First purchase -- Scheitholt?

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First purchase -- Scheitholt?

Postby Appalachian » Thu Jun 16, 2016 10:34 am

Hello All,

New to the site and looking at my first purchase of a mountain dulcimer. Actually I should take that back--after lots of looking on line I'm finding myself more interested in a Scheitholt by Jack Ferguson. ... _active_14

My reasoning is that I think it would give a fuller sound and well I'll be honest...I think it looks cool :)

Does anyone out there have any insight into this instrument? I'm assuming it's played the same as MD but simply has the additional drone strings. Again, assuming I could learn to play from any other MD info out there?

Thanks for any help anyone can offer!
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Re: First purchase -- Scheitholt?

Postby strumelia » Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:27 am

Many scheitholt type instruments have frets extending only under the first melody strings, so you'd not be able to play them in chording style the same way you would a typical modern dulcimer. HOWEVER, Jack's version that you linked to has a pair of melody strings, a 'middle' string and a 'bass' string all with the frets extending underneath them- this means that YES you could play/tune that instrument pretty much as you would any other standard mtn dulcimer. But yes you do also have those extra unfretted drone strings that you could tune to compliment what you are playing.
The only possible down side (and it's not really a down, just requires some practice) is that you'll need to play in a way that takes into account those extra drone strings while playing. To strum across all the strings constantly might be rather overwhelming to listen to for any length of time, so you'd do well to learn to hit those added strings when you intend to add the extra oomph and harmonies, and be able to avoid hitting them when you want a lighter melodic effect. This however is a good and useful skill to work on no matter what stringed instrument you play, since it adds dynamics and interest to your playing. :)
I agree, that's a cool instrument. :) Jack's complete website is here:
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Re: First purchase -- Scheitholt?

Postby kwl » Fri Jun 17, 2016 12:00 am

I am not familiar with Jack's work, so I can not comment on the quality of the instrument. It looks very nice in the pictures. Without going in to all the arguments on why this should not be called a scheitholt, this is not one, but rather a box shaped dulcimer. Scheitholts do not have raised fret boards. This instrument has a standard dulcimer type fret board. I agree with Strumelia that with six drone strings and only two melody, you may have trouble getting the melody heard. Also, if you are going to play fast songs, don't expect to strum all the strings. You will be able to play chord/melody style with that fret board. If you decide to go with it, have fun and let us know how it works out for you.

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."
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Re: First purchase -- Scheitholt?

Postby KenH » Sat Jun 18, 2016 7:05 am

I Just Got A Dulcimer 2016.pdf
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That IS a cool looking instrument, although as KenWL says it really isn't a scheitholt. With all those strings I'm loath to recommend it as a first/beginner instrument; although if you learn to handle all those drone strings well, you'll certainly have a rich sound. The trick is learning how to strum "up and out" and "in and down" to control how many of the drones a strummed, and how hard.

You might want to read the article 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 talk the same way about the same things), plus answers to many beginner questions about tuning, playing, care and feeding of your new friend. Here's a recently revised edition of the article:

I Just Got A Dulcimer 2016.pdf
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