@skip
3 months ago
354 posts

Blue Lion also has the 5 string Acoustic Jam bass with a 26 1/4 " VSL and 1 5/8" fretboard and Folkcraft has one with a 26" VSL with a 2" wide fretboard. I have the AJ5 Blue Lion and removed 2 strings. 

As far as construction goes, I believe they about the same as a standard, just deeper for the volume needed for the lower notes. The string tension is about the same so I don't see a need for heavier construction. I've converted ones I made to bass and baritone with no problems. I even converted a regular Tennessee Music Box to sound like a standup bass for kicks. Hard on the fingers to play though and not very loud because the box is too small.


Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
3 months ago
1,616 posts

Lorilee, I would think a bass dulcimer should have a pretty big box, but that could be achieved with depth, allowing the dulcimer to be on the shorter end of scale length.  I believe the New Harmony baritone/bass model only has a 25" or 25-1/2" scale length.

But remember that with a bass dulcimer you are most likely going to play bass lines, not chords, so even an instrument such as Blue Lion's 27-1/2" bass should be playable even by those of us who are vertically challenged.




--
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
Lorilee
Lorilee
@lorilee
3 months ago
12 posts

How does the build of a bass dulcimer differ from a standard? Is the same basic body with a different nut/bridge/strings or is there more to it? Can a person get one without a really long VSL? (short person here!)